The recent surge in small business service companies due to the economic downturn has resulted in an abundance of web sites looking for search-engine optimization in their local service areas. This has given rise to many businesses looking to cash in on the demand. Some of them are legitimate and others are not. In reality, there are several things that a small business can doto organically increase their search-engine rankings. The majority of them are free or low-cost and easy to accomplish without technical assistance. This is the topic of today’s post.
- The first local directory that you will want to submit your business to is Google Maps. In order to submit your company information here, you will first need to set up a free Google account. When the account is active, you can submit your company’s information to Google Maps. You can even add a discount coupon for potential customers.
- The second most important location can be found on Yahoo’s Local directory. Like Google, you will first need to get a free Yahoo account before adding your business to their Local directory.
- The third most important location for submitting your company’s information is on Microsoft’s Bing Live Maps. Like the previous two locations I have mentioned (you guessed it), you must get a free Bing account first before submitting your company to Live Maps.
Three other free locations to submit your company are Local.com, SuperPage.com and MerchantCircle.com. Local.com will try to get you to upgrade to their $50/month promotional package, but you are not obligated to do so. MerchantCircle.com provides a place for coupon promotions and a free blog. SuperPages.com will just get you some good local traffic.
CitySearch.com is also a good location, however with a base price of $20 plus a $200/month minimum charge for their pay-per-click’s, it is generally more expensive than most small businesses can justify. I don’t recommend them for that reason.
When submitting your company’s information to these local directories, you will need to keep a consistent look and format across all of them. Include your company’s name, address and contact information in as many free places as possible.
Regarding your website, make sure to add your company information to at least the contact and about us pages. You will want to also provide format variations on your landing pages ie. California and CA. If your target market includes more than one city, put a link for each area at the bottom of your home page and have separate versions of the home page for each location.
Every website has at least one page that has the highest traffic. This is usually the home page. Look at your Google Analytics reports to determine what page that happens to be, then put links to your local pages with anchor text from that page.
Don’t forget to use targeted filenames for the pages and include those names in the title and H tags for their page. Vary the names slightly, for instance use “ Chicago,Il” for the H tag, “best real estate sales in the Chicago area” for the Title and “best-realtors-chicago.htm” for the name
There are also several off-page SEO tactics that can help your local organic rankings. They include inbound links, anchor text and user testimonials. Sites that allow your customer’s to vote for the service they received from you by using stars is also felt to be of particular importance to search engines in ranking your site.
Follow these suggestions to boost your rankings in local search areas and watch your rankings soar. Get busy and market your website during the downturn to prepare your company for success during the recovery.