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1. Introduction

This easy, strategic guide illustrates all divine, secular, and spheral facts in WordPress, served with concerns and instructions in the order, logical sequence, and functionality of your marketing success journey, and how to support and expand it on the web global. This introductory chapter introduces you to the WordPress portal where local businesses transform into global businesses and how it is different from its technology-alleviating competitors. To help you know if WordPress really works well, I illustrate the results with a few top local business success stories and a touch of its website development process. By staying with my journey, you will be honored with a bonus plan to manage all marketing communication material needs such as brochures and business cards, in one shot, and an Elementary Skills Guide to add articles to the WordPress portal through blogging to achieve the objectives of local business marketing. For parents who aspire to take their local businesses global, this guide will help them reward WordPress’s global competitive power for creating their business digital with love, completeness, and unification.

Welcome to a tour of WordPress for mastering local businesses conducted by an author, former web developer, and happy WordPress blogger, in a picturesque and conversational way. This is a guide for local business owners or marketing managers who have not been able to understand how to master WordPress as a marketing tool or how to use it to dominate their market. On the other hand, if you’ve already mastered the internet using a flawed framework, like using Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly, shouldn’t you consider a change for a more secure, productive, and profitable framework? WordPress is the right choice for you to make, but a more profitable guide for marketers is the one who follows.

2. Setting Up Your WordPress Website

To make it all happen, running a WordPress blog is by far the most efficient and secured way to successfully manage all your SEO tasks. Our “Website Keywords for Local Businesses” guide explains in full details all simple tasks that need to be taken care of in order to protect and optimize your new website for the search engines. It’s a 9-word text message that you can’t miss if you’re planning to increase your local exposure on entries in the major search engines turn into high quality traffic to your website. A rock-solid domain name and a reliable hosting plan are the two most important things your new business ought to own. With 1&1’s special 1-year hosting plan for WordPress, you can host one of our WordPress-powered “Business Blogs” for less than $36. Throw in an amazing sensation $15 domain name and your computer’s total cost is $51. And you’ll have a place online to tell your tale! That’s about the cost of a brand-new regular T-shirt. A bit expensive perhaps, but costs less than buying a regular T-shirt at your closest convenience store, or the expenses to have 250 headlines in the business newspaper of your choice. It’s a wonderful tool to pass on to your daughter in 25 years. And, by the end of the week, you will have the best website that both your self-esteem and the business will need.

In this part of the guide, you’ll understand why setting up your website in a correct way is important. Then, you will follow a 3-step simple yet effective plan to setting up your very first WordPress website with ease. First, before you even start thinking of crafting your first blog post or uploading your first picture, there’s only one thing to have in mind: make it Google-friendly. There’s no doubt about it, whether you’re fresh-baked or experienced, what everybody has in common is the same ultimate goal: to be found online and draw new visitors to our business website. The higher your site appears in search engine page ranks, the better chances you have at developing brand new potential clients. All about SEO is to get better at understanding your target market, giving them all the information they want, and taking care of improving every aspect of your site’s experience, in a natural but also a professional way. So, therefore, the #1 Golden Rule is to ‘SE-Optimize’ the living heck out of your website from the very beginning – name your blog post files correctly, choose the correct permalinks structure, install Google Webmaster and Analytics Tools. This is a serious business.

2.1. Choosing a Domain Name

Earlier it was easy to find the right name. People entered the address of a company in the address bar, which consisted of the name of a company or a concatenation of names and the trademark “.lv” at the end. However, it is important to remember that despite the fact that the word “Siemens” is in the protected trademark register, the domain Siemens.lv belongs to someone’s private possession. So the choice of the domain is broader and unique is also about the group of customers who are focused on finding a new brand or a firm. Start with combining the services you offer with related words (combinations created by imagination or using special tools). You could also combine words with a prefix “Go”, “Visit” to create a slogan, “SSD”, “Fast”, “Super”, “Hyper”, or with a suffix “Where”. Think, or create an association game, if by writing or speaking the name you intended to register, GoSuperHardwarelv, your customers will automatically remember what services or products you offer. If the product doesn’t hide in GoSuperHardware, then it’s so that you absolutely need something else in it.

When the time of choosing a domain comes, people often become worried if the name they picked is the best choice or if someone else needs it too. Do you know that you should never talk about your domain in the café or discuss it with someone else but your family? Chances are that someone sitting at the next table has overheard you and quickly bought it before you did. I will now explain how to choose correctly. The domain name of your site should clearly show what services your business offers. Let’s look for ideas of well-chosen domains. You have decided to create a site for your enterprise dealing with homemade milk cheese. Combining the words “homemade” and “milk” hides in itself the high quality of your products. And if the domain turns out to be not busy, then it should definitely be bought.

