When it comes to building a successful startup in Atlanta, local SEO is one of the most powerful ways to increase exposure and accelerate growth. A study from Google shows that 50% of mobile searches resulted in users visiting that business in person. In a metropolis like Atlanta, this local mobile search data should be a clear call-to-action for blooming startups.
If your startup’s marketing plan doesn’t include local SEO, then it’s mostly likely missing out on a large chunk of traffic. For this reason, we put together a few tips to help Atlanta startups leverage SEO and better thrive in local search.
Define Your Startup as a Local Business
From a search standpoint, simply serving customers in Atlanta typically isn’t enough. You should start by presenting your startup as a business in the local community. To best achieve this, you’ll need a local address and phone number, both of which present on your website (ideally sitewide, such as in the footer.) These are the vital pieces of data that Google uses to rank legitimate businesses in the local search listings.
Claim Your Business
In addition to claiming and verifying a Google My Business listing (which serves as your startup’s hub for local SEO,) you should claim listings on various local directories. These listings will help to boost your business’s credibility and authority, which in turn can help increase local search visibility.
Checkout Local SEO Guide’s post on The Best Online Local Business Directories for SEO of an actionable list of places you should claim your business. You can also seek out potential listings specific to Atlanta, such as chamber of commerce sites, local affiliations and membership networks, or newspapers (finding writing opportunities for local publishers can be huge win.)
Optimize Your Site for Atlanta
It may seem difficult to include “Atlanta” in your site’s content without forcing it or butchering page copy. But really, mentioning “Atlanta” a few times on your site’s homepage will suffice.
Try dedicating small section of content of your site to its location, perhaps a general “About” or “Where We’re Based” section. Startups can get creative with this by including an “Atlanta Roots” section, or something similar to establish geographic relevancy. This, combined having a local address and phone number, will help actualize your local SEO strategy.
Consider Multiple Domain Names
Some startups invest in building multiple domains in order to define their business and target markets. For multi-location and franchise SEO, sometimes this strategy can be very effective.
As an example, a startup can develop unique websites by investing in different domain names each locality. Further, each location can have a separate listing in Google. This can help define your startups location, not only in Atlanta, but other major markets in which it serves.
Keep Content Marketing On The Forefront
Content marketing can provide a host of benefits for startups, with improved SEO being on of them. In fact, few SEO tactics are more effective than generating great content marketing that resonates with your target audience (especially if that’s a local Atlanta audience.)
Unlike the SEO-driven content strategies for many businesses, your startup’s content strategy doesn’t have center on keywords. Instead, embrace a contents strategy that’s more socially-driven and speaks wave about your startup and all the great things it provides. You can also leverage paid social advertising (i.e. Facebook Promoted Posts or Promoted Tweets) to expand the visibility of your content. In turn, greater traffic, social signals and credibility will help enhance your local SEO efforts.
Google algorithm updates are making it a veritable zoo out there, but they seek to make the web a better place, with better content. The Pigeon update changed SEO forever, and improved distance and location services to help customers find local businesses. It gave better search rankings to local businesses, and changed the results to a three-pack format.
To stand out today, make use of social media, especially reviews. Optimize content for local signals. Make use of your Google My Business listing, and ramp up your location pages. Don’t focus on city search queries, since Penguin divided cities into neighborhoods. Don’t go for just any directory – target top-ranked ones. Dedicate resources to content marketing.
You can determine your impact by looking at vanity metrics such as “likes,” “favorites,” “shares,” and “retweets” to see if people are interested in you. Talk to sales staff to see if there’s an increase in activity that’s a result of social media.
Google Analytics can show how social media plays a role in website traffic. Are people more interested in you that before? Also, you’ll probably see an increased workload if your social strategy is working, because you’ll have a higher interaction rate. Most importantly, your return on investment (ROI) will improve, giving you clear evidence that your strategy is working.
Building a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever, because more users are accessing the web with their mobile devices. But don’t make mistakes. For one thing, go native. Native apps are specifically designed for mobile platforms; don’t mistake a mobile website for an app. Learn the difference.
Don’t treat mobile like a desktop. It’s an entirely different platform, requiring different tactics. Keep it simple. Don’t build a mobile app without a marketing plan to make sure people find it and use it. Don’t take your customers for granted, because mobile users discard apps within six months. Don’t ignore consumer behavior; get interactive feedback and install an analytics dashboard to keep them coming back.
Mobile recently dethroned desktops in search queries recently, so whatever your business, mobile is a must. Perfect your game with responsive design; visitors think the mobile version of a site should be as good or better than the desktop version.
Think local when it comes to keyword accuracy. Get the necessary technology to support mobile payments. Use your social media as a customer service center. People constantly check these platforms, and they feel more comfortable connecting this way (versus phone calls). Use in-store notifications that trigger when consumers are physically close to your business. Use the “click-to-call” feature on your mobile site. And don’t forget to test.
Google’s algorithms are now better at understanding user intention and rewarding unique, relevant content than ever, according to a Searchmetrics study. Mobile-friendliness, social signals, and backlinks remain positive factors.
Technical items such as domain names, SEO visibility, H2 tags, URLs, site speed, and HTTP encryption remain ranking factors. User experience is also important, especially internal link structure, bounce rate, click-through rate and time spent on site, along with responsive design, font size, and interactive elements. Content has become more extensive, less complex, and more holistic, with keywords less important for external links.
There are many ways of optimizing your site for local SEO, so you can be found for multiple locations. Perform proper competitor research so you can decide how to attack a certain niche. Do your research at the population level, so you can identify trends and use your budget appropriately. Assess the competition for ease of ranking.
Embark on an SEO linking strategy that’s specific and locally targeted. Also, on-page optimization is crucial. Audit off-site local SEO information on main money profiles, claim all local SEO profiles, check your local keyword phrases, and use this to define your content and linking strategies. Keep social media in mind, and make sure your information is 100 percent correct.
Touchpoints can slow buyers down more than they guide. Trim the fat by targeting influencers. This will make affinity groups, which can pull a buyer into different directions, unnecessary. Optimize landing pages for social; they should convey a value proposition to visitors who may not be familiar with your brand.
Get converted buyers to recommend you through social requests. Use case studies to get customers to bypass reviews, which can be trolled or sabotaged, and testimonials, which are easily fabricated. Use native advertising – specifically, paid tweets – to eliminate touchpoints. These are 30 times more likely to result in direct purchases.
You may not be able to compete nationally without a huge budget, but big companies don’t know your local market. So, look at your books and spend money on only your most profitable products and services. Use Google Search Console to identify your most useful keywords and create ad groups just for them. Organize your ad groups and copy based on cities.
Be locally relevant. Make your callouts and site links local. Beef up your ad extensions. Add your zip code to ad copy and display URL. Then talk about stuff only locals know about. Add some local flavor to your ad, especially if convenience and travel time is relevant to your audience.
Natural SEO is better because there are pitfalls to paid local programs – once you cancel your subscription, enhanced content is no longer available; revenue sharing makes these programs expensive; and no long-term equity is established. Paid links will be penalized by Google.
Don’t wait for an algorithm update to adapt. Long-term organic SEO builds accurate citations because you are developing relationships, localized content, and identifying contacts in your local network. Subversive tactics are dead, and paid local programs will work less as search engines update their technologies.