In this article, you're going to learn how to maximize your blogging efforts by keeping a focus on Local Search Optimization. By doing so, you're going to accomplish two very important goals:
• You're going to increase visibility and traffic to your site
• You're going to ultimately increase your bottom line
In the following paragraphs we'll lay out a clear, step-by-step plan for business blogging. I'll show you exactly what you should be doing, what should be included, and how to avoid the most common business blogging mistakes.
Step-By-Step Plan for Business Blogging Success
GOALS: Business blog posts should
1. Use LSO on each post
2. Connect web searchers to your relevant business information
3. Attract enough interest to build a strong web presence
4. Build your credibility and strength with Google in order to increase rankings and attract web traffic
Let's break these goals down step-by-step and find out how we accomplish each one:
PREREQUISITES: In order to accomplish the goals mentioned above, you'll need to have your own domain name and web hosting service. A hosting platform, such as Hostmonster, provides you with your first domain name free of charge and a monthly fee of approximately $7, well within anyone's budget. This is a worthy investment with the very real potential of bringing thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars to your door.
What's wrong with using a free website? Free sites will allow you to build a website, but will offer zero control over your LSO, and some free site services even post advertisements for your direct competitors right on your pages. Directory listing sites such as Yelp and Merchants Circle, are another "substitute" that some business owners use instead of a website. Directories should be optimized with photos, videos, and all relevant information, but are mainly for citation purposes, and not to be considered a website. Again, paid advertisements for your competitors can appear right on these pages.
The Difference Between a Website & Business Blog. Do I Need Both?
Once you have your website and business blog, the difference between the two can be confusing. What information belongs on each? Sometimes your webmaster can't even explain this. The general rule of thumb is this:
Website = Static Information. Ask yourself, "Is this evergreen information?" If so, chances are good that it belongs on your website. Location, contact information, company vision, menus or product descriptions and prices, staff information and testimonials all belong on your website. Weekly or monthly specials are also perfect for your website, even though specials aren't evergreen. A page dedicated to discounts will keep your site easy to navigate.
Blog = Tips, Advice, Opinions & News. A blog should be very niche oriented to the sector of consumers who are interested in your products or services. Any business can and should have a business blog. Your blog will present you as an authority in your field, setting you above others in your area. A blog will also keep relevant, fresh, and keyword rich content on your site, which Google loves. You'll find that if you optimize your blog posts for local search (and we're about to show you how this is done), you'll strengthen your web presence, enjoy higher rankings in search portals, gain traffic, and bring in more customers.
Okay, now back to the goals:
1. Use LSO on Each Post
Keyword Phrases - Get in the habit of optimizing each post for local search. This is done first by using your chosen keyword phrases in every post. Your main, site-wide keyword phrases should be limited to 3-4 phrases, and one of them should always be "your professional category + your city name". If you are a chiropractor in Los Angeles, your main keyword phrases could be:
• Chiropractor Los Angeles
• Back Pain Los Angeles
• Back Pain Relief
• Help for Back Pain
Your main keyword phrase should be used in the title of your blog post if at all possible, in subheadings throughout the body of the article, and in the first and last sentences. Work in 1-2 keyword phrases per post, minimum and use each keyword phrase 2-3 times. If this sounds like a lot of work and you're not a writer, not a problem. There are plenty of SEO content providers and ghostwriters who will be happy to provide interesting, relevant articles to keep your business blog fresh and interesting.
Anchor Text - Use one of your keyword phrases to create a hyperlink to a page on your website or an internal page of your business blog. When using this deep linking technique, be sure to lead to another internal page that is relevant.
There are also plugins available for Wordpress Blogs that will automatically find and display links to similar posts. This is not only helpful to the reader who is looking for additional information on the same topic, but also builds simple links for your blog without any work or extra brain power on your part. According to Matt Cutts (head of Google's Webspam Team and active SEO advice guy), the best plugin of this kind is Yet Another Related Post. It's easy to install, actively maintained, and provides plenty of options.
Links - Building links for local strength is also important. These are called backlinks and aren't the same as building links from and to your own site. There are numerous ways to build backlinks, but a few that are great (and high quality) for local search include:
• Providing a link to your website to the local Chamber of Commerce
• Join the Better Business Bureau and provide them with your website
• Develop relationships with complimentary, yet non-competing businesses and ask if they will link to your site. You'll need to return the favor, of course. If you own a carpet cleaning business, team up with local leasing agents or furniture stores.
2. Connect Web Searchers to Relevant, Useful Industry Information
As we mentioned above, blog posts should be very niche oriented. Your local carpet cleaning service should blog specifically about topics relevant to carpet cleaning. By doing so, Google sees that each of your posts are on the same topic, using the same 2-3 keyword phrases, and will move you up in rankings for relevancy agreement. Perfect blog topics would be:
• Your Chicago Carpet Cleaner Advice: How to remove the top 5 common carpet stains
• Environmentally friendly carpet cleaning product information from your Chicago Carpet Cleaner
• Q&A With Your Chicago Carpet Cleaner: Will Scotch Guard keep my carpets cleaner, longer?
• Will cleaning carpets reduce the life? Answers from your Chicago Carpet Cleaner
When these posts are indexed through the search portals, they will continue to build your strength. Each time a post is crawled, the same topics and keywords will come up. The information is two-fold. It is written for the searcher, who is soon to be your client, and it's written for the search engines with topic consistency and site-wide keyword agreement.
It should also be mentioned that original content is a must. Do not copy and paste information from another website, even if it's a website in another state, or another country. Google will penalize your site for duplicate content. Don't even risk it by copying and pasting a few paragraphs. Fresh, relevant and original blog posts. That's the content trifecta.
It's also important to connect your blog posts over to your main website where relevant. If you mention an upcoming sale or event in your blog post, be sure to link over to the location map on your main website.
3. Attract Enough Interest to Build a Strong Web Presence
You want an online presence that shows up when consumers search for local services through Google, Bing, Yahoo and other local search portals. How to achieve this through business blogging? Besides providing relevant information in text form, think about creating a video, publishing it to YouTube, and linking it to your main site. This will build an additional citation for Google Places and cross over to help you with universal search results as well.
Videos receive a lot of traffic and you can use videos right on your blog posts. Blogging about spot removal? Give a short demonstration. Your face doesn't have to be in the shot if you are video-shy. Simply provide the instructions for spot-removal with a demonstration.
Other ways to attract interest and keep the traffic flowing? Provide a question and answer page on your blog with open comments. Set up an alert so you'll know when a new question pops up on your blog.
Link your blog posts to your Facebook Page, Twitter, and LinkedIn using Networked Blogs. This will automatically place your blog posts on your social networking sites with zero effort from you.
4. Build Credibility & Strength With Google to Increase Rankings
Finally, be sure you aren't missing out on the basics when it comes to your business blog. Your full business name, address, phone number and local map should be on the contact page. This information should be consistent with the business name, address and phone number provided to Google, Yahoo, and Bing, along with the online directories.
As a short recap, the most important tips to remember are to provide original, keyword rich content on a regular basis (at least once or twice per week), link within your site, and work towards building backlinks from credible sites. Keep your posts relevant, interesting, upbeat, and have fun with them! Your efforts are going to reap 100% positive rewards if you keep an LSO focus while business blogging.