Local business owners who think that simply putting up a website and forgetting about it are seriously hurting their Web rankings. Many search engine optimization (SEO) specialists have known this for some time, but it’s now official.
In October, Marketing Land published a blog post detailing how Google’s Panda algorithm should force website owners to change their content marketing strategy. One section of that blog post is written specifically for local small business owners.
Author Jim Yu wrote this:
Some of the takeaways here include:
- Businesses that focus on providing a content-rich experience around the services and topics that their target audience cares about enhance the website experience. Basic on-page SEO and website structure can go a long way, too.
- Even a local business that may be ahead of the game just by having a website is subject to Panda due, in part presumably, to the fact that they have very little to keep users engaged on the site (beyond basic contact information and simple trust signals).
I first learned this when I wrote the World Class Poetry Blog from 2007 to 2009.
Why Information-Rich Websites Rank Well
Interestingly, some of the websites that have been hit the hardest by Google’s Panda algorithm have been information-rich websites, but those websites are sites that are general information websites. These include sites like Answers.com and ehow.com. On the other hand, sites that specialize in a particular niche do really well.
I started the World Class Poetry (WCP) website in 2005 while deployed in Iraq. In 2006, I started publishing regular weekly content on the site and had over 100 pages of pure poetry-related content in two years. The site grew in traffic and rankings considerably.
In the Fall 2007 I started the WCP Blog, a separate domain, and wrote daily for more than two years. Both sites grew exponentially.
At the end of 2009, my unique visitor (UV) count to the main website was over 25,000. For the blog, it was over 10,000 UVs. Today, both sites are ghost towns. Why? I’ve quit posting to them. I’ve moved on to other projects. But what I learned about search engine optimization during those four years still applies.
You need to hone in on a niche and write outstanding content for that niche website even if your business is a local business with a targeted local clientele. The reason is simple. Google loves niche content like a bear loves red meat.
How to Focus Your Local Business’s Content
There are many types of local business. There are service businesses, retail shops, product sales companies … I could go on, but you get the point.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of business you have as long as you focus your content on your niche. So how do you do that?
Let’s say are a local florist. You deliver flowers within a 25-mile radius in your mid-sized town of 50,000. If you put up a website and build, say, 10 pages of static content centered on your business, your services, customer options, etc., that’s only a beginning. The next step is to update your website on a regular basis with niche floral-related content. There are several ways you can accomplish that task. Here are three:
- Start a Blog – Start a blog and post articles to your blog regularly. It doesn’t have to be every day. It can be once a week, twice a week, or even twice a month. As long as you keep updating your site regularly, the search engines will keep returning to crawl your site and index those pages. You’ll increase your search rankings and your traffic.
Blog posts don’t have to be long. They can be 500-700 words each and that’s usually good enough. You might write a few longer ones from time to time, but the key is to write great content that is of interest to people. Topics you can write about might include:
- How to arrange a flower box
- When to plant your tulips
- How to care for perennials
- Why you should send flowers to your church
The key is to write blog posts that will actually help people. If you do that, readers will visit your site often and you’ll see your blog posts rank in the search engines.
- Add an Articles Section To Your Website – Technically, this option is just like writing a blog except that it isn’t written like a blog. A blog is a particular way of arranging the articles so that the latest ones appear at the top of the page and older ones appear at the bottom. You can write the same types of articles you’d write for your blog and simply post them as web pages on your HTML website. It achieves the same purpose. It’s just a different way of organizing the content.
- Develop an Information Powerhouse of a Website – Just like providing articles for your visitors, you can make your website itself an information haven on all matters floral. Forget about the static pages I discussed about that relate to your business. Simply put your contact information at the top, in the header, and have an About page, but turn your entire website into an information-rich resource that educates people on flowers, floral arrangements, and everything related to the floral business. Make sure the content targets the type of people you want to attract to your business. Publish your website as if it were a magazine and include magazine-style articles on a frequent basis.
You can use any of these strategies for any type of local business–auto shop, restaurant, dentist office, etc. Which one is right for your business depends on your business goals, the level of competition in your niche at the local level, and other factors. What you are doing is essentially branding your website as an authority that your ideal clientele will look to for information related to an area of interest. If you do this right, you can still sell them products and services.