SEOMoz is one of the best blogs around for SEO advice. While their content is often on the technical side, they do from time to time provide some good wisdom for small local businesses. The other day, during their "whiteboard Friday" segment, their CEO Rand Fishkin, one of the leading SEO experts in the country, went through a checklist of the most important steps that small, local businesses should take once their websites go live.
Most of the home energy companies we work with are small, local businesses, so we thought we should share Fishkin's points with you all.
1) Register with major search engines' local business directories.
Google+ Local, Yahoo! Local, Bing Business Portal are the big ones. Typically, how this works is you register your business with them online, and then they'll send you a postcard to return, or call your phone, to verify that you're a real business. It's easy and very important, as these will be the most likely places that people will be searching for your business online.
2) Register with other local business directories.
After you hit the major directories listed above, another important step on the path to a strong web presence is to sign up on other local business directories -- Angie's List, Yelp, etc. The key thing here is to be sure that your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are all consistent everywhere that they're listed. This "NAP" is considered your business's fingerprint around the web, the more "citations" you have (places where your NAP is listed), the better you'll do in search results on Google and other search engines.
3) Get listed on key regional portals.
Are there websites in your area that focus exclusively on the region? Here in Portland, Maine, for example, we have the Portland Phoenix, Maine Today, Maine To Do, and a number of other websites dedicated exclusively to the region. Reach out to any of these websites in your area and see if they have local business listings. A link from one of these sites will be a great, high quality link, and will send a local signal to search engines that tells them that your business is in this region. For more local link building ideas, check out our post on link-building 101 for home performance companies.
4) Do some competitive research.
Do a search in Google for some of your key search terms: "energy auditor" + city, "insulation contractor" + city, etc. See who you're up against, and check out the websites that are coming up that aren't owned by your competitors -- they may be business directories, lead gen services, etc. SEOMoz has a good formula for figuring out how your competitors are doing well and following suit, just check out their original post.
5) Check out your reviews around the web.
Reviews are one of the most important elements of a successful web presence for local businesses. Run a Google search for your company's name and see what comes up: you may have been getting reviews on sites like Yahoo! Local and Bing Business Portal without even knowing about it. Engage with your customers on those sites, and remember that actively asking your customers to review your business online is a good habit to get into.
6) Make sure your site is usable, and that it has good content.
As Rand Fishkin points out, this step is so important that it should probably be step #1. Is your website usable? Can people easily find the information they're looking for? Does it make it easy to find your phone number, email address, or a contact form to get a hold of you? Does it have content that describes your services and explains why potential customers should go with you instead of a competitor? It should have all these things.
Once you've taken these steps, take a look at our 5 website improvements you can make right now post for more helpful tips.
Have you taken any of the above steps? Have you had any luck? Feel free to chime in in the comments. And as always, if you need a hand with any of this stuff, feel free to get a hold of us. We'd be happy to help.