You don’t need to hire an expensive SEO company to set a solid foundation for your future efforts in promoting your business on the Internet. The following steps should be taken by any local business:
1. Get a website and spend time on the content.
You can certainly drive traffic directly from Google properties to your business, but having a website gives you a much more robust platform to showcase your business, and gives Google a better picture of what it’s about.
- Register your own domain name (yourbusiness.com) and pay for the hosting. Free websites don’t look good to the search engines and don’t look good to your customers.
- Whether you build the website yourself (IF you are technically oriented), or hire a web design company to do it, you need to be involved in the creation of the informational content. If you don’t have time to do that, then wait to start the project until you do have time.
- Compartmentalize your content based on theme. Search engines and users like pages that are all about the search terms and nothing else.
- Use simple, relevant search terms in the navigation. No one likes mystery meat.
- Pay special attention in completing all Page Titles, Meta Descriptions and Page Headings (h1, h2, h3) with relevant words. Use important words early.
2. Claim or create a Google Plus Local Business Page (formerly Google Places).
Google has given away a lot of the top real estate in its search engine results pages (SERPs) to large directories or review sites. It is also increasingly taking that real estate for itself. What is left to small local businesses are placement in what is called “Map Packs.”
To get in these valuable map packs:
- Complete the listing to 100%.
- Use the business name, phone number, and address as it appears on your website, and use that information, precisely to the character, when creating other listings, or referring to your business online, in any way. This is referred to as NAP (name, address, phone) and consistency is of the utmost importance in giving the search engines a clean signal about your local business.
- Use language in the description that prospective clients would use when searching for your services.
- Take time to select the correct category or categories.
3. Create local business listings on Yahoo and Bing in the same way.
4. Find other popular local business listing websites that are general, or relevant to your business, and create listings there.
5. If you are active in the Google Plus social network, or use Adwords or Youtube for your business, make sure to set them up on the same account, and link them. This helps Google know directly where your business is on the web and especially other Google Properties, and what your business is about. If you let Google guess, it often guesses wrong, with unfortunate consequences.
I’ve had many clients come to me after being charged thousands of dollars by unscrupulous SEO companies, only to find out that the company they hired did less than what I’ve listed above, and not even completely or correctly. If you don’t have time to do everything listed above, contact me and I can help.