Local SEO 101 Guide

A weekend project…

 

So, I’m assuming that everyone here has at least heard the term SEO, or more to the point “Local SEO”. Today you can find a plethora of companies offering their local seo services for $250 – $1k depending on size and scope. I’m not here to sell you a local SEO package, this is a genuine DIY Saturday project for your small business. I’ll do my best to explain all of the things you can do for your site and how to implement them.

 

First Things First

Before you start an SEO project, you need to make sure you have a way to measure your results. For the sake of keeping everything on this list free and as easy as possible we’ll be using Google Analytics. I suggest starting here http://www.google.com/analytics/discover_analytics.html. You can get as indepth with this guide as you feel comfortable with. But really to get this whole thing started you need:

  • 1.) A Google account
  • 2.) To insert the tracking code on your site. (Don’t worry – you don’t really need to know how to code and if you have any issues just leave a comment we’ll get ya squared away.)

The reason why this should ALWAYS be the first step in any online endeavor is simple. If you don’t know where you came from, you’ll never know where you’re going. And, it’s nice to see that your work is paying off in cool charts and graphs.

Google Business

We’ll start with the biggest for obvious reasons. More people use Google as their search engine than any other 2 search engines put together. Actually, most people don’t realize this, but…. YouTube is the 2nd largest share of search engine traffic (also owned by Google). Ipso facto, you’ll be focusing on ranking high in Google local. Let’s start:

  • 1.) Visit http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter (Remember, I said you’ll need a Google account? You’ll probably be asked to sign in after clicking that link.)
  • 2.) USE EVERYTHING! I’ve had some of the oddest questions over the years… ‘Do I have to use my real number?’ or ‘Why should I offer a coupon?’. It’s put there for a reason, it’s free, ever hear of manna?

Yes, use your real number, your real info, and for the love of commerce MAKE A COUPON! I don’t care what industry you’re in, you can offer a Free 1 hr consultation or 10% off your first order. It really doesn’t matter, be creative and MAKE A COUPON!

Also, in the verification process, Google will have a bot call you to verify your listing. Make sure you can answer the phone at the number  you used to set up the listing. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait 2 weeks for a snail-mail postcard to show up with your verification number.

Yelp FTW!

I don’t care if you don’t use it or if you think your customers don’t use it…. THEY DO! And, even if they don’t… Google does! Meaning that Yelp listings are weighted heavily in the search engines and it makes me #smh (shake my head) every time I search for a company, the top organic listing is a Yelp listing, and I click through only to find that the business owner hasn’t ‘claimed’ their listing. You’ll want to go here https://biz.yelp.com/claiming to claim your business. Here’s how:

  • 1.) First, you start by doing a simple search to see if your business is already in Yelp in the “Find your business” section. (Don’t worry if you’re not already listed, you’ll be able to add your business yourself.)
  • 2.) Create your account. Pretty self explanatory – just follow the steps. It’s easy, I promise. You probably want to take a picture of your business and have it at the ready for this step; you could also use one from a brochure or whatever floats your boat.
  • 3.) Verify your identity – an email is sent to the address you used when you claimed and/or created your listing… Simply click it and it’s sent to a moderation queue. You will be emailed further instructions.
Takeaway – Control the content that costumers see. If you don’t, other users can upload a picture of ANYTHING to represent your business. And, trust me when I say I’ve seen some nasty pictures uploaded for businesses when a Yelp user had a bad experience.
 
Marketing Idea – If you can find a company that makes window clings at a decent rate… have them create a YELP cling that says review us on Yelp! (Then, you can offer 10% off whatever – or maybe just say it’s good for 1 free hug.) The young, hip, social media crowd loves to talk about off the beaten path, hipster hangouts… Use this to your advantage!

