The Nashville region is home to more than 1.8 million residents and 40,000 business, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Over the past 20 years, more businesses are choosing to relocate to Nashville than any other city its size. It’s estimated that 85 people move to Nashville a day!
With such an influx of new business, it’s become even more crucial for businesses to build a local presence to stay competitive. That’s why it’s essential to develop a local SEO strategy. The right SEO strategy can be the difference between running a thriving new business… or one that’s on life-support.
To help give new businesses that competitive edge, we’ve compiled a 7-item SEO checklist for new businesses in Nashville.
1. Update your website.
Scour your website and change any mention of your old address to your new address. Your “Contact Us” page–or wherever your location information lives–needs to include the updated name, address and phone number (NAP) of your location(s).
Check your website’s code for location information and update the Schema markup. Once you’ve made those updates, make sure they’re reflected by running the new Schema markup through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
2. Claim citations and social profiles.
A citation is any complete or partial reference to your business name, address, phone number or website (NAP+W) anywhere online, whether or not it contains a link. You’ll want to create or claim all listings for your business on niche directories and review websites. Each listing represents a citation, which is a pretty important factor used in Google’s ranking algorithm.
BrightLocal has a handy business directory guide that identifies more than 1,000 citation sites organized by niche–everything from construction to chiropractors. Whatever industry you represent, there is a niche directory for you.
Other places where you may want to create or claim listings include:
Be sure to get rid of duplicate listings too. Duplicate listings suck the life out of the overall strength of your listing, so you’ll want to clean them up. Moz Check Listing makes it easy to detect duplicate listings on a range of platforms. All you have to do is enter your business name and zip code.
As a business owner, it’s easy to dive headfirst into social media without fully understanding the unique nuances of each platform, what content to post, and how to build an engaged following. Save time and money by identifying which social platforms are appropriate for your business and customers.
A good general rule of thumb to follow: have a presence on social networks where you know your customers are. For example, if you have a hair salon and your clientele is mostly women in their 20s and 30s, posting content on Instagram is worth your while. But if you run a dental practice and a sizable portion of your clientele is an older demographic, hunkering down on your Facebook strategy is probably a wiser use of your resources.
Once you’ve identified the best social networks for your business, you’ll want to keep a steady stream of content flowing to those platforms. Designate a point person on your staff to monitor your accounts regularly and share content.
3. Update your Google My Business profile.
If you have a business–whether or not you’ve changed locations–you need to be verified on Google My Business. Customers will be able to access accurate information about your business, including your address, phone number, website and hours.
Plus, once you’re verified on Google My Business, you can edit your information as needed, like if you’ve moved to a different city or have extended holiday hours.
4. Optimize your website for mobile.
Customers are on the go, and they’re looking for businesses like yours on their mobile devices. As such, your website needs to be mobile responsive to ensure the best experience possible when a customer visits your website.
Consider how the really important pages on your website–pages like your contact page or products and services page–appear on mobile. Also, it’s best to avoid things like Flash or PDFs. On some devices, it can be a kiss of death.
5. Reach customers with the right keywords.
Keyword research is essential to any successful SEO strategy. Once you’ve discovered the phrases and terms people are typing into search engines to find businesses like yours, you can optimize your website around them.
Brainstorm a list of keywords that customers would use to find your business and input them into Google’s Keyword Planner for more keyword ideas and search traffic stats. You’ll want to use a set of keywords that at least 100 people are searching for every month, with low to medium competition levels to maximum visibility.
Once you have your keywords, add them to your title tags and meta descriptions.
The title tag is the main text that appears in search results and is one of the most important on-page elements of SEO. It gives users and Google brief insight into what the page is about, and it’s also what appears in the browser tab and saved bookmarks. Here’s how to write a title tag:
• Include the keyword you’re trying to rank for, while accurately describing the page
• Keep it under 55 characters
• Include your brand name whenever possible
• Format it as follows: “[Name of Business] | [Service Type] in [Location],” ex. “Sarah’s Flower Shop | Florist in Nashville”
The meta description is the smaller text below the title tag and URL that gives users and search engines a brief overview of what the page is about. A well-written, intriguing meta description increases the likelihood of a user clicking on the search result.
When you’re writing a meta description, keep it under 156 characters in length. Any longer and the description will end with a dreaded ellipses. This is also an excellent opportunity to incorporate any secondary keywords. Use this SERP preview tool to see how your page will appear in a Google search result.
6. Get more customer reviews.
We’ve covered the importance of claiming your listings. But what do you do with those listings–the ones on review websites–once you’ve got them?
You get customer reviews!
Face it: reviews–good and bad–affect your business. A Zendesk study of 1,046 consumers found that the majority of consumers who read online reviews say they influenced their buying decisions. In fact, this was the case for positive reviews (90%) and negative reviews (86%).
Positive reviews can do a lot of good for a business. The more positive reviews you have, the higher your search ranking. With local search specifically, reviews can influence between 7% and 13% of the ranking.
Getting more customer reviews is often as easy as asking. There are a few rules to follow, however:
• Be ethical. Ask your customer for an honest review. Asking for a “positive” or “good” review suggests you might be trying to influence them in what to say. And never offer incentives for reviews.
• Ask the right people. Repeat customers, people who have referred others to your business and people who engage with your business on social media are the people you should be asking for reviews. They’re engaged with your business and understand your product or service better than anyone.
• Be genuine. Set up an email automation asking customers for a review after they’ve received your product or service. Schedule the email to hit their inbox while their experience with your business is still top of mind. Thank them for their business and ask them to take a moment to leave a brief, honest review on Google/Yelp/Facebook/etc. It’s really that simple!
Bad reviews will happen, so it’s important to know how to field them. A word to the wise: set up a Google Alert for your business name.
In the event of a negative customer review, it’s best to nip it in the bud–especially if you have the opportunity to publicly respond to it, like on Facebook or Yelp. Read the review objectively, be empathetic, and let the customer know you take their review seriously and plan on resolving the issue, so it doesn’t happen again. Be proactive and change your process.
Once you’ve accumulated honest and positive reviews, you can start using them to your business’s advantage. Sprinkle them throughout your website. A glowing review is perfect to tack onto an email in a nurturing series. You could even create a designated reviews page on your website–an SEO goldmine! Think about how many people will plug “[your business name] reviews” into Google?
7. Refine your local SEO content strategy.
Content is key to any SEO strategy, but it’s important to get it right. Content should be unique, search-friendly and valuable. You’re better off delivering no content at all than content that’s thin and useless.
Don’t pull content together from other websites similar to your own. If you’re starting completely from scratch or trying to improve existing content, there’s nothing wrong with doing a little research to gather inspiration. Just make sure the finished product contains content unique to your website.
You may even want to start a blog to build your content library but only do it if you know you can devote the resources necessary to churn out high-quality, valuable content. Fresh content can help you continue to rank for search terms related to your business. But if you know you don’t have the time, money and talent necessary to invest in a full-blown blog, you’re better off making your other pages stronger.
Fine-tune Your Business’s SEO Strategy
Unfortunately, a quality SEO strategy isn’t a “once and done” deal. It’s the kind of thing you need to continually review and refresh so you can stay current and competitive. This can be a pretty time-consuming effort, especially for a small business owner who gets so caught up in day-to-day operations that they can’t consider long-term strategies.
Webconsuls offers a menu of SEO services for businesses in Nashville. As a boutique SEO and organic web marketing company, we’re well-versed in web design and development, search engine optimization, pay-per-click and social media–all ingredients to a successful local SEO strategy.
Contact Webconsuls to learn more about how we can tailor these services to your business, all while saving you valuable time and money.