Five effective local SEO and digital marketing tips for small businesses

If you run a small business and want to drive website traffic through organic search engine traffic, there are some simple steps you must take to ensure your SEO and online marketing efforts yield the desired results. As with so many aspects related to SEO, this is not rocket science; rather, common sense marketing methods tailored for the digital medium.

1. Create a Google Places / Bing Places’ listing for your business:

If you have paid attention to search engine results pages closely in recent times, the local bias is hard to miss. A significant portion of the SERP real estate is now occupied by  Places’ results, especially for search queries that have a location qualifier in them (for example, SEO services Mumbai or Dermatologist Navi Mumbai).  In fact, visibility in these Places’ results doesnot require a business to even have a website! Of course, there are a couple of verification processes that one has to go through before the local listing on Places’ goes live, but having a presence right at the top of search results will certainly give a huge boost to your lead generation efforts.

2. Submit your website/ business listing to local business directories & online yellow pages:

Online yellow pages and business directories are very powerful channels that can drive business leads, often for free. This is because many of these sites are extremely good at local SEO and have built their own captive audience and traffic over a period of time. Creating a business profile listing on these sites should certainly be high on your marketing agenda. For many of our small business clients, we have found that over 25% of traffic to their website and a significant proportion of business inquiries come via these business profile listings!

3. Build links to your website from other local websites:

The foundation of your link bulding strategy should be ‘local’ and as you look for link prospects, focus on local websites. For example, if we are doing SEO for a client who is focused on generating business from Mumbai, our highest priority link prospects will be Mumbai-based businesses/ websites. We have considerable anecdotal evidence to show that sites get an additional ‘lift’ in local search results as a result of links obtained from other local websites.

4. Get articles published on local websites and publications:

It is commonly accepted that various off-page SEO activities move into the realm of  press and public relations. This tip is one such– identify websites and local print publications that carry guest contributions, contact the editor(s) with article proposals and contribute good, original content. Certainly, it is time consuming and takes a bit of leg work, but the results from this are well worth the effort!

5. Ensure your website leaves enough local signals:

While many of the tips above can work for businesses that don’t even have a website, this one is particularly for those with a website. Apart from local geographical signals that you can provide right upfront (for example, ensuring you have a .in or domain name; setting the geographic targeting in Google Webmaster Tools as India), you should leave appropriate ‘signals’ within the website to indicate that you rank high for local search queries. Some of these steps will include mentioning your location on the Title tag of some of your pages; prominently featuring your complete mailing address; or mentioning your location along with the copyright information on your footer, etc.
Do you have other effective local SEO and digital marketing tips? Please write in and we will be happy to share them here!

- By Manoj Aravindakshan

Manoj Aravindakshan is Managing Director of Mumbai digital marketing company, On Target Marketing Solutions, which provides SEO consulting services paid search marketing and social media marketing to both small businesses and large enterprise clients.

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