Note: Looking for an actionable Local SEO Checklist for 2020? At the end of this post, you can download a PDF that distills all the important points into checklist items. You can also watch our in-depth video below.
“I know I need to work on SEO for my business’s website, but there’s so much to do and learn and I don’t know where to start.”
If that’s something you’ve said (or found yourself thinking), then this blog post is for you!
We want to de-mystify this arcane art of search engine optimization. We’re doing that by giving you a checklist-style guide to the main things you should be concerned about when it comes to SEO for your local business.
First off, here’s the big picture as a series of straightforward bullet points:
Now we’ll take a look at each of these items, and explain how you can take practical steps to improve your business’s SEO.
There are now some truly amazing free SEO tools that can get you very close to all the way toward ranking higher for targeted online searches.
Is it really possible to fully optimize for Google’s algorithm without paying for expensive SEO tools?
I would say yes. Now it is. And that’s awesome.
Once you’ve done your initial pass at optimizing your website for your target keyword phrases, you should monitor and work to improve your rankings over time.
As I often tell our team and our clients, the work of SEO never really ends.
We all need to remain vigilant to continue to reap the rewards of targeted search traffic from customers and clients who are looking online for exactly what we offer.
Here’s the process I follow when I’m optimizing my own pet portrait company’s website for Google search. While I love using fancy paid SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush and Moz Pro, I can get pretty dang far using just the following free SEO tools:
Don’t neglect search engine optimization in the flurry of excitement around the launch of a redesigned website. Everything on the new site is fresh and up-to-date, and it looks slick as hell – but is that good or bad for your SEO?
It doesn’t have to be bad at all! We’ll explain how to maintain strong SEO and stay in Google’s good favor when you migrate to a newly updated website. It starts with knowing your old site and making sure nothing is lost or forgotten. Then we’ll tell you how to create redirects to avoid errors and confusion. Lastly, we’ll explain how you can make sure Google knows what you’re doing, so that the search engine will be friendly to your new site.
Most business owners would avoid setting up shop to sell things people don’t want, yet they regularly plop content and pages on their website with hardly a thought for what their customers want. Keyword research should be your roadmap; let the search data guide how you create your website, from your regular pages to your blog posts. It’s now possible to know the demand for what you offer before you even create it!
If Google’s algorithm is proprietary, how do SEO professionals know what factors can help a business optimize for top rankings in the search results? There are a couple different ways.
Here’s a talk I recently gave at PechaKucha Madison on this subject. It’s a neat format, 20 slides in 20 seconds apiece, that forces you to be concise.
Huge thanks to Wegner CPAs for hosting us at their Wake Up With Wegner event at the Sheraton on John Nolan Drive. We spoke on “How to Measurably Grow Your Business Through Online Search,” touching on pro tips, strategy and tactics for SEO, Google AdWords campaigns and Google Analytics set up and tracking.
Here’s a video re-recording in case you missed or would like to brush up.
What does it take for a hair salon in Madison, WI to appear on the first page of Google?
We analyzed the top known local search engine optimization (SEO) factors to let the businesses currently ranking lower what it would take to earn a spot higher up on the first page.
Here’s an indication of the kind of monthly search volume a phrase like this gets according to Google’s keyword planner: 1300 per month! That’s real money every single month of the year for those who go after it.
Here’s an overview video in which we discuss how ranking higher for popular search engine queries can grow your business. We also describe the top ranking factors SEO companies target to make gains.
UPDATE: Never ever ever buy Yelp ads!
ORIGINAL POST: We are constantly amazed at the animosity Yelp inspires among business owners we talk to. They frequently bring it up to us unprompted or fly into a mini-rage when we mention the “Y” word. Terms like “shakedown,” “scam” and “the devil” arise commonly enough that the company might want to take notice. (From the conversations we’ve had with Yelp, they don’t plan on changing anything.)
Once the curses have mostly passed, it’s then our unfortunate job as a Madison SEO company to tell businesses they should capitalize on Yelp anyway, however bad the blood. This doesn’t always go over well, and we’ve actually been told this is a non-starter: that the business has been burned so badly they don’t even want to deal with Yelp.
So what’s going on that business owners resent this top online business directory that is almost a search engine in its own right?
Business owners often ask us what SEO entails. Despite the still-common belief, good SEO doesn’t consist of “manipulating” Google’s algorithm. To the contrary, ranking on the first page for your services is more a matter of following online marketing best practices and adhering to search engine guidelines and capitalizing on what we actually know about how Google works.
To rank well, you need:
Easy, right? Well, not exactly, but it at least helps to know what we’re up against when we want to be in the “modern phonebook” on page 1 of Google and Bing. The following describes how we break this all down in our recommended 6-month SEO projects.
Five (UPDATE: Three) is the magic number when it comes to reviews on your Google Local or Google My Business (GMB) page. That’s because once you have 5 reviews, Google shows your star rating visually to potential customers on Google Maps and in the result page 3-pack. Something about seeing stars just makes a person want to click and check out that business.
Not having those stars when other businesses do just makes it look like you’re lacking somehow. And you are, really, because you should regularly be using social proof (like testimonials and reviews) to sell to your future customers. Anybody can say their own company is great, but new customers are more likely to believe your past customers.
So how do you encourage your customers to leave you reviews on Google? There’s no obvious link URL like there is for your main website.
Fortunately, someone has made it easy by creating a tool. Check out how it works in our YouTube video here.
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