Basic SEO Requirements for Online Local Small Businesses
If you’re a local provider of services like house painting, grass cutting, plumbing or maybe a small business establishment such as a daycare center, the following information is intended for you. These are certainly not enough for those running a large website, an affiliate website or an e-commerce store, whose target is the wide online market. For this, you’ll definitely need a professional and custom SEO help. Having the knowledge of how SEO can really be so complicated and skill- demanding, most likely, you already understand its priceless value to an online business. But hiring the professional services of an SEO and spending thousands of dollars for a website with a few pages offering local services in a small area is like hiring an expert only to do something you can do by yourself. Oftentimes, these are the types of websites in which small and basic SEO implementations will suffice.
The following basic SEO checklist is aimed at small business owners that are not totally reliant online for their living, but are rather here to generate some leads from non-competing local keyword combinations by running a website with a few pages. That is, aside from giving out helpful information for all visitors regardless if they come from local marketing efforts or from the search engines.
The Basic Elements
- Hosting services – Nowadays, there are a lot of hosting companies that offer reasonably priced plans for less than ten dollars each month. As a small local business, getting more than ten dollars a month may not be the practical plan for getting more traffic. Also, it would be way better to pay for 1-2 dollars for an IP address that is exclusive to you alone.
- Your own registered domain name – Domain names have become more affordable these days. In fact, you can have your own registered domain name for less than twelve dollars per year. There’s a bunch of pretty good reasons why you must have your own URL that would not change or disappear any moment. In most cases, it is easier to optimize and see the results of your efforts. In SEO, as much as possible, it is not advisable to alter your web address for any reason.
- A good website design – In order to have a professional looking website, it would be great to get the help of the experts. You can hire a web designer for a small site with a handful of pages which usually cost a nominal investment. If you know how to do it yourself via HTML, you may want to build a simple website with basic background color, fonts and vivid images (where necessary). You can also use the WordPress platform, which is 100% free. All you have to do is to use the “pages” to build a mini website. Or you may want to purchase a premium theme like the Thesis theme or the Genesis theme and customize it without actual website coding. Remember, a website is your very first impression to your potential online market, if it looks unprofessional, they may think of your offer as the same.
- Protecting your online brand – The social networks and communities play a very significant role in your brand’s SEO purposes. Additionally, being on social sites is a plus point in the eyes of the search engines, where social sites tend to rank well for your brand name. Registering your business on these sites is definitely an important effort for your business, which will also allow you to monitor and secure your brand name. It is possible to do this alone or hire the services of third parties such as KnowEm and Trademarkia.
- Email address of your own domain – Hosting plans normally offer at least one free email address which your host helps set up and configure it for you. An online business, no matter how small, needs to have a professional email client to be used for all business and related purposes.
Building Your Homepage
For your homepage
After the necessary elements are established, the following most important information must appear in your homepage. They should be presented in a short yet descriptive and lighthearted manner.
- Your business name
- Your offer
- Your target audience
- Business hours
- Business location
Your contact details including your email address should appear not just on the homepage but should be clearly visible on every page. Make sure to include all the details such as your city, street address, state, zip code and most importantly, your phone number with the area code to give idea to non-local customers how to contact you. If you’re a local service provider located in a particular city, then you will essentially make the most of your online presence by expanding to the adjoining cities in your area. For instance, if you’re serving the Los Angeles, Southern California area, you may want to include San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino and the rest of the neighboring counties. Then you will put something in your homepage that tells like “Located in LA, we also serve the neighboring communities of San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino etc…”
Also, should you decide on utilizing the social media, a link to your updated social profile would be helpful for people to follow you on those sites.
For your other site pages
- About page – the page where you provide detailed information of what you do, how you do it and your edge over your competitors. Your background of that business and the reasons why customers should choose you, are also essential information about your business. Adding your photos can help you establish a more personal touch to your potential customers.
- Product or Services page – This is the right place to tell customers exactly what you offer. Important details include pricing information or guide on how they can get a quote. Consider adding properly-sized photos together with brief descriptions of your past works by using a photo editing program.
- Coupon page – Though this is optional, but you can use the coupon page to attract customers and track where they are coming from as they will need to mention where they found you.
How to make your website SEO ready?
- Title tags – Title tags on each of the pages must be unique and must include the keywords that people would most likely search for. Every page must have a title tag that supports the contents of the specific page. The webpage title is the most effective words to allow Google and the rest of the search engines to rank your page for.
- Meta description tag – Think of the meta description tag as a mini-advertisement for your company. They often appear below the title of your website in most search engines. Thus, make sure that your description is also informational in addition to being promotional.
- Google Analytics – this tool is absolutely free. Google Analytics is a tracking program that measures up the performance of your website. It is not only useful for advanced users, but can really be helpful to beginner users. If you want to make sure you’re doing it right, learn more from a tutorial on Google Analytics for beginners.
- Link with related sites – One of the best ways to establish credibility is to create a link with other sites that could provide potentially useful information for people who visit your site. Associating with other websites will also help you build a better image in the virtual marketplace.
How to promote your new website?
- Claim your spot on local directories – Take the first step to optimizing your local listing by claiming your Google Places Listing. Make sure to be listed in the appropriate category. Then get your business listed on ExpressUpdate and Localeze – they can help you get on the list of other local websites. Complete the process by claiming free listings on other directories such as Dmoz (Regional section), Local.com, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Yellowpages.com and other awesome local listings.
- Offline marketing – Traditional marketing still works for local small businesses such as talking with friends and relatives, creating partnerships with related businesses and mentioning your site in your offline marketing tools are all a good way for working out consistent marketing efforts.
It is important to understand that once you’ve done all these things, immediate results can’t just happen, you need to wait a few weeks to a couple of months for Google and other search engines to index everything you fed to them. Given that there is a growing competition online, you may need to put in more effort for link development.