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3 Things Your Local Business Website Must Have

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Local SEO advice coming your way via Kat & Mouse’s “Free SEO Friday” audit for KickAss Coach

Congratulations to Vicki Garcia for winning our free site audit! Follow along as I tell Vicki how she can improve her website so that it ranks high in Google Places for local business search queries.

To begin, let me compliment Vicki on her great looking website! No one should underestimate the value of a pretty page. It speaks of her professionalism and her insistence on quality which as a consumer might also lead me to believe she does the same in her business.

That’s an important point for local businesses to remember. Paying a professional designer to get the look and feel right is important.

KickAss life coaching san jose

So, Vicki, you have that one nailed. Let’s move on to what you are missing to actually draw customers to your website in the first place.

I know you do public speaking and attend Meetups where you hand out business cards, but what do you and other local businesses like you need to do with your website to attract customers searching for you in Google?

#1 – Compile a keyword list THAT INCLUDES YOUR CITY. Then use it to drive the content development on your site.

Pretend you’re blind. Now look at your website and filter out ALL the images and see it as a blind person would. What can you tell me your site is about at a glance?

The first heading is “What were you thinking?” The second is about Oprah. Is that what you are about? What ARE YOU ABOUT?

Can you see that it’s not clear?

Your keywords have to be clearly seen on your page in plain text (and not so plain). And local businesses this is important, INCLUDE YOUR LOCATION!

So first recommendation:

  • Use Google’s free keyword research tool and get yourself a list of keywords and/or keyword phrases you want to target.
  • Create a list of pages to include in your website and assign 2 keywords to each page so that you know the objective of the copy you will be dev1eloping on each page.
  • As you dev1elop each page refer back to your list. Include your keywords a few times throughout the body of your copy, but most importantly, in the first paragraph. INCLUDE YOUR LOCATION in those keyword phrases whenever possible but without sounding spammy.
  • Link to those pages from other pages with the keywords in the anchor text of the link. In other words, don’t link on “click here.” Link, for example, to “Our Private and Group Life Coaching Services in San Jose.” Notice the location keyword in there!
  • Begin each page with a title that has the keywords you’ve assigned to that page in it, preferably at the beginning of the title, and enclose it in H1 tags. Include the location keyword WHEN APPROPRIATE.

Thesis template consideration

Now your site is a little different in that you are using the Thesis WordPress template which gives you the ability to put that h1 tag around your banner graphic and enclose keywords there.* Take a look at the code behind that banner that Google sees:

KickAss life coaching san jose

Without getting too techie on you, just note that there is an h1 id=”logo” tag around a link to your home page. This link is actually INVISIBLE to the human eye, but visible to Google. Since it’s invisible to people, you can say anything you want there without worrying too much about whether it reads well or now.

So, where it says “My KickAss Coach,” I recommend putting something like “San Jose Life Coach” (or whatever keywords you decided are most appropriate for you). It could even be, “San Jose Life Coach, Motivational Coaching” if you want. But remember not to use too many keywords.

When done, whether it’s in the Thesis banner or an H1 tag at the top of your page content, Google will know what the most important text on your page is and what that page is about.

*It shouldn’t be hard for Google to determine that Thesis is using CSS code to HIDE something. And since Google doesn’t like it when you try to show one thing to people and another to search engines, I’d probably be inclined to either not use this feature or keep a watchful on it.

Let’s not forget the “not so plain text” – the title tag

Another VERY IMPORTANT place to use your keywords is in your title meta tag. This is title is visible to people not ON your page but usually at the top of the browser window. See screenshot below.

KickAss life coaching san jose

Since your site is in WordPress, you most likely have access to this title tag in your backend on the page where you write or edit your post. If you can’t find it, ask your web dev1eloper to edit these tags for you.

Just like your H1 tag, you want your title to be the screaming, shouting headline that tells Google what that page is about.

And if you can include a LOCATION KEYWORD and it’s appropriate, do so. For your services page, for example, the title tag might be again, “San Jose life coaching, group and personal life coaching.”

But be careful about using your location keyword too much. It may not always be appropriate.

