Do It Yourself Search Engine Optimization for Local Businesses
To many local business owners, dominating the world of search engines like Google and Bing might seem like it is way beyond the reach of a local brick-and-mortar company. However, we’re going to take the mystery out of search engine optimization and show you how you can do it yourself. If that sounds too good to be true, just read on. By the end of this article, you’ll understand how search engines work and the simple, non-technical steps you can take to get your site showing up at the top of the search engine results page!
How People Search For Local Businesses
Understanding how to take advantage of search engines all starts with understanding how people use them. Think about the things you search for. If you want to find a pizza place near your job by the Midway Airport, you go to a search engine and type in “Pizza Midway Airport” or something similar. How does the system decide what the closest match for your search would be?
All About Keywords
Keywords are one of the more important factors in how a search engine decides that your site is “about” a certain topic. The search engine looks through all its sites that have the words “Pizza Midway Airport” in them. It ranks how likely they are to be useful based on things like how many times the word is used and what other words are around the phrase.
There are a lot of shady people on the Internet who want to trick you into going to their site. For this reason, search engines know something is up if the phrase appears too many times on a page or in an unnatural way. Your keyword phrase should only occur once or twice for every 500 words on your page. This is called keyword density. The best way to get your site ranked well is to have quality content that uses the keywords in a natural way. Local businesses will want to include mention of the city, county or general area. Think about what someone might search for when looking for your services.
Domain Name – Your Front Door On the Net
Domain names are also important. Most search engines will think www.midwayairportpizza.com is probably a more likely match than www.somepizzas.com. Normally, a professional business has a domain name that relates directly to their business or services. However, if your business is called Tom’s Pizza, it doesn’t mean you can’t use www.tomspizza.com. There is another factor search engines use that is related to your URLs.
Since your website will have many unique pages, you can name the pages in a way that highlights certain keywords. If you know most people are searching for “Pizza Midway Airport”, you might want to make a page that talks about your location with a name like www.tomspizza.com/pizza-midway-airport/. You might want to make another page called www.tomspizza.com/pizza-chicago/. The search engine says, “Okay, this site has some keywords about pizza and the URL also mentions it, so it is probably truly about a pizza place near Midway Airport.”
Titles and Tags
A website’s page title tag is one of the most important places to use your keywords. The title should contain your keywords and other related words. The keywords are best placed near the start of the title for search engines to notice them. However, the title is also very important to your human readers! It’s the first thing they’ll see about your page in the search engine results page. Therefore, try to come up with a title that really draws the user in. Meta tags are somewhat obsolete and not used often. However, it’s still worth filling them out with related keywords just to be safe.
Checking Out the Keyword Competition
You might be wondering how to know what keywords you should focus on. You can use the Google Keyword Tool to see what people regularly search for. Put in a phrase that you think people might type into Google to find a service you offer. You’ll see the most common search phrases and also how much competition there is. There might be a keyword phrase that is often searched but has low competition. You could then set up a specific page on your site with keywords, titles and URL naming just to attract people searching for those phrases.
So let’s pretend that the keywords for Tom’s Pizza are all dominated by another nearby pizza place’s website. Does that mean Tom is out of luck? Nope! There is another factor that can help you lay claim to the keywords of your choice. That factor is link building.
So, we’ve learned all about keywords but there are other factors that come into play when it comes to search engines. Do a search for “Computers” in the search engine of your choice. What are the top sites that come up? Dell and Apple are at the top of the list. However, you’ll notice their page titles and URLs don’t say anything about computers. In fact, Apples home page barely contains any text at all! How do they get to be first?
When it comes to common phrases like “computers”, search engines also look at how many other websites have links going to your site. For example, how many sites are writing Apple products and Apps on a regular basis? Your page is considered high ranking for a certain keyword if lots of other sites link to yours. If these other sites talk about keywords that you want to focus on, you’ll indirectly be moving up in those search results as well.
Now, there are good ways and bad ways to get people to put links to your site on their own pages. We won’t go into the bad ways since search engines are getting more competent everyday at clearing out the junk. We’re just going to talk about the ways that will help your business in the long run.
The more your business gets involved in local activities, the more your links will pop up on other local websites. For instance, using a site like PRWeb to make a press release about a new service or event will end up with your link appearing on many news outlets. Getting involved with local charities, guest speaking at colleges and sponsoring scholarships are all ways that get your name into a news post on another companies website.
Creating videos and podcasts that relate to your business also lead to more links existing on other sites that point to your site. Registering your site with industry directory listings and social media groups can also create more links. Regularly writing a blog will give you chances to use your keywords and also might lead to people talking about the articles you write, which usually leads to more links being passed around.
Beware of Scams!
There is no quick way to get your site to the top of the search engine listings. Any company that promises to get you the number one spot are either lying or using cheap ranking tactics that search engines will eventually filter out.
Anyone Can Do It
As you can see, most of the strategies here aren’t rocket science. Setting up a website is easy with programs like WordPress and hosting companies that handle all the technical details. Link building is mostly just sending emails and telling people about the work your company is already doing. Do-it-yourself search engine optimization can lead to real results.
Trackback from your site.