The crucial consideration for any business that operates online is that it needs to be easily found by its customers.
If the website is languishing on the lower pages of the search engines, then the chances are it won’t generate any business and all its marketing efforts will have been wasted. Any business that wants to be more visible must address the issue of search engine optimisation. If a local business approaches SEO in the correct manner then it will make it much easier for local customers to find it. The problem company’s often find is that the most popular generic keywords like ‘computers’ and ‘shoes’ for example, are the most competitive, and will normally have been snapped up by the big players in the market. Just do a Google search for ‘shoes’ and you’ll see exactly what we mean: the first couple of pages of entries will be entirely populated by large brands, most of whom will have paid a significant sum for their PPC entry.
The problem for local companies is that they can’t compete in such a market.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom.
There are ways in which smaller businesses can compete online, and the most effective way of doing this is by utilising long-tail and local key-phrases.
By using slightly more complex long-tail keywords and phrases, businesses can attract those internet users who are searching for particular products and services in a local area. It’s a proven and effective strategy for attracting a greater share of business; however, the only problem is working out the best way to integrate these long-tail local keywords into the company’s SEO strategy.
Let’s go back to the example of searching for the keyword ‘computers’ on Google. Anyone searching generically for the keyword will pull up a list of the biggest names in the market. If you run a small or medium sized local business, then the chances of you making one of the top page listings is highly unlikely unless you’ve spent a considerable amount on specific PPC keywords. Long-tail keywords, however, consist of three or more related terms to narrow down the area of the search. If used correctly, these long-tail phrases can be very effective. To go back to the ‘computer’ example: if you specialise in low-cost computer repairs, then optimising your website for the long-tail key-phrase ‘low-cost computer repairs’ will narrow the search area and make it more likely that potential customers will chance upon your website.
Bringing locality into the mix can narrow the search even further. Local keywords are a particularly important variety of long-tail keywords. For the majority of small businesses, even if they are operating online, location is still everything. Small businesses specialise in providing their services to their surrounding communities. Therefore this should be reflected in their search strategy.
If you own a computer repair store in Stockport, then optimising your web design and copy for the key-phrase “Stockport low-cost computer repair” will prove to be far more effective than simply using the generic term “computer repair.” If a local business uses keyword phrases that include its services, products, and location throughout its web design, it will ensure that local customers can find the business more easily. All things being equal, this should hopefully result in an increase in the number of sales.