Yahoo! Still Relevant…

Regardless of my personal feelings about Yahoo! and the craptastic job they’ve done with their search results over the last few years, they’re still a viable listing. To get started, you’ll want to head over to http://listings.local.yahoo.com They have a Basic Listing (which is free) and an Enhanced Listing which I’m assuming isn’t free – (again for the sake of this tutorial we’ll stick with the basic/free goodies we can get). To get started:

  • 1.) You’ll need a Yahoo account. (Don’t worry, the sign up is quick and easy!)
  • 2.) Fill out all of your details again and be sure to offer the same thing ie: 1hr free consulting – in the special offer section.
  • 3.) See if you can find a somewhat appropriate category and sub-category to put your listing in… (this is really not organized well at all).
  • 4.) If you were able to complete step 3, Congratulations! Now all you have to do is: preview, submit and click the Agree button.
*side note/rant – I find it interesting that Yahoo! has sub-categories such as Birds, Psychics, Reptiles, Cat Breeders and Tarot under the ‘Professional Services section’ – but nothing for the 18 Billion dollar industry of Search/Internet Marketing. </rant>

Bing

Quick joke… you know what Bing stands for? Ans: But It’s Not Google! Jokes aside, Bing is running Yahoo now and it’s probably a good idea for me to quit teasing them… (I have a ton of friends that work / have worked at Microsoft and they’re just down the road – I love ‘em – but I’m still not sold on the Search Engine). We’ll start here http://www.bing.com/businessportal

  • 1.) Click the ‘Get Started Now!’ button
  • 2.) Fill out your company info and hit search – if your copany wasn’t found you simply click the ‘Add new listing’ button. (Did I mention you’ll need a Windows live ID to do this? No? Well you do.)
  • 3.) Now if you were able to jump through all the hoops and get into the Business portal beta section click on the + button to add your business listing.
  • 4.) You’ll have to add your info a bunch of times… but when you finally get to an area to an area that says “What kind of business is this” you’ll go through the same steps as the above Yahoo instructions.
  • 5.) Bing allows for a Facebook page (so go grab the URL by copying and pasting it in… rinse and repeat for your companies Twitter account!)
  • 6.) Upload your company logo then hit next.
  • 7.) Add Specialties (you can add up to 5 here) Then from here there are about a dozen other things you can add / mobile / photos / more details / preview / then you arrive at verfication.
  • 8.) Your Verification will look something like this:

To verify you listing by mail:

1. A letter containing a PIN will be mailed to:

David Brown

PO Box 663

Fremont, NE 68026

2. Click the Send Mail button to dispatch the letter which should be delivered within 7 to 10 days.

3. After receiving the letter, return back to the Verification section to enter the PIN.

4. If you have staff working at this address, be sure to let them know that you’re expecting mail from

the Bing Business Portal to avoid having your PIN accidently discarded as junk mail.

Awesome! Thanks for keeping it easy guys ;) if you remember after getting some snail mail sent your way…(in 7-10 days) be sure to go back and jump through all of the hoops again to get to the verification area to insert your pin number. #PITA

Facebook = Awesomesauce

I’m partial to Facebook for a few reasons (and for full disclosure my better half’s cousin is the VP of business development) however that has nothing to do with the rave review / tutorial I’m about to give. This is a company that ‘gets it’ on so many levels. I love innovation, I love technology, and they have it all. So this is going to be two part-ish.

First if you don’t have a Facebook page for your business… go make one. And please do me and the rest of Facebook a favor… don’t just spam your page with links! Use this area to interact with your demographic. If you would like to know how to set up a Facebook business page I’m just going to link to this tutorial and then get to the good stuff!

Ok… the good stuff Facebook deals. I wish I’d gotten my apps completed before they rolled this out. Coulda made millions! Alas, I’m just going to explain why you should be using this to your advantage. And how to set it up! Here’s the complete guide from facebook http://ads.ak.facebook.com/ads/FacebookAds/EMEA_partner_deals_businesses_EN.pdf

Get customers, spread the word, and build loyalty! I can’t even begin to stress how important this is to small businesses. If you can get an account set up with deals DO IT! DO IT ALL THE TIME AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! I’m not sure that just screaming do this is enough. So I’ll say this – if you have a business of any sort and can’t figure out how to take advantage of this opportunity. Stop reading pick up your phone and call me toll free 1-888-630-5899. If you can stump me I’ll do whatever it takes to figure out another way to help you succeed on FB for FREE! This is really the DO NOT PASS GO – Do not collect $200 square. YOU NEED TO DO THIS AND NOW!

