There is no doubt any longer, or there really should not be, that ranking in Google search results is going to do your local business the world of good. Other search engines are available — Bing really is coming along brilliantly as a serious contender to Google domination of the search landscape.
Search engine optimisation should be at the forefront of businesses marketing strategy and in today’s interconnected world there really is no excuse for this not being the case. That said, it can take time and effort to get this right … Right? Well, yes and no but it doesn’t have to be all work with little reward.
If you are not familiar with the 80/20 rule, or the Pareto Principle as it is more correctly known as, the rule states that 80% of output is the direct result of 20% of your efforts. How does this relate to your business and localised search engine optimisation? We are glad that you asked.
What is the Pareto Principle in real terms?
Simply speaking, from a business perspective, it is likely that 80% of all sales are going to come from 20% of the marketing strategies that you employ. I know what you are thinking, if only 20% of my efforts are actually worth anything, then why I don’t ditch the rest instead of wasting my time?
It’s an excellent question, the problem is that most of the time it’s near impossible to say what part of your strategy is doing what to the end result and which parts of your marketing strategy are having a positive effect. Figure that out and you find a sweet spot that companies can spend fortunes on A/B testing to find out.
If you don’t have a vault full of cash and tons of time to spare to do that kind of testing, then how do you figure out what works and what doesn’t? There are businesses that simply carry on regardless, investing time and money in marketing and local SEO strategies that simply do not work.
Discovering the 20% is something of a Holy Grail, so how do you do it? Did you know that Google alone looks at over 200 factors that affect ranking? When it comes to local SEO, many of these factors are not needed, and never will be, so even look at them?
Let’s say you are utilising 200 different channels for your marketing – social media, handouts, email shots, advertising on multiple platforms etc. etc. but just 5 of these 200 are responsible for 90% of your business profits. Are you going to continue investing your time and money in all the other channels? Of course not, that’s madness.
Instead, focus on what is known to be contributing factors to that 80% output and ignore everything else in order to input just 20% time and effort. Thankfully, local SEO is a little easier to figure out than what marketing channels are working for a multinational corporation!
Leapfrog with Google (and Bing)
Google, and Bing, can actually do a lot of the hard work for you if you let them. This can be done through the use of something called Google My Business and this really should be your first step in local search optimisation. With that in mind, if you haven’t already of course, head over to the Google My Business page and claim your listing now.
For Bing, you can head over to Bing Places for a very similar service to the Google offering – after all, if you are going to hit up one major search engine, you may as well pay the other one a visit too.
For full details on claiming your Google Business Listing, take a look at this YouTube video.
If you are setting up with Bing too, and you probably should for a full spread, then this YouTube video will get you started.
For both though, key things to remember are:
- Be sure to include a detailed and unique description that’s error free and includes links
- Select only the relevant categories for your business
- Upload as many photos as you can, making sure they are actually relevant and represent your business
- Add a local phone number
- Make sure you include your address and it is consistent with the address displayed elsewhere (such as your website and promo material)
- Use high-res images for your profile and cover photo’s
- Add your opening times/days
- Start collecting reviews
Right off the bat, you have two of the biggest search engines doing a lot of the donkey work on your behalf. Best of all, you only need to do this once and it will continue to work for you so long as you do other, smaller tasks to keep your listing relevant. That 20% target is well within reach!
Consistency is key to your local SEO success
As touched upon above, consistency is extremely important for your marketing efforts and brand awareness. If your listing has different contact information than is displayed on your website, or the NAP (name, address, phone) on your website is different than the NAP used in your directory listings or social accounts, then your local seo is going to hit a wall.
Brand awareness is built upon a foundation of easily recognisable elements such imagery, and key details such as phone numbers and addresses being the same right across the board. Your listings have to be kept up to date and consistent with your brand or they cannot work for you.
Local link building
Local link building is very important in creating, well, links within the local area. This kind of link building relies more on link exchange with other local business websites that are in a similar field to your own. This doesn’t mean asking your competitors for a mention, but the business websites you approach must be talking about the same things as you.
A pet shop would be a good place to start for a local pet food supplier, for example; no direct competition but you are surely talking about the same things at least some of the time. You can make use of local directories to help you here, finding those local businesses that you may have something in common with.
Writing guest posts for those sites, and gaining some in return, is an excellent way to build local links and create natural, logical links within search results. Again, the important thing to keep in mind is relevance and consistency.
If all of this sounds like a lot of hard work and in no way can relate to anything like the 80/20 principle, think of it this way. It’s like following an elaborate recipe that calls for a lot of ingredients that you can’t just buy one of. When it comes to the shopping, it’s going to be expensive, right?
And it will be expensive. Once.
When you have all of these surplus ingredients already in your cupboards, making the dish the next time around is going to be a lot faster, easier, and cheaper leaving more time for you to do something else, like focus on the meal itself and also leaving more money in your pocket in the long run.
That delicious new recipe you just discovered is the Pareto Principle in a nutshell. And so is everything preceding this rather odd analogy!
Of course, should you ever want to do the other 80%, I wrote a very detailed local seo guide which covers Local SEO much more comprehensively.
Marvin Magusara is an entrepreneur and SEO specialising in content marketing. He assists companies in achieving better online visibility through digital marketing. He is currently consults for a variety of businesses ranging from local startups to established companies. Follow him on Twitter.