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DIY Local Search Optimization

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Local search DIYThe majority of local businesses we work with think it’s incredibly difficult to promote their website online. That’s why they come to us. They get uncomfortable thinking about taking on the task of building links, ranking in search engines, and ultimately driving traffic to their websites. Most local companies also have limited marketing budgets, making the task even more difficult. But promoting your online presence is often easier than most think. Many of the tasks can be completed by you, the local business person and better still, the majority of them are free. The big secret is, many businesses don’t even need that much work to get their site to page one. Using the following resources, local businesses can get a great start on the local search optimization process and the best part is, they can do it all themselves.

Google Places: If you don’t already have a Google Places profile for your business, create one.  Doing so will get your business listed on Google Maps and more importantly, it will help your site to rank better. Google looks at your Places profile information when it ranks local sites. Enter your company name, address, phone number and website into the profile. Use the DBA of your business and do not attempt to Keyword stuff the title. It’s important to list this information exactly like your mailing address.

Google Places Coupons: Everyone likes a deal. Listing a coupon on your Google Places profile is a great way to attract new customers to your business. It also helps to remind old customers that you’re company is still around. Once you set up your Places account Google lets you list free coupons that will be made available to relevant local searches.

Yahoo/Bing Local: Yahoo & Bing local are another set of local directories organized by category and geographic location. Although not as powerful as Google Places, they still help to develop your online visibility. You can claim or create a basic listing in both of these directory services for free. People searching for your business or industry on either Bing or Yahoo will likely run across your local listing.

Citation Building: Citations are nothing more than a reference of your business information (name, address, phone and website) that are posted on the web. They are like links for your Google Places profile. The more Google sees this information the higher they will rank your business in your local region. Citations are also an extremely important part of building your overall local online visibility and you should be in as many directories and local online resources as possible. I can’t emphasize how important this is for your business.

Get Reviews: An integral part of ranking well and building consumer confidence in both Google Places Bing and Yahoo Local listings are reviews. Many of my customers find it extremely difficult to solicit reviews from their customers. But you’d be surprised at how easy this process really is. All you have to do is simply ask your customers to go online and write these reviews. Explain to them how much it would mean to you and your business. Customers usually react well to this type of genuine interaction. The companies with more reviews defiantly get preferential treatment as far as the local listings go. If you’re still having trouble getting reviews, offer an incentive. Put a sign on the counter or reception desk that says, “$10 off your next purchase if you print out a review that you’ve posted to Google Places”. It’s important that these reviews come for real customers with different IP addresses.

YellowPages.com: Yellow Page advertising may be on the decline but the company still has a strong brand name and is highly recognized by the consumer public. They offer a few levels of listings, but the most basic costs nothing and takes only 5 minutes to set up.

Issue a Press Release: Is your company doing something newsworthy? Submitting a press release to services like PRWeb or Webwire can get you first page exposure for even the most competitive keywords. The PR sites previously mentioned do cost money but there are many free press release distribution channels out there. Press releases can give your site a huge traffic boost and publishing one a month is about average.

No Blog, Start a Free One: Does your website have a company blog? I’m sure you’ve heard how powerful these marketing channels are but they cost money to implement into a static website. Fortunately there are many free blogging platforms available to help get you on your way. Sites like Hubpages, WordPress and Squidoo can give you a place to start bogging and help your business gain exposure, visitors, readers, and subscribers. These folks can eventually become customers so make sure your copy speaks to them. This type of marketing channel also helps to establish your company as industry experts. People like dealing with businesses that know what they’re talking about. Linking your blog  to your website will also help it rank better.

Local Directories: It doesn’t get any easier than signing up for free advertising. Go to sites like Best of the Web Local, Yelp, Citysearch, and Hotfrog and sign up. These directories help you to rank and also build citations for your Google Places profile. They’re also anther channel to solicit reviews. Google Places actually gathers these reviews and lists them in your Places profile, helping the page to rank above your competitors.

Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn: Create social media pages to get connected with the customers you know and develop relationships with the people you don’t know. These social platforms are extremely powerful and help create a channel for online interaction. Google also takes these properties into consideration when ranking you site.

Email Signatures: When writing your email, add your website URL to your signature. Use different tactics like including your mission statement, or a catch phrase to let folks know more about what you do. Switch it up from time to time so people take notice.

Do Article Marketing: Take advantage of article distribution article directories like Ezine Articles, ISnare, and Articlebase. Talk about your industry, trends or things happening in your field. Create articles to attract new leads to your website. Once they’re there, offer them free stuff like eBooks or Reports that they can made available after entering their contact and email info.

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