Ladies and gentleman, you can rank on the first page of Google and other search engines without spending copious amounts of money. How? By thinking LOCAL.
Sure, it would be nice to rank at the top of Google nationally, but the truth is, if you are pitching your products or services to the people in a particular region, targeting a national audience is a colossal waste of time and energy. Ranking on the first page locally is a realistic and attainable goal, and anyone can do it by using content marketing and basic search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.
We've come up with a nifty acronym to help you learn how to boost your local ranking like content marketing GURU.
G- Gather quality inbound links.
Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are links found on other web pages that lead online users over to your web page. Pursue gathering inbound links from high-ranking, well-regarded websites. There are several ways to do this:
Publish regular guest posts in blogs. Bloggers are often looking for quality content from experts in their field, and many happily accept submissions from guest bloggers. Find blogs that are a good fit for the kind of expertise you can offer, and contact the blog administrator. They get free content; you get a great inbound link that boosts your search engine ranking.
Link to other high-quality local blogs. Share the love! Be a part of your local community and regularly share content written by businesses and organizations that complement yours. If you prove to be a team player, people will take notice and will start sharing YOUR content.
Network with industry experts in your city or region. Ask industry experts to contribute to YOUR blog. Building relationships with influencers in your field can lead to inbound links from sites you know are high quality.
Be active on social media. Join a few Facebook groups for people in your region. Follow others. Tweet useful information. Focus on joining conversations and ease up on promotion. Building relationships naturally leads to others WANTING to share your content online.
U- Update Local Directories
This is so easy, but too many people don’t take advantage of registering with local directories. Those who do often make costly mistakes. Here’s how to register on directories the right way:
Make sure your NAP (name, address, phone) is EXACTLY the same across all directories. This is called NAP consistency. Search engines scan the web for your business data and it compares that data to other sources. When that data is inconsistent, it negatively affects your local ranking. Directories to consider include: Google My Business, Angie’s List, YELP, Facebook, and Bing.
Fill out ALL the information on Google my Business and other directories. You gain credibility and remember, the more ways you give potential customers to get in touch with you, the better.
Fill out the correct categories. This is another important factor that is often overlooked. If you specialize in drywall but haphazardly use carpenter as your category, you're losing out.
Upload pictures that highlight your services or products. People love pictures. Show off what you do.
Getting onto local directories also makes you eligible for receiving customer reviews, which are another major factor when it comes to local search rank.
R- Revive your slow website.
If it takes too long to load, or if it looks unprofessional, people will leave. You need to be FAST. There are ways to do this without hiring an expert:
Regularly monitor your server response time. You need to establish a point of comparison. Sometimes server-response times vary according to circumstances out of your control, and lag resolved on its own. However, if you notice an ongoing drop in server response time, having a baseline time to compare subsequent times to helps eliminate potential problems so that you can come up with a solution more quickly.
Enable browser caching. A browser cache is a temporary holding station for browser downloads. Regularly clearing it out will help keep your website up to speed.
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. Customers prefer mobile-friendly sites over mobile apps when searching, so make sure your site looks great on mobile browsers. Check that your format isn’t wonky, pictures aren’t cut off, etc.
U- Utilize keywords.
Keywords are an important part of SEO, but use them the wrong way and the Internet gods will punish you. Don’t overuse them (keyword stuffing- blech!), but do add them in the right places.
To rank locally, your keywords have to line up with your location. It all goes back to making sure your NAP is the same across directories, your website, etc. Google picks up on your geolocation, so no need to put your city's name into your titles. Once again: remember to be consistent! If your Google My Business profile says you’re in the town of Henrietta, but your website says you’re in Rochester, Google will be unhappy. (Rule of thumb: your town or city should match your zip code.)
Just like choosing the right categories on GMB, make sure your keywords are selected according to what your customers are searching for online. People who have a targeted keyword in their business name rank 1.5 spots higher on Google.
Search engines pick up on keywords placed within:
Directory page titles
Landing page title
Title Tags (meta description tag, meta keywords tag)
H1 Tag, H2 Tag (Headers and subheaders)
Anchor text (Link text)
Body Text (Your page content)
Image titles and ALT attribute
The best thing about these techniques? Implementation doesn't cost you a thing! Remember, content marketing is kind of like starting a new work out program: it may take a bit to see results, but when you do, people will notice. Make like a content marketing guru and get noticed.
Here’s a handy-dandy infographic to aid you as you take on your new content marketing GURU persona: