SEO for Online Based Businesses

If you’re running any type of online-based business then you know well that you need a lot of new sales each month. We know what you’re thinking, what business doesn’t need new sales each month? Here’s the deal though, unlike storefront retail shops, your store exists within the digital world. So unless you’re Percival from Ready Player One, you’re not shopping inside the Oasis. Neither are your clients. That means you need to HELP your potential clients FIND your store out of the millions of similar suppliers and stores online.

Online marketing for e-commerce businesses is the “800-pound gorilla” of search. Most (in our opinion 99%) SEO agency shy away from national SEO. It’s not only hard, but it’s also extremely expensive. Getting a client to sign up for a mothly marketing fee of $2,000.00 is a challenge. What SEO sales rep wants to try and pitch a budget of $250,000.00 per month? You catch the drift so far?

Today, we’re going to take a look at what some of the experts have to say about national digital marketing and SEO for online-based businesses.

National Digital Marketing and What it Actually Means 

If you ask NEWAPPS AGENCY, they will tell you LOTS about national SEO. They are also very good at it. Here is what they have to say about digital marketing campaigns built on a national scale.

“Most business owners have heard the term, local SEO strategy. It’s been a buzz word for a few years now. With the growth of Google Maps and proximity optimization, local SEO has been where it’s at in the SEO game. Ignoring these basics of SEO can cost your business a lot of money.

But, what if you want to think bigger? This is when you need a national SEO company campaign. National SEO campaigns go after more competitive keywords. They focus on many markets. They offer products that cater to a nationwide clientele.

What is National SEO?

National SEO is optimizing your site to rank all over the country. National SEO companies can attack a higher competition level than local-focused agencies. This will also come at a higher cost than a local SEO campaign.

The two different strategies, local and national, function on two different Google algorithms. So, you won’t be trading one for the other but adding on a second SEO budget. But, the rewards can be great with national strategies. Let’s look at what you need for a national SEO campaign to be right for your business.

Why Does My Business Need a National Strategy Over a Local SEO Strategy?

To answer this question you need to ask yourself other questions. I know, I know, more work for you. But, you need to know your business before switching to a national focus. Here’s a good list of questions to start with:

  • Where does the majority of my traffic come from?
  • Am I ranking on page one for all my money keywords?
  • Do I have a product or service which appeals to a national audience?
  • Does my website already have e-Commerce functionality?
  • Can I afford to create/build an e-Commerce platform?
  • Is my business brick and mortar focused? Or do I make most of my money online?
  • Can I afford the expansion of my marketing budget? Can I afford to compete on a national scale for higher cost keywords?

If most of your money comes from one local area than national isn’t something to worry about. Unless you plan on expanding your business to other markets, keep killing it in Nantucket.

If you are expanding, or already have many locations, are you ranking on page one for every money keyword? In all those local areas? If you can’t rank for the local versions of these money keywords than your site won’t cut it on a national scale.

Focus on getting your local optimization strategy kicking. Make sure all locations are ranking before expanding to national coverage. 

What Do I Need for a Successful National SEO Campaign?

The need for national SEO depends a lot on your business. You need a few different things for it to be successful. In reality, you need a lot of things to even make it worth your while in the first place. 

You need products that appeal to a national audience. You need a top-performing website. You need new keyword research with a broader competition base.

Products or Services That are Available to a National Audience

You now have five different locations across ten different states. How do you decide to go after a national audience or stay local for each region? Looking at your products and services is the place to start.

If you’re running an ice cream shop then it makes more sense to run local campaigns to location pages for each shop. Wanting to move to a national campaign? You need to add an online ordering system for your ice cream. This makes your product available nationwide.

A good example of this is the Chicago brand, Portillo’s. Portillo’s was once a local hot dog and beef sandwich shop with a few locations in Chicago. Then, as Chicagoans moved around, they opened locations in a few different states. They still made local plays making location pages for each of their new locations. 

Each location optimizes for the local area. But, to reach a national audience, Portillo’s knew they had to do more. After all, people need their beef and tamales no matter where they live.

So, besides new franchise locations, they also added a “shop & ship” e-commerce platform.

With Shop and Ship, you can order Portillo’s Italian beef sandwiches and ship them to your door. You’ve got beef even if your closest Portillo’s is 1000 miles away. This is when they made the transition into a national brand needing national SEO.”

How Does National SEO Work? 

Good question. According to Search Engine People, a kick-ass marketing company that rocks at national SEO, they’ve got some great insight into how national SEO works. Here’s their opinion.

“Let’s face it. Most SEO professionals and search marketers work on local SEO campaigns. This is the bread and butter for most agencies and SEO practitioners no matter where in the world you are located. This is mostly true (at least in the US) because more than half of all businesses are by definition, small businesses. This means that all our efforts and resources are limited to a very specific geographic region or locale. This could be a large city like Dallas, Texas or a relatively small one like Naperville, Illinois. This type of SEO strategy is a fairly straightforward one. You would optimize all the meta data of important pages with geo-modifiers and make sure the content reflects the target cities. Just a few tweaks here and there would ensure your website and local SEO campaign was in good shape. But every now and then, our lives tend to become more complicated. Occasionally, we have to work with a large brands with multiple locations across the country. As search professionals, we cherish the opportunity to work with larger budgets and brand names. But with larger clients, the strategies tend to become more complicated as well.

So how does one optimize for a business that has several physical locations across the nation? Well, this would require a national strategy, which is quite different from the usual local strategies that we have become accustomed to. This guide has been broken down by on-page and off-page implementation.
This is where things can get a bit hairy. Depending on the authoritative nature of your brand, you can proceed in one of two ways outlined below:
Authority/Branded Businesses
This assumes that your business has been around for several years and is a well known brand. Your business may not be as famous as Starbucks, but people (and hence search engines) know you exist and serve customers in multiple cities and states. With this level of authority, you can simply create a location specific page on your website under a drop down menu called “Locations.” This is pretty standard on most multi-location websites. This is all you would need to implement from an on-page perspective. All your service pages need not be geo-targeted as most search engines have a fairly good idea that your business serves multiple locations. You can see this strategy being used by 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym and other multi location brands, which generally do not have geo-targeted service pages.
Newer Brands/Businesses
If your multi-location business opened recently and does not have an easily recognized brand, it may be difficult for search engines to determine whether you serve multiple locations or not. This means you may need to create separate geo-targeted landing pages for each service/product you offer. This can be done via sub-domains (houston.yourwebsite.com) or sub-directories (yourwebsite.com/houston). Personally, I would go with sub-directories as this would have a much stronger SEO effect than a sub-domain, which is essentially a new website.
No matter which approach you take, all the content on these different mini-location websites would have to be geo-targeted and unique (not 100% unique of course, but you want to make sure there’s no duplicate content across your websites). This strategy is essentially creating multiple websites for each location. Its a lot more work in terms of website design, but it ensures that search engines make a clear connection between your business/service and a specific location you want to target.”

Hire a National SEO Agency

There are lots of good national SEO agencies out there. Call around to find the one that is best for you and your firm. To learn more about Black Box and how we can help merchants with their marketing and processing accounts, click here.

 

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