How to Optimize Your Local Business Website for SEO A small investment in your web presence and optimizing that presence for local search could have a drastic impact on the revenue you are able to generate through online web traffic. Currently, only 67 percent of local businesses have a website and 60 percent of local businesses that do have a website do not even have their phone number listed on their site. By optimizing your website and ensuring that you are being found wherever your potential customers are searching online, you can easily beat out your competition and win over the 61 percent of internet users who research businesses online.

Once you have invested in a website and taken basic steps to make sure your website is being found by search engines, there are a number of steps that you can take to make sure you are providing Google and other search engines with exactly the type of content that is rewarded with a high ranking on relevant searches.  You can see SEO results overnight in some cases and in others it will take a few weeks but the continued effects of an optimized page will result in an increased ranking, higher search traffic, and ultimately more clients through your door.

Determine the right keywords for your business

With any search strategy you must first figure out how potential customers are searching in order to be found under the right types of searches.  Google provides a few free tools in order to find out exactly what people are searching for, and what keywords they use (search queries). Google Trends provides you with search comparisons for different queries as well as information on the change in popularity for those queries and geographical areas that those terms have been most popular. In addition, Google Trends will also recommend similar search terms that will provide you with insights into what searchers have been looking for.

Once you have compiled a list of search queries relevant to what your business offers, you can create a Google AdWords account in order to use the Keyword Planner tool and see more accurate information on search queries and competitiveness of keywords (don’t worry you won’t be giving Google any money).  With this information, you can find which queries are competitive, and target keywords with high search volume but low competition.

Use keywords in important areas

Page titles, also known as title tags, show up as the link to your business’s pages on search engines as well as in the browser bar of a potential customers page when they are viewing your website.  The page title tells both the search engine and the searchers what the page is about and why it is relevant to them.  You will want to place the most valuable and relevant keyword or two in your page title.  For a local business, you should also include your location in either the form of the city or town you are located in or your zip code. Body content is the next place that you should include relevant business keywords for your business.  If you are a salon in Austin, Texas, you would likely make your page title “Bradie’s Salon Austin” because ‘Salon Austin’ is the most common relevant search term.

For the body content, you would want to include keywords such as “Hair Salon Austin”, “Hair Wash Austin”, and “Hair Blowout Austin” as they are all related search terms generating a significant amount of searches and provide an opportunity to be found under other searches. With the creation of a blog, or other way to build out your website with content, you will create a significant number of pages that will now have the opportunity to appear in search results and be found by potential customers.

Your blog should provide customers with information both relevant to them and to the services you provide.  The Signpost blog, for instance, provides local businesses with digital marketing advice.  The information on the blog both relates to what Signpost does as well as provides useful marketing guidance to local businesses.

Images are a highly underutilized way to generate search traffic but very valuable nonetheless. You should never save an image that will be uploaded to your website under a generic name again.  Instead, save the image under relevant keyword terms.  Whenever a Googlebot indexes your website, it also indexes names of images for the Google Images portion of the search engine.  By naming your image “Hair Salon Austin” as opposed to “122231.jpg”, you are opening up another avenue in which you can drive high quality search traffic to your website and increase the conversion rate your website provides.

Utilize web analytics for your site

The best way to understand what drives traffic for your site and what doesn’t, you want to employ the various webmaster tools provided free of charge by the various search engines. The Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools provide extremely beneficial insights into what kind of search queries drive traffic to your site as well as the average ranking your site appears for those queries.  Google Analytics also is a way to track your website traffic and engagement.

As you make changes to your site, track how those changes improve or hurt your search rankings and traffic produced. If you change content around on your site and notice a significant increase in your ranking for specific search terms because of it, you know that Google saw value in those changes.  At the same time, if you have a dramatic increase in ranking but no major change in search traffic, you might want to consider changing your site title or meta tag (short description that appears on search queries) to improve traffic.

Where to start

Google is constantly changing it’s algorithm and a website that appears in the top three isn’t always guaranteed to do so.  In order to constantly secure a top ranking for the local search queries you find valuable to your business you must always be updating and enhancing your website with content your customers find valuable. In the meantime, look at your current site and judge where it currently stands. If your title tags aren’t currently optimized for search or your images have not been properly saved, update that information and track the changes it brings.  Your website is fluid, meaning it is constantly changing compared to the rest of the web.  If you see a change has brought about a significant positive impact, find what worked so well and implement it across your site if possible.  On the other hand, if a change decreases traffic or keeps it stagnant, try something else and see what kinds of effects that brings.