How do people find any local business online?
The first place most people look for any kind of activity and class, myself included, is through a Google search. Oftentimes, search results aren't kind to local vendors because most small activity-based businesses aren't using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to their advantage. The good news is, you don’t need to spend a ton of money and time to give yourself a competitive edge in this regard.
Find out how to use local SEO to make your business a winner:
SEO Optimizaition is one of the most overlooked marketing strategies that small businesses in every community should be capitalizing on. Not only will it give each enterprise more exposure in our digital-first world but it will also allow them to be discovered by consumers who previously didn't even know they were an option.
SEO: What is it?
First, let's properly define the terms. Local SEO is when search engines prioritize local businesses based on the searcher’s location. For example, if you're a gymnastics club in Omaha, NE, you're probably not focused on people residing in Los Angeles seeing your online store. For most services and small businesses, local is the best and easiest place to organically build an audience.
As it turns out, Google knows this as well, so they prioritize local businesses in geographic-specific searches. This is why ranking well in a local online query is so important. A prioritization isn't a guarantee either, so you need to make sure you're doing all you can to rank higher than any non-local businesses who match the keywords used in a given search.
Let's get more specific about winning at local SEO with these tips that will make your business a force when it comes to localized searches on Google and other search engines:
Citation Building: Getting Accurately Mentioned on Other Sites
Above all else, your information needs to be accurately put online in order for any SEO strategy to work. One of the main ways to accomplish this is through citation building, which is the equivalent of putting billboards along the virtual highways of the internet. It's easy to implement and can deliver excellent results as long as you follow one rule: Make sure your contact information is exactly the same on every single site.
The importance of this step cannot be underestimated. If your address is 170 Gymnastics Blvd, Suite 303, Springfield, MO 65757 (as an example), you must have this information written out exactly the same everywhere. Even abbreviating Suite to Ste or Boulevard to Blvd can impact your local SEO potential in a negative way. This is because any search engine that interprets this information will get confused and think all of those online entries are not coming from the same source.
Once you’ve decided on the exact format of your contact information, it’s time to get listed. Make sure you're on the following sites:
- Google My Business - we have a super easy tutorial on this here.
- Your chamber of commerce
- Any organization you are a member of or hold a certification with
Know What Keywords Customers Are Searching For
Knowing what keywords your clients are typing into that search bar on Google or their alternative of choice is crucial to attracting and converting leads via SEO.
Here's a story that will demonstrate my point:
Recently, my 4-year-old decided she wanted to take a gymnastics class. Obviously, it wasn’t going to happen at the snap of her fingers but I told her I’d find something for the end of summer or beginning of fall. What did I do? I started searching the internet for gymnastics clubs in my area (Montreal). I think I found 3 that were very far away from my home, even though I knew there was a sports
Had I found an organization in my area, I would have signed her up on the spot, or at least bookmarked the page so I could register her when the next session's sign-up period became available. Why does this matter? Because your location keywords are important.
Once you determine what keywords are being used in searches by prospective customers, use them in your website content (an "About Us" page, blog posts, etc.), as well as in your tags, meta descriptions and URLs. The impact those fixes will have on your site over time is significant.
Expand Your Reach With Blogging and Content Creation
The more content you have at your disposal, the more material (which will be full of keywords) there is for any search engine to index. As a result, you'll benefit from more opportunities for customer interaction and revenue generation. However, that doesn't mean that lots of content will automatically make your site rank higher. The important mantra to remember is quality over quantity.
Developing compelling content that is tailored to the needs of your visitors using keywords is a great way to improve your search engine ranking. Here are some ideas to develop content for your website:
- Biographies of your employees.
- Frequently Asked Questions.
- Mission, Vision and Values Statements
Blogging is another oft-publicized tool to improve SEO and marketing efforts but the process and commitment can intimidate the majority of vendors. Again, quality trumps quantity when it comes to blogging; further to that, you more than likely have a lot of thoughts and insight that your prospective clients would be interested in hearing about. Here are some examples of how you can approach blogging content:
- Impart your "industry insider" expertise to your audience.
- Blog about what you know and are passionate about - why do you do what you do?
- Blog about what you are telling your coaches to focus on, new programs, and share industry news you are excited about.
Finally, don't stuff your posts unnecessarily with keywords or throw in terms that aren't relevant to your industry or site - this will damage your SEO strategy in the long-term.
Optimize Your Site for Mobile
“4 out of 5 mobile phone and tablet owners use their devices to search for local business information.”
If your website is not optimized for mobile, it hurts your business in a big way. Not only are the majority of people using smartphones and tablets as their primary gateway to the internet, but Google also prioritizes mobile-optimized websites in search results. Therefore, if you're not using a template that translates seamlessly across devices, you're going to be pushed further down the SEO totem pole.
Find out how Amilia can give you a competitive edge with online registration by getting our features brochure today!