How to Do SEO for Local Businesses on a Budget
Search engine optimization (SEO) seems to be a permanent fixture in the language of business nowadays. There’s no question that it’s incredibly important for your business to practice good SEO in order to draw in clients and grow. But many business owners think they have to hire expensive SEO companies, invest thousands in analytics, and spend a fortune on marketing experts in order to make SEO work for them. That, however, is not true. If you’re trying to increase your local SEO and you’re a small business owner, you’re in luck. As it is with most things, the tried and true “old fashioned” SEO techniques still work exceptionally well – and most of them are free or very low in cost. Below are some ideas to try out if you’re looking to make a big impact on a small budget.
Content marketing is and, if recent studies are any indication, will be the king of SEO for a long time to come. Using informative content that has strategic keywords built in is still one of the best ways to draw in search engine traffic and keep people interested in what you have to say. Here are some tips for keeping your content SEO-friendly and easy for readers to digest.
- Keep it Simple – This is not the place where you want to go into complicated descriptions of how your business works. In fact, this content shouldn’t be directly about your business at all. If you sell insurance, don’t go into a lengthy description of insurance law. Instead, provide an easy-to read post in common language explaining how people can protect their home from a fire, or how to minimize workers compensation risks. Write it as though you were explaining it to a friend that knew nothing about your business.
- Keep it Informative – If your readers walk away thinking “So what?” you haven’t done your job. The content you provide should be informative, and it should be something they want to know. If they’re shopping for flowers, for instance, tell them which flowers are trending for Valentine’s Day or Christmas. Don’t tell them about when the lilac was first discovered.
- Keep it Short – In most situations it’s advisable to keep your content between 500 and 700 words. This allows your reader to quickly obtain the information they need, and they will always appreciate you being respectful of their time.
- Keep it Scannable – Break down your content into subheadings that tell the reader exactly what that section will talk about, and include bullet lists wherever possible. This allows your readers to quickly scan the content and get the main points if they don’t have time to read the whole thing.
By following these simple tips you’ll be well on your way to creating helpful content that your readers will appreciate. While including keywords in your content is important, don’t over-think them. Search engines are fast becoming more like humans in the way they evaluate content, because algorithm developers know that humans are the ones reading the content, and that they’re the ones that ultimately decide how useful a piece of content is. Definitely include your city name, main keywords like “insurance” or “flowers”, mention major holidays if applicable, and so on. But don’t stuff your content full of keywords to the point where it’s awkward to read. Read your content out loud. If it sounds unnatural, change it.
Cultivate User Interaction
One of the things search engines are now looking for when they determine the usefulness of a website is user interaction. In other words, are users interacting with the website by commenting, sharing, taking polls, watching videos, and so on. Anything you can do, then, to cultivate user interaction on your site is a good thing for SEO – and it’s usually free. Here are some ways you can cultivate user interaction on your site without spending a dime.
- Link to Social Media – Cultivating user engagement and interaction can be as simple as saying “Find us on Facebook” and including a link. You should be active on social media, particularly on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest if you sell a visual product. Link to any and every social media site on which your company is active. Also, allow customers to like and share your photos, products, announcements, and blog posts.
- Have a Blog – Put a blog on your website and update it once a week or so. Include a comments section, and end every blog post with a question or a call for feedback. This will encourage your readers to leave comments, which counts as user interaction in the eyes of search engines.
- Ask a Question – Include a poll on your website. You can ask about which product offerings your readers would like to see, how they liked your new ice cream line, or how many people have ever had to file a car insurance claim. It’s quick and fun for users, tells you a lot about your demographic, and increases your user interaction or user engagement.
Add Various Forms of Media
When most people think about SEO they tend to think about words, and for good reason. Most SEO does revolve around word-based content. However, media is becoming increasingly important in the world of SEO, as well, and search engine spiders will look to see if you have enough of it on your site. Here are some ways you can include media in a way that will increase your SEO results and bring in new customers.
- Videos – Whether you create your own YouTube channel or you’re sharing useful videos you think would be helpful, add some videos on your site that offer informative content to your viewers. When they click on a video to watch it, that action will count as user engagement as discussed above, and having media gives you SEO brownie points. It’s a two in one win for your SEO efforts.
- Pictures – Not only should you post beautiful pictures of your products and offerings, but if you’re focusing on local SEO you should post pictures of your storefront, the inside of your store, and the area you do business in. The captions and image descriptions for these photos are a great place to add your location name and keywords about the services you offer, as well, thus improving your SEO even more.
- Audio – Whether it’s a podcast, a song, or your appearance on a local radio show, add audio wherever possible.
Keep in mind that the titles and descriptions you use to tell your users about the media they’re looking at will also be a great way to up your local SEO. Never forget to put your city and location in the title, and use keywords naturally in the description. For instance, if you’re including a photo of a local beach that’s nearby your place of business you could say “ABC Florist is Located in Beautiful Huntington Beach, California.”
By using the above tips you can increase your local SEO dramatically without spending a cent. Even if you decide to purchase content for your site, there are very affordable options. Many companies will create short promotional videos for you at a reasonable cost, and if you connect with local businesses you may be able to negotiate a lower fee in exchange for the mutual promotion. However, it’s not always necessary to spend money on local SEO, so apply some of these tips to your site and watch your business grow.
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