2.2. Selecting a Hosting Provider

Nearly every major hosting company now offers WordPress tailored hosting. Some of these companies may also offer localized hosting, meaning local support, data centers, rates, and servers. It is always a good idea to use localized hosting to speed up your site. This will, in turn, improve both user experience and Search Engine Ranking for visitors located in your geographical area. Stay away from hosting environments that require you to share your servers with other businesses. Doing so can be dangerous. If another website on your shared server incurs a problem, your own website could also be affected. Keep in mind that your website is a marketing tool. When users interact with your site, they’re also interacting with you. Be sure that all of your users have a great experience by providing a safe and secure browsing environment. Ultimately, your hosting provider is just as significant as your website’s design. It can make the difference between a failed or a successful online business.

Most WordPress hosting providers will actually install WordPress for you. This allows you to have your site up and running quickly at a very low cost. It also eliminates the compatibility errors caused by installing WordPress manually. Many hosting providers also have a variety of features and tools to make WordPress customization easy. That said, it’s still essential that your hosting provider is there when you need them. You need a hosting provider that offers excellent technical support. They should also offer serious security tools, regular backups with restoration services, and a wide variety of hosting plans. In addition, you want a hosting provider that makes WordPress installation easy and offers a control panel with a variety of features and complex tools.

2.3. Installing WordPress

Wait for the installation to complete. This takes just a couple of minutes. After that, go back to the management panel and look for the icon that says ‘Setting up WordPress’. When you click on it, you will be offered to choose the domain where to install your new blog. It will be a brand new domain if you followed step 1. You can keep the next two options as default for now. A directory name asks if you want WordPress to be installed on an isolated page. In most cases, our answer will be no. And then – plugins. This is the final step. You don’t necessarily need those right now. At least they are not dependent on each other. And to make the website nice, we will choose a different set of plugins. Click on ‘Install WordPress’ after you go through these steps. After that, you will receive an email from GoDaddy (or your hosting company) with the link to log in to WordPress. The username will have been set already. You’ll have to change the password on the first login.

Now let’s install WordPress on the new hosting. Open the hosting control panel. You will see lots of interesting advertising and service offers. Dismiss all that and find the section called ‘Hosting Management’. If you are using GoDaddy, you can find it in a drop-down menu at the top left. We need to go to the panel where you find info about storage used and remaining, how many sites we can host under the current plan, etc. Find the icon that says ‘WordPress’. This is a 1-click install feature. All you need is to click there. When asked, provide a username and password. It’s for the WordPress database, so keep it safe.

3. Customizing Your WordPress Website

Once your WordPress website is optimized for success, SEO must be explored to maintain the superiority of your community identity online. Local SEO is an essential aspect of Small Business Marketing. It ensures that your small community will embrace your company and that your company can also entice customers from further regions.

Logos and Graphics: Yes, that bird drinking coffee on a branch has prompted an association to Seattle and coffee, but that’s no reason to be discouraged. In all cases, a clever design will not make your company immune to the elimination of the competition. Your local business is defined by your superior knowledge, the personal service you’re able to provide, and the equipment you possess.

Headers and Backgrounds: These two items can vault your website into a creative reflection of your industry, region, community, and, most importantly, your business. As the highest regarded WordPress designers in the area, we always provide the businesses we design for with an online research tool that allows them to find copyright-free images to use on their headers and backgrounds. Your business website is in all probability an extension of your business vision. Use these customizable elements to illustrate that.

Themes: Presently, WordPress (excluding WordPress.org) offers approximately 202 themes. That’s quite a few and should offer you a bit of comfort in knowing that you’ll be able to locate a theme that best matches your industry. Keep in mind that this is simply the first layer of customization for your website. Furthermore, the themes that are presented aren’t the only ones in existence. Your website could consist of a theme that was custom-designed.

One of the very best things about WordPress is that it’s completely customizable. You’re sure to want your local business website to accurately reflect the particular flavor of your community. Here are a few ways to do just that:

3.1. Choosing a Theme

Your website will have a header, a body and a footer. The skin, colors, and layout are of your choice. Regardless of the customization, the information you need to add to your website is always the same and you need to be very careful with them. At this point you also need to secure your domain with an SSL certificate in order to be able to propose website translation. The website will look like a total disaster if you don’t. But remember, it’s not the end of the world. Ask for help and hire specialists when you feel overwhelmed. Website customization can be fun and is rewarding. It’s also a powerful trust building and selling tool. Always keep in mind that you are in control. The objective, the core vision is yours so it has to look like YOU. According to Matthew Shack who is the founder of a WordPress Web Design Agency, the most important thing is branding. “You need to present yourself. Your webpage should be a reflection of your business,” he says.

