When you had to find a business in the phone book in the days before the Internet, many businesses tried to get ahead by placing large, eye-catching ads. There were even fancy naming schemes such as adding “AAA” to whatever business you ran to move up in the alphabetical listing. Whether it actually worked for AAA-Plumbing or AAAAA-Heating and Cooling is debatable, but with search engine optimization (SEO) there are still plenty of techniques to getting your business to stand out.
If your business is local, it’s important to know that getting your website optimized for local searches requires a different take on SEO. Here, neither “AAA” nor the fancy naming of your business is likely to earn it top placement, but there are other ways to catch the local eyeballs. Follow these tips and suggestions to reach customers in your area.
How local are you? Does your business serve a small community geographically, or are you more a tri-state type of operation? This is an important factor to consider when it comes to using SEO. If your services are specific to a neighborhood in a large city, then your keywords, meta tags, and other terms should be highly specific to the smaller geographic area.
On the flip side, if your business is more regional, you should try to address this as well. Either way it is important to use keywords specific not only to your location, but also to your products and services.
Be descriptive. Use focused keywords to describe your company, especially detailing what it does and offers in the way of goods and/or services and the location(s) your business serves.
Use several domain names. Today, domain names, like talk, are cheap. But instead of “AAA-Plumbing,” consider buying multiple domain names that indicate the geography of your business, such as one that includes your city’s name; add another with the county name, and possibly add more with nearby towns for good measure. Domain names that also provide your specific service can help.
Include your street address. Be sure to include your street address on the website. It never hurts to use keywords like “serving the greater metro area, including … ” And just because you’re going digital, don’t overlook getting listed in paper phone books and business listings. Get listed in any local guides or other directories, too. Furthermore, don’t forget about local city searches, such as Citysearch, which provides local information for a variety of sites, including Ask.com and Expedia.
Get on the map. Of course, getting listed on Google Maps is crucial, and the SEO here involves making sure you’re listed on a variety of third-party sites, such as infoUSA.com, Yahoo! Local, InsiderPages, CityVoter, Open List, UniversalBusinessListing.org and Localeze. For Google Maps, be sure to include the local address and phone number in plain text. This should appear on the home page, the Contact Us page, and on any locations or map pages.
Go mobile. If your company offers a service that includes walk-in business, a WAP mobile site is a must. Having a WAP site makes it easier for browsers such as Opera Mini, Blazer, BlackBerry Browser, and others to find and pull up your business.
Give out your phone number. For most local businesses, it is essential to have your phone number (with area code) listed on the front page of your site. However, beware of using the same phone number if you have multiple locations (unless the phone number is somehow the same for multiple listings), as this could be seen as a spam tactic for creating fake listings.
Play up the SEO. Whatever you can’t say about your business on your home page, you can most certainly add to your About Us page, such as listing locations, services, notable awards, personnel, and other facts that someone might do a search to find.
Don’t overlook social networking. Social networking, as with any form of networking, can help spread via word-of-mouth and in turn help with SEO. This means using various networking sites and social networking services, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to drive traffic to your site. Moreover, embed the tools provided by these networking sites onto your site to improve engagement, community, and reciprocity.
Use photos and images. Finally, don’t forget photos. Be sure to publish photos, and of course your company logo, complete with alternative text and captions. Adding location information to the caption and even the photo name will increase the way users can find you through an image search.