In part one of this article about local SEO, we had a look at website design, blogging and local SEO content.
In part two we’ll look at the remaining basic principles of local SEO – links, Google places, Facebook and Twitter.
The majority of competitive keyword rankings come from off-page SEO: some experts believe that this figure could be as high as 80%. Of this 80%, links are by far the most important element. Links from good quality, respected sources add kudos and respectability to your own business, and are highly regarded by the search engines. For more information about link building, and how to get the best links, have a look at some of our previous articles on link building.
If you have a local business address, then you really need to have a listing on Google places. These listings are shown at the top of the Google results pages with a flag and a Google map. It may be that if your business caters for a niche market, then yours will be the only flag displayed: however, in most cases there will be competition, and your business flag may be just one of many. You may wonder what the point of a Google listing is if there is strong competition, but local SEO is all about getting your business listed in as many places as possible. If you’re not listed then customers may not find you. If, on the other hand, you’d like to get a Google listing but feel the competition is too tough, there are experts out there who can give you advice.
Social networking is everywhere these days. Over a billion people have signed up to Facebook alone. But can a social networking site bring advantages for local businesses? Well, yes it can, and no it can’t – if that doesn’t sound too confusing. Facebook pages, i.e. business pages, are fine, but only if you’re prepared to put in the work and constantly update them. They let businesses build an online community and help it engage with its customers. Local businesses can gain by using Facebook as a source of information: you can tell your customers all about the business, the people who work for you, what you offer and any special promotions you may offer. If you start a Facebook page and leave it at that you’re wasting your time and will probably only alienate your customers.
Twitter is an ideal tool for building the reputation of local businesses. You may only get 140 characters to tweet with, but it’s surprising how much information you can cram into that. If you think of Twitter as a kind of cyber-signpost, then you may have a better understanding of how it can help your business consolidate its position in the local market. Tweet to advise customers of special offers advertised on your main website or Facebook page. You could even try offering your customers Twitter-only deals, or time-limited deals. Tweets are surprisingly accommodating, and can be put to good use in a local market, but remember to keep your tweets predominantly business-related, and to try and avoid too much of the personal stuff. Followers may well be interested in you personally, but they’re far more interested in what you offer as a business: otherwise, they wouldn’t be following you?