Long gone are the days when a small local business could ‘get away with’ not implementing search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques, or even not bother with SEO at all.
In truth, there are so many potential benefits these days for a small local firm that runs a well-executed SEO campaign. For your own company, those could include such things as increasing the volume and quality of your website traffic, improving conversion rates of visitors into sales, better managing your online reputation and even stealing a march on competitors.
Understandably, though, if you’ve never run an SEO campaign before, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed not knowing where to start. So, let’s show you how SEO can be done in a way that is genuinely beneficial for your business, by outlining the five ‘pillars’ of successful local SEO.
That word ‘technical’ can be a scary one for those who are only just asking themselves “how can SEO help my business?” But don’t run away quite so soon! Technical SEO is, in fact, basically just aspects of your site’s SEO other than the content. It’s about laying a strong foundation so that your site’s content has the best possible chance of performing well.
Another way of looking at technical SEO is that it concerns those technical changes to your website likely to help to boost your rankings.
A technically sound website from an SEO point of view, then, is one that loads quickly, can be easily crawled by search engines, has no or very few dead links, isn’t littered with duplicate content, and is actually secure.
These are just some aspects of your site that – if they aren’t optimised – could hamper or inconvenience human users, search engine spiders, or both. So by spending time fine-tuning these elements of your site, you could be greatly helping it to deliver the best possible search-engine performance.
The name may seem to make this pillar of local SEO fairly self-explanatory to a lot of you reading this. But just for clarity, on-site SEO, otherwise known as on-page SEO, is the practice of optimising elements that are actually on your website. That’s as opposed to ‘off-site SEO’ factors, such as links to your site from other parts of the Internet.
On-site SEO, then, relates to both your pages’ readable content and HTML source code. It’s a type of SEO that aims to make it easier for both search engine spiders and human users to understand what your website is about, as well as its relevance and usefulness.
Once upon a time, effective on-site SEO would’ve basically meant the savviest use of keywords to attract the attention of search engine spiders. Nowadays, though, it’s the relevance of your on-page content that really matters. So, when you’re optimising for on-site SEO, be sure to aim for thorough, unique, user-friendly and above all, useful content.
Mirroring the situation with on-site SEO above, off-site SEO is also frequently referred to as ‘off-page SEO’. Actions that you take away from your website itself to improve its search engine rankings – for example, efforts to get other reputable sites to link to yours – come under this banner.
Such links are known as ‘backlinks’, which are utterly central to off-site SEO. These are important because search engines regard them as a sign of the quality of the content that is being linked to. So, if a particular page of yours is acclaimed enough to attract lots of links from other trusted sites, it’ll probably enjoy higher search engine rankings than an otherwise equal page with far fewer backlinks.
However, with off-site SEO effectively being about how the rest of the Internet sees your site, it’s not just gathering backlinks that you need to do. Such other activities that occur away from your main website as guest blogging on other people’s blogs, social media marketing and even unlinked mentions of your brand online, can all help to bump up your local business’s search engine positions over time.
While, as we touched on earlier in this article, keywords don’t play quite as potent a role as they once did in SEO, they definitely still matter. After all, if you perform a search online for ‘chicken and cheese pizza in Leicester’ (don’t judge us), you’ll expect to be presented with a list of Leicester-based establishments that serve chicken and cheese pizza.
You’ll, therefore, need to spend some time contemplating what search terms to target with your own local business’s SEO. Ask yourself who your target customers are, what they’re likely to be searching for, how many people are likely to be searching for it, and in what format they’ll want to receive the information they’re looking for.
Then, you’ll be able to use more advanced keyword research tools and strategies to determine what exact search terms to optimise for. You’ll need to strike the right balance between keywords that are popular and those that you have a realistic chance of ranking well for. But of course, every keyword that you use should also be relevant to what your site and business do.
You might have previously heard or encountered the phrase ‘content is king’. It’s a reference to the immense importance that the content your brand creates has to its chances of ranking well in the search engines. This, therefore, isn’t an aspect of your local SEO campaign that you should neglect.
Your own brand’s content strategy will encompass pretty much any tangible media that your site creates. Think such things as its written content, its visual content, its downloadable content… yep, the lot. It’s the customer-facing part of your SEO campaign, demonstrating what your brand is and why your local business is a knowledgeable, reputable and authoritative force in its industry.
There’s a lot that you need to think about when putting together a local SEO content strategy. What problems do your target customers have, and what kind of content will help to solve those problems? How can your content best communicate what differentiates your brand from nearby rivals? What formats will be focusing on for your content – blog posts, videos, infographics or perhaps a combination of these and other formats?
Other crucial considerations include the channels where you could conceivably publish your content – such as your website, blog and social media profiles – and how you will manage the creation and publication of this content. With so much to oversee when putting together a content strategy, it’s no wonder that so many local firms turn to a trusted agency like Success Local for a little bit of help.
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Remember; for your local SEO efforts to be truly successful, they’ll need to combine all five of the above pillars in some way. Your campaign will also be an ongoing, not one-off process, requiring a lot of time, effort and patience.
Before you even start, though, you should define your business’s goals for its SEO campaign, so that you have some way of assessing whether it is a success or not.
You might have landed on this page, for example, due to a search for “how can SEO increase web traffic?” Or are you looking to achieve higher sales from your e-commerce store, manage your brand’s online reputation more effectively, or even exert greater influence in your field or industry? Different local businesses can naturally have very different ambitions and priorities.
If you’d like to learn more about how SEO can be done in a way that genuinely helps your local business, simply call our professionals at Success Local today, on 01455 367 100.