In today’s digital environment, small businesses know that if they are going to compete with the big boys of business, they have to have an online presence. Small business owners across the globe have created websites, some professionally, others on their own, in order to allow their customers to find them on the Internet. However, what many of them are discovering is that having a website isn’t enough. Small business owners have to take the next step and get their websites recognized above their larger competitors’ sites and connected with their customer base using techniques known as local SEO.
SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to the techniques that Internet marketing companies use to boost the search engine ranking of a particular website in order to get it noticed by customers. Experts and research has shown that end users rarely click beyond the first couple of pages of search engine result pages before deciding on a company to go with. Larger businesses know this and entrust their marketing professionals to ensure that they are at the top spots. However, small businesses can also accomplish this feat on a local level and find themselves positioned above the national competition by employing a few tricks.
Today’s Internet search engines look much different than those in the past. Before, there were only one set of results that companies needed to try and top. But today, most of the major search engines include a local search index that gives preference to local businesses. SEO local search indexes use different algorithms to rank local businesses and place emphasis on things like the popularity of a company’s social media account as well as the number of times the company’s name is mentioned on other social media profiles. Search engines believe that if your social media profile is hopping then your business must have importance in your community and therefore place you higher up on the local search engine results that other, less active businesses. This is one reason that social media plays such an important role in the marketing of small business.
In addition to social media, local search engine indexes place a lot of emphasis on online consumer reviews. Sites like Yelp and other online consumer review websites are often scanned by search engines in order to rank local businesses for quality. The better a business is reviewed, the higher it will find itself on the search engine results page.
Last but not least, businesses who have created business profiles and have established themselves on tools such as Google Places and Bing Maps tend to rank higher than businesses who have not availed themselves of such tools. This is because any mention of your business online helps give your company credibility. When creating a profile for your business, don’t skimp. Make sure that you offer as many details as you can and definitely include pictures and videos wherever you can as local consumers respond well to business listings that offer a great deal of detail. This also ensures that when customers show up that they are more likely to buy something.