For those of you who are confident enough to start offering SEO services to businesses, I suggest you start off with a local small business that is willing to spend a few bucks on the web. Of course, finding those clients isn't exactly easy, but once you get one hooked, you're in for a fun ride.
The reason that most local small businesses don't want to spend an actual budget on "Internet stuff" is most likely because they have a few reservations.
- They don't understand the Internet's potential for their business
- They probably think you're going to screw them
- They think their small monthly marketing budget (if such thing even exists) is better spent the old-fashioned way - newspapers and yellow book ads.
- They don't understand the Internet's potential for their business. - Oh wait, did I mention that already?
So let's say you've got one hooked for a hypothetical $1000 monthly budget, for six months. Congrats. Now for the fun.
For sake of example, a few assumptions:
- Your client sells a higher-dollar household item such as ovens.
- Your town is named Butter Creek, a town of over 50,000 people.
- Your client already has a website: buttercreekovens.com, and its in decent shape as far as product descriptions and hierarchy.
- The closest competitor is down the street. And they're a brand name store such as Best Buy.
- In the next town over is Joe's Discount Ovens, and he does TV commercials.
First of all, don't automatically think you'll never rank first for 'ovens in Butter Creek' just because there's a huge box store in town and another down the street that everyone sees on TV. You'd be surprised at how many of these businesses don't rank for the simplest of local terms.
What's your first step? Easy. Add 'Butter Creek' to the title tag, and add it at least once in the home page copy. Since your town is of a decent size, this is probably a term that people would be typing in. If, however, your town is smaller, say 10,000, you may want to pick the biggest/closest town/city that you believe most people would be typing into the search. This simple change will help you start to rank for a "product in Butter Creek" search, which is highly typical of Internet researchers looking for a local shop to purchase an item.
Tip: For a great list of local sites to add your clients listing to, see Andrew Shotland's How to Update Your Internet Yellow Pages For Free post.
Third: If they have a Contact or About Us page, make sure it names several nearby (larger or similar-sized) towns in the copy. We offer the best high quality ovens and stoves from Forked Tree to Mineral Springs. This will help them start to rank for other local towns. In the case of higher-priced items, people are willing to drive a reasonable distance to get what they want.
Last, make sure their address is prominently displayed on their home page. This needs to be in regular text, not a graphic. This text will be picked up by other local-related websites (such as CitySearch, YellowPages, Local.com, SuperPages, etc) and used for future searches on their sites - something that ultimately will drive more traffic to your client.
Of course you should be running a statistics/SERPS program such as AWR to keep a tab on the local-related keywords you want to target. You'll be surprised how fast you will start to rank for these searches. Within just a few weeks you should start to notice a more targeted group of keyword searches from the search engines.
Tip: Since ranking for local terms can be pretty easy, I wouldn't suggest doing a ton of keyword-targeted link building in a short amount of time. It is a better strategy (IMO) to stretch this out over time. Consider instead building more relevant product-related pages and perhaps start a WordPress blog on their site (that matches their layout) and do articles on such things as "How to Find Replacement Oven Racks in Rockwood Heights".