Building a Local SEO Foundation

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While promoting your practice’s site directly with the Google, Bing and Yahoo is the primary focus of the Local Search Jump Start program, it is worthwhile to start off on your home turf to make sure that your website is as friendly to local search traffic as possible. In most cases, this is a fairly simple project that requires a minimal amount of research and a little bit of tweaking to the content of your site. The three main areas that we will be focusing on in this module include:

  • Researching Geographically Optimized Long Tail Keywords
  • Implementing These Keywords in Your Site’s Content and Metadata
  • Building a Network of Local Inbound Links

Long tail keywords are keyword phrases that typically consist of three to five words that target internet users who are searching for very specific information or services. Long tail keywords may not attract the same volume of traffic as a broader keyword campaign, but they are much more effective at bringing in traffic from visitors who are likely to respond to your site’s call to action. At the same time, long tail keywords are typically far less competitive than the general keyword phrases associated with most professional services.

The easiest way to find the right long tail keywords for your local search marketing campaign is to spend a little bit of time using a keyword research tool like Google Adwords, WordTracker or WordStream. Begin by entering some of the most common keywords associated with your profession along with the name of your city, county or region. The long tail keywords that appear in your results may be wide open or fairly competitive depending on your location and your practice’s niche. Either way, try to find a couple of relevant local keyword phrases that receive a promising amount of monthly traffic and are not already dominated your competition.

Next, review your practice’s website and look for opportunities to incorporate these keywords into your content and metadata. The best place to begin is by inserting your most promising long tail keyword in the meta description of your site itself. The meta description is the short introduction that appears beneath your link in search results, and search engines give a great deal of priority over the keyword terms that appear in this field. Your long tail keywords should also be included in the content of your homepage and the description of your actual services. These keywords do not need to appear more than one or two times per page, and it is important to try to use them as naturally as possible.

Although link building is an aspect of local search marketing that many SEO consultants overlook, having a few inbound links from respected local websites is an excellent way to improve your site’s ranking. A good place to start is to find out what types of hyper-local websites cover businesses and services in your area. Search for queries like “(city/county) blog” or “(city/county) news” and see what pops up. If you strike gold, try to figure out how you can earn a direct link from their site.

Along a similar note, make sure that your practice is listed properly on major review sites like Yelp and CitySearch. Even if your business has already been listed and reviewed on these sites, it’s likely that you will need to update the listing with a direct listing to your website. This is also a good opportunity to include other content such as photos and directions that will help you stand out when potential clients are using these sites to research local businesses.

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The Basics of Local Search Marketing

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Unless you are marketing your professional service to a global or nationwide audience, the chances are that your online presence has always been focused on attracting clients within a particular geographic region. The purpose of local search marketing is simply to refine your existing campaign so that potential clients see your business at the top of the list when they are searching for professionals in their area. In order to stay ahead of the competition and earn top placement in local search results for your profession, there are two local search marketing techniques that you need to put into place:

  • Optimize your online presence for relevant local search queries
  • Promote your site effectively on the local listing centers of the three major search engines

Despite the fact that most professional service firms are well aware of the fact that they are relying on local clients for the majority of their business, all too many firms do not know how to properly incorporate local SEO strategies into their marketing campaign. No matter what type of service you happen to offer, the truth of the matter is that most people prefer to do business with professionals that they can meet with face to face. As a result, most potential clients will begin searching for practices in their area that offer the services that they need once they have done the necessary research to know what it is that they want. The key to effective local search marketing is knowing how to make yourself visible at the moment that your neighbors are ready to act.

When it comes to your actual website, there are a few simple techniques that we will discuss in further detail in the second module of today’s lesson. The first step is isolating the perfect keyword phrases that will let you stand out from your local competitors in the eyes of the major search engines. While it takes a little bit of experience in researching keywords to know how to spot the right opportunities, incorporating the right long tail keywords into your site’s content and meta data will always pay off in the long run. At the same time, building a solid network of links from local sources is a time proven method of increasing your site’s authority and improving your placement in local search results.

The other side of local search marketing is learning how to create, manage and promote your practice’s listing with the major search engines. Google, Bing and Yahoo each have their own approach to listing businesses and services in their local search results, and there are a few ways to make your listing stand out by understanding what each search engine is looking for. Each of the big three search engines offer opportunities for businesses to list themselves for free, and even spending an hour or two ensuring that your listing is accurate and up to date can increase local traffic to your site. At the same time, there also opportunities for promoting your site through taking advantage of pay-per-click or flat fee advertisements that can be very effective if you know how to use them properly.

As search engines continue to make the transition towards more personalized search results, knowing how to put the right local search strategies into place for your professional service practice are becoming more important than ever. Traditional SEO practices and high quality content may continue to be at the forefront of your online marketing efforts, but local content marketing is now an essential component of ensuring that your practice’s message is reaching the right potential clients at the right time.

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