If you are like any new (or established) Halifax and area business you want to get more calls, emails, quote requests, bookings, or whatever top of funnel activity you want your customers to take. In this beginners guide to local seo we will cover off the main things to focus on… but first let’s discuss the problem most local businesses face.
Most businesses focus primarily on direct advertising such as Facebook or Google Ads, or more traditional forms of advertising like print & radio.
I can’t blame them, to be fair. Most businesses are looking to generate immediate revenues. However, as any business progresses and grows, they realize that they need to diversify their lead sources at a certain point in time. This is exactly what happened in my other business. I got to the point where I felt I needed to expand on the number of lead sources my business was generating.
The best part is that Local SEO in Halifax isn’t as competitive as other markets, thankfully. This is because our market is relatively small.
By many of my own naive efforts when starting my business, I was able to tackle many of the foundational items before I ever really knew what local SEO actually was. These paid dividends later on. However, I wasn’t perfect! Let’s teach you how to avoid the mistakes I ended up making.
The top 4 things you should do to improve your local SEO in Halifax
As humans, we are conditioned to want things immediately. Unfortunately, SEO and especially Local SEO doesn’t really work like that. There are many moves you will want to make as soon as possible to create the foundation of your strategy to dominate the Halifax market. If properly optimized, these steps will make up approximately 50% of the initial work involved in a Local SEO strategy and save you a massive amount of time later on.
Claim or setup your Google My Business (GMB) Profile
If you’ve ever looked up a specific business on Google, you have most likely encountered a Google My Business profile. For example, see below when you look up Websavers, a local web hosting company. To the right of the search results, you can see their name, images, reviews, hours, phone number, etc. This is your Google My Business profile.
(By the way, they are awesome and if you are looking for an awesome local web hosting company I highly recommend them!!!)
If you are an established business you may already have an account set up, especially if you have had a marketing company work for you in the past. To confirm, simply search for your business name in Google.
If you do have a profile – Then click ‘Own this business?’ in the GMB area and follow the steps to claim the business. It may be a lengthy process but it will be worth it in the end.
If you do not have a profile – Then head on over to GMB’s website, Sign In to Google, and you will be prompted to create a profile. There are a few things you should know.
- Write a description that accruately describes what you do as a business. I would recommend avoiding descriptions that involved date of creation, how many clients helped, etc – unless it is relevant to why they should choose you over another company.
- As your web presence grows, this will become one of the first things your customers see and so treat it as such. Take real photos of your business. Try and avoid stock photos. Include a picture of your location, your staff, the owner, staff working, etc.
- Make sure to setup products/services you offer – this won’t hurt with visability when people search for those services.
Why do this?Setting up your GMB is critical as it is a Google-owned product, and doing so will immediately let Google know your business exists.
If you don’t have a website, create one ASAP.
Simply put, if you don’t have a website you need to create one. There are a few items that I believe are critical for every website.
- Your website needs it’s own domain. Such as mybusiness.com. Many website builders offer a subdomain such as mybusiness.theirbusiness.com. Avoid these – they make your business look unprofessional.
- Speaking of website builders. Build your website on WordPress. You may be tempted to use Wix, Squarespace, or another website builder. While these are not necessarily bad they are harder to customzie and lack certain critical SEO features you will eventually need. Plus – website builders typically cost far more than building out your own website. Unless you are an ecommerce store, I would stay away.
- Your website doesn’t need to be an artistic masterpiece. It just needs to not look bad. The majority of web traffic is completed via mobile these days and so many design elements end up being lost completely on mobile anyways.
- Choose a fast web host. We recommend Websavers, if that isn’t already clear. They do a great job. Are super responsive and are just very nice. And no, they aren’t paying me to say this (yet!).
Doing this right the first time will save you a significant amount of headaches in the future. If you already have a website listed then don’t worry too much about it but you may be required to migrate your website to meet the above requirements for any longer termed Local SEO efforts to take hold.
If you are not comfortable building out your own website do not fret! A simple website typically costs between $500 and $2,000 but largely depends on the work involved. This usually includes the design, building out your pages, speed optimization, making the site SEO ready, etc. We can help with this.
Why do this?It takes Google a bit of time to initially discover a website and start ranking it’s content. While your website may be new, having it setup sooner rather than later will allow Google to be aware of the website.
Setup your web profiles (Bing, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc)
While GMB is certainly the most important profile you should set up your other web profiles. Make sure you use the same info as to when creating your GMB!
Here are links to make this easy. Some of these are fairly straightforward, others we’ve linked to help articles that walk you through how to set these up!
- Bing: https://www.bingplaces.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/create/
- Instagram: https://business.instagram.com/getting-started
- Twitter: https://business.twitter.com/en/basics/create-a-twitter-business-profile.html
- Pinterest: https://help.pinterest.com/en/business/article/get-a-business-account
- LinkedIn: https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/linkedin-pages
I do want to stress again, you must stay consistent with the Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) you use throughout your listings. NAP is a very important factor to Google’s Local SEO algorithm and lets Google know you are certainly a real business.
Why do this?Outside of the obvious fact that consumers can find your business anywhere, it really helps the search engines understand that you are truly a real business. It also helps your consumers know you are a real business too!
Set up Google Search Console & Google Analytics
Collecting data about your site right from the get-go will be critical in time and we really help understand what type of content you need to eventually create. Most people skip these as they aren’t entirely necessary and because they may not understand the data being presented but they are exceptionally important.
Setting up Google Search Console
Head on over to Google Search Console on a desktop or laptop computer. If if it is the first time you have visited you will be presented with a screen that looks like:
You will want to set up a Domain property type. Simply enter your Domain, press Continue and you will be prompted with the window:
You can use the ‘Instructions For:’ dropdown to provide instructions for common domain name providers or you can simply follow the instructions provided initially.
If you are not sure how to implement this, then don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be more than happy to help set this up.
Setting up Google Analytics
Setting up Google Analytics is slightly more complicated. It is highly recommended you set up Google Analytics to fire through Google Tag Manager. This will future proof your website for any other scripts you may wish to run on your website. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I recommend you check out Hootsuite’s Guide on how to set up Google Analytics through Google Tag Manager.
Why do this?Collecting data about your website right from the beginning will really help once your website starts to gain traction. Google Search Console will allow you to see what terms people search for and how you rank for those terms. It will also allow you to see any errors or warnings your site may be impacted by. Google Analytics will allow you to see how people interact with those pages and allow for more in-depth goal tracking.
Thankfully, the very basics of Local SEO are quite simple. You may not be quite ready to hire an SEO company to take you to the next level but these steps will certainly give you quite a leg up when you eventually take the plunge. Once you have these 4 simple steps completed you only have to focus on creating relevant, consistent content on your various web profiles & website.
Let us know in the comments below if these steps helped or if you have any questions!