Starting a small business in Australia can sometimes leave you feeling overwhelmed! ATO, ASIC, GST, SEO and well, just TMTLA (Too Many Three Letter Acronyms)! Having to deal with all that, AND this whole ‘internet SEO’ thing can often be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Never fear! With a bit of a plan in place and some good guidance (that’s this), you can put your fears aside and keep on with your plan for total Aussie domination.
Being smaller doesn’t mean you can’t start by dominating your local area. 40% of search submissions (link) return local content, regardless of whether that user accessed the search engine from the local .com.au or the international .com version.
Next problem, you’re just starting out, so you need this all at pennies. You’ve brought your domain name, paid your hosting, even added a few pages of content. Ready to face the town? Maybe – but does your new site stand out from every other online business card out there? Does it have appropriate functionality as well as form? To compete with other business in your niche, you need to spruce up and stand out on the features others may lack. For example, if you run a medical clinic or dental practice, create an online appointment system.
Search Engines look at the source code of your webpage and try to guess whatever subject the content is referring to. Placing an image of an Aussie flag in the background of your page doesn’t just look cheesy, it also doesn’t help a search engine recognise that you’re from Australia (yet). You should add meta-tag information to every image, including background images.
TAG everything. It’s simple advice that you’ve probably heard before. Most website authoring packages let you set properties for the objects on your site such as images, forms, videos and even the entire page. This “meta” text does not have any direct effect on the appearance and feel of your site so is often ignored in the rush and excitement of getting your site online.
If you use WordPress, one of the most common website content management systems available today, use the options to add Meta Tags to images in the media tab. Describe the object in full, including as many target keywords in the meta information as possible.
Don’t be afraid to mention your location on your front page too. It’s essential information that both the search engines and users want to know.
When are you open? How can people find and contact you? These are the questions which should be answered immediately, =displayed prominently for mobile usage AND included in meta tags.
Optimise this pages to start with:
Homepage: Mention your physical location in the first block of information. It helps potential customer confirm that you exist, while also giving the search engines’ local algorithms something to taste by way of assigning your site to a map location.
‘About Us’ page: Your About page should not only tell people who you are but also give a little history or story about you. Don’t forget to add that local information.
‘Contact Us’ page: This should be a no-brainer; however, you’d be surprised how many people lose their minds trying to create content for a Contact-us page. Include a map, and your areas served, operating times, email, fax, phone, directions and other any information you have that establishes your location. If you can, add a section for perspectives to a leave message or feedback. Don’t ask for too much information on this page, just a name, an email address and space to leave a short message will do fine.
Business Listings: Spreadsheets are your best friends for this!
If you’ve been operating a small business for a while, you’ll likely have a few listings already floating around on the web. Even if you didn’t set them up, web directory services use bots to scrape public databases for contact information.
Try for yourself – Type your exact business name as a query on google, then try your trading name and ABN.
At this point, I’d encourage you to grab a lot of coffee (and maybe a few doughnuts) before starting this part. It’s a tad time consuming, but it’s essential. It’s time to start claiming those listings.
Reports of cyber-criminals hijacking unclaimed business listings and then (virtually) closing down the company are common, so you’ll want to make sure you control what’s yours.
Google Local https://www.google.com/local/add/login
Even if you don’t have a website yet, you can list your essential business attributes in Google’s Local Business Centre. Add all of the vital information (name, town, phone, description, URL), attach a few images and write a story of your business.
Be careful that you assign your business to the correct category; if you don’t, you’re going to have a tough time ranking in anything relevant. Don’t rely on Google’s automatic suggestions. For example, a dental clinic is not necessarily a denture clinic, yet Google can sometimes have difficulty automatically recognising which business type you run.
You should also be conscious of the keywords that you’re using when filling out essential areas like titles and descriptions. Enter as much relevant information about your business as you can. The more accurate the details, the better the chances your company has in ranking for local queries.
Google wants to provide users with the most relevant content possible, so you need to show them why you’re related to a particular location.
If you haven’t played with Google Local Business Centre, they’ve released an extensive users guide that can help you get started.
Don’t forget Yahoo and Bing Local.
Your Yahoo and Bing Local listings will work pretty much the same as Google’s. You’re just optimising your business listing for their engine. Go in and feed them all your essential information like business name, address, category, hours, payment methods. Yahoo also offers an Enhanced Listing for $9.99 a month and a Featured Local Listing for $24.99 a month.
Both programs offer a somewhat expanded list of options, including extra links, photos and searchable descriptions. A lot of the bells and whistles included can just as quickly done on your own – and probably better. Still, if you’re looking for the all-in-one get it done product, Yahoo has you covered.
LOCAL DIRECTORY LIST:
Opens up an expanded list with a description of each
Most industries have specific leading directories optimised for their category of business. For example, check out our site https://aus.dentist
It’s easy to find these so I won’t create a list here but try Googling “Australian Dental Directory” or “Australian Air-conditioning Services Directory.”
CitySearch, YellowPages, WhereIs and Yelp all offer small businesses great opportunity to create a credible reference to your site. Just as with Google and Yahoo, you’ll need to go in and fill out your listing on each website. It seems tedious, but it’s essential that you take the time to do it properly. The more citations you build, the better. The more places you list your business information, the more the big wigs are going to trust and use it.
By now you should be able to recite your business name, ABN, and phone number both backwards and forwards at the drop of a hat! Don’t go away yet, there one more mandatory site for you – GetListed.Org.
There’s strong evidence of Google scooping up these pages as citations.
When you’re a small business owner with limited time and probably limited SEO knowledge, MOZ is a vast resource. What Moz does is scrapes the web much like Google, but notes who’s linking where. You can type in a competitors website and see which directories that they list themselves in. I recommend you take a look at the Moz Resource Centre. It’s filled with more local SEO knowledge than anybody could ever digest.
Don’t want to pay: there a great option available for those on a limited budget. Google’s Webmaster Tools Search Console and Google Analytics are perfect if you’re not running an agency and happy to invest some time in learning the system.
Build Local Mentions
It’s still a mystery as to exactly how the search engine’s local algorithms work, but here’s what’s known about where they scrape their info from:
• The information you provide when you claim your listings on their engine.
• Third party data providers such as Sensis, WhereIs, DNB and Yelp.
• The information they gather from Web crawls, meaning the local signals you include in your content.
• Local citations from other reputable business and websites
* Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google+
Now it’s time to go after those local citations. If you don’t know what the term citation refers to, Moz gives a reasonably good overview when they explain why citations are relevant to your local business listings.
Here’s a snippet:
“Citations are defined as “mentions” of your business name and address on other web pages, even if there is no link to your website. An example of a citation might be an online yellow pages directory where your business is listed, but not linked to. It can also be a local chamber of commerce or a local business association where your business information can be found, even if they are not linking at all to your website.”
To rank in local search, you need to reach out to the local organisations around you and help one another out. It means getting a link from your local council, on local blogs, local directories and resource sites, Facebook, and anywhere else local business information is commonly found. This type of link building exercise should be a regular activity. Do keep an eye on links to and from your site and ensure they remain up to date.
Once you’ve got the basics done, it’s time to start focusing on your story and building all those other elements that are going to create brand awareness and put your small business on a serious level to compete.
Make sure you place references to your online presence in all marketing materials and spread the word among mates, clients, family and those you share strategic partnerships. Just because your small, doesn’t mean you’re not in the fight. Get out there and claim your turf!