The thing you learn about owning a small business is that there is always something else you should be doing. This could be focusing on business development tasks, writing an employee handbook, or updating your cumulative actual earnings for forecasting. But, there’s always something that sticks on the month-to-month to-do list that never really gets checked out.
For many local professional service companies, that something is local search engine optimization. I totally understand. Unfortunately, SEO is not something you can do once and move on; it’s an ongoing process. In addition, it can be technical. It can be overwhelming. It’s not particularly fun. And you have to keep going for a while before you see any results. This is the best case scenario for scary daunting productivity tasks. But, there are few marketing tactics that have the potential of local SEO for a small business. Plus, if your competition isn’t actively working on local SEO, you may own the land. This is really an area where you don’t have to run faster than the bear; you have to run faster than your fleeing friend the bear.
Okay, so what are some tactics your local professional services marketing agency should absolutely put on your to-do list (that aren’t too burdensome and don’t take too long)?
1. Google My business
If Google is the alpha and omega of SEO, then Google My Business (GMB) is the alpha and omega of local SEO. If you are unfamiliar with GMB, the list will appear on the Google search results page in the right column when you search for a business name. The work you do on GMB also determines whether you are shown in the “3-Pack,” the top three local results that appear when a potential customer searches for a more general term like “Bethesda Web Design Company.” (Sigh. Yes, we’re not there yet, but we’re working on it!)
2. Online notice
Whenever a customer tells you how satisfied they are with your service, your next sentence should read, “Can I share this with the world? For most businesses, there are different options for asking people to rank you. Whether it’s on Google, an industry-specific database, or LinkedIn, reviews help with reputation and SEO rankings.
3. Location and contact details
If you have one or more physical locations, you definitely want to make sure you have a page that prominently displays your address (es) and other relevant information, like your phone number. Make sure the page is easily accessible when people visit your website.
4. A geo-relevant portfolio
For a fully virtual organization like Spring Insight, consider including location information in your portfolio. For example, the new Spring Insight marketing case study for Office Complice in the Portfolio section of our website identifies the company as being based in Washington, DC. Am I doing this because I think people will care about the location of the business? Not really. But it helps search engines connect my marketing agency in Washington, DC and surrounding areas.
5. Geo-relevant content
Your wallet isn’t the only place you can think local. Browse this blog. While the content can be used by a business anywhere in the United States, I am referring to local cities and towns. Do you think it’s an accident? No, I know you don’t, since I’m giving away the game here.
6. Updated directories
Now this is where things get time consuming and a bit technical. No matter what type of small business you have, there will be many directories that your business will be listed in. It could be in the hundreds for some companies, although most are fewer. But, you probably know (or could easily understand) the top five. GMB will certainly be one of them (see point 1). Yelp could be one of them. Anything that is industry specific and big (eg Houzz for homebuilding trades) should be there. And don’t forget your local chamber of commerce. Even the most basic attention to these directories can be very helpful. Make sure the information is complete, correct and consistent.
I know, I warned you: it’s a lot. Local SEO for a small business isn’t easy. However, this is a very good task to outsource if you want to get it right.