Can local media benefit local SEO for small businesses? If you are a local business who just wants to make your site more visible in your own local service area I believe it can. Most of the information out there that is supposed to teach you how to optimize your website is geared toward ranking nationally and, as a local brick and mortar business, is totally irrelevant to you.
Optimizing your web presence for search engine discovery (SEO) is a good thing. Just like making and/or selling the best quality product that you can is a good thing in any business. Local business and local SEO are hot topics right now and many companies are trying to make a buck from mom and pop stores. No matter how big or small the company that is vying for your site optimization business there are certain things that should be done.
Below is a brief overview of the important components involved in a local SEO strategy. Following will be some information on how local media outlets can fit into your overall strategy and why such channels may be better for local SEO than larger, national websites. This is something that no one really talks about so a good opportunity exists at this time for site owners who want to take advantage of this method.
On site SEO. Google search uses 200 points of comparison when evaluating web pages. When someone asks the search engine to provide an answer to a question it has a trillion or more pages on the web to search for the best answers to that question. That is a lot of competition. To make your site/business stand out and appear in the top tier of search results takes work. On site SEO is essentially the process of making your web site conform to the “best practices” that the search engine is looking for. This is not something that most web designers automatically do when creating a website. The free page builders that are available do not automatically do this either no matter what they claim.
Local Directory Listings: This is probably the single most abused and price inflated service on the web today. We routinely get calls from various telemarketers trying to sell us directory listings. Prices they quote to do it are usually several hundred dollars to set them up and then as high as $240 a month to maintain them. The truth is, for most small businesses, you only need to set the listings up once. If you want to make a lot of changes to the information in the listings then it is nice to be able to update them all at once. For that service we charge a $200 per location setup fee and then $100 a year (per location) to keep the central dashboard feature. Updates are $20 each so if you rarely need an update this is a great plan and price structure. Even if you want to update several times a month this is still a great plan because you control the costs.
Content Strategy: Search engines try to give the highest quality, most relevant answers to each query put to them by users. One of the things that they look at is the “freshness” of the information on each website they consider as a potential answer to the query. This is why it is important that you post new content on your site on a regular basis. Once a month should be the bare minimum with once a week or even once a day being better. Content must be optimized for search engines every time you post and also distributed so potential customers can find it more readily.
Backlinks: When another web page links to one of your pages that is called a backlink. Backlinks are another way that search engines determine the quality of your content and its relevance to a particular query. Many SEO companies on the web are still acting as though they can still go on building backlinks just like they did in the old days. This is not the case. The old ways used by most SEO firms was to create thousands of meaningless links to client sites on websites that had no relevance to the client site. Back then the search engines did not know any better and it worked. Now though the search engine know the difference between a link on a meaningless site and one on a good quality site that is related to your business somehow. Examples of good backlinks are; local directory listings, blog links, wikipedia links, .gov and .edu sites and links on news sites and some social platforms (especially Google+).
Local Media And Backlinks
This year we built a new website for a publication called The Women’s Journals of Central PA. It is a regional (14 counties in Pennsylvania) free publication that is distributed throughout the service area (65,000 copies). Their old website was just a few static pages on which the content never changed. In its place we built them an online magazine style site and every article that appears in the print version of the paper now goes online as well. This includes advertisements and each ad or ad related story gets a link from the story back to the website of the business. Thereby site visitors/readers can easily navigate to the business which is the subject of the story.
In the 3 months since we created the new website traffic to the site has gone from 100 visitors per month to an average of 50 visitors per day. Eighty percent of these visitors are from within the target geographic area and the intended gender demographic (female). This illustrates the power of on site SEO and a well developed content strategy.
The stories in the online version of the paper ranks well in local search. In the image to the right you see a screen shot of a search done on Timberhaven Log homes. Timberhaven was the subject of a story we did on a log homes in which we interviewed a log home owner.
The story done in The Women’s Journal (“A” in the photo) is ranking on the first page of Google search. This is because I am sitting here in the local area served by the Journal and the log home builder has their corporate offices in this same area.
Would this be the case if I were located in another state? Perhaps not, but if your target customer base is located within a limited geographic radius of your store then local media may be a great option for you to add to your SEO arsenal! Local media is also usually not hard to contact and quite often more in the market for fresh content about the area than larger publications or websites would be.
Another often overlooked tool for local SEO is the many local business directories that are available. Every decent sized town or region has one or two (or more) local business directories who are trying to challenge the big directory services. We built a business directory into The Women’s Journals website because the print version has a similar page and it fit their model.
The directory that we built is full featured and is searchable both from on the site of The Women’s Journal and from any search engine on the web. This is a great benefit to businesses who have a listing in our directory because, since it is a local site, it will show up well in search results. This means more opportunity to be found. It also means that, the more results from your business that show up on the first page of search results in your area, the fewer results from your competitors that will show up.
If you want to stand out on the web in your own service area why not give us a call today or send an email? If you found this story useful we would appreciate you giving us a rating on Google+ via the handy G+ rating button on the right. If you would like a rating button for your own site contact us for that too! If you haven’t heard of any similar company saying what we say then maybe that is a good reason to give us a try.