Wednesday, 11 June 2014

SEO for local businesses

With local business searches accounting for around 25% of all search engine traffic ( and ever increasing), you would be well placed to start to think about your integrating a solid digital strategy into your marketing plan. Couple this with an increased number of searches being performed via mobile devices, it may be time to take a look at the way your website fulfils visitor needs and expectations. 
Please read out top tips below for local businesses and SEO:

1. Responsive layouts

Analysts are predicting that mobile searches will overtake the number of searches currently on the desktop within the next few years and if your site is one that does yet have responsive elements then it's time to move with the times. This could mean something as simple as your multiple column site layout dropping to a single column on mobile devices so that website visitors can easily access the information that they are looking for. 

People regularly browse for amenities, local restaurants, bars and pubs, events and travel whilst en route to an area via a smart phone and your site needs to be optimised to appear in for those local searches as well as present a clear unified brand that works across many different platforms.

2. Avoid Thin or Duplicate Content

One of the key features of the recent Google algorithm update Panda 4.0 was to weed out sites with thin or duplicate content. This means that if your website does not feature a good amount of varied relevant content (think 600 words+) then your performance in search engine results could be dramatically affected. I reassure my clients that it's not rocket science; simply applying good solid marketing techniques to your online presence makes sense. Search engines are looking to match good quality relevant information to their clients and if you are making best efforts to ensure that your website provides focused and knowledgable online content throughout your website pages then you have already made a substantial inroad to digital success. If the key phrase that you are targeting is highly competitive in your area there are other ways to help the performance of your website.

If, by way of example you were a plumber in Salisbury, search engines look to find a website that features relevant pages targeting the phrase 'plumber in salisbury'. If your site was appearing further down the ranks than other sites it may be worth comparing the market to identify why their sites seem to rank better than yours. Consider fleshing out your content by adding a variety of media, as well as perhaps a series of how to videos or tutorials on common plumbing problems. Ensure that your site visitors can interact with you via social media and start a forum discussion on common plumbing issues or offering your customers advice. Provide some links back to your website and relevant articles that you may have written and you should notice a change in your site's search engine performance.

3. Enhance Visitor UI

Your website is the first point of contact that you may have with a potential new customer. Ensure that the design is kept on brand, with a clear navigation structure and that important information such as contact details and products and prices are kept visible and prominent. At The Graphic Edge we find many clients approach us after years of a friend of a friend 'doing their site'. Everything seems to flash, there is no synergy between core messages, seo or design and this obviously has a negative effect on the site visitor experience. Trial various techniques on popular landing pages to determine which layout may have the best customer signup rates by way of example. The great thing about web is that every aspect is measurable with results in relatively quick timeframes. The joy of the digital marketplace is that it is fast and can be very effective and a good digital strategy should evolve with the times. 

4. On Page SEO Effectiveness

The structure of a website page allows for some manipulation of it's elements to help search engines find the information that they are looking for in an efficient way. Ensure that your page title is kept at around 66 characters with the most relevant key phrases at the very beginning as well your location. Your page description should ideally contain some solid marketing copy as well as exact matches of the key phrase and location that you are trying you target. Use natural sounding header tags containing some of your keywords. I like to vary this with some being purely for marketing and some containing keywords. Making the page look as natural as possible will help avoid penalties for stuffing a page with keywords. Ensure that at least one image contains alt text with your exact match key phrase. Good inter page links will help as will adding google authorship and other social media sharing tools.

5. Link Building and off page awareness

Adding your business and location to google places is a must. Identify local directories and ask to be included in their listings. If you are a b&b that is looking for exposure, then approach local visitor attractions or restaurants and ask to be added as a link on their site in return for a referred discount. If your business regularly holds events; corporate or for the public, ask local events notice boards to feature the event as well as parish websites if your business is in a more rural area. Start a blog and share your expertise to your social media followers, inviting comments and wider distribution. Run competitions or promotions via social media, linking back to your website as an incentive to promote your business to the wider community. 

If you are looking for a web designer, graphic designer or seo specialist in the Salisbury, Wiltshire area or would simply like some more advice on your digital marketing strategy then please contact us via The Graphic Edge website or email us. Fore particular queries regarding web design in Salisbury or SEO in Salisbury please visit our dedicated pages.

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