Are you a local business owner? Whether you’re a lawyer, HVAC, dentist or any other local service / product provider, here are 9 things you should know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to help you increase your online visibility.
#1 Your Website is Your Company’s Greatest Online Asset
In a previous blog about HVAC SEO we mentioned the importance of treating your website like digital real estate.
Your website can be used to generate dozens of new leads for your business, or it can be another bill to pay at the end of the month.
If you’re in a competitive area, this especially applies to you. Take a look at your competition, a quick Google search will show you who’s ranking #1 for your desired keywords. Why? Because they treat their site like a piece of real estate that can bring home a few extra leads a month.
#2 Look at Your Numbers, Google Analytics and Search Console
You love the numbers at the end of your invoice right? What about the numbers on your website? Are you keeping track of the number of new users that are coming to your site vs the number of returning visitors? Do you know how your new users are even finding you?
If you’re serious about growing your online traffic, you NEED to become best friends with Google Analytics and Search Console.
Using Google Analytics
What’s the difference between the two? Google Analytics is a tool that you can use to find out how users are interacting with your site. This includes data such as:
- Bounce rate (how often do users just leave your site)
- Session rate (how long do users stay on your site)
- Popular pages (which specific pages are users going to)
- Devices (what devices your users are using e.g., desktop)
- Browsers (what browsers your users are using)
Using Google Search Console
So Google Analytics answers the “how are users engaging with your site?” question, but what does the search console do? Google’s Search Console allows you to find out how users are finding your site.
With Google Search Console, you can see which pages are ranking for what key phrases vs how many times they’ve been registered by Google. You can also see on what days you received certain clicks for specific pages. This data is critical for a data-driven marketing campaign.
There are two labels you should pay attention to: impressions, and clicks.
Impressions tell you how many times your site was recognized for a specific key phrase, and clicks tells you how many times your site was clicked when searched for that key phrase.
There are a few phrases such as “position” and “CTR” that you may want to look out for, but this gets to be a little more technical.
#3 Play With the Data You Already Have, and Find More
Assuming your site has been around for over 6 months, and you’re actively promoting your business, you probably have some traffic coming your way.
Your current traffic can teach you a lot, especially when you look at the numbers. You can see what keywords you’re already ranking for, and what position your site is ranked for those keywords.
If you’re in the legal industry, say for example a divorce mediator, and you notice an article you wrote about child custody is ranking very well in your local area, you should consider writing more content about that subject. You may also choose to continuously work on that specific article to help you rank even higher for various keyphrases.
Check to see what is ranking already, find the profitable keywords, and work hard to make the best content for your potential customers.
But how do I find profitable keywords? Continue reading to find out!
#4 Find Relevant and Profitable Keywords
This is probably the most talked about aspect of search engine optimization, and probably the one that you’ve seen most often in cold emails.
The reason is simple, you want to find, and rank for profitable / high ROI keywords. Ranking your HVAC company for “ac repair near me” or “emergency heating repair near me” is probably going to yield a lot more customers than “24 hour emergency heat pump part repair near me”
So how do you find the right keywords? Well most people these days are going on Google to answer a question before they buy. So start by finding the questions people are asking in your industry. We recommend using Answer the Public as it’s a free tool you can use to discover dozens of questions people are asking about your industry.
Pro tip: People are always asking about cost, and price structure. ESPECIALLY for industries like legal services, construction / contracting, and dental care.
Exploring keywords and finding good ones
To find the best keywords in your area you can use tools such as Google Keyword Planner, and Ubersuggest. Both are free tools that you can use to get a rough idea how profitable specific phrases are.
You’ll notice with both tools, and almost any keyword tool you use, always has the following terms:
Volume: This simply means how many times per month your target keyword is being search per month. The higher the volume, the more people are searching for that term.
Competition / Difficulty: Sometimes you’ll see KD (short for keyword difficulty), most of the time this is on a scale of 0-100, with 0 being almost no competition, and 100 being super competitive. Most local businesses will want to focus on key phrases that are between 0-20 competition.
CPC / Paid Difficulty: Most tools will give you an idea of what people are paying for a specific keyphrase. This is important because if you’re going after “dentistry in manhattan” but nobody is paying for that search term, chances are it’s for a reason.
Below are some free tools you can use to help you get started with keyword research:
- Quora (always great for finding questions)
- Answer the Public as mentioned before
- Google Keyword Planner
- Keywords Everywhere (now a paid tool) but $10 is the most basic plan and is all you need as a local business owner.
- Yoast SEO plugin, this is great if you’re using a Word Press site
- Reddit (you’d be surprised how many people overlook this site when searching for keywords)
For more on the vocabulary you might hear, check out our blog “SEO Terminology Basics“
#5 Check your site speed
How long does your site take to load? Is it loading lightening fast, or does it take 10 seconds? A slower correlates with having less traffic.
