By David Hall, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Pro-Active Websites
Localized Search Engine Optimization (Local SEO) is the process of optimizing your Web site to perform better by allowing it to be found using keywords that relate to the region, city or area in which your store is located. Irrespective of whether you have a brick-and-mortar store, it is vital to ensure your Web site is ranked well in searches for your local area.
For example, let’s say that you are looking to be found locally when users search for vintage guitars in your area, and you’re based in Milwaukee. A search term for which you would optimize could be “vintage guitars in Milwaukee.” Sounds easy enough, right?
However, people want to know whom they are dealing with online. They want to be able to visit your business location for your musical products and services or, at the least, have the peace of mind that they could if they wanted to.
1. Do Your Keyword Research
Every search result is driven from relevant keywords. Your first step is to research relevant terms and add them to your Web site. This involves knowing the keywords that people use to search for your specific products and services. Google provides an easy way to establish if there is relevant traffic for particular keywords. Locate and open the Google AdWords keyword tool.
Let’s assume you are a Milwaukee-based retailer that sells vintage guitars. Adjust the search settings so that they are set to display only results relevant to the U.S. Next, enter the keywords “vintage guitars.” There are some refinements you may select, and then click search.
You’ll now be able to see how many searches are performed for that keyword phrase; plus, Google will indicate the level of competition for that keyword or phrase. This is particularly useful if you decide to utilize pay-for-click advertising. Don’t shy away from highly competitive keywords. This indicates that they are items or services that are high in demand. This means there are more people likely to buy the products and services being searched.
Do not assume, simply because you sell vintage guitars in Milwaukee, that people looking to buy in that city will simply type “vintage guitars in Milwaukee” into Google. The terms they are typing may actually be “vintage Stratocasters,” “vintage Gibsons,” etc. It’s vital to your success that you think like your customers and add the keywords and phrases that they are actually using.
2. Time To Optimize
Once you have created your list of the most relevant keywords, it’s time to start optimizing your site. Make sure that your main keywords appear in your title tags and within the page content.
Following the above example, you would now use the keyword phrase “vintage guitars in Milwaukee” in your home page title tag. Your title tag should not exceed 15 words, and have your domain and store names. Make sure that you optimize each page for a different, yet related, keyword so that your site has a natural feel to it.
It’s important to ensure that your keywords appear throughout your content. Don’t overdo it, though. Search engine spiders actually look down on Web sites that “stuff” keywords throughout their sites. Add them naturally and let them fall into place where they seem to be the most relevant.
You might write sentences that include your keyword phrase (or variations), such as: “If you’re looking to buy a vintage guitar, then come to Dave’s Vintage Guitar Heaven. We specialize in vintage Stratocasters and Gibsons in Milwaukee.”
Make sure that your store’s address and phone number appear on your Contact Us page. Spiderbots will index and reaffirm to the search engines exactly how to reach you and where you are located.
3. The Value Of Unique Content
Create regular unique and fresh content that will draw visitors back to your Web site. Make sure you add value, and people will naturally come back. This is especially true for brick-and-mortar customers who prefer to shop in person.
You don’t always have to target beginners. Although they are the lifeblood for any music store, don’t ignore your intermediate and advanced players. Consider adding online tips and tricks from your teachers for more established customers. Add a steady flow of advanced lesson content and build repeat visitors.
Stay on the lookout for opportunities to exchange links. They will not only drive visitors from linking Web sites to yours, but also help boost your search engine rankings. One good way to do this is to include a resources page, listing valuable information such as “The Top 10 Live Music Venues in Milwaukee.” You might even want to make things more interactive by including a Google map, so people can locate these venues easily. Make sure that you get a reciprocal link.
4. People Really Are Interested In What You Have To Say
Another great way to increase reciprocal linking is to write your own unique articles and post them on your Web site. If readers like what they see, they may pick your articles up and place them on their own sites and, in the process, credit you with a backlink.
Include verbiage in your author bio box that helps the search engines find your store. Word your tagline like this: “Dave’s Vintage Guitar Heaven has been helping guitar collectors throughout Milwaukee and the Midwest find vintage guitars for more than two decades.” Make sure they add a reciprocal link.
Not sure what to write about? Look at what you’re doing every day in your store. I’m confident that there are many people who would be interested in following the steps you take to refurbish a vintage guitar, rebuild a piano, restore a band instrument, teach a group of seniors, etc.
It’s important to understand that Local SEO marketing is not just a one-time thing or something that you can fiddle around with occasionally. It’s a highly successful and relevant marketing tactic, and it should be added to your daily workflow. As more people use the Web to find local services, Local SEO could become one of the more important components of your marketing plan. Start using it today, and keep trying new keywords.