Local SEO for the Small Business Owner 2011

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2 DISCLAIMER: While all of the information supplied in this ebook is designed to be helpful to an individual or group there are no express warranties attached to this work. The author, publisher and copyright holder accepts no liabilities for any misuse, misappropriation or abuse of the tools, advice and exercises in this ebook, nor do they make any claim to any specific promises offered or implied. This ebook is intended to promote a greater understanding among small business owners of how Local SEO can be used to grow their business and should only be used as a guide, rather than a directive. No specific results or achievements are guaranteed or implied in connection with the tools in this ebook and no responsibility will be taken for any problems (personal, financial, work related or otherwise) that may result from applying any of the tips in this ebook. COPYRIGHT This ebook, Local SEO for the Small Business Owner has been confirmed as the work of the author, John DiBella. As such no unauthorized use, copying or publication of all or any part of this book will be allowed in any form including electronic, audio and print media without written permission from the author Text copyright 2012 John DiBella All Rights Reservred 2

3 Table of Contents Introduction... 4 Google... 6 Search Phrases (Keywords) for Local SEO... 7 Meta Tags... Error! Bookmark not defined. Web Page Content... Error! Bookmark not defined. Google Places Optimization... Error! Bookmark not defined. Ongoing Content and Inbound Link Building... Error! Bookmark not defined. Resources... Error! Bookmark not defined. Glossary... Error! Bookmark not defined. Appendix... Error! Bookmark not defined. About the Author

4 Introduction In the eight years that I have been providing SEO services to small local businesses I have learned many basic techniques that can be performed by the business owner themselves. Many business owners do not have the time or inclination to do it themselves. But for those who do, I have written this ebook. I advise anyone who has limited recourses and wants to start a business to learn how to market themselves on the web. Anyone smart enough to survive as a business owner is smart enough to learn and figure out how to get business from the web. More and more, customers go to the web to find a service provider. But small businesses as a whole have fallen behind this trend. As of 2010 only 30% of small businesses had a Web marketing plan when 80% of the population was searching online for local services. I m sure you can see the inherent opportunity there. Finding ways to sell your service cost effectively and create a customer base is just as important as the great idea or your technical expertise to the success of your business. Many great ideas or service providers fail simply because they could not find their market or their market could not find them. The Web is by far the best way to 1) bootstrap your new business 2) promote a new service 3) help a struggling business or 4) to build on an already successful one. Much of what needs to be done to connect with customers online you can do yourself with some time and effort. And what you can t do can be outsourced effectively if you know how. Even if, in the end, you hire an SEO company to do the work, you will benefit greatly from knowing the basics. Your understanding of the SEO process will allow you to give direction and evaluate performance. 4

5 I use connect with customers instead of reach them because in search marketing the prospects are actively searching for your service, or at minimum have an expressed interest. This is a bit of a turnaround for business owners who are used to seeing advertising as a push function driven by content, instead of a pull function driven by the actions of the consumer. The intent of this book is to give you just enough information and know how to create a basic search engine optimization plan, get it off the ground and profit from it. Your search engine optimization efforts don t necessarily need to be extravagant. As far as search engines are concerned it s the least bad that gets the best ranking. You will only need to put in enough effort to be better than your local competition. 5

6 Google As of the date of this publication 70% of all web searches are done on Google. It s in the dictionary as both a noun and a verb. If you are going to optimize your website for any one venue, they are it. Google changes its search algorithm daily. They do this to improve search results and to also stay ahead of people trying to game their system. How can we keep up with all these changes? From a broad perspective, it s actually not complicated. Google is obsessed with providing the best information that most people are actually looking for when performing a specific search. They want to present highly relevant, quality information. That is what has been the driving force behind the most successful business so far this century. And they are going to do everything they can to keep it that way. In general, how does Google measure the relevancy of a web page to a keyword search? They use onsite content (and onsite linking structure) along with inbound links. The quantity, quality and relevancy of each is measured to determine ranking for a given search. As long as you are building quality content into your website with good link structure and acquiring quality inbound links you don t need to be concerned so much with all the little tweaks Google makes to their algorithm each day. In fact each time they tweak, it will be a tweak in your favor since you are providing a highly relevant source of information on the web. I suggest not looking for tricks to gain SEO advantage. Yes there are important best practices to every detail of your website. But the most important thing is to actively build in content and inbound links. 6

7 Search Phrases (Keywords) for Local SEO Search phrases or keywords are the words that a searcher types into a search engine to find something on the web. Search phrases are words loaded with intent. The intent and popularity of a search phrase are the criteria we use to select our search phrases for search engine optimization. Search Phrases are the link between you and potential customers. If we think of a link to your website on the search engine results page (SERP) as a road sign advertising your business, the search phrase becomes the road on which the searcher travelled to see your sign. Choosing the right roads/search phrases for your signs (one that is travelled on by many people who are interested in buying your services now) is very important to you SEO success. Choosing the right keywords is important because you will be making an up-front investment to acquire a strong position on the SERP for your chosen keywords. In this chapter we will discuss some basic methodology for generating keyword ideas and choosing the best keywords to use in your optimization. First we should discuss a concept important to helping us select the best keywords for our business goals. Broad vs. Narrow A keyword that is broad is one that may be used in many contexts and has vague intent. One that is narrow is more specific and has clearer intent. For example, the keyword roofing is a broad keyword and roofing contractor is narrower. Generally speaking the shorter the keyword phrases the more broad it is. 7