Okay sorry for all the caps and whatnot but it’s seriously a game changer and I don’t want you to miss out on it. Here’s a few other things you should be doing with your FaceBook Business page.

  • 1.) Have your web geek set up this free plugin http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/network-publisher/ on your blog. This will take a snippet from every post and push it to Twitter & your Facebook business page. (hopefully in a future update it will include the Google+ page as well)
  • 2.) Make sure you spend at least 30 minutes a week responding to your FB wall… ideally you’d have an iphone with push notifications set up and respond ASAP!
  • 3.) Remember I said this was a free guide – but I will say this. If you know who your target demographic is, you really can’t beat the laser targeting that FB Ads allows for! For example:

You are a hipster dress company and you want to target the 18-45 yr old Female demographic great! You can send ads to only those women… But you can also break that up to an 18-25 demo / 26-32 / 33-45 and A/B/C split test your campaigns, chances are an ad for an 18yr old female won’t be the same as one you’d attract a 45 yr old female with. What I would do with that traffic is send them through to a ‘special’ page on your FB business page and offer a coupon which they can get for simply ‘liking’ your page. (Incentivized liking) Which then funnels them to your shopping cart to use the virtual coupon they just earned by liking your page. (phew… that was a mouthful)

The Twitter

Ah, my favorite of all the social hangouts. It’s been almost 5 yrs now and I’ve really grown to love Twitter. I hear a lot of business owners say “I don’t get it” – “It seems random and useless” – or “It’s just celebrities tweeting about what they had for breakfast”.  Okay so it’s not all great content, but with a little bit of technology grease (akin to elbow grease)… you can get some pretty exceptional results, pretty quick!

Let’s think of Twitter as Grand Central Station – Everyone talking at once, jokes, recipes, breaking news, potential (investors, clients, agencies). But more importantly your customers are there… and they’re talking about YOU! What? How could I tell if they were talking about me in all the noise?

It’s simple really… all you need to do is listen. Okay you’re going to love this next part – it’s a little advanced, but I know you can do it. Ready? Here we go:

  • 1.) Go to Feedmyinbox and sign up for a free account. (still keeping the guide free – Although if you want the information in real time it’s going to cost a whopping $5 a month)
  • 2.) Go to http://search.twitter.com and do some of your ‘Twitter Keyword Research’ what I want you to do here is do some searches and determine which keyphrases your customers are saying that relate to you. For example:

Maybe you’re a Real Estate Agent looking for clients, a smart search to set up would be ‘Real Estate Agent (your location)’ Or ‘Selling my home (area)’ Or ‘Home for sale (area)’

Maybe you own a Jamba Juice (or any other company) You’ll probably want to do some searches to see how people talk about your brand or interact with you.

Maybe you’re a big brand and have a dedicated Twitter team – Good! Companies like Comcast, Dell, Hertz, Ford, Chevrolet, BankofAmerica, and 30+ other big brands are paving the way for you (the small business owner) They’re not all doing it right… learn from their mistakes. .02

Okay once we have settled on a few keyphrases I want you to copy paste this into notepad (it’s not really coding – just adjusting a URL) Twitter removed the RSS feed links a long time ago to cut back on Spammers. Note *Please do not use this to spam!

Now just replace ‘Your Keyphrase Here’ with your key words. The %20 simply means a space, since URL’s break if there’s a space this is the filler. If you only have two keywords like this

http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=My%20Search you can stop right there!

 

  • 3.) Now take your URL list (you can have up to 5 for free) and go to your feedmyinbox account and add them one at a time.
  • 4.) Take the time to review these daily – respond to the ones where you can help, start a conservation, or tell a joke.

