Prerequisites of DIY Local SEO
SEO should not be an afterthought. It is a part of your online marketing strategy. SEO takes time, and requires skills of multiple disciplines. If you plan to optimise your website by yourself, be prepared to roll up your sleeves, learn new skills, get your hands dirty, and start from scratch.
learn the basics of managing a website, and some jargons
reduce image size
write comprehensive articles
read a lot, and network with other website owners
If you know little about DNS setting, have little interest to learn, or have little time to write, then it is better to delegate to a SEO agency such as us.
What is Local SEO
SEO is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimisation, or Search Experience Optimisation. It refers to getting website traffic by appearing at the top of search results. Since Google dominates the search engine market, SEO often refers to optimisation for Google.
Google returns relevant local results when users have intent for locality based information, such as a local cafe. Local SEO refers to the optimisation to rank for searches with local intent. A business competes against others in the same region to rank in search results.
Local SEO is a lot easier than competing at a global level. It is achievable for local businesses with a small budget, or no budget if you do it yourself. All it takes is time and technical know-how.
Local Pack and Local Finder
Top 8 Ranking Factors and Weight for Local Search Results on Google Map In 2019
Top 8 Ranking Factors and Weight for Localized Organic Search Results In 2019
Free SEO Tools
Free Service for Local SEO - Google My Business
Google My Business is a free service from Google. It is the most important factor for a business to appear on Google Maps when users search. It also plays a key role in localised search results. When people search by your business name, Google may display your business information in the top right corner of the search result page.
Listing your business on Google My Business is essential for Local SEO. If you don’t have a shop or office for customers to visit, you can list your business with a service area.
You can also list your business if you share a premise with another business. That is the topic of another article.
Integrating Local SEO in business strategy
Review Your Business Strategy
Integrating Local SEO in brand
Review Your Brand
registering a business name to include search terms
You can find out the average number of searches for your existing business name using Keyword Everywhere. If there aren’t many searches, you may consider registering a new business name with ASIC and include search terms. Such a business name will benefit your SEO in a few ways.
registering a domain name to include search terms
You can check the domain authority of your existing domain name using MozBar. If the domain authority is close to 1, you may consider registering a new domain name to include search terms.
Understand Customer Pain Points and Articulate Your Solutions
- Who are your customers?
- Why should they use your product or service?
- What problems do they try to solve?
- What benefits can they get from your product or service?
If you have a clear answer for these questions, you will be able to communicate clearly to potential customers.
Copywriting is the art of articulating customer pain points and your solutions. If you don’t have time to refine words, let us help. Copywriting is one of our value-adding services.
Differentiate You and Your Products
- how are you different from your competitors?
- how are your products different from similar solutions?
- how is this product or package different from others?
- why should I choose you?
- why should I choose this product or package?
Potential customers have these questions and expect to find the answer on your website. Some of them are too polite to ask, or don’t bother to ask. They just leave your website. So make sure you answer these questions, preferably on every page with a tagline.
Important: keyword research
Understand how your potential customers search online
When you search on Google, you can get the average search volume and related keywords from data reported by Keywords Everywhere. The data gives insight into how your potential customers search.
Note the average number comes with limitations. There could be seasonal fluctuations and changing popularity.
Tailor content for search keyword
Formulate your content strategy
When you know how your potential customers search, you can then create relevant content, and aim to rank for these keywords.
Users tend to search in different ways. Some search phrases may not be directly related to your products or services, but lead to a decision later in the customer journey. Blog articles can target these phrases and link to the product/service pages.
A content strategy covers what keywords to target, how to organise content for easy navigation and pleasant user experience, and what topics to write in your business blog.
Plan your website structure
focus on users
It is your website, but it is intended for your users. Present the most important information on home page, and let users know what is in it for them.
strategic places for keywords - anchor text, URL, headings
This means if you have a website, you may need to modify some pages and menu items.
Write content for USERS, with SEO in mind
Copywriting puts a writer’s skills to the test. A skilful copywriter creates articles interesting to human readers, at the same time incorporating keywords in strategic positions. A convincing message on the landing page encourages visitors to learn more, and eventually subscribe, contact you, or purchase online.
This is an area you will probably spend a lot of time, month after month. In fact some companies have a team to create new content, and update existing content.
If you don’t have the time, we can create drafts for you to review and publish. You still have full control over the content on your website.
Managing a website step by step
Own your domain registration account
Before you invest your time in SEO, make sure you own your domain registration account. Technically speaking, you don’t own a domain name. It is registered under your name while you pay the annual registration fees.
