“Search engine optimization,” or SEO, is the process by which a website or other online presence is made more noticeable, thereby appearing more highly ranked in the results of individuals’ search engine queries. When an internet user uses Google to search the Web for “digital marketing,” for example, websites which have been optimized with keywords such as “digital marketing” and “online marketing” will appear closer to the top of that user’s search results. SEO applies to general queries, but in the past few years has expanded to become a more complicated discipline, with more specific aspects involved in its management. One of those aspects is local SEO, the optimization of a website or blog to appear more highly ranked in local business listings online – as well as appearing more highly ranked to a user based upon their geographical location.
Arcalea itself, for instance: Arcalea-Charlotte will appear more highly ranked to individuals who search for online marketing services from locations within the greater Charlotte area. This is a recent “upgrade” to SEO, made possible by Google and other internet search providers. They have enacted policy changes, and updated their algorithms, as they shift towards a business model which favors mobile devices more highly than traditional desktop and laptop-based internet connections.
Why is Local SEO Important?
Local SEO can help to ensure that your website is made highly visible to people looking for your niche within a particular area. For example, the Google Map Pack – a local business listing that appears alongside organic search results on a traditional PC screen – appears ahead of organic search results on a mobile device. More than 68% of all internet connectivity now originates on a mobile device; if your online presence is optimized for local SEO, that’s a significant slice of the market to take advantage of.
The Map Pack once displayed the top seven listings for locally-based businesses corresponding to a user’s search; now, it displays the top three. This makes competition for those spots more cutthroat, and requires that more effort be put into local SEO in order to take full advantage.
How Might I Enhance my Charlotte-based Company’s Local SEO?
There are many ways to boost your website’s local SEO, both in the long-term and in terms of immediate, short-term gains. If we focus on sustainable, long-term passive increases in Web traffic, there are three primary means by which to boost your company’s SEO within its immediate environs.
- Local Directory Listings: Search engine crawlers “enjoy” website directories. Some of the best have location-specific listings, and are manually compiled. Imagine walking into an office after being told that you needed to organize a million different files alphabetically, only to find that the files are already organized within each letter; it only remains to put the “B” files after the “A” files, and the “C” files after those, and so on. This is what local directories do for search engines like Google, and – as a result – Google attributes significant authority and prominence to websites which are listed in such directories, particularly with regards to locally-based searches.
There are several major directories which service the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Bizjournals.com maintains a specific directory for Charlotte within its business directory network, and there is another Charlotte-based directory within the most thorough manually compiled network still viable on the Web today – Dmoz.org. Finally, don’t forget to register your business with Google directly; this is perhaps the biggest step you can take to promote your website as being local-SEO friendly.
- Charity Sponsorship: If you donate money to a charity, you can expect to have a link to your website placed in their sponsors section, usually with other information (such as your business’ physical address, and the actual name of your website). This “backlink” does more than simply promote your website directly to those who happen to visit the charity’s sponsorship page. Search engine crawlers look for these types of links. Their existence boosts the search engine ranking of your digital presence, particularly with regard to local searches. They also tell search engines like Google that you are a genuine and reliable authority within your industry.
There are many charitable organizations within the greater Charlotte, NC area. Here is a Charlotte-specific listing of charities and nonprofits courtesy the Greatnonprofits.org website. Not only can you find charitable organizations to donate to through this website, but you can also provide a review of your experiences with each charity directly to Greatnonprofits.org itself – and your review will have a profile attached, into which you can insert information such as your business’ name and website.
- Charlotte-based Bloggers: You can pay to have an advertisement placed on a Charlotte-based blogger’s website – similar to search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click advertising (PPC). You might also pay a locally-based blogger to write a piece about your company, advertising it directly to their network of followers – incorporating some of the benefits of social media marketing (SMM). The difference between doing this, and engaging in each of those strategies on a larger scale, is that the larger strategies will have greater effect in a non-local sense. Pursuing a smaller, more direct focus will benefit your business’ locally-based traffic in a more profound way, and is also usually much more affordable.
There are thousands of active and popular bloggers within the state of North Carolina alone. What blog you choose to approach depends heavily upon what industry you are involved in; blogs tend to be more specifically focused than charities or local directory listings. One “in general” possibility would be Charlotte magazine’s blogging section. More specifically, Zomato.com offers a listing of Charlotte’s top food-based and foot-critic blogs, these being extremely popular in the area. If your industry is somehow related to parenting, there is a popular blog associated with Charlotteparent.com; it usually maintains a positive and upbeat demeanor. Finally, Theblogsocieties.com maintains a listing of the most popular bloggers in North Carolina, where you are almost certain to find something relevant.
If you follow these three broad steps, you will find your website’s local SEO ranking benefiting greatly, and you should experience a substantial boost in the rate at which your online presence gains additional traffic over time. There will certainly be a level of effect upon your overall organic SEO results as well. Don’t forget: some of these methods will take a few weeks to begin to show any effects, but these are overall the most effective, long-term, and low-cost ways to reliably and sustainably boost your locally-based online presence.