What you need to know about getting found online

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Mary Bowling and Mike Belasco of SEOverflow of Denver share their expertise in local search marketing with the Deluxe Small Business Heroes Tour.

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  • SEO = Search Engine Optimization
  • Web designers can do amazing things, but…
  • Let’s start with a clear but simple understanding of what SEO is and why , as a local business owner, it matters to you.
  • We must not lose sight of the reason why we want our website to rank, which is to attract potential customers to our business web site. Web sites are created for people, not for search engines, but by pleasing the search engines and ranking better, more people are more likely to see your web pages.
  • When we talk about ranking in the Search Engines, What exactly are we talking about? Getting your website to appear on the first page (top 10) of the organic web results AND getting your local business listing to appear in the Local Pack of Local Search results.
  • Most people use the default setting of 10 search results per page. Most searchers do not go past the first page of the Search Results. The top 5 spots get about 3/4 th of the clicks. If you’re going to market successfully on the internet, you need to think about SEO!
  • Ranking in Google is what you really should strive for, since that is where most people search. However, with Yahoo becoming Bing’s SearchEngine, that combination has great potential for driving additional traffic to your business.
  • The algorithms are different for Organic search, Maps search and the Local pack.
  • When we talk about ranking in the Search Engines, What exactly are we talking about? Getting your website to appear on the first page (top 10) of the organic web results AND getting your local business listing to appear in the Local Pack of Local Search results.
  • The Google Places algorithm (and therefore the Local 7 pack algorithm) Gives local businesses a distinct advantage over directory type sites and online only vendors.
  • So what do the Search Engines want? Relevant results! If someone searches for an Saab repair shop in Boulder, they don’t want to go to the website of a Honda dealer in Boulder or a Saab repair shop in Pueblo.
  • On page keyword usage is the smallest piece of the pie, But that is what we have the most control over. You can understand why people talk so much about links, when you See how large a piece of the pie that is. Everything else is all the other factors that might possibly play a part in rankings.
  • Keyword research is the foundation of SEO. Without it, your SEO efforts may be misdirected. It does you little good to rank for keywords which no one searches for or will not convert for you. Example: If you are a personal injury lawyer, but you rank well for “Denver lawyer’’, you will get calls for divorce and bankruptcy cases, which will waste your time and won’t make you any money. You really want to rank for the terms most relevant to where you are and what you do. Those are the searchers that you want most to find you.
  • It doesn’t do much good to rank for terms that hardly anyone is searching for. It doesn’t make much sense to battle the goliaths, so look for terms you have a chance of ranking for. People use different types of terms when searching. Focus on those that indicate buying intentions. Example, a person looking for a used car may begin researching using the term used car. As they move through the process, they may refine it to used Honda and then to used honda civic . By the time they are actually ready to buy, they are probably searching for something like 2008 honda civic hatchback under 50,000 miles .
  • Begin with your own brainstorming ideas. Then use one or more of these tools for more ideas and to get the data you need to make good decisions. Try all of these out!
  • Examples of possible terms for a chinese restaurant might be: mandarin chinese takeout, best egg rolls, chinese buffet. For a plumber they may be things like: repair leaky toilet , install water heater, drain cleaning on Saturday
  • Remember that the page titles and descriptions that you give to each page Are what searchers will see in the results. They need to be as clickable as possible. Make them good ads for your business and include a call to action. Don’t make them too long or they look bad in the results.
  • Think of links as votes.
  • You should also be aware of some common technical problems that can keep your pages from ranking well.
  • Sign up for Google webmaster tools and then poke around in there for lots of great information.
  • For the most part, text is what the Search Engines can most easily “read”. See what Google sees by viewing the text only cache of a page.
  • Don’t assume your web designer or developer is good at SEO. In most cases, you don’t want her/him doing your SEO any more than you would want a plastic surgeon doing your liver transplant. They are 2 different skill sets!
  • These are typical local authority sites – links from them will help you. People are also looking for local business information on these types of sites. They can’t find yours if it isn’t there. The more of these places where you have a presence, the better chance you have of being found.
  • Partnering with these types of sites can give you organic results like these!
  • Be Relevant!
  • Reviews are exactly what people looking for a local business want, so reviews influence Google Maps results.
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