One of the easiest (and it's free) ways of making use of the search engines to drive traffic to your website is with Local Search. Google calls them "Google Places" Yahoo and Bing still call their "Local". If you have a business that relies more on localized customers, you're very fortunate and can get this traffic with no cost and only a little bit of effort. You don't even have to have a website for this type of local search marketing, but if you do, it's even better. This is basically only one page. If you own a restaurant or any business that you need several pages to describe for your customers, then do a website first, and use these local pages to get customers to your site.
Google is not showing local results for "Real Estate" specific searches. However, Bing does, so even if you are a real estate agent, local search can apply to you. There are other real estate search terms that Google does use local search boxes for sometimes. MLS Search, Land for Sale, sometimes Condos for Sale...it's still worth the effort, so read on. Most of this page will be for a business other than a real estate agent.
Small Business Websites and Local Search
To obtain a website for little or no money, you can build a free one at Tripod, or spend $10 a year on a domain name from GoDaddy and use their free website service. We can build you a real website for a couple of hundred dollars, and that's the best way to do it, but there are plenty of options.
For this article, let's assume you own a lawn service business in Lexington, NC.
Before you do anything, you need to find out the best search terms to use. Go to the Wordtracker Keyword Tool. Now think like a customer instead of a business owner. If you have to, ask your friends how they would search for your company. What are the services you offer?
Type in "your service your city". In our case here, we'll type in "Lawn Service Lexington". For this action, the less specific you are, the better. There is one search result for NC, and another for North Carolina. You might as well get them all instead of having to make many different searches. Wordtracker will give you 100 results on the free tool.
Did you find anything? Probably not. When you are getting down to hyper-local search terms, there's usually not enough of any one specific term daily to show. So don't get discouraged...just remove the location and search again for keywords for "Lawn Service". You might also want to try "Lawn" and your city. Here are some of the most important terms we came up with for our test business.
None were high enough in Lexington to show up, and these are generic terms. But If they show up somewhere else, then usually somebody in Lexington will type in the same thing - just not as often.
lawn aerators (Lexington NC)
organic lawn care " "
lawn problems " "
lawn care " "
lawn care business " "
lawn care services " "
residential lawn care " "
spring lawn care " "
yard maintenance companies " "
yard maintenance clean up " "
yard care maintenance " "
Note that we checked "Yard" as well. Think of any synonyms for what you do, and do a keyword search for them as well. Now, open your email, copy and paste the keyphrases you find, and email them to yourself to keep. Later you may add to them, but you'll need to know them even more as time goes on.
Now go to Google, Yahoo, and Bing, and get a free account. Once you've done that, then go here one at a time and fill out your profile.
You will want to have photos handy, and write out your business bio - how long you've been in business, your hours, your complete address, phone number (preferably a land line too) And keep those key phrases I gave you above in mind when you are writing it. Try to use as many as you can and still sound natural and sane. Don't write a bunch of gibberish of keywords or they won't approve the listing. List any licenses you have, and any classes you've taken for it. Brag about your experience and that you are insured and bonded if you are. Fill out all the information just as completely as you can and be sure to upload as many photos as it will let you. If you have a website, be sure and add the link. (You really ought to have one.)
List your company ALONG WITH THE NAME OF THE SERVICE - like this,
Bobs Lawn Service and Yard Maintenance
(Whatever the name is, no apostrophes or odd characters, and 1 or 2 of your most important terms)
This is important to make you rank better. If your company name is something like "Green Yards, Inc", then write something like "Green Yards Lawn Service and Yard Maintenance". You want to get those keywords in the title of your business! Again, don't stuff it with a bunch of keywords. Two is probably enough - 3 max.
Fill out everything you can in the spaces and questions they provide for you. The more you fill out, the better you'll rank. USE THOSE KEYWORDS! Upload the photos, and be complete!
Now the hardest but most important part...get all your customers and all your friends and family to join all three search engines, send them a link to your business page, and have them write you a review. You need at least 4, but 10 would be much better. Get yourself a Facebook and Twitter account, and add the link to your pages on them about every 2 weeks for several months.
If you do all this just right, you will rank near the top of the "Local" results on all three search engines. And that's part of what companies like mine charge you to do when we say "Search Engine Optimization" or SEO. We have a better understanding of exactly how to do it, but you can do it yourself too...just use the right keywords, be as complete and detailed as possible, and GET REVIEWS.
If you want a professional to do your local business page, or for local search engine optimization, contact us. We will do all three search engine local pages for $250.