How to Build a ROCK-SOLID Local Online Presence and Crush Your Competition!
You need to plan a well-conceived inbound marketing campaign to get your company found in search engines by local, qualified prospects that are searching for the products or services you sell.
Besides being well-planned and strategic, your plan needs to be comprehensive. It needs to cover every opportunity that there is to get found. On Google, there are multiple ways and many options you need to consider so you don't waste your time, effort or budget.
The 4 main search marketing techniques are Pay-Per-Click, Search Engine Optimization, Local Directories and Map Marketing.
For the purpose of time, I am going to summarize the options and techniques that are involved with each of these tactics.
This can be very effective if done properly or a colossal waste of money if done incorrectly.
There are two main types of pay-per-click advertising: search and display. Search advertising primarily involves text-based ads that are shown in particular geographic areas when a particular search term is searched. Over-simplified, the search ad prices are based on how much advertisers are willing to pay for ad position.
Display advertising is a very effective brand building tool. These ads are placed on websites as text or graphical ads where a viewer may be enticed to click on a banner advertisement. These ads work well for products and services that are not urgent but are on the mind of the website visitor (think pool tables or kitchen remodeling) but is not especially effective for "on-demand" searches where a service is needed immediately (think dentists or water damage repair). These businesses will be needed when your house becomes flooded or you lose a filling. At this time you're going to search for your city/dentist or your city/water damage, etc.
One last point, with pay-per-click, you are only limited by your budget. You can select as many terms and as wide of a geographical area that you would like to cover.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Similar to pay-per-click but these listings are free, meaning there is no cost when they are clicked.
SEO is free but takes longer to materialize. To start a campaign, you need to define the keywords for your efforts. This is done by mining your industry’s keywords to discover effective keyword phrases and adding local terms, like your city (San Diego Dentist or Austin Water Damage).
After you decide on your keywords, you need to optimize your site. This includes editing the Meta titles and descriptions, H1 tags, Alt tags on the photos and corresponding URLs.
In addition, you'll want to have keyword density on each page. If you have assigned a certain page to be about Austin Water Damage, you'll want to mention this phrase on that web page.
Another important aspect of SEO is backlinking; after your site is optimized "on-page" or on the site, you need to tell the web about your site.
To learn about web pages, Google has robots that "crawl" the internet. These bots record everything about the site, from the title and URL, to how many times a term is used in context.
During their crawls, they also count how many other websites link back to your site. If you have an online article with your link, or a blog comment or a social media link, then that tells Google that your site is about XYZ keyword.
Directories and Maps
To round out an effective local online strategy, you need to have local directory listings in the most popular directories and map marketing. With the advent of Apps from Apple and Google it is even more important to list in every directory possible. The smartphone companies pull data from popular local directories include Google + (formerly Google Places), Yahoo!, Superpages, Yellowbook, Citysearch and Yelp to name a few. Ideally, these directories will have your website, your current contact information and any offers that you have.
For businesses that rely on foot traffic, maps are crucial. You need to list your business location with MapQuest, Yahoo Maps, Google Maps, and Urbanspoon.
With a proper plan and business strategy you can create a fairly comprehensive plan by completing the tasks shown. The plan will help you gain multiple opportunities to be found in search.
With all of the items mentioned, you're well on your way towards out-optimizing the competition. Really that's what it's about - as long as you get ahead and stay ahead, it's a great place to be.