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Local search engine optimization (SEO) is almost a whole different ball game from “regular” SEO, because smaller businesses have the major advantage of geographic filtering.
This isn’t just about adding locally charged keywords to your onsite keyword optimization… but that it one heck of a start. Case in point: “San Antonio graphic designer” tells search engines that you are a graphic designer, in San Antonio. Even if you will gladly work with design clients around the globe, there are bigger fish competing for “graphic designer” in the search engines.
That’s why global corporations invest a ton of money on PPC advertising for specific geographic demographics… because search engines like Google prioritize the most relevant (i.e.- local) results.
But don’t stop on your site, because organic placement on the front page of search results is even easier and faster when you claim and maintain your listing in local directories.
More importantly, consider your primary industry when working on local SEO. For some businesses, Google might not even be the biggest search engine that brings you new traffic.
Note—it could take a very long time for your actual website to rank on the front page of Google, outside of Google Places listings. However, the leading sites that outrank you tend to work in your favor.The most obvious example: Yelp would be the leading source of traffic for a pizza shop.
Need another example? Travelocity can be your best friend if you run a bed and breakfast.
Sure, maintaining a positive presence on the web can be a tedious thing… especially if you choose to do it yourself. It is critical that you respond to all reviews published online… the good and the bad. You have to be proactive, and sometimes you have to publish promotional offers and update multiple social networks.
The bottom line is that an active presence backed by local SEO is a lot of hard work rewarded by targeted exposure to the most qualified audience.