The decision to purchase an existing business can prove to be very lucrative. However, you want to make sure you start off on the right foot. A big part of establishing yourself as the new owner is introducing yourself to existing clients. However, if you missed opportunities due to something the old managers did, now is the opportunity to win them back.
Local SEO strategy plays a major role in getting your message out there and your overall digital marketing plan. Here’s the right local SEO strategy to help dominate in your area, as the owner of a recently purchased small business.
Understand Why SEO is Important
There’s an old saying, “Give a person a fish and they eat for a day but teach a person to fish and they eat for life.” The same can be said in business. If a business owner understands the importance of SEO strategy, they are more likely to take the steps necessary to find the right one for their needs. Local SEO is essential to your business because it is the way your customers find you. It doesn’t matter that you bought a local business with a customer base. You still need to reach new customers to sustain your small business.
Local SEO allows you to increase brand awareness and drive more people to your website and/or social media. This is how people learn more about your products and services. Most people conduct a “near me” search when they are ready to make a purchase. Therefore it is key for high-quality lead generation to be the first company users see for your particular product or service. When you have a local SEO strategy, you can also edge out the competition, taking more of the market share and driving leads and sales.
Research Your Competition
This is “How to Succeed in Business” 101. Knowing who your local competitors are is the best way to devise a successful local SEO strategy. Testing relevant keywords allows you to see who is outranking you, what keywords they qualify for, whether or not they are appearing in organic, paid, or service searches, what SERPs they have and more. You can also click through to top-ranking links and investigate how they use keywords, if they have backlinks, the headings and sub-headings they use, the type of content they provide, etc.
It’s equally as important to note what isn’t working for them, so you can take advantage of their weaknesses. Basically, they’ve done all the hard work, and can tell you what content Google feels works well. Your research done, you are set to improve on what your competitor is already doing. You gain so much information, for very little effort.
Make Sure Your Website is SEO Friendly
One of the first things you want to do when you purchase that company is to do a thorough assessment of the website. While you probably already looked at the website when considering your purchase, you weren’t looking for the important things that make it SEO and user-friendly. Here are the features that separate a basic website from an SEO friendly website:
You Have an XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is a file showing Google where your pages are so their search bots can easily crawl your site for information relevant to the search. It acts like a directory that shows Google your site structure and allows the bots to search every page and decide your content is ideal for their users.
Excellent User Experience
Google always chooses websites that respond to the user’s device over those that aren’t. This is because it improves user experience by being scrollable, with convenient navigation and pages that adapt to the proper screen size. Along with responsiveness, your website needs a meaningful page structure that makes it easy to find the content visitors want. It needs to be logical and appeal to the average person, so they don’t have to keep clicking or searching your sub-menus. Google’s algorithms check these details because they want to constantly improve their own users’ experience. Last but not least your pages need to load instantly, because today’s users have no patience, so neither does Google.
The more details and description your URLs have for each page of your website the better the SEO. Therefore, unique URLs for each page are always recommended. When users know instantly what a page is about simply by scanning the URL, you improve “clickability.”
Optimized images are compressed JPEGs that reduce loading times. They should also be named properly, of professional quality and relevant to your business.
Attention to these details creates the truly exceptional user experience Google loves.
Review Your Own Content
With an idea of what your competitors are doing, you can look at your current website content with a far more judgmental eye. Content is king in Google’s eyes and therefore should be in yours as well. Investing in top-quality content with a well-thought-out and maintained blog provides what Google needs to send users your way. This takes effort in the following areas:
- Thorough keyword research
- The right balance of keywords between 1%-3% to avoid “keyword stuffing”
- Finding new keyword opportunities with a focus on long-tail keywords and phrases specific to your business and area
- Use of keywords in your headlines, subheads, the intro, closing paragraphs and blog URLs
- Use of HTML tags
- Easy to read and scan short sentences/paragraphs
- Use of bullet points and numbered lists
- High-quality images
- Internal (links to your own content) and external (links to other sites of authority)
Just keep in mind Google looks for content that is original, authoritative, trustworthy, and engaging. That means you need to balance SEO tactics such as these with well-written content people will want to read.
Include High-Quality Backlinks
As mentioned above, links are very important for SEO. Building backlinks with authoritative local sites helps build trust and your own authority. So how does one build backlinks? An easy way is to offer to become a guest blog writer for community websites, and other relative industry sites.
For example, if you offer a painting service you might consider approaching a local interior designer to write a post about proper painting technique, how to prepare for professional painters or something about color. Also, the higher quality your own content, the more likely other sites will find you and naturally want to link back to your website.
You can even consider starting a community website for services and local businesses where everyone contributes content. It takes time to build backlinks but is a great way to get involved with other local businesses and create a network as the new owner of your business.
Consider Voice Search
Today, more people are using voice search, providing more insight into user intent. Voice-activated devices and voice queries are changing keyword strategies. Therefore you have to consider how people will conduct those searches. In most cases, these queries will be more conversational, such as typical questions someone might ask. This actually makes it a lot easier to include keywords in the content as the keywords occur more naturally. That is why long-tail keywords and phrases are more important for your keyword research and targets. Include your location and this improves your SEO for voice search.
Include Local Search SEO
Where you really separate yourself from the competition is to optimize for local SEO. The first step is to optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing. Go into your profile and fill out every single area of information completely. Be sure whatever address and contact info you use here is the same as your website and social media. Consistency counts for local SEO. Also always use a local phone number. All of your content and web pages should use geo terms, so Google knows you are local. You can also create content specific to your location and be sure all your website’s service pages include your complete address and local phone number.
When a website pops up in a search, the page is referred to as the SERP (Search Engine Request Page). The information contained there is called metadata. Many companies don’t give this much thought, but when it is included, it can make a big difference. Basically, it is the title tag which is your content headline and then your meta description which is the introduction of your content below that. You can optimize both of these sections making sure you always include your target keyword at the beginning of the title tag and also keeping the total characters of your heading to under 60 characters.
With your meta description keep it relevant to your content using keywords, and limit the count to no more than 165 characters. This is your chance to draw people in. Be sure to tell them what problem you’ll solve if they click your link. When you don’t write your own metadata, search engines do it for you and don’t always do such a great job.
Although it takes a lot of work to build a local SEO strategy, it is worth the effort. Looking to boost your customer reach and grow sales? Outreach Digital Marketing can help!