With small businesses, SEO can seem a little bit tricky, and that is because you have to consider location when optimising your website. Most small businesses offer services or products to the local community, so if you are not approaching SEO with that in mind, you can end up wasting plenty of money on reaching a target that isn’t even in your area, and therefore unable to take advantage of what you’re offering. There is also the local competition to think about. So when you are doing SEO for a small company, you need to pay attention to efforts that better your local optimisation in terms of proximity to your potential clients and followers, as well as your ability to rank above whoever is offering a similar service in your area. The bottom line when it comes to SEO for companies of this type is ‘location, location, location.
Where you’re at…
The first thing you need to consider with your SEO strategy is how effectively you tell Google where your business is situated. If you are running (for example) a tiny coffee shop in Melbourne, then ask yourself who you want your audience to be. You don’t need to rank highly on an international scale, in fact, you don’t even want to be competing with competitors that are outside of your area. In fact, you can and should go more extreme with this line of thinking if you want to beat the local competition. Forget Melbourne, if your coffee shop is located in the City of Port Phillip, then you probably don’t even want to waste your efforts on advertising to greater Melbourne. Focus your keywords and your AdWords campaign on as local a spot as you can, detailing the specific area you are operating in. This way there will be less competition to go up against, and you will only be advertising to the audience who will most likely bring your business. This kind of local SEO is not for the faint of heart, and mistakes can end up costing in the long run. That is why it is probably better to leave the SEO to the professionals and opt for services from a digital marketing agency in Sydney, for example.
Understanding the Google Pigeon Algorithm
Recently, Google released an update to their Pigeon algorithm which was intended to better the relevance of SERPs, especially with regards to location. This update was intended to help users find information on local businesses, based on the location they are searching from, but for those who didn’t quite understand the functions of this algorithm, rankings have been hit hard due to a lack of localised optimisation.
Let’s say that my coffee shop in Port Phillip, before the Pigeon update, had always enjoyed the ranking benefits of using the localised keyword, ‘Melbourne’. But one day I wake up and find that my site is ranking poorly, and the reason seems to be that Google no longer determines that my coffee shop is in fact in that city. Why has this happened?
Well, the reason I would have experienced this problem, would have been because of the recently updated Pigeon algorithm which has narrowed the search field regarding location. So now the greater Melbourne area is not specific enough for my site to be considered relevant. The best thing I could do in this regard is changing my SEO to reflect an even more localised strategy, one that comes from Port Phillip, and attracts the users who are searching for a good cup of coffee from there. Find out more about what you should know about the recent Google Pigeon Update, to get a full understanding of how this works, it will better the way you approach SEO.
SEO strategies for small businesses
So what does this mean for you as the SEO manager of a small business? Well, it means you’ll have to adapt your strategy to gear more for localised SEO if you haven’t already done so. If you haven’t, then these strategies may be of help. Even if you have, you might just find some useful titbits that will help you get more out of your current efforts:
1. Create local business pages for three different search engines
You should start by creating local listings pages for the three major search engines, Google, Yahoo and Bing. In doing this, you should supply information about your businesses location and contacts, including location, phone numbers, operating hours and email addresses. Being listed with these engines will be the first step in ranking favourably within your immediate location.
2. Optimise and categorise your local pages
- The first thing you want to do in order to optimise your page is to provide it with a lot of interesting and relevant content, whether that comes in the form of text, images or rich media. Make sure that every piece of content adequately promotes or describes your company.
- Secondly, and most importantly, you need to categorise your business. Search engines won’t display any businesses that are not correctly categorised in accordance with their 2-5 categories that are designed to help them understand what your business does. This penalty is even heavier for those sites that have categorised their businesses in a misleading way.
3. Detailed and accurate business listings
- It is important to have consistent details filled out across as many listings as you can. In each one, fill in an identical name, address and phone number for your business. If someone has been kind enough to already list your company on an index, don’t worry; all you have to do is claim the citation. To claim a citation, first check that there is not another business using the name and location that you want.
- User tools like Google MapMaker, Yext and Localeze to help you along in this regard.
4. Build up some reviews
- Google seems to use existing reviews in their rankings, specifically with their carousel design, but the reviews are more useful for users who want a quick glance at what other people are saying is worth looking at.
- There are a few ways to generate reviews, but a lot of them might not give you the natural results you want for your campaign to see the most success. Help your customers give you a favourable review more easily by putting a button on your website, or prompt customers to leave one after using your service or visiting your website.
5. Optimise your actual website
- Everything about your website should be geared towards local SEO if that’s where your business comes from.
- Make sure that your contact information can easily be found on your site, specifically your address and phone number.
- Go through your keywords and make sure that they are adequately leveraged for local searches. Do they include the name of the area you are in? If not, change that.
- Write content that is specific to your location. It can be news, events, and opinions, anything… so long as it shows that you are involved in your immediate community.
- Reach out to organisations that have a hand in your business’s niche, in one way or another. Get them to backlink to your website if you can. The more quality backlinks you can find, the better your ranking will be. This also applies to businesses that are in your area. If you can be seen as an active part of your localised community, your local rankings will sing.
Ranking favourably on local SERPs may not be a completely simple task, but it also doesn’t have to be frustratingly impossible. These tips are just a small part of a massive bank of strategies that can help you rank more highly and get more business for your small company. What do you think, was anything left out? We would love to hear your opinion.