5 Tips for Local SEO – Part 1
Over the next five articles, I will be offering up my top five tips for local SEO.
Tip #1: Think Long-Tail
If you are new to SEO, you may be unfamiliar with the idea of long-tail keywords. Essentially, the idea is that your needs may be better served by optimizing for longer, more descriptive keywords than broad, competitive one-word keywords. If your goal is to optimize your site for a specific product or service in your local area, you should naturally be thinking long tail. However, it is easy for those inexperienced with search engine optimization to overlook this fact and disregard this idea.
Example: I am a bakery in Buffalo, New York, and I am looking to boost my cupcake sales. It may seem logical to optimize for the keyword “Cupcakes.” However, a search for “Cupcakes” will demonstrate that a broad search like this returns millions upon millions of results. As the local bakery, attempting to rank for this keyword would be tantamount to shooting your SEO efforts in the foot. You’d face monumental competition from across the globe, mostly from websites that are not actually your competitors in any way. While you may be able to rank with time and effort, you’ve got a bakery to run.
In order to weed out, for instance, people 2,000 miles away looking for cupcake recipes, and better maximize your time invested in SEO, the keywords you choose to optimize for should be specifically geared toward who you are as a business and your SEO goals. In this example, I am attempting to boost my cupcake sales to customers in Buffalo, NY. As such, my SEO goals are better served by focusing my on-site and off-site optimization efforts on a phrase such as “Buy Cupcakes In Buffalo” or even “Buffalo, NY Bakeries” than they would be simply by attempting to rank for the term “Cupcakes.”
So, long-tail keywords are just better because they’re easier to rank for?
I do not want to leave you with this impression. While it’s true that your rankings will improve faster and with less effort by targeting more specific, or long-tail, keywords, you must also consider search behavior, and its relationship to the buying cycle. Any keyword-generation tool (Google‘s is a good, and free place to start) you might use to find your ideal SEO keywords will tell you that “Cupcakes” has a much higher monthly search volume than something like “Buffalo, NY Bakeries.” However, someone searching for “Cupcakes” could be looking for almost anything – recipes, pictures, information on the history of cupcakes, etc. Someone searching the phrase “Buffalo, NY Bakeries” is considerably more likely to be searching for a nearby bakery to visit, and buy something. Thus, not only will your SEO goals be easier to achieve in terms of rankings, but your time & energy better spent, due to the increased return on your investment.
“I don’t see the point.”
Install any type of analytics tool (again, Google‘s is a good one) or even claim & verify your Google Places listing, which offers surprisingly valid insight into the terms people are using to find your business, and you will quickly see why this is important. It could be argued that my 3-word term, “Buffalo, NY Bakeries” is far from long-tail. I still think it would be easy to rank for. Given that, consider the 4-5 word alterations of that same query — ones that your competition is not thinking about.
By simply having solid site structure, some decent backlinks, good meta tags focusing on your 2-3 word keywords and quality, non-stagnant content that includes bits and pieces of your long trail terms.
I cannot stress enough the importance of optimizing your page for long-tail keywords to a local SEO campaign. By specifically focusing your SEO efforts not only on your key services, but also your locations served, and adding geographic modifiers to your SEO keywords, the battle toward thinking long-tail is half won. Do some research with keyword tools. Consider the buying cycle. See what is and isn’t working for your competition. Think specifically about the business goals you intend to achieve through SEO, and formulate your long-tail keywords as such.
I’d love to hear your thoughts & criticisms.
As always, if you’d rather ignore these minutia and leave your search engine optimization and internet marketing to the pros, contact the experienced search & social advertising specialists at Buffalo SEO Shark today!