Today's guest post is from Dana Flannery from Talk About Creative, helping us with marketing a local busness. click here to read part 1.
So, you want to be found online but you can only service a handful of suburbs – a city at best? There's no point pursuing the keyword "Beauty Therapist" and paying gazillions of dollars to make it to page one, if all your enquiries are going to come from New Zealand. If you're a local business, you need local SEO and the good news is, you can do it for free, with relative ease!
It's all about content and meta tag optimisation
What is content optimisation I hear you ask? Content optimisation is making your content easy to understand for search engines. While search engines are pretty clever, in the end, they're just programs on a computer. They don't really understand that you've got mad skillz, gorgeous products and a brilliant reputation. Instead, they read HTML code and text on your site and do their best to understand what you do. So which codes are most important?
Meta Title Tag
These are the words that appear on the tab at the top of the page when you're searching the net. Adding keywords to your meta title tag is the most important part of your content and meta tag optimisation. You can usually do this where you upload your content and fill in the content information.
Meta Description Tag
This is the 2-3 sentence "ad" that appears in search results under the link to your site. While it doesn't impact on SEO, it is the blurb that can get Googlers to choose to click you, not someone else. Make it a relevant, sharp call to action.
Meta Keyword Tag
Don't fill this in. It's not relevant. Search engines ignore it. All it does is tell your competitors which search terms (keywords) you're hoping to target.
H tags are header tags that appear as headings and sub-headings in your text. You should add keywords, related words, synonyms and relevant adjectives to H Tags to show search engines that your site is rich with relevant content. To add them, write your heading, highlight it, and click the style sheet box (looks like the font box in Word, the default style is usually paragraph) and select your H tag. Every page should have just one H1 heading, a few H2s and then any points under a H2 should have H3 tags etc etc.
Alternative text (Alt text) is the label you give to images on your page. It is designed to help blind people understand your site. Search engines give you a little boost for using Alt text and all labels on an image file can help you to rank in image searches.
Your keyword will ideally be in the first line, the last line and then used naturally throughout the text. Adding too many keywords will get you penalised for "keyword stuffing," adding too few will decrease the relevance of your post. Use synonyms and related words in your text (these are called LSI keywords and are important for showing search engines that your content is "meaty") and write for the reader, not the search engine.
OK, so now you're down with optimisation, it's time to whip up a local SEO storm! How do you do it in 3 moderately easy steps?
First, create a link page
Create a list page on your website called "Suburbs We Service" and link to it from the home page. List the suburbs and population hubs you can service AND your keyword – for example:
Beautician St Kilda
Beautician Chapel Street
Beautician Acland Street
Beautician Napean Highway
Beautician South East Melbourne
Beautician St Kilda Road
Google these yourself to see how many competitors show up in search results. If you've been around a while and have done a little SEO, you may be able to beat them, if not, if there are too many big ones, choose other nearby population hubs as well.
Second, create awesome, keyword rich content
For each of these areas write a short page targeting people from this area. For example, the St Kilda page might be about awesome clubber hair and makeup services, while the St Kilda Road page might be about fingernails to impress in the board room. Each page must be original content.
Optimise the content. Include your keywords (beautician St Kilda for example) in the page title, headers and through the text. Use plenty of synonyms, related words and adjectives for maximum benefit. You may want to create a paragraph about a beauty therapist near St Kilda, beauticians near St Kilda, beauty services near St Kilda, wedding makeup near St Kilda etc etc
Also include a line at the bottom of each page that lists a few of the other keywords. Note that they don't have to be exact but close is a good idea.
We also service other nearby areas. Where do you need us to be?
Beautician in Prahran
Beautician in Brighton
Beautician on St Kilda Road
Be sure that you mention every page at least once in these footers. Popular areas should get mentioned a few times.
Finally, become the link master!
Here's where it gets a bit tricky. You need to connect all of these pages together. On the list page, turn each of the keywords into a link to the suburb page. To do that highlight the keyword text and click the link button – it looks like an infinity symbol or an 8 on its side – and then enter the address of the suburb page you're linking to. This is called anchor text linking and it's vital for SEO.
Once you've linked all the suburbs from that link page, it's time to link all the suburb pages together. You do that via the keywords you added at the bottom of the page.
You now have your own little local SEO hub. If you can, add some links on local websites and directories directly to a few of these pages. That will add power to all of them over time.
Local online marketing is, for the most part, completely free. It takes a little time and a little up-skilling, but what "mad skillz" to have! Just because the World Wide Web is well, world wide, doesn't mean your neighbours aren't on it – just build local content, and they will come!
About the Author: Dana Flannery is a specialist in SEO for small business and provides SEO copywriting, content marketing, social media and branding services on a small business budget.