Top 6 Local and Small Business SEO Tips!

By Lupe Garza, HeadStartDigital.com

The first SEO strategy our team created has helped local and small businesses increase brand awareness and client acquisition using their website on search engines (such as Google).

Did you know that just about 77% of all searches start out on the search engines? Out of those, 50% click on the top 3 results, and 25% of the total clicks are made on the #1 search result position! (Are you starting to see why SEO is valuable?)

The sooner you take action to boost SEO on your online platform, the faster you will gain new customers. Here you’ll learn about the powerful tailored local SEO strategy that took HeadStart Digital over two years to nail down. Our local SEO strategy outlines the first steps your business should take.

If your business does not have the proper small business SEO strategy, you will not do so well with future marketing campaigns. It’s all about your lead generation and conversions. Another reason your small business needs an SEO strategy is to have a solid foundation to make your business appear professional and trustworthy as well.

1. Do Keyword Research.

Keyword research is absolutely essential; it’s your first step. This should be done before or as soon as you start your new website. (But definitely before starting any SEO campaign)

You want to rank for local keywords, not national ones. Although big generic keywords can help bring more traffic, it will not be local traffic. I like to call local traffic “warm leads.” Warm leads are promising because this traffic stems from people with money in their hand ready to buy your product or service. They’re just browsing on Google, right-clicking on the top search results pages.

There’s long-tail keywords and short-tail. Long tail keywords are specific local targeting keywords. Examples of long-tail keywords include “Dallas dental services” or “Dallas Roof Repair”. Short-tail keywords are search phrases with only one or two words. Examples of generic, broad, or national short-tail keywords would be something like “Dentist” or “Roofers”.

You can use a a tool like Ahrefs.com or SEMRush.com to check out monthly search volume for keywords, as well as get an idea of keyword difficulty. These websites provide you with all the tools necessary to look at monthly search volume and keyword ideas to better help you understand what keywords you want to use to build content and links to.

2. Optimize your Meta Description & Meta Titles.

Start with homepage and service pages, also known as “main menu” pages, first. Optimize these pages, making sure they include your main service keywords. Later, you can tailor “content” pages, such as blogs and locally-targeting service pages, to include the keywords for which you want to rank.

For SEO purposes, you’ll want to work on refining both meta descriptions and meta titles. The meta description is a short blurb you write that provides an overview of your webpage and appears in Google search results. A good strategy for writing meta descriptions is to start with your homepage and service pages, also known as your “main menu” pages. Optimize the meta descriptions for these pages first — making sure that they include your main service keywords. Later, you can tailor your “content” pages (such as blogs & locally-targeting service pages) to include the intended keywords for which you want to rank. Do the same with meta titles, which both serve as a name tag for the webpage and are read by search engine robots.

Here is basically all you need to know when optimizing titles & descriptions:

The title tag is the most important part of your homepage. It serves a similar purpose to a chapter title in a book, and must be 50 to 65 characters long.

Try this format: business in (Texas) | Business Services (Name of Your Business).

Or (Dallas Dentist | Family  Dental Services | Super Smiles)

Don’t forget to include the keyword you want to rank for in the title!

Next is your meta description, which should describe your core services in just 100 to 150 characters. This format works well: 

(Name of Your BUSINESS) offers quality (Services) in (City). Call (Phone Number) today for a 15 min consultation!

For example:
Super Smiles offers quality Dental services in Dallas. Call (555) 555-555 today for a 15 min consultation!

3. Optimize H1 and H2 titles, too.

H1 and H2 titles help both readers and search engines focus attention and be easily able to find information on your site. Your H1 title, or main visible headline, needs to be both descriptive and concise. It should state the primary keyword you want to rank for in a format that resembles: ((City) Business).

For example:
Dallas Dental Services

 Your H2 title should be a brief description — again, using your target keyword — while your H3 should be a description of the service. You want to use the 3-7% rule for your target keyword. For every 100 words, try using your target ranking keyword 3-7 times!

4. Optimize Your Alt Text!

Alt Text (short for “alternative text”) is text that shows up when you move your mouse over an image. Blind people use screen readers to read websites, and the alt text is read out loud to them. Alt text is also used by Google to figure out what the images on your site are about.

Google will only give you credit for the words you use to describe the photos on your web pages. You need to use the “Alt Text” field in your content management system (such as WordPress, which is awesome) to describe your photograph—remember to use the keywords that you want to rank for.

If your website page is about writing services (or any service or topic), you want to give the photos an Alt Text that defines the page or the meaning behind the photo.

Google has a hard time reading what a photo means, so you need to give it that help.

I recommend using two to three unique photos per website page, using the same, if not similar, target keywords. This way, there’s no way Google or other search engines can get confused as to what the page is about!

5. Claim Your Business On Google!

Google has a feature called Google My Business which allows business owners to list their physical address on the web. I know many small or local businesses don’t have addresses. If you don’t, that’s okay! Keep writing and optimizing your content with the steps above and below, and you’ll be fine.

Google’s “Google My Business” listing for your business might not directly impact the content of your website, but claiming this listing will improve your Small Business SEO. Business owners who have claimed their “Google My Business” listing see an increase in rankings for Google features like the Local Map Pack, and Google Maps, in addition to Google search results. This helps increase your online visibility, so you can reach more local customers.

Claim your “Google My Business” listing by visiting https://www.google.com/business.

6. Embrace Link Building 😂

Link building is the most annoying part of any SEO strategy.  Yet, it is a central piece of effective SEO.

A backlink is a link to your website on another website. You want to connect to as many websites as humanly possible. Backlinks are like thumbs up for Google. The more you have from relevant websites, the better your pages will rank.

I highly recommend you use a link building and research tool such as Ahrefs.com or SEMRush.com.

You should also connect your Google Search Console & Google Analytics to your website before your SEO campaign so you can have access to live data & traffic.

A quick tip when doing link building is to look for local directories such as Home Advisor, BBB, or Yelp. There, you can list your website and company to build your first set of backlinks to your website. What’s great about this is that you can also optimize your listings and rank them on the same search result page as your target keyword (but that’s for another blog!). 

What I recommend (to speed this process 10x) is to use SEMRush. They have a great backlink building tool. You can check to see what backlinks your competitors have for the target keywords you are trying to rank for.

The best part is that, using the SEMrush.com linking tool, you can build out a list of websites to reach out to so you can start building backlinks to your target keyword/page.

Ask websites if you can provide a guest post in exchange for a backlink. Or look for links made on content similar to what your industry is about. This way it’s easier to get a YES!

You can check out HeadStart’s new Backlink Guide of 2021 on our site for more information. (for the longest we ourselves ranked #3 for “2020 Backlink Building Guide” — cool, right?)

Typically, as long as you have high authority backlinks coming to your website, that should give a boost to your entire website. Eventually, you’ll rank for pages you never built links to, which is also kind of cool!

SEO doesn’t have to be difficult; it just takes a lot of patience and work. Results can take anywhere from two to 12 months, depending on your target keywords. – @LupeGarzaa @HeadStartTech

I hope you enjoyed this article. SEO doesn’t have to be difficult; it just takes a lot of patience and work. Typically, you should see results within two to three months. Generic keywords can take six to 12 months. So, it’s really hard to gauge exactly when your campaign will produce results. Make sure you optimize your website for conversions by using tools such as Instant Chat Boxes to connect with your leads & visitors quickly!

Lupe Garza is the founder of HeadStartDigital.com, an online marketing company based in Dallas, Texas. Founded in 2018, HeadStart Digital specializes in SEO & marketing strategy for service based businesses.

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