Small, localized businesses have a tough time marketing themselves. Traditional advertising is expensive and with the new changes by Google, the “ Here are 4 key strategies to give a try today to optimise your SEO success. #1. Use an Alternative to Content You need to ask yourself why people will link to your site, why they will share stuff from your site, and why they would talk about your site on the web. While large companies with a regional, national and international reach insist that it is all about having engaging content. And no, Google is not looking for a site with a company story, things or services to sell, and a map with directions to its place of business. But there are things you can do on your site other than just sell something. Successful sites don’t just have a blog and a great design. They use their sites to give people something that is entertaining, useful, and interactive. Successful sites also have utilities that solve people’s problems – they develop apps to help people with those problems. Successful sites also have communities – loyal people who follow their online activity. Is there some way for you to develop a local online community? There are a couple of ways to do this pretty quickly: Get a local cause and support it. If you are a restaurant, publicize a weekend in which you will donate a part of every meal cost to a local charity. Offer discounted meals as well, with a coupon that can be printed out from your site. That will bring traffic and customers. You can start a forum rather than a blog and invite loyal customers to join it and to engage with one another. If you sell home décor, get your customers together on a forum to share ideas and suggestions. And technologically speaking, with tools such as Moot and Discourse. And in many niches, forums are more popular than blogs. You can create interactions without creating content. #2. Use a Good Domain Name, not The One with an Exact Keyword Match In the past, there was a rush to get domain names that matched a keyword most often used in a search. However, this is no longer how that works, and Google will actually punish such domains. As a small business, you need to get a domain with a name that is good for your brand, that includes your brand name, and it will have SEO benefits. Google is looking for sites that are “authoritative” and specific not generic. People can type in “Amazon” and get Amazon. If people search for “e-commerce,” however, they will not get sites that have “ecommerce” in their URL’s, they will get sites like Etsy and Shopify. If you put a generic term in your URL, Google will not distinguish you from any other site with the same term. If, on the other hand, you use your unique brand in your URL, searches for you will be “counted” by Google. #3. Build a Great and Responsive Website that Provides Exceptional UX People come to a local business website for some very specific reasons. They want details on products or services. They want to see what is on sale right now and they want directions to get to the business, along with phone number. What they get is a busy, cluttered place with banners, slideshows, lots of text about the business’s history, and so forth, and it is all placed above the fold to make elements even more crowded. Restaurants are notorious for this. And when visitors access the site via their mobile phones, it is even worse, even though exploring local businesses is a huge use of mobile phones. When it comes to creating an SEO optimized website, here are some key takeaways: Get a designer to clean you up and fashion a responsive design that will look great on mobile devices. Try different landing pages to see which ones visitors come to and actually stay on the look a bit. You can use split testing for this by offering a different coupon or coupon code on each page. Find out which page works better and go with it. Google likes it when visitors come and stay awhile. Get some usability testing such as that offered by “heat map” testing. You can find out where people are bouncing from your site and where they are staying. When you discover that, you will know what most people are looking for or what compels them, and you focus on that, making it as easy as possible for them to find what they are looking for. You will probably find that they want the following: products and prices (don’t just put up your menu, put up the prices. Nothing is more irritating than not being able to find the prices); address and phone number; map to your location; and some easy, fast contact form. Secondary things they may want to see are testimonials and reviews (make sure that you get something like Google+ review embedded, so that they know the reviews are not “filtered” by you before being posted), and any icons that promote trust – BBB membership, certifications, associations to which you have membership, and any publicity you have received from trusted other sources (e.g., featured in a popular niche magazine) Above all, be certain that your site works well, is easily navigated, and focuses on what you know visitors want. This is not to say that you should not have a blog, not have some entertaining and engaging features – people like humor and they like social responsibility. But these things can be offered on social media platforms and can drive people to your site too. Remember, every click is counted. #4. Keyword Targeting is Still Important On-page SEO continues to be important, especially for local businesses. Decide on which keywords to target based upon research. Even though Google has skilled its old AdWords tool, its new Keyword Planner is still good to use. And you can use it to find the best keywords for a local search. You will also be able to develop long-tail keywords that will let Hummingbird work better for you. Keyword targeting remains important for small business SEO, but using an extremely specific or obscure phrase, hoping you will be the first entry from a search won’t work anymore. Hummingbird will interpret that phrase and bring up a larger more generic search result. Here are some on-page things you can do to improve your SEO Keep your title very simple – don’t stuff it with keywords. Do use the name of your city if possible and your focus keyword. Your meta description doesn’t matter to search engines, but it does matter to the reader. It should be enticing so that a reader will want to click to your page. Put the name of your city in this too, so that the reader knows location. No more than 160 characters Heading tags should read like a newspaper headline. You want, again, to entice the reader and to make a statement that there is real value coming if they click through. Interlink: Every page of your site should be able to be linked to from a minimum of one other page. Remember – every link counts. Sign up for Google+ authorship because your image will show next to your entry on the search results. Use org markup – you can put in geographical info on your site; you can add star ratings; you can plug events, etc. Test load time all the time, especially after any change is made to your site. Nothing causes people to leave your site and go somewhere else than slow loading time. Plus, quick abandonment of a site injures your visibility in search results. What tips do you suggest? 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