For More Leads, Add SEO to Paid Search

By now, we all know that when it comes to online searches, people click on organic results more often than on paid listings. So while Angie's List or other pay-per-lead services can do a great job of generating prospects, they still bring you up as a sponsored link. For a best-of-both-worlds scenario, however, take steps to begin building your organic search visibility, too. The fastest way to do that is by focusing on local search tactics. Here's how:

1. Analyze and optimize. Make sure your existing website is well-optimized for your main keywords. A good way to check is with a keyword density analyzer (you can find plenty online for free). But remember: search engine algorithms are changing and they now penalize websites that are packed too densely with a specific keyword. Plus, make sure you're using the search terms people use locally – e.g., do people search for a "contractor" or a "builder" in your local area?

2. Add SEO for "lower-tier" keywords. In your locale, there may be such fierce competition for your primary keywords that you may never be able to get to the top of the search results by optimizing for them. If that's the case, a good strategy is to use these words with your traditional pay-per-lead service, but optimize for lower-tier keywords, too. A plumber, for instance, may want to optimize for keywords for a less competitive offering, such as duct cleaning.

3. Set up a second website. For many local companies it doesn't make sense to "double optimize" the main website for lower-tier keywords. Instead, they're setting up a second website optimized mainly for those lower-tier keywords and featuring domain name that's hyper-local and hyper-specific. Ideally, the URL should be as close as possible to the search terms consumers will use to find you: e.g., DallasDuctCleaning.com.

4. Integrate your site with social media. To help drive word of mouth and referrals, include Facebook and Twitter "share" buttons on your website. When people click them all their friends can see they like your site. Considering the average Facebook user has 140 friends, social media visibility can help extend your reach. Plus, give your Facebook presence extra value by adding a fan page that makes it easy for people to post testimonials.

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