For most dentists, hairdressers, accountants or estate agents, the rise of the internet has given them an easy means in which to grow their client bases. If you have a well optimised website focused on the keywords people are looking for relating to your business, then chances are people will be able to find you.
It is no longer necessary to take out an expensive and untrackable advert in the local phone book to get found, by having a great looking website that’s optimised and focused and you can grow your client base fairly cost effectively.
With this in mind, I thought I would put together a short blog on SEO for local businesses.
What your website offers
Key web pages
On top of having a home page, most sites in this industries are going to need ‘About Us’ and ‘Contact Us’ pages. Most businesses offer a variety of specific services, so it makes sense to create additional pages to promote each of these too.
The advantage of structuring your site in this way is that it enables you to broaden the types of keywords you can target. This will allow you to attract people on only looking for a dentist for example, but also those looking for a particular treatment such as teeth whitening.
At the end of this process, the site should be a reflection of the practice with pages promoting your entire services offering.
Mobile Friendly / Responsive website
It’s also important to appreciate the growing significance of mobile devices in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO) and how this can affect the performance of any campaign. A website that is not compatible with your mobile phone/iPad not only hinders conversions in the form of not allowing people to interact with the site, but can also increase your bounce rate. Ensure you have a site that is mobile compatible that is easily navigable via both mobiles and desktops.
Once you have an idea of how your site is going to be structured, you should be looking to carry out keyword research to find out which keyword your clients will be trying to find your services for. Whilst it’s tempting to focus purely on the volume of searches for a particular keyword, you should also bear in mind the number of competing results within Google’s index. Ideally you should be looking for keywords that have a few hundred searches a month but under 100,000 competing results within Google.
An easy way to do this is to carry out your keyword research using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, make sure you select ‘local searches’ and not ‘global searches’ to get an idea of how many people are searching for that keyword in the UK. Next, paste the keyword into Google between quotation marks and you’ll have an idea of how much competition you’re going up against, like so:
In this instance, I know “dentist in East Kilbride” has over a 100 searches a month, but only 60,200 competing results, so it would make sense to consider targeting this keyword. At the end of this process, you should have a selection of targeted keywords for each page which are focused on the proposition of each page.
Now you know what keywords you want to go after, the following on-page factors should be addressed:
Every page on your site should have a unique title tag and should include the keyword you are looking to target for the particular pages. I would also recommend including some reference to your company. This information will then be used by search engines to populate your result on a search engine results page, so think how this will look to any potential customer.
Make sure these are no longer than 55 characters to ensure they display correctly on a search results page.
Even though they do not have a bearing on rankings, it is still important to optimise these so that people searching online understand what the page is about if they click on your search results. Just like pay per click (PPC) ads, these should be optimised to attract clicks, so make sure they have a clear statement about who you are and a call to action.
Make sure these are no longer than 165 characters long to ensure they display correctly on a search results page.
You should always write your content for people and not search engines, content that looks contrived or overly optimised for the keyword being targeted is unlikely to convert and most often looks spammy. Write your content naturally as you would for any other form of marketing materials, most often than not the keyword you will be targeting will naturally come up within the content.
Finally I would recommend that you include both your address and phone number with the footer of each page on the site. This will help search engines determine the relevancy of the keywords you are going after with the location you are based in, for example East Kilbride.
It is important to consider the speed of the site, as many of your potential customers will be viewing the site on a mobile device on a 3G connection. I would recommend utilising Google Webmaster Tools Site Speed Tool, which will give you an overview of the performance of your site and give you recommendations of what can be improved.
Next it is important that you set up a Google Places Profile so that you can begin to rank within the Map Results in Google, ensure you have a Google Account already set up as this will be associated with this account. Google Place is a completely free service and can be set up via: www.google.co.uk/places.
Once you have set this up, make sure you verify the profile so that Google know’s you are a genuine business.
I would also recommend setting up profile on Yell, Yahoo Local, Smilie Local & Scoot – all of which rank well and will help drive referral traffic to your site.
In order to demonstrate relevancy with search engines to get your site to being to rank, you will need to carry out some form of ongoing link building work.
Working in the local business, there will be numerous genuine opportunities to gain valuable links. If you are member of any industry organisations which have websites with profiles on, make sure you are featured on these with a link back to the site. Similarly, if there are any local business organisations such as a Chamber of Commerce, I would recommend getting a profile on these sites too.
This is something that never ends when marketing a website, if you’re ever doing business with anyone thing how might you get a link out of the arrangement – for example, is there a potential to get a link from any of your suppliers? How you won and industry awards and can you get a link from the awarding body?
I would also recommend setting up business profiles on Facebook and Twitter for your practice, which will allow you to build an ongoing relationship with your client base. If your client base become fans/followers of your profiles than they can begin to recommend you socially and help you to grow your client base based on word of mouth.
Finally you will need to track conversions on your site, so that you know how well your site is performing and what your ROI is on any marketing expenditure. Things you will need to track are visits to the site and electronic enquiry forms filled out, both of which can be tracked using Google Analytics, which is a free service.
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