If potential clients in your community can’t find you online, you are likely doing something wrong or doing nothing at all to get found.
In today’s digital world, it’s important to have an online presence, even in your own community where it’s easier to rely on word-of-mouth or drive-by business for sales. In reality, consumers today (even your neighbors whom you know) turn to search engines via their electronics to find solutions to their problems.
Local SEO services can increase your visibility and help potential customers, nearby and afar, find your business. However, while a local SEO agency is a great resource for boosting your visibility in search engines, it may not be exactly what your company needs to grow.
How Can A Local SEO Agency Can Boost Online Visibility?
When you’re in need of a service or product, you often have multiple choices thanks to the internet. Gone are the days where you relied on B2B or B2C services in your same town. You had a limited number of choices based on geography. Not anymore.
Even if a potential customer is looking to do business with a company nearby, that customer has adapted to conducting online research before buying. A marketing agency specializing in local search engine optimization services will help you improve your online presence to attract those clients. But how?
A local SEO agency will engage in two primary activities:
- On-page optimizations
- Off-page optimizations
On-page optimization focuses on how well your website design and content performs, while off-page optimizations focus more on strategies like link building, which is the process of getting external pages to link to your website.
Both on-page and off-page optimization strategies are important because Google uses them to evaluate your website’s authority, credibility and relevance to a search term you entered.
What other strategies to local SEO agencies use to increase your visibility online? A local search engine optimization agency will typically focus on:
- Researching and analyzing your website analytics, taking a look at how your website is performing
- Looking at other competitors of yours to see what’s working for their websites
- Performing a keyword analysis to see what your potential customers may be typing into their search engines
- Optimizing items on your website, from titles to meta descriptions and keywords, with the goal of increasing the click-through rate, time spent on the page and number of pages viewed
- Determining whether the language on your website is clear and concise
- Analyzing how fast your website is and if it’s secure
- Examining backlinks and whether they are helping your website traffic
- Incorporating heat maps into an analysis, which helps you better understand what is drawing visitors’ eyes to your site and what they’re spending time on so you can conversion rate optimize (CRO) each page
- Creating cititation building to keep business information consistent across the web and develop additional back links.
SEO agencies will also regularly communicate with you, providing you with regular SEO reports and determining what results you can expect with your budget.
Is A SEO Agency The Answer?
It depends. SEO marketing can help get your web pages ranked. However, this strategy alone doesn’t always mean leads for your sales team will follow. SEO marketing is just a part of generating leads, and it’s not the sole answer.
SEO relies on the popularity of Google searches to increase visibility. It does not generate interest in a topic that people aren’t looking for in the first place. Furthermore, even if you draw people to your website, if you don't have the right tools in place to lead and support them through their buyer’s journeys, they’ll move on to another site in search of the answers they are seeking.
So what is the answer? A comprehensive marketing strategy that includes a local SEO strategy is often your best option if your goal is to generate leads and grow your business.
However, a comprehensive marketing startegy will depend on several things, specifically your business revenue goals and the budget you have available. There are several marketing strategies that can be employed, so take a hard look at what your business goals are and how much you can spend to get there.
One of the most comprehensive marketing methods is inbound marketing. What is inbound marketing? Inbound marketing is a methodology that attracts potential clients by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. Inbound marketing forms connections customers are looking for and solves problems they already have.
As a business, you and your potential customer will go through four stages of the inbound methodology:
- Attract, which is how you will bring the ideal customer to you using the right messaging and tools, such as the content you produce and SEO strategy
- Convert, which is the process when casual content consumption evolves into a more meaningful relationship using a combination of tools, such as analytics, segmentation and automation
- Close, which is when you turn the most qualified leads into sales qualified leads
- Delight, which continues to nurture with high-value content to increase loyalty and customer lifetime value
As you can see, SEO strategy is part of the attract stage and is just one part of the overall strategy that leads potential customers through their buyers’ journey. A comprehensive marketing firm will do everything the best local SEO company does, but will then continue the process of converting those leads you are attracting into sales.
What Type Of Agency Do I Need?
Finding the best marketing agency that meets your need is important. While a local SEO agency very well may meet your needs as a business, it’s critical that you think of short-term and long-term goals when deciding which path is best for you. Often, many small businesses would benefit from a more comprehensive approach to their lead generation strategies.
To determine whether an inbound marketing agency can help you grow your business and generate leads, it’s important to ask yourself these questions:
- Do your products or services require a level of education before a purchase is made?
- Do you have a sales cycle that is longer than just a few minutes?
- Do your prospects spend time researching your industry and local businesses like yours before making a purchase?
- Do your prospects spend time on other industry sites, or association and trade sponsored sites?
- Are your salespeople telling you that they are having difficulty connecting with prospects?
- Are your competitors’ websites ranking higher than yours in Google, Yahoo and Bing?
- Are your customers saying to you, “I didn’t know you had that service or product?”
- Are you finding that traditional advertising like print, trade shows, yellow pages and direct mail are showing diminished returns?
- Are your prospects spending time on social media outlets? Is the price of your average order above $500?
- Do you want a steady stream of leads over a period of time?
If you answered YES to MOST of these questions:
Inbound marketing is a good fit for your business.
If you answered NO to SEVERAL of these questions:
This does not mean inbound marketing is a bad fit for your business. It may mean that you need to look at the questions more deeply, since you may have answered based on how well you think a strategy is working rather than basing your answer on data.
If you answered NO to ALL of these questions:
Inbound marketing is likely not right for your business. Some industries won’t likely benefit from inbound sales, including ones with short sales cycles or ones that have a small average price per order.
What Do I Look For In An Agency?
When looking for any agency that will help you attract the right customers to your website, it’s important to choose a partner that has a proven process and takes the time to understand your business and audience.
Signs of a quality agency include:
- Helping you identify attainable goals, and then meeting those goals
- Having long-term clients, which shows those clients are happy with their results
- Asking you the right questions in an effort to better understand your business
- Using the same process for your company as they do their own company
- Setting realistic promises with clear expectations
- Using sound techniques that keep your reputation intact
That last sign is particularly important if you choose a local SEO company. That’s because there are many agencies out there that use “Black Hat” techniques in an effort to get you results faster. These techniques may offer some short-term gains, but ultimately will cause harm to your website’s domain authority.
Black Hat SEO, otherwise known as spamdexing, deliberately manipulates search engine indexing. Black Hat techniques include:
- Site cloaking
- Providing multiple redirects to visitors
- Content farms that provide inferior content
- Computer-generated content
- Keyword stuffing
Black Hat SEO will give you a bad reputation online and with Google, which will then lead to a bad reputation in real life.
On the other hand, an inbound marketing strategy or other marketing startegies such as pay-per-click, social media ads, content strategies and offer building that include local SEO services will allow you to market to your ideal customer, attract those customers to your website using effective SEO strategies, establish a level of trust and ultimately land more sales.
Samantha, an Inbound and HubSpot Certified Marketer is the Social Media Director for InTouch Marketing.