How to Optimize Your Website for Local Search

13 Strategies to SEO Optimize Your Local Business Website

If you run a store-front business or offer a service that is within a specific local-based geographic area, then you will want to focus your marketing efforts on getting in front of local traffic.

Since many marketing initiatives are of a more global nature that don’t help you at all, there’s actually a few specific things you can do to ensure you get visible in front of the local people that you want to attract to your business.

Aside from using targeted Facebook and Google Ads, local search optimization can help your business be found in searches when people are looking for a business likes yours in their area.

So what can you do to get your website to rank better for local search?

Here’s 13 techniques to improve your rankings locally:

  1. Make a list of local regions you’d like to rank for: This will include your city, your major metropolitan area, county, and province or state. Think about the neighbouring towns that your business can also service in addition to your own. Then create long-tail keyword phrases for each of these. For example instead of optimizing for “home staging”, you can optimize for several phrases including:”Yourcityhere home staging” “Yourmetroregionhere home staging”, “YourCountyhere home staging”, “Yourregionhere home staging” etc.
  2. Add your business address at the footer of your website in text: This not only acts as a clue that shows Google you are a local business but also shows your website visitors that they are in the right place. Showing your location and the areas served on your website is vital for localized businesses. It’s also a good idea to embed a dynamic Google Map for good measure and ease of customers finding your location.
  3. Add a link to your business on Google Maps: Check to see if your business is showing up on Google Maps and if not, add a submission to have it included. Not only will this serve to help customers find directions to your place, but it’s also another marker that tells Google where you are locally.
  4. Write a web page or blog post dedicated to each local keyword phrase: Using the keywords and geographic locations throughout your website is also important for the search engines to keep you top of mind in their search results. I’m not a huge fan of this technique as it can crowd your website but you can create a local keyword phrase-based web page or blog post for each page including each service you offer to give those rankings a boost. Avoid adding these pages to the primary navigation if possible; however, they do still need to link back to your website home page in order to get indexed.
  5. Optimize each web page to rank well for the keyword you are targeting: Put the keyword phrase in several spots in the wording and coding of your website pages including:
    • Meta keyword and description tags
    • File name or URL of the page. For example: best-home-staging-Abbotsford.HTML
    • Header of the page within an H1 tag
    • Sub headers of the page within H2 and H3 tags
    • File names of graphics used on the page
    • Hyperlinked text containing the keyword phrase, ideally located in the first and last paragraph of the page
    • Header tag using the keyword phrase at the end of the page
  6. Regularly write and post new local content: Adding new content to a website, especially as a blog post, is important for all websites. Making that new content location-based with your keywords in it makes it even more valuable. This could be a press release about things you are doing in the community. You could do a review of a new local service or product. You can also create a recommended links page that shares information about other complementary local businesses.
  7. Get back links on other local business sites: Ask other local businesses if you can trade links. When they post a link or recommendation to your website, it improves your own website rankings.
  8. Take and share local pictures: Make a point to take pictures of your business doing things in local places. Name these pictures when you post them to your website or blog with file names including your local keyword phrases. When people go into Google Photo Search and look for “best home stager in Abbotsford,” if you have a photo with that file name, your image will come up at the top.
  9. Reference local landmarks: If you are near any major landmarks, reference them on your website. For example if someone is typing “bedroom lamp shop near Grand Central Station” if you have that referenced on your website you can come up in Google searches for that phrase.
  10. Use Alt tags: Make sure all the images used on your website have local keyword phrase file names and alt tags.
  11. Create an XML map or Site Map: This makes it easier for Google to spider all the pages of your website.
  12. Manually submit your website to local and niche directories: Using local directories and major directories with local listings is invaluable to getting your local business found. Directories such as Yelp, Foresquare. Moz, Hotfrog and Houzz are great places to start. Create a full profile and be sure to add lots of pictures.
  13. Use Review Sites: Leverage the power of review sites. Create free business accounts with some of the big reviews sites like Yellow Pages, Insider Pages, Angie’s List, etc. and encourage happy customers and regulars to write reviews about your business. Good reviews can go a long way with your customers and the search engines

Once you have optimized your website for local SEO, there are other off-site methods you can follow to boost your local search results as well. So take the time to review your website and add local keywords, links, content and images and you’ll be on your way to getting more local customers.