The next step is choosing a theme. This is the way your website will look like. You will find out that there are thousands of free themes in the WordPress repository as well as an impressive number of commercial themes. A word of caution though. Although it’s very tempting to start with a Nike-Jordan design, you need to make sure that the theme reflects your values and the message you want to bring forward. You need a professionally-looking theme, not a work of art. Customers come to your website to get information and your website has to make a good first impression. Most of the work, nevertheless, will be done behind the scene. Once you have chosen a theme you like, what makes it really shine and stand out is the way how you put together pictures, text and graphics. Another thing to keep in mind is that the theme has to be responsive. This means that the website will look like a mobile version when someone looks at it from a smartphone or a tablet. At least 50% visitors will come from smartphones or tablets so you cannot ignore their preferences.

3.2. Installing and Activating Plugins

It is this structure that makes WordPress our CMS of choice at FosterSoft. Although using 30-50 plugins indicated by this series to launch your website sounds like a tall order, there is a tiny bit of good news. About five of these plugins are installed together by Jetpack and WordPress SEO plugins. The remainder need to be installed and activated individually, and in the right order. After you finish step 3 below, I suggest you take a break for a day or so before you move on to step 4 to understand the context. Some might find it useful to sign up for our Optimization package instead of losing their minds going it alone.

There is no way the default WordPress installation can satisfy the needs of all modern websites, more so the over 6000 currently active ones. To manage that, WordPress relies on plugins. In the wisdom of the community, functionality that is normally required is split into separate plugins. That way, the website owner is free to install as many plugins as they need, only paying for what they use.

3.3. Customizing the Layout and Design

The WordPress themes you choose to install make it unnecessary for you to create your website from scratch. These themes give you everything you want in a website—a layout, design, and functionality—right off the bat. The best thing about WordPress – out of many fabulous things – is its ability to accept and accommodate new installation of a theme. By finding, testing, and choosing from thousands of themes available online, you can change not just how your WordPress website looks, but how it performs. That means that installing a new theme drastically affects your website, giving you a chance to see what you’ve built as an interactive platform that instantly reacts to your decisions. Indeed, you will quickly learn that a website is not a static thing; it’s a well-designed creature you need to grow and serve in order for it to thrive.

Now it’s time to really build the website you want. There are five main things to customize, and in the remaining part of Chapter 3, I’ll talk about how to really make the website your own. First, you’ll want to adjust the title and tagline of your website. Then I’ll offer practical advice on how to change the theme selection for your website. And what follows would help you learn how to customize the header and bottom of your website. All is followed by instructions on how to customize the widgets that come with the most commonly used WordPress themes.

3.4. Adding Essential Pages and Content

The eighth step is to add to your website the essentials that allows your website to either acquire or retain leads. We begin with the following key pages that acquaint prospects with the “5 W’s” (who, what, why of your business), what makes you special, and what people like about your business. The page titled “about our business” can also first explain with additional 210 word text the full 5 W’s of the business (more than what it was possible to cover on main page). The page titled “What we do” is the simplest. It contains up to 90 characters that convey the unique selling point of the business with a service or product name provided with a simple explanation. For example, “get your teeth white” or “get your taxes done right”. Such descriptions must stay in line with keywords entered in the business’ description at the Google+ Local Business Page.

This is it! Our next, 7th step to build a perfect WordPress website for a local business (whether it is a spa, hair stylist, dental office, and the like) is to create a simplest possible home page. Remember, recent surveys have confirmed that 90% of all of your visitors will only visit your home page. As a high-level local business owner (a professional, physician, dentist, attorney, etc.) you are probably conveying excellence with your image. A professional photo of yourself or of a staff member conveying professionalism should occupy 50% of the page’s space. Include here a photo of the exterior and the interior of your business. Add 90 characters of text that includes your name, location, phone, website, and email. Below the fold line (after positioning the mouse on “about”), to provide the little text as “the business”. The text may provide up to 30 words that convey why prospects should choose your business.

4. Optimizing Your WordPress Website for Local SEO

If you have already set up your profiles, use simple call to action buttons with a clear instruction for what you’d like people to do. You can use something like “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter” in the text. We may ask why we should bother with schema markup in the event that links are sufficient to let search engines know that these pages are ours. The short answer is that it’s just data that we should help search engines understand and use, in the same way that we should tell them if something is a business address or phone number, or a list of locations for our business. Fortunately we don’t have to build this markup ourselves and the actual data science knowledge is becoming irrelevant—there is plenty of software out there that will do it for us. For those who have done the work to identify platforms that may help their business, it’s worth asking some structural questions about what your business specifically is and how you can best explain that to a potential customer or search engine.

Tying these social platforms into the front end of your site is a major win. There are two main strategies to doing this: display links to your business profiles on your header, footer, and contact pages, and use schema markup to help search engines understand that these pages are related to your website. If you haven’t set up social media profiles yet, start with Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. These are the minimum platforms that your WordPress site should connect to. If you’re targeting the photography, fashion, or food markets, you should also set up a Pinterest and Instagram account. If you are a real estate agent, consider Instagram and Snapchat as future options due to their much younger demographic.

