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All you need to know about local SEO

Small businesses can thrive off local search marketing and here’s why:

• More than 40 percent of monthly searches use localized keywords
• 70 percent of households use the Internet when shopping for products and services locally
• 90 percent of people click on the first page of the search engine results

At this point it almost goes without saying that local search marketing has serious potential to help small businesses gain a competitive advantage—if done right.

Ranking With Relevancy

Ranking factors for local search mimic traditional search because they look for relevancy and popularity. Bryan Phelps, SEO.com’s director of SEO for small business, revealed expert insight on how to make your company more relevant.

1. Location. The first thing search engines use to determine relevancy for local search results is the physical location of your business related to the search query. Phelps explained that if people search for a dentist in Salt Lake City, the closer the business is to the epicenter the search engines create for the city, the higher you may rank. For any new entrepreneurs who are looking for ways to start their small business off right from a search marketing perspective, Phelps suggests they do some research beforehand about local search and what the search engines are using as the epicenter.

2. Website. On-site optimization carries significant weight for local search rankings. For instance, Google will crawl your website to make sure your business name, address, and phone number match your Google Places profile. The search engine also crawls for relevant keywords on the website. The stronger your site, the bigger your online footprint. Focusing on simple things like title tags, Meta data, and content will help enhance your site and make a significant impact on local search rankings.

3. Business listing information. Consistency is key for local search. You need to keep your company name, address, and phone number (NAP) formatted the same across the web. Decide how you want your information to be standardized and stick with it. For example, do not alternate between spelling out ‘street’ in your address and using the abbreviation. Having different addresses tied to your company can work against your SEO efforts.

Building Online Popularity

In local search, online popularity is just as significant as relevancy. Compared to traditional search marketing, there are several unique approaches to building popularity for small businesses.

1. Create citations. Citations resemble link building for traditional SEO . Google goes out and searches for your business name, address, and phone number to check for an online presence. Consistency plays an important role in building popularity with citations as well. Using the same format for your business information helps the search engines gauge your existence online. Phelps said there are a number of ways to create citations and that you can build citations on almost any website. If you make your online signature your NAP, when you comment on a blog or forum Google will take note.

2. Distribute business listings. Distributing your business listing across other sites like YellowPages.com helps search engines recognize your business. When you have a presence on such sites Google acknowledges you are a legitimate and popular company.

3. Get reviews. “Building a review mentality in your business is really important,” Phelps said. He explained that small businesses should make online reviews a priority because search engines pay attention to quantity, frequency, and quality. Other local search experts agree and reveal that rankings change tremendously with review quality and quantity. It would be ideal to receive one or two reviews a week.

Leveraging Local Search

The sole purpose of local search results is to give consumers exactly what they are looking for, which is why local rankings can be critical for small businesses. When it comes to local search marketing and rankings, some small businesses fail to recognize the advantages available which is why many turn to an internet marketing service. Even worse, some small businesses fail to make their presence known. With these suggestions, small businesses can increase their relevancy, popularity, and more importantly, revenue.

Client Spotlight: Cautionary construction supply company keeps a competitive edge

While some teenagers are given allowance, others have a natural entrepreneurial spirit and are making money their own way. Back when Brandon Anderson was in the ninth grade, his father suggested he help sell traffic barricade lights for extra cash. Anderson took the challenge to heart and set up a rookie website and became a distributor. At a young age, he began cold calling companies, contacting manufacturers and trying to make sales. He proved successful, and later on in life Anderson expanded his horizons. Now, he is the founder and owner of his own company called Trans-Supply.

Trans-Supply has come a long way. What once was just a supply of barricade lights is now a plethora of cautionary construction supplies for highway renovation projects and even airport supplies.

“I really decided to take it to the next level during my sophomore year in college,” Anderson said. “I decided to start from scratch with a new site and began to add a wider variety of products from all manufacturers.”

These construction supplies help guarantee traffic safety. The supplies offered range from speed bumps and traffic cones to flashing airport lights and sand barrels. Aside from his extensive selection of supplies, Anderson does what he can to be best of breed.

“I make sure there are no headaches in getting safety products to my customers. I like to be the person they go to for inexpensive products,” said Anderson.

According to Anderson, people come to his site and are often surprised by his affordable prices. In fact, Anderson admits that his prices are substantially lower than the competition because his company makes it a point to research prices and ensure they are equal to, if not well below, competitor’s prices.

Anderson continued to explain that he does everything in his power to get products to his customers as fast as possible for as cheap as possible.

With Trans-Supply’s large network of suppliers and an owner who was raised in the industry, clientele can always expect extensive knowledge, top-notch quality, and inexpensive products.


Tips and Tricks: Make pages easy to share for social bookmarking sites

Social bookmarking services have little link building value in SEO, but they can provide value in their ability to generate site traffic. Many people still utilize social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon and Delicious, and having a presence on prominent sites such as Reddit and Pinterest can really help your site gain ground.

Personal bookmarks do not generate significant traffic to your site from a single user, but getting the attention of multiple users on these sites and offering them an easy way to bookmark your site or page so they can share it will have an immense impact on click-thrus.

Social bookmarking can help generate site traffic for a number of reasons. Users on these sites are:

1. Browsing. People who are browsing, or following along their friends social bookmarks can easily stumble on your site. If your site sparks their interest including an easy way for them to subscribe, bookmark, or share with their networks is a great way to attract readers.

2. Searching. People who are specifically searching on social bookmarking sites for certain content can easily find your site. Better yet, they tend to trust your site because it comes from like-minded individuals. In a way, some social bookmarking sites give your pages automatic credibility.

People who are browsing and searching social bookmarking sites who come across your site can eventually help your page rankings in the search engines because of the additional traffic. With increased traffic, people may end up linking to your site which will encourage a viral effect.

Taking all of this into consideration will mean more viral sharing to increase traffic as well as link equity for your website.

Industry events

SEMPO: Atlanta; March 8, 2012

SXSW Interactive: Austin; March 9-13, 2012

Search Engine Strategies: New York; March 19-23, 2012

Search Insider Summit: Captiva Island, FL; April 22-25, 2012

SEO.com events

White Hat/Black Hat Symposium — March 8 at 11:30 a.m.; Utah Valley University Library in the Lakeview Room (4th Floor)

SEO.com SXSW Road trip — Started March 5; Follow us @SLCSXSW and be a part of it with #SLCSXSW