And it should! Search Engines want to give their users the best experience and best results, not a site that takes forever to load. How many of you really wait a full 10 seconds for a site to load? Maybe if it’s important to you, you’ll stay. But chances are you’re going to be capturing the attention of a cold audience, and a first impression (site speed) means a lot!
You can check your site speed by using a free tool called GTMetrix. Simply punch your domain and you’ll get a detailed report about your site speed.
One of our clients North American Elevator, had a site speed of 11.2s! The company’s bounce rate was through the roof! Everyone was clicking off the site and exiting because it simply took way too long. We did some site speed optimization to reduce that time to less than 3 seconds. Now users are staying on the site and engaging with it more.
How do you reduce site speed?
Upload smaller images, trim some fat, and cache everything.
To start, stop uploading huge files or something users are likely not going to see. If you visit North American Elevator you’ll notice the background image has a black overlay. This is because we chose a lower quality photo of New York, and added a black overlay so that you don’t notice the blur as much.
Next, you can trim some fat. Do you really need so many fancy animations? Yeah they look cool, but unless you know how to compress code, they can be a huge contributor to your site taking a long time to load!
Finally, if you’re using Word Press you may want to get a caching tool. To avoid any complicated lingo, caching stores the fat in places that make it easier to load your site. You can use a tool like W3 Total Cache.
#6 Are you verified on Google My Business?
When you search your business name on Google what comes up? Do you see something like the following?
If a listing, located on the right, does not appear that means you are NOT verified on Google My Business. Simply go to https://business.google.com and setup your business listing.
Why is this so important? Well because the maps section is more popular than the organic listing when it comes to local search. You want to make sure your business appears in the Google Maps section for your target keywords.
You should also encourage your customers, current and previous, to leave a review on your Google My Business page. Reviews are a big ranking factor, and having reviews that DESCRIBE the service you offered will do wonders for your SEO.
#7 Create CONSISTENT engaging and relevant content
As the director of a Digital Marketing Agency, I feel embarrassed saying this, but I have not been following this step on my own site for some time 😣. And I’ve paid the price for it.
Tips for creating content people WANT to read
Answer the questions you’re most commonly asked by prospects, customers, and fellow peers.
“how much does a divorce cost”
“how do I repair a broken bath drain?”
“Is it okay to hire an unlicensed contractor to repair my roof?”
The list can go on forever. The point is, think of 4-6 questions you’re most commonly asked and create content around that.
What kind of content? Blogs, infographs, videos, social media posts, GIFs, whatever you can think of. Remember, when making your content you want to be SOLVING a PROBLEM that your customers are having. Don’t talk about your service too much, always make it ABOUT your PROSPECT.
This is something one of my mentors first taught me when I stepped into the entrepreneur world, and it applies with SEO too. Create content to help somebody, not to talk about yourself.
Pro Tip: Create a blog, then add a video to your blog summarizing your topic, share it with friends and family, then share it on social media.
How often should I post content?
Assuming you’re doing the blog technique I just mentioned, you should be publishing one blog a week, or at least twice a month for steady and consistent growth. Remember to use keyword research tools to help you figure the right type of content to write for your audience.
#8 Get Some Backlinks, High Quality Backlinks
A backlink is a link that points to your site, simple! The not so simple part is getting those links. Directories like your local chamber, yelp, yahoo, are great ways to get backlinks and citations for your business.
However if you’re going after bigger keywords and are serious about growing your traffic, you want as many quality and relevant backlinks as possible.
If you’re a plumbing company, you want backlinks from home repair blogs, real estate blogs, and anything related to what you do. Accounts and lawyers, anything that talks about government, finance, and law would be a great place to get a backlink.
You can reach out to blog writers simply asking if they could kindly give you a backlink. Or you can buy a bunch from backlink gigs on Fiverr.
Just remember, you want to have backlinks that are relevant to your industry. As a digital marketing agency, I don’t want a bunch of backlinks from a soap company out in Russia… makes no sense!
#9 Engage in Guerrilla Warfare… Seriously
When there are hundreds of larger companies that you’re up against, you need to conserve your resources, grab as many small wins, and steal your competitor’s traffic undetected until you own it all.
To do this you want to use all platforms at your disposal. Publish content on your blog, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, EVERYWHERE.
Look for the keywords that very few people are talking about, and create content around that. It sounds counterproductive, but smaller keywords are going to be your best friend until you can build up authority to fight the heavy weights.
For now make sure you’re following this 9 tips for local SEO, and you’ll start generating more leads than you know what to do with.
Contact JCSURGE to do the job
If you’re interested in outsourcing your work, you can give us a call or email. We’ve been helping businesses just like yourself drive more traffic, and increase the number of lead they get per month as a result.
Call 917-747-4234, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE video audit of your site to see what you can do to improve your site’s traffic.