What’s the most important consideration for any local business that operates online?
The answer is simpler than you might think. It’s not about attracting a larger number of customers or getting a greater number of conversions, though naturally both of considerations are beneficial: the vital consideration for any online business is that it’s easy to find. That’s especially true when your business operates in a local market. If your website is languishing on the lower pages of the search engines, then the chances are it won’t generate any business and all your marketing efforts will have been wasted. So, if your business that wants to be more visible you must address the issue of search engine optimisation. If a local business uses an effective SEO strategy it will make it much easier for local customers to find it.
Unfortunately many businesses find that the best or most-appropriate keywords have already been snapped up by their larger competitors.
We’re talking about generic keywords here – keywords like ‘records’ and ‘shoes’. If you find that hard to believe then just do a local Google search for ‘shoes’ and you’ll see what we’re talking about. These popular keywords are usually sold to the highest bidder on a PPC basis, so most small local businesses are priced out of the market. However, there’s no reason to despair. There are ways in which small 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 internet browsers who are searching for particular products and services in a local area. It’s an effective and proven strategy for attracting a greater share of business; however, the success of such a strategy lies in working out the best way to integrate these long-tail local keywords into the company’s overall SEO strategy. Here’s what you could try:
Think about searching for the keyword ‘records’ 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 remote unless you’ve splashed the cash 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 ‘record’ example: if you specialise in low-cost vinyl sales, then optimising your website for the long-tail key-phrase ‘low-cost vinyl sales’ will narrow the search area and make it more likely that potential customers will discover your website.
Once you then bring locality into the mix, you can narrow the search down even further. Local keywords are a particularly important variety of long-tail keywords. For the majority of small businesses, even those operating online, location is still paramount. Small businesses specialise in providing their services to their surrounding communities. Therefore this should be reflected in their search strategy.
If you own a vinyl record store in Manchester, then optimising your web design and copy for the key-phrase ‘Manchester low-cost vinyl sales’ will prove to be far more effective than simply using the generic term ‘vinyl sales.’ 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.