Building A Local SEO Presence In 2013

by GuestBlogStar on August 7, 2013

Going Local in the Wake of Google’s Panda and Penguin Updates

The SEO scene is currently being dominated by chatter about a couple of  black and white animals, together with the importance of new link building techniques and the idea of establishing a brand. If you struggle to understand the difference between the Panda and Penguin updates, then this brave new world can seem incredibly complicated – and the rules may not seem at all black and white.

Google update penguin frowningThe reality is that digital marketing consultants are expected to have a detailed knowledge of the latest Google updates. They need to understand what the changes mean for their clients, in order to establish a strategy that will continue to produce results.

Many small business owners are, however, more likely to be focused on getting results at a local level. It’s well understood that targeting a niche area can often bring about more impressive results. If you’re wondering how to dominate the local search engine rankings, then you may need guidance on how to proceed.

Should you stop building links at this point in time? Does there need to be an acceptance that you simply won’t be able to compete with companies that are using more advanced strategies?

Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

My best advice to companies looking to compete in the UK  or in the US is really to go back to basics. Fortunately, such an approach to SEO will work throughout the world. To begin with, you need to think about how you can reach out to the local population. Where do other people in the area go in order to get information and advice?

That may mean using local online publications and directories as a starting point. The obvious advantage of such an entry point is that you will have access to a relevant, targeted audience. The SEO benefits almost arrive as an aside, since you’ll be building context and authority with Google too.

Ignore Keyword Targeting

It can be tempting to focus on adding your keywords into anchor text. The Penguin updates have really brought about a significant change to the way in which most SEO professionals approach the link building process, with far less weight being given to using target keywords within anchor text.

Indeed, the over-use of such text is a clear trigger for a penalty. What this means is that you should aim to simply use your business name, where possible. It’s a strategy that may sound counter-intuitive, but it will produce results over time.

Build Relationships – It Really Is Who You Know

Business has always been about relationships and that remains the case online. If anything, the significance of building stronger relationships with suppliers, clients and other business owners has only increased over time.

Think about what you can offer to others, rather than simply being aware of how much value an individual link may have to you. For me, this means introducing the concept of sustainability. In short, there’s a need to think about long-term goals, rather than maintaining a focus on the next few weeks or months.

We all want to get results quickly, but there are times when that’s simply not possible. Once you accept that SEO does take some time, you put yourself into the right mindset to build a presence incrementally and correctly. You’ll also discover that the entire process is considerably less frustrating as a result.

tag cloud for SEO local

Directories and Reviews

No discussion of local SEO is complete without mentioning directories, and the importance of customer reviews in both directories like Yelp, and in Google’s Maps section.

Use business directories

Local business directories can be used to provide links that are authoritative and also within the right context. Fortunately, you’ll also find that it’s free to submit to many of the leading UK directories. Take the time to carry out your submissions manually and ignore the temptation to use the same description of your services each time. Instead, create listings that add value, beyond giving you the link.

The directories will vary from country to country; here’s a list of US directories is a great place to start for American companies.

Ask for Reviews

Be active in asking customers to review your business on Google and in one or two directories. They will vary from, niche to niche, of course. A wedding planner will want reviews in WeddingWire.com and hospitality companies, restaurants and tourist attractions will target Trip Advisor – among others.  But do spread your requests around. Put a link on your home page or create a page just for review links where you can direct customers and make it easy for them to say nice things about you.

buttons a review on Google Places or trip advisor

Make it easy for customers to add a review as this Key West fishing captain has done.

Avoid Automated Tools

You’ll notice that I haven’t been discussing the shortcuts to success here. You’ve not read, in this post, about Fiverr gigs or making use of pieces of software to quickly build links.

I’ve avoided mentioned such tools for a specific reason: they will not produce sustainable results. Google is focused on quality and you need to follow suit.

You can read what Keith Barrett has to say on a number of the latest search engine optimization issues. He has been working within the industry for many years, but is still learning.

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