This article is an excerpt from Andy "Easy SEO" Jenkins.
Start where you are – I’ve alluded to this for some time now, but it really does work. Google is pushing for localization, and small businesses who want to get started with their own counties or states are the most likely to benefit. Using more specific, long-tailed keywords will yield a smaller volume, but a more targeted flow of traffic.
That’s a pretty good thing to have. Traffic from long-tailed keywords (search terms three words or longer) have proven to be more likely to result in conversions than more general keywords. By attaching the name of your city or state to keywords in your meta titles, PPC ads, and content, you’ll be more likely to be found by potential customers from your own area.
Example: If you’re targeting the keyword “BMW oil filter” and your store is in the Chicago area, you might want to go with “BMW oil filter Chicago”. It doesn’t stop you from being competitive globally, but it does put you in a position of strength against local competitors.
Easy, quality backlinks – Most cities and states have websites and registries run by the local or state governments where you can get listed. These are often free listings and require only that you fill out a form online and show some proof that your business exists and is legitimate. Links coming from .gov sites are usually around 500% more potent than an average backlink. This should get you in Google’s good graces pretty fast.
Similarly, you can become a member of your town’s local business associations. These organizations often have websites where you can ask for a listing. Because these are non-profit organizations, it’s likely that their site has the .org extension, which is more potent than the average .com domain.
Being active and helpful in the local education scene is always good. If you’ve done some kind of favor or provided resources or sponsorships to the local school, you may want to get a link from pages in the school site relevant to your business. Even if there’s no existing page that talks explicitly about a topic related to your niche, you can always ask a teacher or a student to post a little something about you in the school site’s forum with an accompanying link. This will score you a nice .edu link that’s similar in value to a .gov.
Getting listed in some business directories will provide additional traction. Yahoo’s directory, for instance, is a paid directory service, but it sometimes gives freebies to some local sites. Try your luck and find other directories that might be doing the same.
Here’s a resource for free web directories: http://www.directorycritic.com/free-directory-list.html
That’s a LOT of web directories, so just choose the ones with the highest Page Rank and let some submissions fly.
Additionally, you can publish a few articles in article directories like Ezine, GoArticles, ArticleGarden and so forth. Sure, the link juice wont’ be anything to write mom about, but these sites do provide you a couple of backlinks to your internal pages. This adds some variety and relevance to your link profile. At the very least, EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS, so go and get some links from these guys.
Make sure you’re clean – I’ve hinted about it before and I’ll talk about it in more detail now: INSTALL GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS. This Google gift from search engine Heaven helps you see exactly how Google sees your site.
Always be aware of the diagnostics section where Webmaster Tools tells you which pages are down, which pages are being duplicated internally and if your sitemap is working properly.
This helps you resolve internal issues that can be triggering Google filters or pulling down your site’s quality score. Once you identify the issues, your web administrator should be able to draw up a solution for you.
Provide expert content - You did think of becoming very knowledgeable about your niche before starting your business, right? Good. It shouldn’t be tough for you or someone in your team to write a few articles for your site. A simple FAQ sheet should do great initially and then just keep dropping useful information whenever you can.
Better yet, put up a blog and post away when you have promos, thoughts or even opinions on the latest developments in your industry. This breeds both credibility and a personal touch that your target market is sure to appreciate.
Oh yeah, and good content is often linked-to by relevant websites. Duh.
Have a healthy dose of prose – A beautiful site is practically useless if nobody can find and appreciate it. If you’re planning to fill your site up with Flash, images and videos, keep in mind that Google can’t “read” these things the way it can read text.
Text is the basis of all searches at this point. People enter words, not images to search for things they want to find. Therefore, Google needs to find text in your website that matches the searchers’ queries for you to be ranked high. It doesn’t matter how nicely alt-tagged your images are. If you don’t have much text in your site, your rankings are sure to suffer.
The idea here is to have a healthy balance of good text copy and design. Make sure that the text that’s close to your images, Flash and videos are relevant to what these media are showing to the user. Make appropriate use of bolds, header tags, anchor links and captions. Place emphasis on keywords and make sure that the word count is substantial. Do this and you’ll avoid the Google gallows.
Keep things light – Site-loading speed is a significant factor in how Google computes your quality score. Sites that load fast provide a better user experience, giving them an edge on the competition in Google rankings.
Speeding up your site isn’t rocket science. Just make sure you have a combination of text and other media in place. Images should be in light formats such as JPEG, PNG, or WebP unless special situations call for heavier, more detailed image formats.
Flash should be used sparingly, while videos can be uploaded to YouTube or other hosting sites and just embedded to your pages. Ask your web developers to make sure that your site’s HTML is clean. These are small things that when approached with due diligence can add up into big wins.
These tips should keep you busy and get you started on your quest to becoming a key figure in your niche. As always, hard work, creativity and originality will pay dividends for your business. Let me know in th