Those Things You Have To Tell Buyers About Your Home

There are many different ways sellers can be involved in the lives of the people seeking to buy their house, and some ways are more intrusive than others. If you are a home seller and want to be very involved in the selling process with the buyers that have been chosen, you have the opportunity to let the new buyers in on the secrets of your home that might not have been clear in the advertisements or in their dealings with a realtor.

Some of the things about your house are good, and others aren’t so good. Depending on how long you’ve lived in the house you will know the ups and downs of this property more than anyone else, and it is up to your discretion to reveal these things to the potential buyers of your property. Put yourself in the buyers’ shoes- you wouldn’t want to buy a shiny new house and then find a cracked foundation, would you?

The basic rule of thumb in this situation is to treat the buyers as you’d like to be treated- seems simple, but in the rush to sell your home some things get neglected. Here are a few things you have to tell buyers about your home before any papers are signed.

Tell them all the great things about your neighborhood that you love. If you have kids or your neighbors have kids, tell them about the local ice cream places, local schools, and parks that the buyers may not know about. Moving is hard and for buyers with kids they are likely thinking very hard about how this move will affect their children. Put their mind at ease, but also be honest if there are any concerns you’ve had about your kids in the area.

Tell potential buyers if there are any quirks to your house. Sometimes inspectors and buyers don’t notice the loose latch on the attic door, or the slightly leaky skylight in the bathroom. Be honest about things that might need updating if you aren’t going to be the one doing those renovations yourself before the house is sold. Additionally, take the buyers on a tour of the property and point out any places where you might have dealt with old trees, power lines, rotting fence posts, and more.

Buyers will appreciate you giving them an inside look into what it takes to care for your house and property. Creating in their mind a realistic picture of what living in your house looks like will help them assess whether or not this situation is good for them. In this stage of the buying process it is better to be honest and choose the right buyer for your house rather than rush through a sale and disappoint the buyers with a housing situation they weren’t prepared for.

The information you choose to share with your property’s potential buyers is at your discretion, but be honest about the realities of your property both positive and negative.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Renting Furniture

Making the decision whether they should buy furniture or rent furniture for their home staging job, is really a challenge for home stagers. But for many, they buy new furniture when home-staging vacant homes and they just rent furniture for already furnished homes. One of my previous articles discussed the advantages and disadvantages of buying furniture for home staging, so this one will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of renting furniture based on what I have observed in my long career in the real estate business.

There are clear advantages of renting furniture. One is that you do not need a huge investment upfront to be able to rent furniture. Also, you do not have to transport it yourself to the home and this is an advantage for you because it gives you more time to do the real job-the home staging job. However, even there are these clear advantages, a lot of home staging experts do not prefer furniture rental. They often said that it is not “attractive.”

Disadvantages of furniture rental as according to a great number of home stager professionals and experts:

1. Furniture rental tends to be neutral, often blandly contemporary, and it is not a great way to find great furniture you have imagined to give the home an amazing look, because most of the time, the ones that you are looking for are not available from rental companies.

2. When it comes down to the cost, it is expensive because most companies who offer furniture rental require a 3-month minimum period. This means that after you reached the 3-month period, you will have to pay again for each furniture piece that you rented.

If we are going to compare buying furniture and furniture rental, buying somehow stands out because of the time it can give to homeowners (your clients) and it get to save them money by not restricting them to the three-month minimum contract. Buying though is expensive, but at least you get to keep the pieces you will buy for your home staging job. It is a one time payment so it will save you money.

In addition, when buying furniture, you get to choose each piece. You get to choose the designs and styles that appeal to you and keep them. No more paying for rent!

3. Limited choices. As I said earlier, you cannot find everything you like in furniture rental. This is because your choices are limited. Just an example, you have a home staging job in a modern empty home and you decided to just rent furniture from a rental company. Unfortunately, when you get to the rental company, there is no more modern furniture to match the modern home.You will have no other choice, but to rent furniture which don’t match the style of the home you will be staging.

Simple Low-Cost Tips to Sell Your Home

Selling your home can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some simple tips on how you can get your home to stand out from the crowd and get buyers motivated without breaking the bank.

