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Can you share a starter SEO action plan to help me promote my small business in Google’s local search?

Yes, I’ve got a basic SEO action plan for you to start getting your small business website well-optimized for online search locally. But before sharing my starter guide, let’s make a beginning with some basic knowledge. I mean that for nearly all business projects, which are mainly targeted online (or, for example, simply have got no physical location/store at all), running just standard organic SEO strategy is commonly almost fully sufficient. But the thing is that for small businesses with precise local/multiregional targeting, brick-and-mortar endeavors, and a lot of other niche-specific undertakings – mastering the Search Engine Optimization at the local level is a MUST. Yes, it may sound like a no-brainer, but its still very important distinction. But where do we actually start to quickly get top ranking performance in Google’s local search? What areas should be focused to make most out of your local business promotion? Well, here is exactly when devising your starter SEO action plan comes into being. So, below are some basic guidelines to help you put everything in action without wasting your precious time & hard effort. 

Getting Started with Local SEO: Action Plan for Beginners

For setting the right priorities from the very beginning, there will be just five crucial steps of the preeminent importance for your SEO action plan to be set in motion – first and foremost. Consider the following basic instructions to lay a solid foundation for your further effort in getting your business website sufficiently optimized for Google’s local search. So, let’s delve.

Step One: Google My Business Dashboard 

The first thing to be done for setting our SEO action plan into motion is creating a high-quality business profile on Google, verifying your listing and acquiring authenticity in its right primary & secondary categories. Given that in the eyes of the search engines, it will become arguably the strongest indication of what your endeavor is actually all about – make sure to be accurate and cautious when choosing only right values, which should be best-matching your main business activities and its key targets. From the very beginning of the process, you should think twice before you finally specify the most determining business categories and subcategories. That way, make sure to be consistent when setting up the key spheres of expertise and specialization – remember, this primary information (and your NAP data too) is meant to be further integrated into the rest of top online directories and business listings, in line with contributing your overall online presence in Google’s search index as well. Doing so, you can measurably improve your chances of getting better local ranking positions without a long time to wait for gaining the initial progress to that point.

Step Two: Quality Content Creation

Creating a sufficiently relevant, original and maximum compelling content must be always included to your local SEO action plan as the second crucial focus of top importance over there (i.e., your web copy itself, the major content-based elements of on-page SEO, custom landings targeted at a given city/town or region, the key hyper-localized service pages, related articles, posts, etc.). Forget about trying to maintain a certain keyword density, never keep recycling the same content topics, and avoid getting your Header Tags/Meta Descriptions over-optimized. Remember, acting in such straightforward way just for the sake of getting better results in the search engines actually doesn’t work anymore. After all, why would your website deserve to be ranked locally before the lion’s share of your closest competitors – when people aren’t served with a useful content delivering a real added value to each reader, right? 

That’s why I personally believe that there can’t be any universal formulas or “one-size-fits-all” approaches over there, at least when it comes to high-quality content creation. Just keep in mind that your top goal behind self-promotion is to offer the original shred of content regarding a needed product or service your potential clients/buyers are actually looking for. All you need is to provide only valid and deeply descriptive information that must clearly articulate in what way your business will meet the main needs of your target audience (or, say, how exactly it can address their current “pain points” regarding your product/service ) – and you’re already halfway done.

Step Three: Local Content Optimization

Once you get everything in place with a properly created user-friendly content body, it’s time to brush everything up for a correct look in the eyes of the search engines too. On top of that, of course, your localized Metadata and the rest of precisely-targeted key on-page SEO elements should be polished as well. Ultimately, the main goal here is to indicate your closest topical relevancy to a given city/town or region served with your business. Doing so, consider reshaping the following fundamental content-based items relying on these simple yet indispensable on-page optimization recommendations:

  • Maximize the weight of your Title Tags with the search engines – when applicable, try to infuse each of those arguably biggest on-page SEO factors of your website with a single closely-related hyper-localized search term. 
  • Of course, you must never go for "keyword overstuffing" – but emphasizing a precise local targeting with every Title Tag, as well as occasionally mentioning your business brand name over there and, say, adding its slogan modifiers will all make sense after all. 

  • Leverage SEO-friendly URL structure, in line with making all custom URLs as short, concise and keyword-rich as possible. Remember, short & descriptive URLs making good sense for the user – always tend to rank better in Google's organic search listings, particularly when it comes to on-page optimization at the hyper-local level.
  • Take a moment to rethink your existing Meta Descriptions and finally complete all missing ones – of course, should it happen that you had actually overlooked some of them. When optimizing these important shreds of Metadata, think about each element as an enticing caption that should give a catchy and clear summary for the whole content body of each related web page. Doing so, I recommend focusing mainly on long-tail keyword expressions, LSI search terms, and top relevant synonyms frequently used among the audience you're targeting with your content – that will also reinforce your local and topical relevancy in the eyes of the search engines too. 
  • Image Optimization – don't forget to embed your on-page graphics with a correct locally-targeted Image ALT Tag (of course, when it DOES make sense for the user), occasionally mixed with your main target keywords. That way, make sure to get every image file name well-optimized as well – just remember to drop some top relevant search terms over there too. Use hyphens instead of dashes/underscores for separating lowercase text and make sure you don't overdo with that (I mean that having up to around 3-5 separate words over there would be sufficiently enough to that point). 

Step Four: Local Listings/Business Directories

Next, you will need to get your key NAP data (i.e., the name of your business, its physical address/website URL, and the primary contact info) listed around the Internet. Ultimately, to confirm your business identity to the search engines (and your company’s precise regional targeting too). All you need is to maintain consistency – i.e., submitting only accurate NAP data and keeping all the venues on track currently having your business listed. Also, you should do your best to get included to the databases of the most authoritative business directories and top popular local listings (for example, such as Yellow Pages, CitySearch, Foursquare, etc.) – for grabbing some extra local SEO links/comments/mentions and so on. That way, you will not only improve your own authority on given content topics (and at some point articulate a genuinely high quality of your product/service), but also call for more credit to be given by the search engines regarding your website’s higher positions in organic search – both in scope of general SEO, and at the level of locales.

Step Five: Building Links & Monitoring Reviews

After all, your local SEO action plan should place a particular emphasis on maintaining a net positive value your Google user reviews – make sure to maintain a constant monitoring needed for taking a proactive step or delivering a timely settlement to every occasional negative feedback. Doin so, you should also remember about such really indispensable thing as pulling together a good number of local links (i.e., encouraging external third-party websites and related local blogs with a sufficiently high PageRank score and strong amount of well-established Domain Authority). Note, however, that you must always be cautious when getting external links to your own pages – simply because having paid links, taking part in link wheels (otherwise, link exchanges), applying for Private Blog Networks, or employing any other illegitimate approaches to natural link building might as well end up with earning yourself at least a temporary ranking penalty (i.e., ranking demotion), instead of any actual promotion on your way to Google’s top local search positions. That’s it.

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