As the years tick by, Google increases its emphasis on local search. Staying ahead of your competition with quality search engine optimization (SEO) has never been more important to secure your slice of the market. Here are 5 steps the discerning entrepreneur can take from the comfort of her or his own office to stay ahead of the competition.
1. Seeding Positive Mentions and Reviews
Review websites are holding increasing weight in local SEO. Take the initiative and look for niche relevant websites to generate positive buzz around your brand and company.
Google is the best starting point here. Punch in keywords to the effect of “yourcompanynichehere review”, experimenting with variations. The results will give you some websites where you can publish a five-star review and probably even score a backlink. For example, we entered the following into Google and these were results.
Keyword used: “local carpenter reviews”
Result examples: http://www.mybuilder.com and http://www.ratedpeople.com
Keyword used: “estate agents review site”
Result examples: http://www.allagents.co.uk/ and http://www.agent-tracker.co.uk/
Remember, don’t add too many of these in a short space of time as it looks as unnatural to the search engines as it will to the people who see your 10 five-star reviews posted in two weeks.
2. Stay on Top of Your Web Presence
It’s important to keep on top of how you’re being portrayed on the web to ensure potential customers are not faced with incorrect information. Too many small businesses leave things to chance or allow information to get out of date when they move office or change contact details.
Tools such as Yext.com are an invaluable resource for checking such information and it’s Powerlistings Network Scan feature will check 50 of the top review sites, apps and search engines to make sure information is current and up-to-date.
3. Improve Your Website Loading Speed
It’s a lesser-known fact that Google cares about how quick your website loads. The major search engine doesn’t want its customers waiting ice ages for their results so make sure your website is fast. Here’s a three-step process to follow:
- Use services to check your website speed like Gmetrix and Pingdom
- If the website does load slowly, consult your Webmaster about streamlining code or other loading speed issues
- In many instances, people have unnecessarily large image files (such as JPEGs or PNGs) on the homepage. If possible, check the file sizes and see if you can reduce them without losing image quality.
4. Scope out and Nab Your Competitor’s Juicy Links
Another little-known SEO tactic is “link mining” whereby you check up on the backlink profiles of your competition. See their back links, ascertain whether you can contact the owner of the website and put up a review, guest post or other link of your own. Great tools for the job are:
Again, remember not to do too many at one time. This practice can be a little tedious, but it will prove very profitable in the long run.
5. Start a High-Quality Niche Relevant Blog
It’s no longer a secret that Google is out to get the best content on the web and those that provide it will secure themselves a lucrative spot on the front page. Give away industry insider tips and other reasons for people to keep returning to the site and give share social signals. Other effective blogging strategies include:
- Breakdowns of market research statistics
- Analysis on up-to-date industry relevant news
- Quizzes and competitions
If you or anyone in the company has not done any blogging before, set aside an afternoon to do research and some great guides and strategies on what works well to capture the attention of your audience as well as the search engines.
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