Don’t understand local search? Don’t know where to begin? Here are basic SEO tactics to get your local SEO going.
SEO strategies change all the time, and if there is one thing that is sure it is that Google is going to change things making it necessary to change your SEO plan. In 2018 it is more important than ever for your local SEO strategy to be optimized for both onsite and offsite work, if you are going to have your business be seen by local customers. There is more competition every day, and if you are not ranking at the top of page one, then your competitors are.
Here are some basic local SEO tactics that you can use to help your business rank higher and be found by customers in local search.
Use Title And Meta Description Tags
The title and meta descriptions of each page of your website tell Google and searchers what that page is about. Google still uses the titles and descriptions on your pages as a ranking factor, meaning that you can rank higher by writing an accurate title and description that is unique and explains what the subject of that particular page is. A few years ago Google increased the width of the main search results to 600px, and this means that you can safely write titles that are upwards of 60 characters long and descriptions that are almost 200 characters long. You can think of these items as advertisements for the page, as they are all that are going to be seen in the search results that Google delivers to your potential customers. You have only these spaces to convince your customer to click on your result and read the text on your page. If you are using a WordPress theme for your website, there are emulators you can use like Yoast’s SEO Plugin that will allow you to see what your display will look like, and if you are not using software to see the results then you can just wait a few days for the page to be indexed then see the way Google is displaying it. If you are seeing the text be truncated like this (…) you will want to shorten your text so that all the words show in the results.
The takeaway is that every character counts. If your page is named “Home” make sure that the word “Home” doesn’t appear in your title or it is literally wasting space that is meant to convince people to click. We have seen small changes to titles and descriptions that resulted in movements of several places up in search results, so don’t waste the opportunity to get everything you can out of SEO by ignoring these things. Don’t worry about filling in meta-keywords, Google doesn’t use them.
Google My Business. Claim It And Optimize It
Your Google My Business listing is essentially what controls the maps sections that are displayed to local people when they are searching for something that Google considers “local.” The organic results will generally be displayed below these three or four listings that are positioned on a map of the area. By optimizing this section of your Google account, you can immediately jump into a first page display of your business, even if your organic listings are not on page one. You are also positioned into a section that is heavily used by locals in your area, as they want to find the most convenient location for them. Create a Google My Business profile and claim your business listing, then fill in all the information accurately. Do not try to keyword stuff here, and instead just concentrate on an honest business listing of information. Upload photos of your store and employees, and use every section that you are given the option of using. The local results in the maps section are ordered by the information in the Google My Business section compared to your website information, and an additional factor of the customer’s physical position within the geographic area. There will be variations based upon if the searcher includes a city name in the search, essentially being that if they do not include a city name the results will be ordered with more weight being put onto the businesses closest to them. If they include the city name it will put less weight on their proximity to the location, but will show results from the entire region.
Use Online Local Directories And Citation Websites
It is important to make the most of listing your business everywhere that you can list it. People use online local directories and citations websites like Yelp to help them make decisions. Additionally, Google is positioning aggregation websites at the top of search results lately. So if you are outranked by a directory, you are going to want to be listed on that directory. It is very difficult to outrank websites that have ordered lists of other websites, so be on the lists they provide. Google also uses the mentions of your website from other areas online as a ranking factor, as well as star ratings and confidence signals. Get busy making sure that your local business is listed on every local business directory that is provided.
Google Reviews Matter. Online Reviews Matter Too
Reviews are very important to your local listing on Google. It is one of the factors that is considered for positioning within the local maps sections, and it can be the difference between a 3# position that shows you in the maps at the top of the organic listings and a #4 that does not. Google looks for reviews from legitimate customers, and is going to place more weight and value on reviews from profiles that have been active reviewing other things. Trying to write fake reviews yourself will probably backfire, as Google notes the IP address of the computer that is providing the review. If all your reviews are coming from the same IP address, the reviews are probably fake and Google will not show them, or not use them to boost your rankings. This is an issue if you let customers log into their accounts on your computers at your location in order to write reviews, as they will have the same IP address. If you are connected to a network, the computers in your location all have the same IP so it is not going to help to try and use multiple computers. Ask your customers to review you when they get home, instead of trying to get them to do it at your location.
Keywords in the customer reviews are a ranking signal today. This means that the keywords that your customers use are going to help you rank higher for those keywords. Getting your customers to use specific keywords in their reviews is pointless, as most people have no idea how to use keywords in sentences without appearing un-natural. The best strategy is to simply solicit as many reviews as possible, and let Google decide which ones to display.
Reviews on other websites like Yelp also matter to your ranking on Google. Yelp also uses a system that strips out reviews that come from the same IP address, and unfortunately if someone logs into their account from your IP address, that review is forever associated with your IP even if they write it from a different IP later. You may want to reconsider customer access to your network if you are trying to solicit local reviews that will stick.
Local Structured Data Markup
If you understand how to use structured data markup (schema markup) then do it. Google is placing more and more weight on schema markup to understand what websites are about, and they are even providing their own testing tool to show you what they see Structured Data Testing Tool . If you are using WordPress, there are several schema markup plugins that are available for you to input information correctly into your code, or you can use the Data Highlighter within Google Webmaster Tools to actually highlight the data right in your code in an easy fashion. Schema markup is more difficult than the basics of local SEO, and is probably considered to be more of a mid-level to advanced SEO tactic. Only 31% of websites use schema markup at all, and even less use local aspects of it.
Doing some of these basic local SEO tasks may help you rank higher within local search results. Chances are that you will probably not be able to outrank websites that are using professional local seo companies, but at least you will be getting into the game and might be able to move up a little.
If you would like a free consultation on your local SEO project for your business in your city, feel free to contact us at 702-997-1252. We are physically located in Las Vegas NV, but can discuss your project via phone or webchat no matter where you are located.
We look forward to talking with you.