How to Improve SEO for Your Local Business: 24 Tips
How to Improve Your SEO With Keywords
We’ve talked about the importance of using keywords for your titles, meta descriptions, image tags, and content body — but exactly which keywords should you use? This section will cover how to choose keywords to improve your SEO and Google ranking.
How do Keywords Improve SEO?
Keywords are a crucial part of SEO. They are the words your target audience is typing into Google searches to find information, products, or services your business provides. In other words, keywords are the means by which search engines connect your business to customers.
Here are nine steps you can take to improve your SEO ranking through keywords.
1. Use Keyword Tools
While it is a good idea to brainstorm keywords for your business to rank for, this should not be your only approach. What you think your target audience is searching for online may not be what they are actually searching for. Keyword research tools provide real user data to help you confirm whether the keywords you have thought of will improve your rank on Google, as well as to identify additional keywords that you may not have thought of on your own. Google has recently placed restrictions on its free keyword tool, but there are many keyword tool alternatives that you can try.
2. Identify Keywords that Drive Traffic to Your Website
Keyword tools can be very helpful for finding and suggesting keywords, but keep in mind that the data they provide is generalized for all websites and users.
If you want your website to rank on Google, one of the best resources for this is none other than your website! With an analytics tool such as Google Analytics, you can identify the actual terms people searched for that led them to your website. You can also see which keywords you are already ranking for, and build more keyword clusters from there.
3. Be Realistic When Choosing Keywords
The key to improving your SEO is in being realistic. Yes, you want keywords with a high search volume, but keep in mind that these tend to be general. It is not realistic to think that everyone searching for a general term is looking for your specific service or information.
In addition, if the competition is also high for a particular keyword, it may not be realistic to think that you have a chance at ranking for that keyword. You may have a great blog post with keywords in the title tags, meta content, URL link, and alt tags, but if your expectations for ranking are not realistic, you may end up disappointing yourself.
4. Use Long-Tail Keywords
Being realistic about keywords brings us to one of the most commonly overlooked ways to improve your business’s website ranking on Google — long-tail keywords. What are long-tail keywords? They are longer keyword phrases and the remedy for high volume and high competition keywords!
These longer phrases that incorporate keywords are less competitive because fewer people or companies are able to provide such specific information, and they are more targeted because the people searching those phrases have more intent to engage or buy. You can improve your SEO on Google by finding long-tail keywords for your business most relevant to your target audience and creating content from those.
5. Google Search Your Keywords Before Deciding
Whether you’re using specific keywords or long-tail keyword phrases to get your business on Google, one very important keyword tip is to always Google search your keywords before using them. This is a way to check to make sure that the content you plan to associate with your keyword is aligned with the content Google associates with that keyword.
Perform a Google search for your keyword and see what other content it pulls up. If the search results don’t reflect the content that you’re writing about, you will either need to change your content or change the keyword you are using.
6. Scope Out the Competition
While you’re looking at the keyword search results, take an even closer look at your competitors who are already on that first page. Are they large businesses, news sites, or government sites? If these competitors are wildly different from you, or if they have been around for several years, it may be hard to improve your ranking for this keyword. Another observation to make is the form of the content in the results. For example, if the search results are mainly product pages, and you have a blog post, your content may be seen by Google as less relevant. Make sure that what you’re trying to rank for reflects what people are actually searching for online.
7. Check Your Results
Improving your SEO doesn’t do your business any good if it doesn’t help you reach your business goals and ultimately help you to get more clients for your business. Make sure that you are not just improving your rank in Google, but also improving along with your rank in Google. If your improved SEO is bringing in more qualified website traffic or generating more leads, then your SEO is working for you. If you aren’t benefiting from the improved SEO, you are better off putting your time and energy into a different keyword strategy.
How Local Businesses Can Improve their SEO
SEO is a must for any business looking to get found, stand out, and get chosen online. However, for local businesses especially, there are three particularly important points of focus.
1. Focus on Your Niche Market
As a local business, it is important to identify and express that which distinguishes you from nearby competitors and/or larger franchises. Think in terms of the specific products, services, and conditions your ideal customer is seeking out. Do you provide same-day services? Are you the only environmentally friendly business of your kind within a 20-mile radius? Are you pet-friendly?
The more specific you can get about the products and services you provide, the better the chances are that you will rank for searches your ideal customers are performing. This is called niche marketing.
For example, does your health club or martial arts studio teach self-defense classes for women? Don’t just include “self-defense classes” on your services page. Get more specific with something like:
“We are a martial arts studio that provides karate classes to all ages. We also offer specialized self-defense classes for women of all ages, from teens to seniors!“
Your business will be more likely to show up when people search for things like: self-defense, women’s self-defense, and self-defense for teens.
2. Standardize Your Business Name
When Google sees inconsistencies in your online content, it loses trust in you and will be hesitant to put it in front of searchers. Therefore, another quick and easy way your local businesses can improve its rank on Google is to ensure that your name is the same across all online channels — social media platforms, niche directories, review sites, map listings, etc. This might seem like common sense, but many companies do not obey this rule.
For example, if your business name contains the word “company”, do not use “co.” in some listings and “company” in others. Keep it consistent. Also, find one handle you can use for every social media outlet. This will improve your SEO and make it easy for people to find your business online.
There are many ways to optimize your business listings to improve your rank in online searches, but consistency is the most important.
3. Create a Google My Business Listing
Aside from having a website, the best thing you can do to improve your local visibility and Google ranking is to create and optimize your Google My Business Listing. Google My Business is making it easier than ever for potential customers to find, learn about, and engage with businesses specific to their needs. Complete with reviews, ratings, directions, posts, and other vital information, it is becoming the go-to directory for consumers. Create your Google My Business profile asap to improve SEO for your business.
Final Tips for Improving Your SEO
So we’ve covered the tactical aspects of using your website, content, and keywords to improve your SEO. Now it’s time to finish off with three more general or strategic tips.
1. Think Bigger Picture
Knowing what products and services are most profitable and where you’d like to expand in your business is important for setting the foundation for a solid SEO strategy. Don’t think of keywords but of general phrases that make sense for your business, as it stands now and also where you want it to stand in the future.
2. Analyze Your Traffic
Doing all the above is great, but without measuring the right SEO metrics, you can’t know whether your actions are actually improving your SEO. Google Analytics is the industry standard and allows you to see where your website visitors are coming from and what they’re doing on your website. The insights gathered from this data will help to inform and refine your SEO tactics moving forward.
3. Focus on Unique Content
There is no way to create lasting SEO success overnight. This is by design from search engines, who are constantly pushing for websites to produce quality work on a consistent basis to get distinguished from spammy, low-quality sites. When it comes to improving your SEO, the importance of authentic content cannot be emphasized enough. Blog posts and videos are a great way for you to present yourself as an expert in the field, answer common questions and show prospects how you work. Releasing these pieces monthly shows both searchers and search engines that you’re a credible, trustworthy resource that is worthy of ranking higher on Google
Proper SEO takes time, so treat it like a 401k. Invest in it each month and over time, you’ll net fantastic results.