It is becoming more and more apparent that small business owners invest in local SEO for 2013 and beyond. Need a little bit of convincing? Check out some of our previous blog posts below that go in depth on its given topic:

Today is an overview on how Small Business Owners (SMB for future reference) can handle their own marketing efforts for local search. For detailed how-to’s, subscribe to our email list as new how-to’s are rolled out weekly to show you what to do.

A fair portion of local SEO isn’t hard, other parts are, the only parts of local search engine optimization that may require an experienced local search marketer is regarding onsite optimization and link building. If you know how to do basic HTML, that’s a good start and you should be able to do your own local SEO.

Step 1 – Think like your customer:

This involves keyword research. Get on the web and start typing in search queries that you think your customers would be typing in to find your product or service. This is a start. There are a plethora or keyword research tools out there but here are two that I use regularly (there will be how-to’s on these in the near future):

Step 2 – Create social profiles:

What do Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest have use for in local SEO? Social signals, meaning how many shares, retweets, likes, etc a page or a blog post receives the better your chances of getting that page ranked. Not to mention that Facebook recently unveiled Facebook Graph Search that might become a popular search service in the future. There are also quite a few local directories that also allow you to add your social profile URL’s into your listings information. The more information we can add, the better. Here are links to creating social profiles (how-to’s on each coming soon):

Step 3 – Create a NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) doc:

A NAP document is going to make your life a lot easier, and its also going to make it easier for search engines to match up data about your address. A NAP document should contain the following:

      • Company Name
      • Address
      • Phone Number (local preferred)
      • Website URL – include http://www.
      • Hours of operation
      • Company Tagline/Motto
      • Year Established
      • Categories – 5 max
      • Short Description – 150 characters max
      • Long Description – 800 characters max
      • Special Associations and Rewards
      • Brands Carried
      • Social URL’s: See step 2
      • Logo and other photos – .jpg or .png

After you have filled out your NAP document, save it somewhere safe on your computer for easy access in the future.

Step 4 – Citations, citations, citations

Think of citations as link building for an address. The more QUALITY citations you have consistent with your NAP, the more authority Google and other search engines will give to your business address, and the more likely your company will rank for the keywords you are trying to rank for.
There are a ton of directories to choose from and there are a few tools out there to help point you in the right direction of quality local directories, not all local directories are created equal. The only tool I recommend for finding citations, besides the list I already have, is the Whitespark Citation Finder Tool. It’s robust and works like a charm.

Step 5 – Reviews, yay or nay?

Reviews do matter. But it’s also important how you obtain these reviews from customers. Offering a customer or giving your customer an incentive to leave a review for your business is a violation of most local directory’s, including Google+ Local’s, terms of service. There are several different ways to obtain reviews from clients and we will dive into them in the near future with a detailed how-to.

Step 6 – Onsite Optimization:

You can have a high authority with search engines with your company NAP, but if your site isn’t optimized then achieving the rankings you want aren’t going to happen, they might, but highly doubtful. Here are a few tips to help:

      • Create a unique title tag for each page of the site
      • Title tags should be a max of 70 characters, and contain 1 main keyword and the company name
      • The title tag should accurately reflect the content on the page
      • Create a custom meta description for each page
      • Add your NAP to every page of the website
      • Add some internal links
      • Re-evaluate your content, try to make it more local
      • Add Google+ authorship markup
      • Add Schema.org microdata
      • Add a blog to your website

Each one of the listed items above will have a blog post going into greater detail in the future, this is just an outline of things to consider.

Step 7 – Ready, Set, Get Blogging:

The old adage with SEO of Content is King is true, and true for a reason. Google loves quality, authoritative, shareable content. Having a blog on your website gives you a platform to speak to your potential audience. Each blog post you write has a chance of ranking for the main keyword or what the topic of the blog post is about. A problem with most when it comes to blogging, myself included, are these 3 questions:

  • What do you blog about?
  • How often do you blog?
  • My industry has a ton of bloggers already, how am I going to be different?

Each one of these questions will be answered in time as we get further into the series.

For now, this should be a general overview of things to consider when trying to do your own local SEO.

Questions or comments? Ask away!