SEO For the Local Business

website on laptop screen

Optimizing your website for SEO can completely change the way potential customers find you and decide whether to give you their business.

As a local business owner, there are likely many acronyms you’ve come to know well. For instance, B2B, B2C, CEO, and KPI. Then there are others you may have heard floated around in conversations but you haven’t quite figured them out. SEO could be one of them. And even if you know what it stands for – search engine optimization – you may not understand exactly how it works or why it’s all that important. (For all those other pesky business-speak acronyms you need to look up, here’s your cheat sheet.) SEO gets thrown around liberally in digital marketing circles yet is still often misunderstood by business owners. We all know it’s important. Let’s unpack why you need to focus on SEO for your business and how to go about it.

Moz defines SEO as “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” But what the heck does it really mean for your business and how do you get the results you want?

Breaking Down SEO

Traffic Quality

You want (and need) high quality customers to be directed to your business website. Search engine optimization should be doing that – and if Google is not getting those people to show up, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy.

Traffic Quantity

Once you have quality customers nailed down, you can begin to strategize for a high volume of traffic. The right optimization on your website can affect how many people are reaching you.

Organic Search

You can pay to reach a great deal of people through Google or Facebook ads. But organic traffic is everything else that leads someone to your site without paying for that lead. A well-optimized site brings in a healthy amount of organic search traffic. Good news for your wallet!

How SEO Works

Using a search engine like Google or Bing, type in something you’re interested in, like “dentist near me.” You’ll be presented with a list of websites related to these search terms, or keywords and phrases. The order in which the dentists’ websites show up directly correlates with the relevance of the keywords on the site and the site domain authority. Advanced “crawlers” are constantly reviewing new or updated site content to figure out how relevant and useful a website is for consumers wanting to learn about a particular topic. The crawlers then index the content into complex algorithms that can make the website more discoverable (by ranking higher) when consumers search using the keywords or phrases most relevant to the site.

Factors That Affect SEO

SEO can be likened to an onion – there are many, many layers to the best practices and algorithms. So even once you get a handle on one layer, there are many more to learn. We’ll focus on five general factors that affect SEO: site optimization, mobile friendliness, user experience, content, and speed.

Site Optimization

Optimizing your website helps it rank both locally and nationally at the top of search engines. You can do this by adding appropriate meta descriptions and tags throughout all your site pages, images, and videos. A few basic rules of thumb: Don’t use Flash, make good use of a sitemap, and add high-quality images and videos throughout your website to help gain the attention of search engines.

Mobile Friendliness

It’s been more than five years since mobile website visits surpassed those on desktop. That was a long time ago! So if your website doesn’t read well or look good on a phone screen, you’re losing customers… and have likely been losing customers. Poor-performing sites on mobile are such a pain, Google actually penalizes websites that aren’t mobile friendly so users don’t have to suffer. In fact, Google crawls mobile website versions before desktop, and user experience on mobile ranks as the third most important SEO factor. If you’ve never pulled up your business website on your phone, do it now. Right now. If it’s not easy to use, it’s definitely time for an upgrade.

User Experience

When planning and mapping out your website, think about how you want your ideal customers to feel when they visit. Instead of jumping at flashy design, opt for functionality. Helping your customers best understand your products and services should come first. And if you aren’t sure what sort of experience your target audience is looking for, poll a few of your loyal customers on the types of questions surrounding your industry and what they would search for. A site that is a joy to navigate will convert more visitors into customers.

Content

Thinking through user experience will help determine your website’s main purpose. And a purpose-driven site helps Google understand how it should show up in search results and what type of user would benefit from checking it out. Your content and how it’s organized helps visitors navigate easily. This includes clear copy and informational videos and blogs. Pro tip: Pepper your website pages with keyword-rich text and establish clear CTAs (calls to action) to convert a lead into a sale.

Speed

You have mere milliseconds to establish a first impression online. And if your site loads too slowly, a customer will most likely click out before seeing what you have to offer and won’t think twice about your services. The speed of your website can also greatly affect your search result rankings if search engines can’t crawl your website quickly. Speedy sites have higher conversion rates than their slower competitors.

SEO & Your Business

Optimizing your website for SEO can completely change the way potential customers find you and decide whether to give you their business. It’s an essential lead generator, and the higher your site shows up on the search engine list for relevant keywords and phrases, the more trusted you will be.

A great advertising campaign can get your business in front of your ideal clients. But if your website doesn’t also make a great impression, it can cause them to not take you or your services seriously. We love helping great businesses reach their ideal clients – both through niche print advertising as well as targeted digital marketing. If you’re unsure if your website can handle the traffic that may come from any form of advertising you choose to do, contact our N2DIGITAL team to see if we can help.