When it comes to trying to create an online presence for a local business – having to utilise facets of marketing such as SEO and social media, is just as important. Just because you rely mainly on local traffic, while most online businesses operate on global or national traffic – doesn’t mean you can’t dial into those small targeted audiences.
With the right SEO and link building strategy, you can reach your ideal customers.
There’s no magic bullet that will do it all though – having an effective strategy will involve leveraging amazing content, dialling in your on-page factors, engaging on social media with your customers, etc.
Read on, to find out how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together…
Here is the first step to knowing how to get to your target audience – and that’s knowing exactly what people will be searching.
Google does use localised search results, to show the most relevant businesses for the user, in relation to their actual location – you still need to know the sorts of phrases they’re putting into the search bar. Whether that’s “plumber in London” “electrician in Manchester” or whatever it may be for your business. You can use tools such as Google keyword planner, or the Keywords Everywhere plugin – to find these broad keywords and any other related or long tail keywords.
So when it comes to SEO, this is everyone’s first port of call.
And the majority of site owners are right for looking at this part first. After all, the only way search engines like Google will recognise exactly what you should be ranking for, is by analysing what is actually placed on your site.
So I won’t go into excruciating detail on this area, but if you can get the basics right, that will leave most bases covered.
So that will involve:
- Making sure you have pages on the site targeting your most valuable local keywords – here is where your keyword research will pay off
- Use the keywords within those pages, making sure they are in the Meta tags, titles and within the content.
- Where necessary, you may need to use a silo site structure – interlinking your hub pages (the pages targeting your keywords) to your content pages (more on this later). That ensures that any authority that flows into the site, will be distributed across the whole site, and you won’t have any pages which are neglected.
At the same time though – I see a lot of people overcomplicating (or even overdoing) this part. Don’t make the mistake of over optimising this part, or trying to overstuff pages with keywords, or trying to target hundreds of keywords – that could often have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve.
Funnelling Customer Reviews
If you can build up the positive reviews from customers – whether that’s Google reviews or on TripAdvisor, Yelp or any others, it’ll only add to your trust and reputation.
Sites such as Yelp will also allow you to have a page within their site, which will:
- Provide you a no follow link (no SEO benefit, but will funnel a bit of direct traffic your way)
- You could run special offers or discounts from this page.
- You can also link to your business social media accounts on here, again, gives potential customers a way of following and engaging with your business.
Creating amazing content
This is an often neglected part of online marketing for probably over 90% of businesses online– but if you want to create a truly effective, white hat SEO strategy, this is an absolute must!
Create content that is useful to your audience – and once you’ve created good content, keep on doing it!
And when I say useful content – I mean, anything that your ideal audience would find super informative, funny, cool, interesting, unique. It could be in various forms as well – articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, whatever is the most appropriate way of getting it across.
There is no hard and fast rule to getting this part right, and not every piece of content you make will be a hit with your audience.
But a few methods you can use to inspire you and create content ideas:
- Look at competitors or similar businesses in other major cities.
- Use a tool such as Buzzsumo or Ahrefs Content Explorer and see what the most shared content in your industry talks about.
- Look at popular industry forums and find out the kind of questions people ask, or the particular pain points they experience.
- Conduct surveys with your customers and find out from them, the kinds of things they’re interested in or that they have questions about.
The key thing is just to make sure that it is truly valuable content that people would actively read and would engage with. If it’s content that you yourself would appreciate, then you know you’re onto a winner. However, the minute you start creating boring content, are just trying to create filler content to target certain keywords or are just going through the motions, then you may be creating content that isn’t going to hit the mark.
There is also never going to be a stage where you have “finished your content”. It’ll be a case of continually creating new ideas, being innovative, engaging with your audience and constantly keeping your website fresh and updated.
But you’re right in thinking – what’s the point of creating all this content when you don’t have any traffic?
That is the next part of the strategy and what is going to help you capitalise on your content and all the other aspects of the strategy – Link building.
Building Links – the game changer
Once you’ve got the foundations of your website done, have targeted your keywords and have a good solid content plan in place – the next stage is linking with other websites which are related or adjacent to your website and its content.
The reason you want to use link building is due to it being such an important ranking factor.
Gone are the days where all you had to do was throw up a website, dial in the on-page factors and rank near the top. Since most business owners are getting more clued up on SEO and online marketing, you need to go up a level, in order to beat the competition. And that next level is looking at your off page factors (i.e. link building.)
There are 3 main benefits of building links, which are:
- Driving direct referral traffic from the site to your own. The more relevant the traffic is, the more likely it is they’ll then turn into customers.
- Organic search traffic. Links act as “votes” with search engines like Google. The more of these links that they see, the more value they place on the site being linked to. And if you’ve been targeting your local keywords effectively, this should mean you’ll start to rank even better and will drive some local search traffic to your site.
- Brand awareness – once you start to get featured or linked to on more and more sites, this will come into play.
How do you build links?
So the most efficient way of doing this is by using personalised and super targeted email outreach.
Once you know exactly the type of content you’ll be making, it’ll be a case of then
- Finding other sites which are related to the content subject and are perhaps talking about similar.
- Approach them and ask if they’d like to link to your content piece from theirs.
- Follow up with them several times (but not too much!) Until you get a rejection or a link.
If you do this part correctly, you should yield a link in at least 5% of cases.
Building links ride on all factors – content quality, targeting the right sites and having the right approach when you contact them. However, if you get the content wrong, it’ll be nigh on impossible to build any links, no matter how amazing your approach or targeting is.
And when it comes to finding places to get links from, here are some ideas.
- Local newspapers – There is a lot of local traffic residing on here and could be good for the brand awareness as well. If there is a particular journalist who writes about your particular subject or industry, approach them first.
- Local bloggers – influencers in your local area could drive a decent amount of traffic, whether that’s via a link or feature in their blog, or with their social media. You may need to do a value exchange, such as paying a sponsored fee, offering them free product or promoting them on your own social media.
- Other local businesses which are vertically relevant (i.e. related but not doing exactly what you’re doing), like an immigration law firm, linking to a law firm specialising in compensation claims.
- Local businesses where you can create bridging content. I.e. seemingly not related, but with the right content and angle could be related. Think of an immigration law firm getting a link from a local travel/tourism blog with a content piece about Visa applications.
This is just a taster of the entire process, but this should be a pretty solid foundation for you build on top of.
The key take homes from this are:
- Making sure you have the basic on-page factors on point.
- Leveraging as much of your local reviews as possible.
- Creating content which attracts interest and engages with your potential customers.
- And building links to both drive direct traffic and to enhance your ranking (to drive even more local traffic.)
And one more thing to remember (and an aspect I think often gets lost on most business owners), and that is to enjoy the process!
Creating amazing content, is about creating it with drive and passion. Providing value to others around you. And once your brand builds this level of trust and respect, by reaching out to other businesses, bloggers or trusted authorities – that’s when you’ll start to see amazing results!
Amit Raj is a link building and SEO expert based in the UK. His link building company provides fluff-free digital marketing advice to clients worldwide and can be found at amitdigitalmarketing.com
(This is a Guest Post)