Can SEO benefit local businesses?

Digital Marketing

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Considering the international nature of the Internet, local business owners might well question the benefits of SEO for local enterprises. It is ineffective to focus on global outreach when the majority of your potential clients live in your town, city or locality. Steering resources towards wider reach is wasteful in this context and they would be better directed towards local publicity. The question is – how to implement effective SEO on a community level bearing in mind that Google does not distinguish sites according to their location?

There are ways of localising SEO to achieve maximum outreach to a targeted audience.

The most obvious and pertinent ploy is to include your location in your keywords. If you are a legal business in Belfast your main  keyphrase should be “legal services Belfast”. This keyphrase contains both your business and locale which will drive traffic looking for legal services in this location.

Optimising web content for “legal services” will not however boost your rankings in SERPs. It is advisable to include your location in the keywords that you use in the corps of your site which will have a greater impact when your site is being indexed by the web crawlers. Beware of the usual pitfalls such as word stuffing which Google can penalise.

Metatags are signally important for the search engines so it is essential to include your location in the metatags of your site pages. Balance the presence of your location in keywords throughout your site against their use in your metetags so there is consistency and conformity.

If you acknowledge Google Places and Yahoo local they will include you in their listings for a certain area.

Some keywords that include location may, unfortunately lose some standing and authenticity if they do not read naturally,for example: “legal services Belfast”. Remember that you will not be rewarded with organic links if the keyphrase is gramatically questionable. However you could reap benefits from your location inclusion in blogs by deploying it in the Name field. You will only profit from the blog however if it is “do follow” – a resulting backlink with anchor text will assist SEO.

Worth consideration are those directories that may seem outdated and not belonging to the digital era. Yellow pages is still the first point of reference for those seeking information on local businesses. It will do no harm to try them as a marketing tool to draw traffic to your business.

Marketing campaigns could be targeted towards local areas. Digital options that prove popular and effective are Pay Per Click Advertisements and classified ads. They are probably the most productive forms of digital advertising in driving traffic as far as Web developers are concerned.

Keeping tabs on present search volume of your keywords is imperative as search figures can change quite frequently. It is also very worthwhile to keep an eye on your competitors’ use of keywords and see which work and which do not. You can use these indicators to make more informed decisions about the more effective keywords and their positioning.

Social Media is definitely one local platform which can drive traffic to a Website – sometimes more than the search engines – as it enables you to target a specific demographic that is within a reachable radius and that connects to your website and business.

Inviting and encouraging clients to give you good reviews is always a fruitful way of promoting your business. An even better marketing coup for webmasters is to have testimonials published on specialist review sites which can drive impressed traffic to your enterprise. Besides international review sites, there are national and local review sites where you can publish positive client reviews that will reach a wider public and push your business to potential clients.

Finally, if your business is located in more than one location – for example Belfast and Dublin – you cannot optimise a single generic keyphrase like “legal services Belfast/ Dublin” for both. You will have to create separate webpages for each location.

This inventory will hopefully give you food for thought. You may feel that you can combine these suggestions with your own ideas on local SEO to optimise your site for local searches and to achieve optimal results in the rankings.

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