As a local business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your customers close to your business. In order to do this, you need to be online, and you need to be doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to improve your site’s rankings. However, as a small business owner, you may not have the funds to spend large amounts on SEO. That’s why I’ve put together this SEO for free guide to help you generate more leads and make more sales from your local online marketing efforts.
Step #1. Set the Scene
Before you begin your local SEO campaign, it’s important to set the scene. You need to consider what makes your business special and whether the region you’re targeting has enough demand for your product or service. There are three basic steps you need to take in order to set the scene for your local SEO campaign.
- Research: Find out what your target audience needs and wants
- Decide: What are your goals?
- Plan: Work out a structured plan to get the most out of your SEO campaign
Your first step should be to do some research about your target audience. This is especially important for businesses that sell B2C (Buying and selling) products and services. What does your research say about the demographic? Are there enough people looking for your product or service in your target area?
You’ll want to find out everything from customer personas to potential business ideas. There are several online tools that can help you figure out your target audience’s needs and wants. Here are a few to consider:
- Customer Avatar: This tool creates a persona around an existing customer of yours. It’s a great way to understand what they want and need without being overloaded with information.
- Heatmap: Use this tool to discover hot-spots and weak-spots on your site. By knowing this you can develop a strategy to drive more people to these parts of your site.
- Google Analytics: This is probably the most popular tool among SEOs (and probably you too). It’s free and easy to use. Just enter your website URL and you’ll see all the statistics and insights that Google Analytics has to offer.
Step #2. Define Metrics & Keyperformance Indicators (KPIs)
Next, you need to decide what metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to determine the success of your SEO campaign. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you’re measuring success relative to a specific goal. For example, if your goal is to get 100 new leads per week via organic SEO, then you’ll want to consider the following KPIs:
- New Leads: How many new leads do you get per week?
- Conversions: How many of these leads are turning into paying customers?
- Cost per lead: How much are you spending on each lead?
Keep in mind that these are just examples. You might decide that you want to track the following KPIs instead:
- Engagement Rate: How many people are interacting with your content (e.g. liking or commenting on a blog post)
- Site Traffic: How many people are visiting your website every week?
Step #3. Set the Budget
The last step is to set a budget. Now is the time to consider how much you can spend on this campaign. You want to set a budget that’s realistic, but ambitious. It’s a good idea to work backwards from your desired outcome to set a budget. For example, if your goal is to get 500 new leads per month via organic SEO, then you might want to start with a relatively small budget (e.g. $500 per month) and then gradually increase it as you go along.
How to Make Local Online Marketing Work for You
The above steps will help you set the scene and develop a strategy for your local SEO campaign. The next step is to execute the strategy. You’ll want to do this by creating content, building links, and monitoring results. Let’s dive into each step.
#1. Create content
Your first step should be to create content. The easiest and most cost-effective way to do this is to find and utilize free blogging platforms like Blogger.com or WordPress.com. These platforms give you the freedom to post as often as you like and to determine the direction of your blog (or website).
If you want to create high-quality content that’ll help your SEO campaign, then consider hiring a freelance copywriter to help you come up with the content for your blog or website. Just be sure to work closely with the copywriter to ensure that the content reflects your voice and brand.
If you want to learn more, I’ve got you covered. Below I’ll outline the best free blogging platforms and why you should consider them.
Amongst the many blogging platforms available, Blogger stands out, not only for its ease of use, but also for the variety of features it offers. Let’s take a quick look at these features and why you should consider Blogger:
- Cost-free: Blogger is one of the most popular free blogging platforms. Not only is it free, but you don’t need a custom domain name to use it. This is great if you’re just getting started.
- Engaging Content: As a blogger, you’ll have the ability to write and engage with your audience. Although most blogging platforms offer publishing features, these can be tedious to use. For example, if you want to create a new post every week, then you’ll have to set aside at least half an hour every day to do this.
- Diverse Curation: With over 2.8 million active blogs in the network, you’ll always have the opportunity to find a niche and connect with an audience that shares your same interests. Plus, the more you engage with your audience, the more you’ll be able to curate quality content that’ll help your SEO campaign.
- Inclusive Community: Blogger is committed to enabling as many bloggers as possible. This means that not only will you have access to a massive audience, but you’ll also be able to engage with them via diverse channels.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): When you first create a blog with Blogger, you’ll be offered the opportunity to set up SEO-friendly URLs and import Google keywords and SEO metrics. All you need is a Google account. Once you’ve setup these, you’ll be able to begin optimizing your content for search engines.
WordPress is another popular and powerful blogging platform. It’s a free option that’s fully hosted, meaning it provides you with everything you need to set up a blog, including a custom domain name and free backups. Let’s take a quick look at why you should consider WordPress:
- Cost-free: As stated above, WordPress is another free blogging platform. You’ll need a MySQL database to run WordPress, but this is hosted on their cloud servers. This means you don’t need to worry about paying for a hosting plan.
- Engaging Content: As a WordPress blogger, you’ll have the opportunity to write and engage with your audience. Not only will content be engaging, but so will the headlines and images used within it.
- Diverse Curation: WordPress is a big network, with over 22 million sites in the network. This gives you the opportunity to find a niche and connect with an audience that shares your same interests. Additionally, you can use the WordPress dashboard to easily find the content you need when you need it. You won’t have to wade through pages of blog posts to find what you’re looking for.
- Inclusive Community: Like Blogger, WordPress is committed to enabling as many bloggers as possible. This means that not only will you have access to a massive audience, but you’ll also be able to engage with them via diverse channels.
- SEO: Like Blogger, WordPress offers the option of SEO-friendly URLs and importing Google keywords and SEO metrics. Just remember to use the keywords in your copy and link building.