8 You will find that broad keywords have a much higher search volume. But higher search volume doesn t in itself make a keyword more valuable. The intent of a broad search phrase may have many possibilities. The value for you as the small business owner comes from the specific intent of the search. The searcher using roofing for a search may likely be looking for advice on how to roof, among many other possibilities, and not for a local business that provides roofing services. If you were a roofing contractor, and you optimize for a broad keyword like roofing for SEO, you will find two forces working against you. First, because it s such a broad, high search volume keyword there will probably be a lot of competition. The other force working against you is that your conversion rate (percentage of site visits that result in sales leads) on that keyword will be low. So even if you put lots of effort into getting into the top 3 positions for a broad keyword and you get a lot of clicks, you may still not get many conversions. On the other hand, optimizing for a search phrase that is more specific (more narrow) like roofing contractor may get less search traffic but have less competition and a much higher conversion rate on the click throughs that you do get. The contacts you get will more likely also be from people who are at the end of the buying cycle and ready to make a purchase. The ability to assess your keywords for their level of specificity (broad vs narrow) will be useful later in this chapter after generating a keyword list to weigh your options. Search Phrase Selection Process Discovery The first step in selecting keywords for inclusion in your SEO campaign is keyword discovery. And the first step in keyword discovery is to brain storm and list all the possible keyword variations you can think of. Think about the words that someone ready to buy would use and make a list of them. 8

9 While generating your list imagine that you are searching for a business like your own.. Remember that the phrases customers use to refer to your products/services may be different than what you and your colleges in the business use. Another method to generate some ideas is to search on Google with some of the keywords you came up with above. Look at the search results for other ways of expressing your search phrases. Also, seek out blogs and articles online to see what language they are using. Also be sure to consider all versions of your search phrases. For example, roofing contractor is also roofing companies and another phrase for auto parts shop may be auto parts store. Write down as many variations you can think of. These search phrase ideas are what you will use as your seed keywords in the Google Keyword Tool. Google Keyword Tool Now that you have a list of keyword ideas let s put them into the Google keyword tool and see what Google suggests. There are many good keyword research tools out there. But Google is free and for our purposes works just fine. Using the keyword phrases entered, the Google keyword tool will show a list of related keyword phrases along with monthly average searches and other information. Here s how to use the Google keyword tool to generate keyword phrase suggestions and use the associated data to select the best for your SEO. 1. Go to the Google keyword tool. The easiest way is to get to the tool is to search on Google Google keyword tool 2. In the word or phrase field copy and paste the search phrase ideas to came up; with that you think your customers will use to find you. Try to include every variation. For example, if you are a contractor include that word (ex. roofing contractor) but also include words like company (ex. roofing company). And don t forget plural versions. 3. Hit the Search button and Google will generate a list of keyword ideas. 9

10 4. Find the download button and select all (#). Download and open the list. It will include a list of keywords along with monthly searches performed on Google for each keyword; global and local. 5. We are most interested in local searches since our SEO is for a local business. If you don t know how to sort data in an excel spread sheet now is the time to learn. Sort the keywords, and all associated data by Local Monthly Searches. 6. Next I like to go through and delete the keywords that are not relevant or too broad for the list. Now I have a list of possible keywords sorted by monthly local search volume and I can make some decisions. 7. You can repeat this process as many times as you like using the keyword list that you originally generated. Keyword Selection This process may have sparked some new ideas. You may also see some opportunities to add plurals and phrase variations. Don t bother with misspellings, Google corrects for those during the search process. If you want to generate more keyword ideas you can input some of those newly generated keyword ideas back into the Google keyword. Newly generated keyword ideas that seem like good candidates may be added to you sorted list. This process can be repeated until you are satisfied with the number of keyword ideas in your list. Now comes the subjective part. You will need to make your best guess at what the most common intent of a search is. You want phrases that are used by searchers who really want to start the process of making a purchase. You will want to weigh the search volume with the relevance and intent of a search and select the keywords you will use for your SEO. Select no more than three keywords to be used for home page optimization and two for each inside web page (an inside page is any page other than the home page). We optimize each page for specific keywords; More on that later. For now select your keywords and use some common sense to group them in a way that you could easily see them used on the same page in the same context. 10

11 Here s an example of grouping: Keyword philadelphia realtors realtor in philadelphia philadelphia realtor office Page Home Page real estate agent in philadelphia Inside Page 1 philly real estate agents real estate brokers Philadelphia Inside Page 2 philly real estate brokers real estate companies Philadelphia Inside Page 3 philly real estate company Notice, we kept similar terms together; terms that had the same words or references in them. This will make it easier to write copy and put focus the emphasis on the phrases. Otherwise you will spread your SEO thin on the page. 11

12 About the Author John DiBella is the Founder and President of NetLocal, LLC, a Search Engine Optimization Company for small businesses with a local market. John s background includes a Masters Degree in Information Systems from Drexel University, a BA in Business Finance and 15 years experience in business management. He uses his business and information systems background everyday to help small businesses succeed on the web. You can find John on Linkedin at My Linkedin Profile NetLocal, LLC offices are located in the Philadelphia, PA Metro area. Visit: NetLocalSEO.com Small Business SEO A do-it-yourself guide for small business owners interested in SEO. Includes chapters on keyword research and selection, use of meta tag, writing and implementing web page content, and Google Places optimization. 12

Local SEO for the Small Business Owner 2011

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