Friday, September 25, 2009

Backyard SEO... Keeping it local.

So, you just got this client down the road whose business is picture framing. She wants a website and she wants to be on that all-empowering first page because that's what her friends tell her. She only takes local walk-in traffic and phone orders. With some work, you may be able to get her business up there in a few of her chosen keywords but to what avail? Is her business going to really benefit from world-wide traffic? She's not collecting email addresses (as a pro you should be collecting those email addresses for her anyway) or taking orders online. Maybe not. That doesn't mean that her business won't benefit from good SEO techniques and a little know-how (or where in this case).

Today, if you're not on the net, you're not in business. You need to have an online presence if you want to compete. Local businesses sometimes believe that they are too small or too targeted to need an online presence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Some of these people will be happy with their Yellow Pages listings or their ad in the local Pennysaver, actually, response from these offline types of advertising is still strong for certain trades and I highly recommend that business owners take advantage of offline advertising when it suits them. However, what if you could increase their traffic and business just by optimizing their website? Would you be a more valuable asset then someone who just knocks out a quick design, takes the money and moves on? Of course, this information is not just for the designer. It can be applied at any time to any website.

One of the main ways a site gets indexed on the major engines is through inbound links from QUALITY, TRUSTED and RELEVANT sites. What does that mean? Well, it means the days of link farms are over. You can't just link to anyone and everyone with a "click here" button anymore. Google takes a look at sites that change original content often and will index them often. These sites are TRUSTED, QUALITY and are generally RELEVANT if you found them using your keywords.  The key here is to "localize" your keywords and links. Oh, and Google loves directories. They are human based so submit as soon as you feel you page is up to snuff. More on that later.

Let's take the framer. I would build a site with a number of pages, some filled with contact info, history, all the stuff the local business wants on their pages. Make sure proper titles and descriptions are in EACH page. I would have the location at the bottom of EVERY page and I would include pages with relevant information on picture framing - techniques, the business, how to recognize quality materials - things like that. This is RELEVANT content. This is the content other sites like to link to. Pepper it with keywords - preferably local ones - maybe with links to art shows in the area or something. If you ask for links back be sure they are descriptive links meaning that instead of "click here" they have text that reflects the content and title of the page it links too. More on that later as well.

I would then submit to local searches, directories, travel guides and town pages. I would make sure they are listed with Google Maps, Yahoo! Local and Citysearch. I might run a small targeted Google PPC campaign using mapping or zip code based areas. Then I would submit the original content to news sites and informational sites with a link back to the client's site and some local info in the footer of the story. It's a bit more involved than that but just those things alone will get results.

This opens up many new opportunities like specializing in local search or, even more importantly, JVs (Joint Ventures). We'll get into Joint Ventures in the future.

Ron Smith is the president of Gorbs Corp., a print and web design and development firm on Long Island, NY. A new location in the heart of NYC will be opening soon for Internet Marketing and SEO consulting. For more on Ron or Gorbs visit

If you're considering a career in SEM, want to train your in-house web designers on the finer points of SEO or want to just boost your rankings, and you're in the NY area, come to a "Can You SEO?" seminar. - come and sign up for our newsletter and get updates on tools, tips and products.

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