 

Think about it this way…. if you’re not going to take the time to do it. Your competitor will. I’ll end the Twitter section with this, Enhanced Profile Pages https://business.twitter.com/advertise/enhanced-profile/ were launched earlier this week and will be more broadly rolled out in the coming months. (keep an eye on these) And now for a moment of Twitter Zen:

 

FourSquare, UrbanSpoon and the Rest…

I just looked at my editor and realized that I’m on page 6 already! Godbless you if you’ve made it this far with me. When I said weekend project (I wasn’t expecting it to take you a weekend to read it). #nuffsaid

If you’re a business and or restaurant, and you have a smart phone do this:

  • 1.) Get the FourSquare & Urban Spoon App
  • 2.) Find your business / restaurant – Look at your listing (is there a menu? Is there a good photo? Is there a deal?)
  • 3.) Jump through the normal hoops (sign up for an account, claim your business, add a special)

It’s really common to see Mayor deals on Foursquare anymore. Meaning the people that visit your place of business the most get a free lemonade or large order of fries. The cost in product is minimal and you have a bunch of people fighting over who gets to be the ‘mayor’ of your store!

Make sure and talk to your employees about all of the social media sites you’ve signed up on, and be SURE they know that you’ve offered deals for check in’s / Tweets / Yelps / Foursquare / UrbanSpoon reviews etc…

Now if you are able to go front to back through this tutorial and put it all to work for you – you’ve got a HUGE leg up on your competitor!

Takeaways And Additional Tips!

  • 1.) Set up Analytics and Track your progress
  • 2.) Ask your customers what they think (own your Social space)
  • 3.) Give them some goodies for the word of mouth marketing they do for you in the social space.
  • 4.) Communicate clear goals and rules with your employees regarding the social goodies.
  • 5.) ABT = Always Be Testing! Test different offers, different platforms, don’t just send links out to your social networks, engage, and start converstations.
  • 6.)If you screw up in a social space it’s really easy to fix in 3 steps. First admit you made a mistake, second apologize, third publicly promise to not do it again. Social = Transparency. OWN IT!

I asked my tweeps for any ideas as I was writing this and I got some great suggestions!

All Great tips and 1 joke, Keith was only kidding. We’ll delve into more advanced tactics early this coming new year! For now this is plenty. And please, if you took the time to go through this list let me know in the comment section! It’s easy, you don’t even have to sign up for an account. You can simply sign in using your FaceBook or Twitter accounts! I would love to see examples of how you are handling Social for your small business.



4 Comments »

  1. Dave, to quote you: AWESOMESAUCE! There are so many different pieces to the SEO puzzle and you have once again organized and explained it so anyone can understand. I hadn’t looked fully into Facebook Deals…thanks for the heads up!
    Do you think Facebook is in any danger of losing market share to Google Plus?

    Comment by Mark Boyd — December 14, 2011 @ 10:21 am

  2. Mark,

    I think that when new services are launched and referred to as ‘The FaceBook Killer’ it’s in an attempt to line their service up and put it on the same level (to some extent) as Facebook. That being said… when Google first hit the scene they didn’t come out of the gate saying they were a “Yahoo Killer” – they just did it.

    IMHO if someone can knock Google and or Facebook off of it’s current #1 respective ranking it would have to be one knocking the other off… but the safe money (and answer to your Question… They might lose nominal market share but will still win the war).

    Comment by David Brown — December 19, 2011 @ 11:23 am

  3. David:

    A+ all the way around: articulate, accurate, and awesome(sauce)!

    I won’t begin to critique your bastardization of the English language, but it certainly still falls within acceptable realms of American English :) language.

    As the information is clearly stated (articulate), well exampled (accurate) and overall well laid out in a clear, easy to follow format (awesome), I have to give you all three A’s with a plus (+) for Awesomesauce!

    I look forward to the expansion of discussion on these topics and your further exploration into lexicography.

    Well done, David!

    ®ob

    Comment by wrmineo — December 29, 2011 @ 10:51 am

  4. This is perfect! Thank you.

    Comment by meganthacker — February 2, 2012 @ 11:43 am

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