4.1. Keyword Research for Local Businesses

Keyword research for local business slowly gets to one of the biggest Google mysteries: the difference when people search as individuals and when businesses search for a product or service. Let your customers describe what they need. Try to understand the articles that you have written so far and the needs they solve for your potential customers, and start from there. Be prepared that people in all the surrounding areas will try to come and buy your services. This means that potential searching customers will ask Google “… near me.” At the beginning, you have to be unstoppably present. Later, when it becomes useless and it will be clear to others who is the “king of the local market,” Google will hand over fewer and fewer premium spots for you on the first results page.

Normally, long keywords would have a very low search volume. That is exactly what you want. The most important thing is to find your own long-tail keyword phrases, or in normal plain English, keywords that are neither searched by many nor used by many in their articles, but they are relevant to some people. Your most financially successful articles are exactly those that have a low search volume so far.

In our keyword research, we are going to dig deeper and identify keywords for your blog and website that will bring you the most additional customers. Other keywords are just garbage and bring along a lot of noise. Usually, you can find a lot of probable keywords you could use in Google Search. Just write a search phrase, and Google will suggest many similar phrases. The most important thing is to find long keyword phrases for which you can easily write a very specific article. Google searches for unique content, and you cannot be unique simply by writing short general articles.

4.2. Optimizing Meta Tags and URLs

Search engines love websites with nice and clean URLs, and WordPress will help you choose its URL structure in the way you or search engines prefer. You can make your URL more friendly in the permalink section. Ensure that you select the “month and name” option to let WordPress use the post title for the URL. WordPress SEO plugins by Yoast will help you make additional URL modifications to improve your WordPress website’s search engine visibility. The adjustments you have to make in the URLs are: shorten the URL length by deleting unimportant terms, shorten the URL length by providing hierarchy, make the URL contain simple keywords that are viewable and easy to understand, eliminate unnecessary characters such as commas, and also add stop words.

Optimizing meta tags is the other part of SEO, which is very important for your website’s visibility in the search engine. The implementation of meta tags will guide search engines to understand more about your website. The information on the meta tags will influence search engines in their ranking when you include keywords that potential customers search for. To apply meta tags in your WordPress website, you can use a plugin called WordPress SEO by Yoast. The meta tags that you will have to use are: title, meta description, and tags. Below is some information about using WordPress SEO for optimized meta tags support for better on-page SEO.

4.3. Creating Local Business Listings

Once you have confirmed that your Google My Business listing is active, you’ll notice a pop-up window that has claimed your business listing. It’s important to know this in case of future references when setting up your other business listings. After confirming the current status of your listing, you can create or log in to your Google account. Then, you will be prompted to enter your business name, address, and the main business category, too. This is necessary as your business will be listed under a specific category that will enable interested visitors looking for similar businesses to find them. The category is crucial as it helps Google determine what searches your local listing belongs to. Be sure to add or change your categories as they’re very vital for appearing in relevant, local searches.

Now is the time to create your local business listings. And if you follow these steps, you can get your business listed on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and a myriad of other search engines and directories in no time. After creating or verifying your Google My Business listing, you’ll be able to add, change, and even remove your listing if necessary. You can also add multiple business listings or confirm if the existing ones are correct. To create or claim a listing for your local business, you’ll need a Google account. This is for individuals who will be managing the listing, as it’s advisable to set up first as the owner by managing the account. Only follow these steps if you have already verified your business or confirmed your business information is accurate.

4.4. Generating Online Reviews

One of the reasons why reviews offer such value is because of their “permanence.” They can’t be altered or changed like they can with testimonials. If there is a negative review, you want to address it promptly and respectfully, as to dissuade future criticism. If your business is good, most people tend to be understanding. If your business is in the wrong, ownership says: “let’s change things.” If your business is in the right, that same ownership says: “let’s do things to make the customer happy.” The customer is ultimately the deciding factor if something is considered “being in the right or wrong.” The key is that you have to be aware of the customer’s experience and be able to react to it in the short term, and then proactively change in the long term.

While you do want to have positive online reviews, one of the key aspects of online reviews is to have several of them. Google Reviews are a great tool to leverage, especially for local businesses. Also, if your industry is highly driven by reviews (like most local businesses), there are all sorts of other places to generate them. The only place where you want to exercise caution though is Yelp. Yelp has exploded in the last few years, but their reviews aren’t always accurate or honest (i.e. reviews are tagged by culture such as someone saying “I’m very high on the food, but low on what the house provides, so I give it four stars.

Enthusiastic to explore wonders? Step in and uncover what truly makes us unique!

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