This is important if an agency registered your domain name. A lot of SEO work goes into building backlinks to your domain name. It makes sense to make sure you own the registration account, just to avoid nasty surprises down the road.
Choose a content management system
There are many content management systems (CMS) available when building a website. WordPress is the most popular one. The self-hosted open source package comes with a builtin visual editor, and free themes and plugins to choose from. There are plugins helping you to check SEO in your articles. WordPress is worth evaluating if it meets your requirements.
You will probably need help from a developer if you haven’t built a website before. We can build a website for you, or migrate your existing website to WordPress.
If you are happy with a simple website, Goandmake website builder is another choice. It has enabled us to write at great speed, preview instantly, and create presentations with flexible layout. Goandmake website builder stores data in the browser when you edit. It works without internet connection after the initial loading. The exported pages can be served without a database, and are free from all the issues associated with a database.
Choose a hosting provider
Internet data is expensive in some countries such as Australia. When your website gets traffic from both human and robots, it will consume data.
When you choose a hosting provider, make sure it has the bandwidth allowance you will need.
If your website has lots of images, you may consider using Cloudflare’s free CDN to reduce data download from your website.
Build or rebuild your landing pages
When you choose a content management system, you should check whether there is a page builder available. A page builder allows you to modify page layout without writing code.
This is a tried and proven approach in marketing: identify pain points, communicate benefits, emphasise difference, and present evidence. This is how we write copies and build landing pages for clients.
A landing page built this way is easier to read, and more convincing. You may need to build or rebuild your landing pages using this approach.
I will write another article about how to apply this principle when creating landing pages.
Optimise web pages
Start a blog on your website
A blog is a very useful tool to network with other writers. It allows you to write on a wide range of topics, link to other writers when appropriate, and earn backlinks from them. Sometimes people hesitate to link to your product or service page as the link looks like advertisement. However they are more open to link to your blog articles of insights or ideas.
You have total control over the blog on your own website, and can decide whom to link to. This is different from blogging on a third party platform where the links can be automatically modified.
You may also consider writing blogs for other websites, and inviting other writers to write guest blogs for you. Blogging opens new doors.
Optimise title and description tags for search result page
Add structured data on web page
Google may display rich media in the search result if your web page contains the required structured data.
If you use WordPress, some plugins are available to manage structured data, with various limitations. A developer can add structured data manually by modifying the page template.
One of the advantages of Goandmake website builder is the flexibility to generate forms and add structured data. This is the topic of another blog article.
Offsite optimisation - networking and backlinks
List your business on local directories
This process is also called citation. It is important to have consistent name, address and phone number (NAP) across different platforms.
The purpose here is not to get backlinks. Rather, it is to establish credibility and online presence. You may get some traffic from directory websites.
Be prepared to receive some cold calls offering SEO services. Use your best judgement. There are far too many people claiming to be SEO experts.
Promote your content
Facebook Page is a suite of tools designed for businesses. You can interact with customers and followers, and follow news feed from people of interests.
When you publish an article on your website, sharing on Facebook Page is often one click away.
Request reviews from existing customers
Positive reviews from your existing customers increase your credibility, and help to convince your potential customers.
Google My Business has a feature of customer review, and actually allows you to request reviews from customers. You may consider including the review links on invoices, at the bottom of your email, and on your website. If customers spend time writing a review for you, do remember to thank them.
Request backlinks from business partners
Backlinks refer to links from other websites to your website. The backlink signal (number and authority of linking domains) is an important factor to rank in the localised search result.
Your business partners probably have their own websites. If you call your business partners or visit them in person, you may have a high chance to get links from them.
It is important to note that links from your business partners may not bring customers directly. These backlinks help your website to rank at the top of search results, and thus be found when potential customers search.
Reach out to bloggers
When you write your own blog, you may find some useful ideas from other people writing on similar topics. It is a courtesy to link to them, and reach out to thank them.
If your blog article has something new or useful, they may link back to your blog in the future.
Write reviews for your supplier
Many people are too busy to write a review. Now you know the importance of positive reviews, you can write a review for your supplier.
Some suppliers may publish your review on their website, and link back to your website, if you ask them.
Attend networking events and business functions
Make a genuine effort to listen to people, find out what they do, and look for shared interests.
Many local business owners have a website, and may somehow relate to your business. If you have met someone, and your blog article offers something useful, the chances are high for you to get a backlink from them.
Make friends with influencers
In each industry there are people who have strong influence. Follow them, reach out to introduce yourself, and visit them in person if possible.
If you catch their attention, the influencers may mention you in their blogs, on social media, or even on high traffic websites. The friendship benefits you both offline and online.
Host your own community fundraising event
About the author - Oliver Liu