85% of all website traffic originates from the search engines, with the majority coming from a select few. If your company has an online presence but doesn't have top 10 rankings on the major search engines for your targeted phrases then you're losing money to your competition every single day.
If you have a website and you want to rank in the search engines then yes SEO is definitely for you. While everyone else is working on the navigation of their website and the pretty graphics then you can be miles ahead of your competition by working on SEO. What exactly does SEO stand for? Search Engine Optimization. This is where you combine on page factors and off page techniques to rank higher in the search engines. Really before you begin you should stop and buy yourself some good software to do your keyword research to make sure you are targeting buy keywords. Then you should make sure you have optimized your on-page factors like title of the page, header one tags, header two tags and header three tags to correspond with your buy keywords.
Being a local business no longer means simply hanging a sign outside and waiting for your customers to walk in. As the Internet has blossomed, the Swiss Army Knife of marketing tools has grown exponentially. Whereas in the past you might have only posted an ad in the local paper, or run a local television or radio spot, the Internet has added many more avenues to get your business noticed. One of the increasingly important aspects of this new form of marketing is your local profile.
Here are 10 easy things you can do today to
optimize sites and content to attract local customers.
1. Claim your profile.
It’s as simple as logging into Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local and walking through the verification steps which include a phone call or post card to verify your address.
2. Upload Pictures.
The local sites listing services like to provide their users with pictures of your business. To help ensure that they see some good pictures, upload your own. They don’t have to be professional photos, but they will represent your business so make sure they are decent.
3. Control information across the internet.
A big part of local search optimization and marketing involves obtaining information from other sites. Local listing aggregation services search the internet far and wide to find pictures, reviews and any information they can on your company. Submit your info to services like Localeze & infoUSA.
The downside here is that if something is incorrect on another site, it could find its way back into your local listing. If that happens, you have to go back to the source and ask them to fix the issue and then wait while the fix makes its way into local sites.
4. Ask for reviews.
Most local sites, except for Yelp, are fine with you telling your customers to review you. So do it. On your contact form thank you page, on invoices, on email communications, make a point to say “Hey we’d love it if you gave our business a review on Google/Bing/Yahoo Local.” These reviews, good or bad, make your business more creditable to future customers.
5. Bad reviews are good.
No company is perfect, so when users see all positive reviews, something looks wrong and they may actually choose a different company. Bad reviews are a part of any business and a few bad reviews can make the good reviews that much better. Obviously, you don’t want to encourage bad reviews.
6. Add local phone number.
On your website, be sure to publish your local phone number in text vs within an image or not at all. 800 numbers may be nice, but on their own they don’t give any kind of location indication.
7. Have a full physical mailing address on all pages of your website.
Your address is important and it should be on all pages of your website to re-enforce your geographic location.
8. Think like the searcher/customer.
What would your customers put in a search box to find you and buy your products?
Lets say you own an outdoor sporting good store; like hunting, camping, hiking and fishing. If a searcher puts put ‘shoes’ into a search box, they probably aren’t a good match as it’s such a generic term. If they put ‘running shoes’ you’re still not a match as your sporting goods store doesn’t focuses on running. If they put in ‘hiking shoes’ then you want to target them.
Business owners often get caught up in popular keywords or keywords that will drive a lot of traffic and forget to focus on less popular keywords that have a higher probability of making sales.
Remember to think like the customer.
9. Multiple locations need multiple landing pages.
Local sites don’t like a business having more than one local listing, but if the business has two locations, than that’s OK. However, you should ensure that each location links back to a page on your website that is all about that location and what it has to offer. Sending both local listings back to the same page, or homepage, isn’t ideal.
10. Treat Customers ‘Right’
Everyone knows that they need to treat the customer right, but with social media, review sites and the ability for good, or bad, news to spread like wildfire, you need to treat your customers really good or “righter”. This includes online and offline customer service.
Local search takes into account information business owners put in their local profile, information it finds on other sites and information on the business’ website. Even what happens offline can be taken into consideration as customers may bring back those experiences in the form of online reviews.
Local search is it’s own unique entity as no one can control everything that appears on their local listing, but business owners can take steps to ensure that what gets listed is a good representation of the company.
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Things to remember to add are pages like the about, contact and other pages necessary to give your website the authority it needs to be effective. It is a good idea to add these pages as footer links to keep the search engines from reading them first at the top of your page. No-follow attributes should be used on pages that you don't want to rank for. This will help keep page rank on pages that need to rank higher.
Nice graphics with the main keyword in the alt tag of the image is necessary for good on-page optimization. Effectively using your H1, H2, H3 and even H4 tags are a must changing up your keywords to make the most of your pages.
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