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FREE DIY SEO for local business owners

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Ranking high on Google became a number one on business owners to do list – and understandably so – Google commands almost 90% of UK market share and is the most popular search engine in the world. Being on first page of Google often translates into a steady stream of customers – even if your business is local. Right now, being local actually makes it into advantage – you have considerably less competition to fight against!

Because there is such a huge demand on SEO services for business websites, loads of companies sprung up literally overnight offering various SEO services: SEO link building, SEO copywriting, SEO website optimisation, and many more variants of what is supposed to produce one result – coveted first page of Google for your business.

organic SEO guide for local business

But not everybody can be first – and that is the basis of Google business model. If you don’t have organic rankings – you can pay for Google Ads and be on first page. They are often called PPC – Pay Per Click ads, because you pay a small amount every time someone clicks on your link in that ad. And those clicks quickly add up.

Just like in a real world, you are not the only one offering your type of product or service, so naturally there is a competition to fight against. The first position listing for popular keywords often gets nearly all of the traffic. Page 4 clicks are nearly non existent, Google itself doesn’t often display more than 10 pages of results (click through and check yourself).

That’s why competition is so fierce – nearly all the profit is on that first page . And that’s why there is so many companies specializing in achieving high rankings as an alternative to I’ll build it and hope they’ll come strategy.

With local SEO being far less competitive than national / global it is much easier to rank high.

After building several websites for the local clients I have found out that just optimising the website properly nearly guarantees front page results.

Successfully achieving coveted first page of Google  is not really that hard with a little bit of effort. Because with every web design or website makeover project I usually include either basic or full Organic SEO package, clients can see results first hand within the first 30 days.

Websites built with WordPress are extremely SEO friendly and that’s why it’s my primary choice for developing local websites.

So why using WordPress (WP) is so beneficial for local business websites?

WP was built as a blogging platform.
It means that is built for easy publishing, sharing and ranking.

When used a CMS, Content Management System, main content of the site is built utilizing pages, but it also offers a built in functionality of a blog as standard. And in case you are wondering how is that relevant? Blogs are great for SEO.

Blogs in their nature highlight freshly written content, additionally, WP ‘pings’ when new content is added, which essentially means notifies search engines that the site was updated.

BEWARE: If you ever bought a web hosting you were probably kindly offered to submit your site to search engines. The fee for this service varies, depending on how bold the providers is – usually between £50 and £250. If you use this service, there is a real chance your website get sandboxed and won’t be indexed to show up on Google for quite some time, people reported 6mths + in some cases.

Again, why do you care? Well, WP does it for you automatically and for free. 99% of the websites I have installed were indexed by Google within a week. I am not saying that to boast my superior web design skills – you can buy domain, hosting and install WordPress for free within 15 min. I follow a quick optimisation checklist to enhance the raw installation, but all the functionality is there for you, if you want to have a go.

One add-on that is a must for local business website that wants to rank high is -with free version available- SEO plugin by Joost.

Installing and properly configuring just this one plugin will give you 80% better chance of ranking high in Google.

I worked with ultra local businesses – like grocery and coffee shops, with small service based businesses and big engineering industry sites – they all benefited from this set up, which you could do yourself.

Improving your local SEO is really not as complicated, is just time consuming – depending on your competition, of course. The competition determines if you going to get high rankings off the bat and basic optimisation is all you need, or do you require advanced techniques.

The primary principle is that you need to have a website worth linking to
for a greater chance of achieving and maintaining good rankings.

FREE DIY SEO for Local Business Owners:

I would say, no harm in trying the basic local SEO optimisation for free first:

Step 1. Website build on WP , so you have unlimited pages, blog and you can maintain it yourself easily, eventually WordPress blog added to your existing site – takes about an hour, if you have all the text ready to add. The installation itself takes about 5 min – but than you have to add text, decide on theme (design) etc.

Step 2. SEO plugin by Yoast - installing and configuring – 30 min for average small business site (less than 10 pages)

Step 3. Installing Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools – the basic set up requires just to sign up to your account and than copy/paste a piece of code. When you are ready to delve deeper – you will have collected raw data to start with

Step 4. Optimising your Google Local listing - about 15 min, if you have your text, videos and photos already branded and optimised.

Step 5. Regular maintenance  and updates - between 15min to 8hrs a week (depending on how proficient you are at producing content for your blog. It takes 15 min per week to optimize your content, but producing content takes as much time as you give it – some people can write great article in an hour (it took 90 min for me to write this one, it has over 1000 words and custom graphics), some can record a video within 30 min or you can upload pictures gallery and write descriptions within couple minutes. On the other hand, you could spend well over 40hrs to produce comprehensive report or whitepaper, just like as I did when writing my Organic SEO guide .

The professional set-up, like the service I provide, would include a custom design for your blog, so it seamlessly integrates with your main site and stays on brand, optimised site architecture and navigation, to improve customer experience (and SEO), optimising and branding your photos. The advanced set up is much more involved, and the main benefit to you is that is much easier for you to maintain it and you avoid a lot of technical details – i.e.:  I don’t know how to build a car, but I know how to drive.

Blogging is not only about articles, it can include podcasts, photos, videos – the crucial element is to set a regular schedule and stick to it. Blogging couple times a day for most small, local businesses is pointless. After all you should be busy working on your business, focusing on paid work, not writing a blog.

I think, for most business owners the optimum is to write weekly – it’s not too much to overwhelm your customers, but just enough to keep on top of their minds. Is not too much to burn you out as well – I know it’s one more thing added to your to do list, but it pays ten-fold. You get more SEO juice, more search engine traffic, more visitors to stay on your site and engage – an overall win, as well as providing indirect benefits like building the brand awareness and shortening sale cycle.

If you find it all confusing, I have wrote an easy (and free!) 7 part course that can get you started with optimising your website, beginning with a comprehensive report highlighting what tactics to avoid in 2014,  post Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird update.

The main problem with SEO is that it takes time – but according to 80/20 principle, 20% of the effort yields 80% of the profit, so the course covers 7 easy wins, that you can implement quickly in the next couple days .

Sign up to receive your FREE 7 part local SEO course and you can download How to rank high safely report immediately!

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