Growing your business through the internet can seem overwhelming. After all, it’s a vast space with billions of users and you have a limited budget and you’re only interested in reaching customers in the local Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County area. Add to that the constant influx of new buzzwords and technologies to keep up with (how many of you came here asking yourself, “what is inbound marketing and why do I need it???”) It’s a maze out there for even the most technology-savvy business owners…how can you possibly figure out how to grow your business on the internet when there is so much to learn?

That’s where we come in! We’re passionate about helping small business grow through inbound marketing whether that be by providing you direct services so you can improve visibility in Harrisonburg, VA or even if it just means we’re teaching you the things you need to know to be able to grow it yourself. While developing sales funnels and inbound marketing techniques can get quite complex, they don’t have to be and there are many things you can do to help your business grow on your own.


Inbound Marketing Strategies to Grow your Local Small Business


Why Should you Optimize your Online Presence for Local Search?

According to a study conducted by Google on local search behavior, searches with local intent are more likely to result in store visits and sales within a day. Whether your goal is to rank in the Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta County area or Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, or Lexington, optimizing your content for the local market can have a dramatic impact on your business.

Did you know?

  • 50% of consumers who find your business via a search on their mobile phone will visit your store/contact your business within a day, 34% of consumers who find you with their phone or tablet will visit within a day
  • 18% of local searches lead to sales compared to 7% of non-local search
  • 1-in-3 searches on a smartphone occur right before consumers visit a store
  • Types of information consumers are searching for:
    • 54% search for business hours
    • 53% search for directions to local stores
    • 50% search for local store addresses
    • 45% search for the availability of a product at their local store

How to Optimize your Website for Local Search to Improve Inbound Marketing


#1 – Optimize On-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Elements

There are five critical on-page elements that will ensure you are maximizing the impact of your SEO efforts:

  • Content – by far, the most important part of your page’s SEO rank is the quality of the content you’re publishing
  • Page Title – the 2nd most important factor is the title tag used to name your page (technically called title elements)
    • Optimal Format – Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand name (source)
  • Internal Linking – linking to other pages on your own website is important because it helps Google establish site architecture and helps identify which pages are most important for various subjects or keywords
  • URLs – your URL is important for several reasons
    • Keywords – your URL should contain the keywords you’re trying to rank for to reinforce to Google the relevance of your content
    • Structure – your URL should also tell Google a clear story regarding the hierarchy of your data and content, for example if you’re a real estate agency sell properties in multiple areas you would want to make sure this is clearly identified in your URL structure:
      • Example of a Good URL: https://www.valleyinbound.com/Virginia/Stuarts Draft
      • Example of a Bad URL: https://www.valleyinbound.com/property/M53425DS
      • In the examples above, Google can clearly identify the hierarchy of data in the good example but would have difficulty interpreting anything of value from the bad URL
  • Image Alt Text – Google is not able to interpret any text or other information found within images or other rich media formats (yet) so to provide assistance you should be strategic in the alt text you provide for each image to describe what is pictured using the keywords you are trying to rank for

#2 – Target Long-Tail Keywords (in the beginning)

When you first begin to optimize your web  presence you should focus on long-tail keywords as these will be easier to rank for as you build your domain authority within Google.

For example, if you are a restaurant selling the best BBQ in town, instead of focusing on trying to rank for “restaurant” or even “bbq restaurant” instead focus on longer-tail keywords initially such as “bbq restaurant Waynesboro, VA” or even ” best bbq in Waynesboro, Virginia.”

Long-tail keywords have less competition than broader keywords and they also have the advantage of targeting people more specifically interested in your service or product.


#3 – Claim your Business on Google

Have you ever noticed how when you search for a local business some show their hours of operation, whether they are currently open, and all sorts of useful information while others show little to nothing at all? That’s because some of these businesses have claimed their business page while others have not. You can see an example of what we mean below:

Google Business Page Results - BBQ Restaurants in Waynesboro, VA

In this example, Waynesboro restaurant “Blackjack & Company” have completed their business page. However, “Tailgate Grill” has not. If we click on the map to get more details, you’ll see further evidence of how this changes things:

Google Business Page Results - BBQ Comparison - Waynesboro, VA

 

In the comparison above three things stand out:

  • Hours of Operation – because Blackjack & Company has claimed their business page they’re able to verify and update all information included in the listing, including their hours which is helpful for patrons
  • Own this business? – we can see in the listing with Tailgate Grill that they have not yet claimed their business page and Google is asking them to (hey Tailgate Grill – send us an email at hello@valleyinbound.com and we’ll help you with this free of charge since we used you as an example!)
  • Google Reviews – one thing Tailgate Grill has done very well with are their Google reviews…even though they haven’t claimed their page, they’ve received 19 reviews with an average score of 4.5…this goes a long way in attracting new business, in fact, we may have to give them a try!

As you can see, taking the time to complete your Google Business page can really improve your visibility on Google!


#4 – Optimize your Website for Mobile Devices

In today’s mobile-happy (ecstatic? obsessed?) world a large percentage of searches for businesses here in the Shenandoah Valley are via mobile devices. In fact, Google announced last year that mobile had officially taken over the desktop for the largest percentage of searches.

This means if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices (known as “responsive” website design) you’re going to frustrate consumers and potentially lose business if they decide to take their business somewhere else that is more mobile friendly.

In addition to frustrating your potential customers, Google actually penalizes your website for not being mobile optimized which means you’ll be working again yourself as you try to build your rank within Google.


#5 – Write About Complementary Local Businesses

Before you jump up and tell us we’re crazy, allow me to clarify. I’m not suggesting if you’re a BBQ restaurant you write about other local BBQ restaurants. However, if you’re a BBQ restaurant and you source your meat from a local farm, it would make perfect sense to write about the farm who raises the livestock that play such a critical role in your business.

People love a good story and if you can tell a compelling story about an all-natural pork farm in Stuarts Draft they’ll share it with friends and be more likely to engage with you online which will help build your brand and strengthen your customer loyalty all in addition to helping you rank on Google.


#6 – It’s All about the Content

At the end of the day, you can be doing all the right things but if you’re not producing quality, keyword-focused content on a regular basis your efforts will be wasted. Google loves to see content being produced multiple times per week and if you’re allowing your site to become stale then you’re going to have trouble showing up at the top of Google rankings for the keywords vital to your business.

Best practices for your content include:

  • Length – Minimum of 600 words or Google may classify your content as “thin content” and will penalize your site for failing to provide what it consider quality content
  • Keyword-Focused – you should be using your keywords in your title, your image alt text, and throughout the body of your page…be careful to only include the keywords in ways that are natural, if you try to stuff your blog post or other pages with keywords in ways that Google doesn’t deem to be naturaly you will be penalized for this as well
  • Frequency – you should be posting a minimum of 2-3 times per week to optimize your search results

So there you have it! Six inbound marketing techniques you should be using to optimize your website to rank at the top of Google for your desired search keywords.

We hope you’ve found this information to be helpful. If you have any questions, post in the comments below and we’ll be happy to assist!

If you’d like to learn more about how Valley Inbound can help you grow your business profitably contact us for a free 30-minute consultation!

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