A new business owner has a lot to think about when launching a business. One of those things should be search engine marketing, which can be intimidating, especially if they have limited resources. Therefore, we wanted to help local business owners by sharing what we find important for a new business starting out. You may be surprised how easy some of the items will be for you to tackle to get your business on the right track for online marketing success.
|One of the first things I always look for is confirming what the client’s official name, address and phone number (NAP) are and if any other business shares the same address as the client. If your business is located in an office building that has different suite numbers, make sure that you include your suite number within your NAP as well. Once all this information is collected, I then recommend getting started on citations so that the business NAP information is known across the web. There are many different tools for this that list hundreds of citation opportunities such as Bright Local and Moz Local. I also recommend always linking to your website as well on any of the directories that include an option for a website.
|Make certain you fill out your Google My Business listing as completely and accurately as possible. This is probably the simplest thing people need to do but far too often people half-ass it. Write a detailed description, fill out the *RIGHT* business categories, add a bunch of high-quality pictures, your hours – EVERYTHING. For local businesses 3-pack rankings are gold and if your GMB listing sucks you won’t find your way into many…or any. Don’t wait until after your business is open to set this up either, GMB allows you to set up your listing info with an opening date up to a year in the future.
|Make sure to include the appropriate schema markup in your website code. Google prefers the version called JSON-LD. This helps Google locate and understand your business so that when someone searches for “local bakery” (which just happens to be your industry) Google can display your location on a map, your business hours, your pricing, etc. right in the search results. Don’t worry, this isn’t as difficult as you might think. Just search for “free json-ld schema markup creator” and you’ll find plenty of choices. Make sure you choose a generator that includes your specific business type (i.e. “bakery”), your address, phone number, other contact info, business hours, and other important information. The more Google knows about your business, the more information it can give to users. LATE UPDATE: For those who are using WordPress, Yoast just announced a new feature that allows you to insert all the correct schema for your business using just the one free SEO plugin.
|Aside from registering and properly setting up Google My Business, make sure that the page titles on your site have some geographic orientation to them. Too often, I see websites that only use the business name as the page title, or even worse, the same universal page title throughout the site. Page titles are simple to change, even with a Wix site. Making a smart edit there with your lead keyword and geography can go a long way.
|Create engaging content. You can do this by writing informative blog posts about frequently asked questions or other topics in your industry. Also, creating tutorial videos or other free content for your target audience will always do more good than harm. If the current content on your site isn’t informative or interesting, no one is going to stay on your page. To figure out what content you should be writing about in the first place, focus on the biggest challenges in your industry or common questions that you get asked. A tool that I really enjoy using and that is extremely helpful in doing this is SEMrush’s Writing Assistant Tool.
|As a local business getting started, it is important to make a good impression to get reviews. Don’t be shy asking your customers to check-in and review your business on Google my Business or Facebook. As your business becomes more popular, people will want to know about the experience of others at your business. Getting reviews early on can help entice people to come and check out your business too. It also signals to Google that people are visiting your business and that others want to know more about it.
|If they are JUST starting out, it is critical to take the time to choose a very good domain name and a good CMS, as those are both very big decisions and are both somewhat difficult to change. 95% of the time they should go with a .com Top Level Domain (TLD), even if you can’t get the exact domain name that you want. WordPress is a great CMS option for most business types, but there are many others to choose from. Regardless, make sure that you can make on-page content changes to your website, edit page titles and meta descriptions for each individual page, and add new pages and content to the site – all on your own. Read as many articles as you can find on the topics – it will definitely be worth your time.