Getting listed on the first page of Google and other search engines for the phrases that are searched for most often could drive a lot of traffic to your local business.
You’ll get virtual traffic to your website and foot traffic if you are in a store front.
Read on for 5 tips that could help you quickly increase your rankings for your local geographical area. Those tips involve:
- Keyword Research
- Getting Listed on Google Places
- Optimizing Your Website
- Leveraging Social Networking and Local Online Directories
- Submitting Online Content
Online Keyword Research
Do you know what the people who you want to appeal to are searching for on Google or their preferred search engine when they are looking for your products or services? Sometimes it may not be what you would expect. Also, depending on your type of business, the keyword phrases that relate to your business may be highly competitive.
For example if you’re a plumber in Calgary, it’d be beneficial to come up as the “I feel lucky” or #1 search result for the word “Plumber” in Google.
But that keyword is going to be very competitive and it could be difficult to show up on page one of Google for a single common word such as plumber.
This doesn’t mean it’s hopeless for your business, though.
Keyword research could reveal keyword phrases that your business could capitalize on.
You’ll want to find a combination of highly searched phrases that do not have a lot of competition online.
You can relate this to supply and demand. If you find a search phrase that is high in demand, meaning quite a few people search for that phrase each month, but is low in supply, meaning very few websites contain that phrase, then your website would potentially attract more people if you incorporate that phrase into your site.
Back to our previous example: If you are a plumber in Calgary it might do you well to attempt to rank for a specific niche in plumbing, such as for “Calgary 24 hour emergency plumber”. And it might be easier to rank well for a nearby suburb or neighbourhood name.
Obviously your approach will be dictated by a number of factors, including how competitive your industry is. An important element of online keyword research is competitive analysis. There are online webmaster tools that can help you see which words and phrases your competitors are ranking for, for instance. That research could reveal how solid or how rocky their strategy is and that information could help you plan your own keyword strategy.
There are entire books written on how to use keyword tools to find the best keyword phrases for your business.
To keep this article simple and to help you get started with keyword research, I would suggest starting with a free online tool known as Google’s AdWords tool.
You can use your Google email account to login at http://www.google.com/adwords and under the Reporting and Tools tab you’ll find “keyword tool”. By putting in a word and geographical area into the search box, you can find out what people are looking for and how often.
You can also watch the Competition column to see how competitive each phrase is.
Understand that the results shown in this keyword tool or other online keyword tools are never exact. They are all approximations, but you can still find good phrases based on the results. By that I mean that if one phrase has 5000 searches per month but it also has low competition and another phrase has 18,000 searches per month, with high competition, which would you use?
If you’re a local business with a physical address, getting listed on Google Places is one of the first things you want to do.
Doing this will help you drive plenty of customers to your door or to your website.
You can sign up for free at http://www.google.com/places and create your own business profile. This will help people find you from their computer, from Google Maps, and from their mobile phone browser.
Optimize Your Site for Your Local Geographical Area
If your website is optimized for your local geographical area, you’re more likely to attract local traffic.
Google programs, known as spiders, crawl web pages and look for information to help them categorize each page. If each page of your site is optimized for keywords related to your business and is optimized for your city name, you could get more local traffic to your site because your site will get listed higher in the search engine results than a competitor who hasn’t taken the time to optimize locally.
In many cases, especially with smaller local businesses, companies don’t need to do too much to surpass their competition on search engines.
Your current competitors may just be getting listed ahead of you by default.
It may not take much optimization at all to surpass them in the results.
Leverage Social Networking and Local Online Directories
Google looks at relationships as a factor when deciding to rank websites. If you look for professional association websites and online directories related to your city or province and to your industry and list your business and its website on those directories, this creates a relationship.
Google also looks at the rankings of the sites you are connected with in determining your relevance to your industry. If Google sees that relevant sites are linked to you, such as business directories geared to your area, this could boost your site’s perceived relevancy to your business and your city. Search for directories for your town (or nearest city) and create profiles for your business on these. Most of them offer free listings and some will offer great networking opportunities.
There are many social networking opportunities online as well. Social networking sites and discussion forums can offer good opportunities to network and connect with others as well as to get linked to by other sites.
Submit Online Content
Because Google counts links from other websites toward rankings, take advantage of opportunities to create online content that points to your website --- particularly where you can link back with words and phrases related to your location. Examples could be: press releases, guest articles on high profile websites in your area, social media linking, and so on.
Many of these sites allow you to link back to your site and each link, especially if anchored with a phrase that encompasses your city and your niche type, could help drive up your local search engine rankings.
When you embark on a campaign to improve your website rankings for your local area, you’re taking steps toward improving your local branding. The right approach could result in free traffic and a high rate of conversion from visitor to customer.