Take for example, your “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?” page. There is no need to limit that to a geographical region. In fact, it would be detrimental to do so. Yes, you’re trying to get local clients. But if you can also attract national readers, you could generate inbound links from a much larger audience, and that would increase your chances of getting more inbound links, and then ranking higher in local.

#2 – Every local business needs a local address and phone number.

I know you don’t want to publish your home address but you really need an address to put on your website. And it’s not good enough for Google to see a P.O. Box or a mailbox at Mailboxes Etc, or the UPS store. It must be an actual address. I recommend getting a virtual mailbox at a virtual office. They run around $50-$65 a month but will do a lot to getting your site to rank high in Google Places (those listings that show up with a Pin on the map for a local Google search).

The same is true of your phone number. I see you have a local one that’s great. Toll-free numbers just won’t work either.

Why are real local addresses and phone numbers so important?

Google is looking for some kind of verification that you really are a local business. For added confirmation, you also want to be sure that it is consistent throughout the web such as at YP.com, Yelp.com, MerchantCircle.com and other local directory sites as well as other citations or mentions of your business throughout the web.

Some SEO experts say that even things like spelling your street as St. in one place and Street is a no-no. I’m not sure I agree. If Google sees “book” and “manual” or “dog” and “German Shepherd” as similar items – which it can – certainly it knows that St. and Street are the same thing. But do be careful and do try to be as consistent as you can.

After you get an address, you need to publish it on your website in plain text.

What Google wants to see is your NAP which stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. Put all those together in a prominent place on your site where your address is now.

KickAss life coaching san jose

Even better, use this Hcard creator to put your NAP in rich text format. Then paste the code in that position. Just use the NAP fields. You can remove any code you don’t want.

#3 – Create a location-specific page

Every local business, by virtue of the fact that is what you are, relies on local searches to be found. Those searches include a city in the query or an implied one if you are on the street using your cell phone. By having a local-specific page, you’ll have a better chance of showing up in Google Places or other local directory searches.

This isn’t always easy to do. I’ve seen people create local pages that might be all about that city – things to do at night, places to eat, etc. But I don’t like to see that because the information is totally irrelevant to the site itself. I don’t think you need to go that far. If you’re just targeting one city, it’s simply your contact page, but if you’re trying to show up for multiple cities you might have to get creative.

Take a look below in how I did this for Long’s Cabinet Shop. It’s located in Felton but wanted to appear in searches on “Santa Cruz custom cabinets,” “Los Gatos custom cabinets,” and others. I’m happy to report we had a lot of success with this approach and the cabinet shop is showing up either in the first place or on the first page for those and other cities and towns up to 40 miles away!

Santa Cruz Custom Cabinets

Los Gatos Custom Cabinets

If you use this approach, just make sure that each page has UNIQUE COPY lest you run into Google’s duplicate content penalty.

Off-site matters too

So there are 3 things the KickAss Coach website needs in order to be found in Google queries and to show up in Google Places. There is much more off-site work that needs to be done as well and too much to include in this post. So stay tuned to this blog where I’ll be revealing those secrets.

In the meantime, you might be able to glean some ideas from the Local Search notes I provided my students in the Local Search Class I taught recently in Santa Cruz. I’ll be teaching that workshop all over the Bay Area soon and will post the specifics here soon. Hopefully, you can attend.

Best of luck to you, Vicki.

Let me know if any of this actually helps. My final gift to you is this outbound link to your website where you advertise life coaching in San Jose. (Note that I linked on keywords.)

And to the rest of the SEOs who might be reading this, please feel free to add your advice.

Get your own FREE SEO audit!

If you would like a Free SEO audit for your website, post your url on our Kat & Mouse’s Facebook wall on Friday before noon. I’d love to give you all one, but these take a very long time to do, so only one will be chosen. Hopefully, you can benefit from others if you are not the one.

And please tweet, share and like!


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Kathy (aka Kat) is one of the internet's original Digital Divas and freely shares her expertise in the fields of web design, SEO, Local SEO, social media marketing, content development, PPC, and conversion optimization to help businesses succeed online. Sadly, she's allergic to cats.

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