I’m not a technician; I’m a marketer. So, I’ve put this guide together from a business marketer’s perspective. Where technical expertise is needed, I’ve tried to make steps easy to understand with screenshots, so you can do it yourself. You’ll see it’s a lot of work, but if you’re serious about building your local business online, it’s well worth your investment.

Before you embark on your journey, let’s lay a little foundation and dispel some of the myths you may have heard about internet marketing and SEO. Below are 5 opinions of mine that are reaffirmed on a daily basis.

Introduction: What To Know Before You Start

#1 – SEO is Not a Quick Fix – It’s Marketing!

According to wikipedia, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s organic search results.

This definition is interpreted differently by different people. There are extensive technical guides to SEO that are so over the top they would take an army of people months to implement, costing you five or six figures in the process. And there are rogue, black hat SEO’s who guarantee rankings using strategies that usually burn you in the long run.

We use white hat SEO and we adhere to Google’s quality guidelines because we like to build things that last. Each strategy in this guide is practical and keeps an eye toward spending your time and money in the best common sense areas to get results.

We try to make the web a better place by helping you publish the best content that establishes you as the authority in your niche. That’s what leads to trust and trust is what helps Google rank your site higher.

At the end of the day, it’s still marketing, like any other direct mail campaign, cable television ad, or sponsorship. We do our best and hope to achieve an outstanding result for you.

#2 – Trustworthy Local SEO/Google Places Information

Seattle-based is my #1 trusted source for answers to my SEO and online marketing questions. It’s a thriving community of people who do this stuff everyday. Advice is backed up with fact, not speculation. Founder Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday series is terrific and it’s also a great model for you to do your own video marketing.

Their guide to the top 20 ranking factors for Google Places is essential to your success.

I like to get information from the source and Matt Cutts is Google’s interface to the public. I subscribe to Google Webmaster Help videos to receive Matt’s answers to questions from SEO’s around the globe. If you’re just getting started, this video is a good foundation for you to understand how the web works.

I also have relationships with two other people I brainstorm and share ideas with on a regular basis – Randy Kirk, who does nothing but Google Places, and Brendan Egan, who I partner with on most web design projects.

#3 – Who Should You Not Trust?

Be wary of unsolicited emails from India with broken English. Most Indian firms follow a formula of SEO tactics that haven’t worked since 2009. Also, avoid the shortcuts and guesswork you’ll find in the Warrior Forum. Anyone offering guaranteed services is a sham because Google is always updating it’s search algorithm. Therefore, no one can guarantee rankings.

Quality website, SEO, and content creation take time and money. Cheap SEO services are usually built on automated link building and content creation that would make you sick to your stomach, if you knew what was going on. If you’re ever approached by someone offering SEO services, make sure you get examples of their work and check out a couple testimonials.

#4 – You’ve Got To Be Involved

Quality content is one of the main components to online success. Since you are the expert, ideally, all the content on your site would come from you.

If you don’t have the time or you’re not a great writer, we have other ways of helping you get your knowledge and experience into words on your website. Even if we hire an SEO copywriter to help you create outstanding content, you’re still going to want to edit and approve anything before it gets published.

Bottom line: Marketing your business on the web is not a hands-off solution. Plan on being involved in the process.

#5 – Google Is Always Changing

Google is constantly updating it’s algorithm in order to provide us – as consumers – with the most relevant results to our query. For this reason, what you see in organic search results today is different from what you saw six months ago. And those results are different from what we saw in 2012, and so on.

Over 200 factors make up the ranking algorithm. Google uses a combination of machine learning and manual action to provide the best results and weed out websites from those trying to manipulate it’s results.

Expect search results to change. Follow the best practices we’ve laid out here or from other trusted sources and you’ll most likely be climbing – not falling – in search results.

Now that we’ve got you oriented, let’s begin.

Go to Lesson 1: Optimize Your Website For Local Search

Return To Beginning:  Guide To Ranking Your Local Business In Google