The first few months of 2020 have been challenging for local businesses all around the world. Foot traffic is down and consumers are spending less money.
Society is learning a lot of tough lessons from this pandemic. In spite of everything else, this does underscore the importance of building an online presence.
More and more consumers are using the internet to find the products or services that they need. What are consumers searching for to find your services? What do you see when you search for these terms yourself?
If you’re not on the front page, then to many of these consumers you might as well not even exist.
This is where SEO comes into play. SEO is the process of structuring your website so that it shows up for popular search terms. There are plenty of Gurus who will tell you that you only need one or two specific things to rank, but what many forget is the basic process you can use. If you want to rank your business online, here is the simple 5 step process you need to follow.
- Research your competitors:
Who is successfully ranked for the competive search terms? What are they doing differently than you.
- Improve Your Web Design:
Is your site easy to use? Can website visitors find what they are looking for?
- Optimize your Content:
You have to use the right words in the right places. If you’re a plumber, consumers might search “hot water tank installation.” If you don’t mention this on your site, how does Google know that your site is relevant?
- Get links from other sites:
Make sure you are listed on directories and build relationships with suppliers and partners who can link to you.
- Optimize for conversions:
Not everyone that looks at your site is going to buy from or hire you. Try to make sure it’s easy to find the information they need, and locate your contact information.
Feel a little lost? While i’ve shown you the basic process, let’s go into a little more detail about what each step entails:
Step 1: Identify the Competition
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the most important step to any SEO campaign is to research your competitors.
What keywords are they going for? How have they structured their site? How many links do they have, and from what kind of sites? These are the questions to ask yourself.
Every keyword is a little different, so inspecting the websites that are most successful in your niche can show you what is needed to rank for the same terms, and often copying their strategies are enough to get you started.
Step 2: Make Sure Your Web Design is On Point
There are tons of tiny technical factors to consider with SEO, but the most important thing to consider is website usability.
Did you know that over 50% of website visitors are using their phones? And yet many websites just don’t look right on a mobile device. We call this “responsive design,” and it’s one of the most overlooked usability issues many sites face.
Beyond the design itself, you’ll want to use Google analytics tools like user flow and metrics like bounce rate to find out what users are doing on your site. Are they finding the information they need? Are they moving through your sales process?
If users are simply hitting your website and immediately returning to the search engine, your SEO efforts are not going to have any significant result.
Step 3: Optimize Your Content
Content optimization is one of the most important strategies in any SEO campaign. Sure, you can use tools to make sure your TF*IDF is on point, and there are tons of analytics to compare your content to others.
But ultimately it all boils down to this:
if you want to be the first result in Google, you need to cover the entire topic thoroughly and in detail. Write articles, and touch on topics that your competitors missed.
Additionally, it’s important to supplement your primary pages with informational pages that target related keywords. After all, Google’s main objective is to help users find informational resources.
What resource would you recommend: a book covering everything about one topic, or a single pamphlet with a sales page? Make your website the ultimate resource for consumers looking to hire a business like yours and you are well on your way to starting a successful SEO campaign.
Step 4: Get Relevant Links
Link building is, for many, one of the most challenging aspects of SEO. But for local businesses, it doesn’t have to be that hard.
Step one is to get all of your branded links in place by setting up your core social media profiles.
We recommend starting with:
Next focus on citations – common business directories like Yelp, Yellowpages, etc. There are many lists of citations out there, and I’d shoot for 50 citations in your first month.
Make sure that every profile has a description of your business, your business name, address, and phone number. Formatting is important.
Finally, for month 3 and on, round it out with some backlinks from niche relevant sites. We recommend contacting suppliers, vendors, partners, or professional organizations related to your industry. Offer to provide them a useful article to their site and include a backlink. For many local businesses you may need only 5 to 10 of these to rank well, and being connected to relevant websites in your industry helps you establish yourself as an authority.
Step 5: Optimize for Conversions
Seo is all about getting more traffic. So what happens once you start getting that traffic? You want to pay attention to CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization.
In short, you want to make the most of your traffic by converting as many visitors as possible into paying customers. Start by taking some measurements.
If you had 250 visitors one month and 4 sales, then you have a conversion rate of 1.6%. What can you do to improve this?
You can start by looking at your analytics and find out what content people are reading on your site. Does this content effectively direct people into the next step in the sales process? Are users browsing around unable to find what they want? You can play around with changing the content and structure to see if you can improve your conversion rate.
Some web platforms even allow you to split test: run 2 versions of the same page and see which works better.
If you can double the number of customers who end up calling, you can double your revenue without improving rankings. SEO is often just focused on ranking, so CRO is commonly overlooked and can be a quick win for businesses with established websites.
Back to Basics
Every year, Gurus come on with some neat little trick that can help skyrocket your site to new levels. But tricks and trends can only get you so far. And in the local business space, search terms tend to be less competitive than national terms.
If you are a local business looking to start with SEO, it’s important to focus on the basics. Don’t get too hung up on the specifics. Just do your best to create the most useful site possible, and make slow improvements to any pages that aren’t performing as you’d like.
By focusing on these core components you’ll be ahead of 70% of the competition, allowing you to bring in some easy revenue before you really scale up your efforts.