Being a small business owner is the dream of almost everyone. Year after year, thousands of individual go out and start their own businesses with the dream of more time freedom and a better way of life. The problem is that as soon as the adventure starts the new business owner realizes that running a business is not a easy task. One of the biggest challenges is marketing. How do you get customers to walk into your business? If you have a local business, SEO might just be the best strategy to focus on not just because it works, but because it works for the long run.

SEO is a moving target

Whenever you make a change to your website or post on social media, you’re looking an opportunity to capitalize on smart SEO. That opportunity exists and you can either win or lose that opportunity. As a small local business competing against chain stores and national or even global businesses like Amazon, you need to consider SEO (search engine optimization) your friend.

SEO is not just a one-time thing. Sure, if someone else designed and launched your website, they should have done a good job making sure your domain is listed with the search engines and SEO best practices put into effect. But everything you do, every trade show announcement, new coupon, sale, special offer, press release is an opportunity to engage in fresh mentions online and through mobile apps.

Use some of these tips to make sure your local business enjoys fresh, organically produced traffic from people actively looking for what you have to sell!

1. Blog consistently and mention local spots.

Consistent blogging is one of the hallmarks of successful online marketing. It creates fresh seasonal or evergreen content that attracts readers. To leverage that content, you should also make sure to mention your city, region or state within the text of every article. Never assume that the visitor knows exactly where you are unless you tell them. Also, remember to tag every article with local names in addition to topic keywords. That way, for instance, if someone looking for a “locksmith” in “Baltimore” your blog and website will float to the top.

2. Review your website and make sure that local and service area tags are added.

If you service clients outside your home town or neighborhood, make sure you mention all those areas both within the text on your website, and in the SEO tags and metatags in the backstage areas of your website and blog.

3. Tag your images with locales, as well as names and subjects.

People often overlook images as an opportunity for SEO magnets, but people are more attracted to images than text. So tag your past and future blog and web images whenever you can with local place names.

If you have a photo that was taken at a local park or business center, include the full name of that location—that way, you will pick up on their natural traffic as well.

This is where blogging and selfies can be a powerful SEO tool. If you’re an orthodontist, take your staff on a picnic lunch at a well known park. Parents looking up the park will see your location-tagged selfie. If you’re a marine repair service, do a staff hangout after work at a local waterfront pub. Boaters looking for travel tips for your area will find your website.

4. Include city and state names whenever you post testimonials and reviews.

For instance, say –Katy H., Chehalis, Washington  instead of K.H., WA. The more specific you are, the more likely you will catch the attention of someone near you.

5. Get backlinks from quality sites.

Whenever you can get link placement, it will help build your traffic. Make sure that local associations you belong to and all directories in which you are listed offer a link to your site. You’d be amazed how many small businesses only provide a street address and phone number. Make sure these listings do not just print your website address but actively link to your website!

6. Get mentioned.

If you’re donating to a charity, ask for a backlink—not just a printed mention. Sponsoring a local team? Backlinks! Think about backlinks all the time and don’t hesitate to press for them. In exchange, you can offer to write a quick piece on your blog and link to them as well. It’s a win-win for everyone!

7. Be natural.

This is going to sound counter-intuitive, but in your blog and website copy, don’t overstuff it with keywords and “SEO-sounding” phrases or signals. First of all, optimization algorithms fiercely downgrade websites and articles that sound fake, and they penalize websites for using too much SEO.

Write naturally, and insert keywords and phrases only when appropriate. If writing is not one of your natural super-powers, you can hire professional copywriters on sites like Upwork, Textbroker, iWriter or Fiverr.

8. Expand your digital footprint with social media.

Even if you don’t have time to post to Facebook weekly or tweet regularly, make sure you create some social media profiles, as well as listing on sites like Google Business and Yelp. Provide a brief description of your business and check or update it regularly. Put your website address and blog address on each profile.

9. Join discussion forums and be helpful.

No matter what you’re selling, it’s likely there’s a discussion forum out there where readers, buyers, users, or customers are asking questions. Join the forum or group and politely offer your assistance wherever you can. Make sure that you have an automated signature on your posts with your business name (linked to your website when possible) and your location. Even if the forum members are not in your area, your comments will pop up when local people are searching for help and advice.

10. Be consistent.

Make sure your business name, blog title, address, phone and other information are always consistent wherever they are mentioned on the web.

Optimization algorithms reward sites that get mentioned recognizably and consistently across the web. If your information is not consistent, it’s likely that the search engine spiders will record all the different mentions as if they are separate businesses.

Author's Bio: 

Roberto Robles is a Digital marketing expert @ KatRank. Founder of two successful digital marketing agencies serving both English and Spanish speaking clients. He also runs a yearly marketing conference where he brings together over 400 people and more than 20 guest speakers to talk about the latest in business marketing.