Curb appeal: First impressions are the key to getting potential buyers excited about coming inside to take a look. Make sure the front of your home looks welcoming and well-cared for by using these simple tips:

Have a clean, well-manicured garden. Make sure to cut overgrown shrubs that may be blocking the view of your home from the street.

Pressure wash the exterior of your home to give it that ‘just- painted look’, without actually having to spend the time and money painting.

Put flower boxes outside the main entryway to make your home feel more inviting.

Entry: Make sure when people enter your home, they find it welcoming, light and bright. Pleasant aromas, such as freshly baked bread or chocolate chip cookies (who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies?), are always a great way to make visitors/potential buyers feel at home.

Kitchen: The heart of the home is the kitchen, and the kitchen is what sells the home. Make it look fresh, polished, and modern using these easy ideas:

Make sure countertops are clean and not cluttered with multiple small appliances, such as toasters and blenders.

Remove all magnets from the front of the refrigerator to give it a clean look.

Replace any worn cabinet pulls or hardware that may make a kitchen look dated.

Make sure cupboards are neat and well-organized (people do snoop!)

Living-room: Potential buyers are most likely looking for a home for their family, so don’t confuse them with your personal items, such as family portraits and knickknacks. You want them to imagine their family living there, with their personal photos on the wall.

Bathrooms: Make sure bathrooms are spotlessly clean and up to date. Here are some bathroom staging tips:

Replace old worn-out bathroom fixtures, such as faucets and towel bars.

Hang fresh new towels on towel racks.

Add accessories such as candles and sweetly scented soaps in clean new glass containers.

Bedrooms: A bedroom should convey a tone of relaxation and comfort. It’s the place we want to retreat to after a long and stressful day. Here are some ways you can give your bedroom that cozy feeling:

Paint with a warm neutral color.

Remove any extra furniture leaving only the bed and dresser (especially that old exercise machine).

Remove a large portion of your wardrobe making the closets appear larger.

Spruce up the bed by changing the comforter and adding a few new throw- pillows.

The housing market can be either hot or cold, but taking these few extra steps will make it easier for buyers to see the home’s full potential, and it will pay off in the long run.

How to Home Stage a Master Bedroom

Staging your home correctly is one of the most important factors in helping a person decide whether they wish to purchase the property or not. Common mistakes include making the home to personal, which in turn means that the viewer finds it difficult to imagine themselves in the property, or simply allowing things to be a little bit messy.

The master bedroom is perhaps one of the most important rooms when it comes to staging. After all, anybody who is interested in the house will place special focus on the room as it is where they will be spending their nights. Ensuring it looks comfortable and inviting is crucial when it comes to convincing the viewer that the room allows for a good night’s sleep.

So what can you do to properly stage the master bedroom? Here are a few tips:

Remove Personal Decoration

To ensure the viewer can personalise the room in their head it is important to remove anything that intrinsically links the room to the seller. Keep the obvious items, such as the bed, wardrobes and dressers. Try to add a good mirror if the room doesn’t already have one.

Remove any items that do not need to be there. Personal photos and any items that link the room to you can be stored away for the time taken to show it. All the viewer needs to see is that the room is big enough to store the essentials and has the potential for them to personalise it in their own way.

Tidy Up

It may seem like a basic tip but it is also extremely important. Make sure that the room is nice and tidy before any viewing. Bed sheets should be clean and crisp, clothes should be put away and the floor space should be clear of any obstructions.

Dust thoroughly and ensure that all windows and surfaces are absolutely spotless. Ensure that you vacuum the carpet or clean the floors beforehand and spray an air freshener to give the room a clean and airy feeling. A dirty room indicates that you don’t take proper care of the property and can make it difficult for a viewer to visualise the room as anything other than a mess, which in turn effects the selling potential.

Use Neutral Colours

Neutral colours, such as beige and cream, again depersonalises the room and ensures that the viewer can visualise how they would change things to suit their own stylistic ideas. Such colours are also generally quite airy and light, which reflects a comfortable sleeping environment and makes the entire room more attractive.

If your room doesn’t have a neutral feel to it then consider repainting. It will take a little bit of time and effort but the key here is to help the viewer feel as comfortable as possible. If the room has a design aesthetic that they don’t like it becomes much more difficult for the viewer to see themselves spending time in the room or becoming comfortable there.