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Small businesses should target the ‘local’ market for growth (part 1)

The principal source of internet traffic for the majority of smaller business will be local. Therefore, if these businesses want to thrive in tough economic conditions, then it’s important for them to optimise their online output for the local market by applying some basic local SEO principles to their websites. Local SEO can be accomplished with just a website and a few good backlinks, but it will always be more effective if a business utilises every opportunity to get itself noticed with things like blogs, geo-listings and inclusion on social networks. In the first part of this article on local SEO we’ll take a look at some of the basic SEO principles for local businesses

website design and functionality

Every local business should have a website with its own specific domain name. Putting your business main site on free hosting of any kind just isn’t effective. The website needs to be designed in such a way that it accurately reflects both your business identity and the services and products you sell. It might be a bit of a business cliché, but the website is often the first introduction customers have to your business and what it offers: therefore it has to sell itself professionally.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask the question what do they want from me? Whilst you’re at it you might also ask, what can I offer them that will make them stay on my site and engage with what I’m offering or saying? If you can provide answers to these questions, then you’re well on your way to creating a functional and worthwhile site.

Blogs

Blogs are an essential part of any local SEO campaign. They give business the opportunity to engage and interact with their customers. Blogs are best served by posts, whilst websites work best with static pages. Don’t be deterred by the prospect of having to set up a blog: it’s easy with WordPress and there are professional templates available to take the stress out of design. The other benefit of blogs is that they can also rank in search engines in their own right.  The other major advantage of blogs is that they let your business send links to your other websites pages and previous posts. It’s up to you whether you choose to have your blog as part of your website or as a separate entity. It’s obviously easier if it’s part of the main site, but if you already have an existing website, it could make more sense to create a new domain name and host it there.

SEO Content

Most local businesses will concentrate to some degree or other on geographic keyword targeting. In other words, the services or products you offer should be targeted towards the local community which you serve. Most local searches are geographically targeted, so it makes sense to use this information to your advantage. Towns, cities, neighbourhood names and counties should all be targeted. It’s also important to remember to title all your web pages and posts with these geo-targeted keywords. It might seem to be a lot of work, but geo-keyword targeting is vital if you’re servicing a local community.

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