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Local Businesses Need Local SEO Expertise

Local SEO for business owners in Cumbria and the Borders (or any other locality in the UK) could easily be dismissed as a load of old hype! Search engine optimisation is however, a Critical Process for your business listings, websites and other online shop windows. In a fairly thinly populated area like ours, it becomes more important to use the reach of the internet to draw in new customers.That feeling of apparent hype often arrives as the latest cold call SEO company delivers their script… kind of. “Here we go again!” Be warned though, the evidence is all around you: from Google’s own constant changes; to the changing focus of advertising and marketing professionals on the value of marketing locally online. For most people though, this evidence has become so pervasive that it is usually filtered out as background chatter. I am going to highlight one simple “OBVIOUS” that should not be ignored by any local business owner who wants new customers and higher revenues from their shiny new website… that would be all of you; right?  You don’t want to suffer the fate of the restourants in these results when locals search for somewhere to eat!

The largest search engine on the planet is Google… the ‘Big G’. Nobody who has searched for anything on-line in the developed world will have been immune to the power of the ‘Googleviathan’. Google’s success, in harvesting, analysing and then disseminating relevant information is a huge bonus to most of us – especially if we market products and services locally.

Local SEO and the Search Engine’s Shifting Focus

I would suggest that we are probably all familiar with the search engines’ ability to bring global information to us in an instant. Now that Google has conquered the big picture: of answering searcher’s questions; their focus has shifted to personalising and localising their search results to the individual queries posed by… a butcher in Brampton or a potential community centre customer in Carlisle.

It is this move to personalisation and more importantly for the business owner; localisation that mustn’t be ignored if you are going to put your business in a strong position; moving into economic recovery!Local SEO is the key to getting everything from; your website and Google Places listing to even your social posting activities in the eyeballs of the local customers in search of the answers to problems and needs that your business can solve locally.

Recently, David Mihm, who is a long-established US expert on local search optimisation, published another of his annual, comprehensive reports on the most important Local Search Ranking Factors for getting your website found. The report wasn’t just his personal pontification though! He has enough influence and reputation to gather a group of over 30 of his international peers, including some people from the UK. They discuss and evaluate all their anecdotal and (importantly)tested conclusions from the preceding year. From this it was possible for me to assemble a small digest of the Top Local Search Ranking Factors that you must focus on, to get your online presence to the top of the local rankings and in front of those potential new customers’ eyeballs. There are around 70 or more separate factors identified so far, I should point out!

As the search engines have evolved, online marketers have carefully tried to discover ways that their products and services can be found. Many of them have tested extensively to see how the search engines actually process their offerings. And these are the honest guys I’m talking about! Alongside the honest and competent people are plenty of unscrupulous types. These individuals and groups have been up to no good and have frequently destroyed the honest work of the decent marketers. The response of the search engines has been to increasingly filter the content of the World Wide Web for relevance to the searcher, their location and relevance in to the questions sent its way.

Emerging Ranking Factors for Local SEO

Such evolutionary pressure has rendered it more difficult for a business to get its material to the top of the search results honestly. The flip side however is that it is beginning to make sure that the search engines users are receiving useful information that is pertinent to Carlisle or other searcher’s locations. Make no mistake about it, Google and its brethren still serve up rubbish at times- because their algorithms and even their monstrous computing power are still some way behind the curve of the schemers. Nevertheless, quite specific guidelines for local search have emerged and by playing to the rules set out by Google, Bing, Yahoo and the others, you are far more likely to have the right sort of notice taken of you and your business.

In brief,the 10 most important factors that you need to attend to when setting up your web presence, involve making sure that your website, your Google places listing, and your surprisingly important online directory listings give out a consistent and trustworthy message.

Local SEO Ranking Factors

Top 10 for Business Websites Make sure that:

Business address is in the area, city or particular town you say you belong to – TRUST

You claim your Google places listing and make it your own: if you don’t – clearly you don’t care about your online presence!

Include the location of your business in the title tags of as many pages as possible without spamming it.

Business address is in the area, city or particular town you say you belong to – TRUST!

Ensure that your Google Places listing is labelled with the appropriate categories for your business. Use at least 1 of Google’s preset categories.

Get customer reviews up regularly on websites, your Places listing and your directory listings.

Get lots of customer reviews up – the volume is significant.

Include product or service keywords (what you sell or deliver) in your Place Page description to ensure you show up for the right searches (even though the description text is frequently hidden).

Get customers and even loyal employees to add your business to their Google map – teach them where to find MyMaps.

Photos on your Google places listing really work wonders! Especially if their filenames are carefully and informatively keyword related.

Obviously, your local SE0 consultant like you to come to their office to help you get your business on the road to getting more customers from Google and his siblings! There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s essentially what I would like too. However there are steps that you could take yourself to get this process rolling. Don’t think for one minute I am offering a cheap instant solution! If that’s what you want, go and pay the Adwords bill.SEO; locally or globally, is a longer term strategy that can bring rewards in the months ahead. The advantage if you are a local business looking for relatively local customers, is that it is much easier to compete when you are playing against competitors in a smaller geographical pool. If you compare the number of businesses in the Borders county of Dumfries and Galloway, with the density of businesses in the big cities of Britain, you quickly see that competition up here is much less intense than in Manchester, for instance.

Getting to the meat and potatoes of why and how to achieve some of those 10 essentials is a job you should not put off.The information you need IS freely available out there, but the time you would spend in digesting, filtering and selecting the useful stuff, would effectively leave your main business on standby. For the vast majority of Cumbrian business owners, it is far more effective to get a locally based SEO consultant to come in and give you their advice – they’ve already done the digging and filtering.

The evidence of why it is CRITICAL for businesses in Cumbria, the Borders and the UK generally to get their expertise up to speed in local SEO is the simple fact that Google has dedicated itself (over the last year in particular) to tweaking the features of local search results continuously and consistently. Alongside the changes such as the recent Panda / Farmer updates are a constant stream of announcements this year of other smaller tweaks to the search algorithms. These alone are huge clues to the search engine giants’ intentions and the growing importance of locally based internet marketing. It is worth reading David Mihm’s previously mentioned report on Local Search Ranking Factors and Google’s SEO guidelines.

Local SEO Next Steps for Your Business Website

Local SEO expertise for Carlisle, Cumbria and Borders based small businesses is an essential online step to your offline economic health. I have indicated some of the more important Local Search Ranking Factors to improve your own knowledge and let you start raising the rank of your business website. Alternatively, contact me and ask me to assess your website for you.

Consulting Cumbria Ltd provides simple, straightforward solutions to the Internet Marketing needs of local businesses in Carlisle,umbria and further afield, who know that they need to get themselves online but are unsure of where to start.
With a particular expertise in local SEO strategies, Consulting Cumbria can help you get your online marketing processes working for your success.
If you would like the SEO strength of your website assessed and some advice on how to improve visit Consulting Cumbria’s Site Analysis section for a quick picture of why yourte performs at its current level in the search results.
Ray Cassidy runs Consulting Cumbria Ltd from a tiny cupboard, deep in the heart of his Peel Tower to stay safe from maruding Reivers