In ye olde phonebooke days of yore, every business played by the same rules: alphabetical order. If you weren’t satisfied with losing out to AAA Plumbing every year, you could pay for a variety of advertisements designed to get the customer’s attention. In 2015, there’s Google. And unlike the phone book, there’s no way to guarantee your spot on Google’s search rankings.
But not only does Google control the criteria, methodology, results, and real estate of their search results, they also charge small businesses like you to appear on those results. Silicon Valley loyalists say it’s a simple yet brilliant business model, while others think it’s a simple yet brilliant anti-trust violation. But the reality is, it doesn’t matter who’s right. If you want your business to grow, you need to fight your way to the top of Google’s search results. So how do you do that?
Generally, there are three major local SEO strategies. Of course, these don’t cover SEO basics, like a functional website with the right keyword density and strong internal linking. But once you get that down, then what?
1. Content Marketing
First, some quick stats. More than 90% of marketers report that content creation is an effective SEO technique, and 50% said it was “very effective.” What’s more, about 75% of all SEO services engaged in an active SEO campaign say that content creation is part of their local SEO strategies. And we’re willing to bet the 25% that aren’t using content creation failed to convince a client to take the time to build a blog. And those clients who don’t invest in content creation will ultimately fall behind.
But remember: you can have the best content in the world, but if nobody reads it, then it won’t do you any good. That’s why you need…
2. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is effective in a number of ways. First, it can be a very useful method for sharing that great content across the Web. And since 70% of social media users will follow at least one local business online, it can also help generate leads. But more importantly, Internet users increasingly discover websites and links through their friends on social media. Getting your business out in front of those social media users is one of the most powerful local SEO strategies for growing your brand and finding new potential customers.
Link Building Prayer
First things first, if you try and take shortcuts by purchasing links from that Russian auction site you heard about, you’re only shooting yourself in the foot. There are plenty of organic, white-hat methods for building links. And virtually any respectable SEO company for small businesses would agree that link building is an integral part of all winning local SEO strategies.
There’s just one little problem: Google says that any intentional placement of a link violates their terms of service, and could incur a penalty. So we absolutely, definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to secure links for your website. Absolutely under no circumstances should you build relationships in the hopes of gaining a link to your site. On a totally unrelated note, isn’t it annoying how hard it is to read sarcasm online?
Follow these three local SEO strategies, and you should be well placed to start seeing results. Just remember to be patient, local SEO strategies take time to pay off.