9 Simple Steps for Better Local SEO
:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::
Local SEO is an essential and efficient strategy for businesses that want long-term success across search engines. With Google placing a growing emphasis on local searches, now is the time to start reanalyzing your local optimization strategies if they are not working as planned or are non-existent.
The number of online searches carried out on mobile devices has increased significantly over the past few years. According to Google, the majority of these mobile searches are carried out while on the move. With the rise of mobile devices, such as Apple watches, proximity-based searches will continue to grow in popularity, and local searches will be determined by hyper-specific locations. Since local searches often lead to in store visits or purchases, there is no denying the value of ranking locally. Below we are going to discuss proven steps you should be taking to improve your local positioning.
Step 1: Optimize Your Google My Business Page
Your Google My Business Page is the backbone of your local ranking strategy, take the time to make sure you set it up properly. If you haven’t already, you will need to claim your Google My Business page. Google My Business is a unified interface designed by Google to make it easier for local businesses and brands to be better found by local searchers. Essentially, an account with Google my Business allows you to combine social, search and Web initiatives into one dashboard. When you log in your dashboard, you will be prompted to fill out all your essential business information. The more you completely fill out your business information, the stronger your foundation will be. Here are a few key areas to touch on when optimizing your listing:
• Add a unique business description that is grammatically correct, descriptive and includes links to your other social profiles.
• Add a business address that is consistent with that on local directories as well as your website.
• Add a local business phone number to your listing – if using call tracking, find a local number.
• Add your opening times/ days
• Select the correct category for your business
• Upload a high-resolution cover photo and profile image
• Upload as many photos as possible
• Get real reviews from your customers
Step 2: Build Citations with Authority
Citations are basically details of your business on other websites. Search engines use citations to establish trust that your business is real and is actually in the location you are telling them. Businesses with more citations are more visible in local search results. Having correct and consistent citations is vital when it comes to local optimization. Before doing any new citation building, start by conducting an audit of the company’s citation profile. You will want to ensure that your citations are clean, and the NAP (name, address, and phone number) are submitted correctly. Building new citations, updating incorrect citations and enhancing your profile with as much data as possible can result in significant local search wins. Be sure to include photos in your citations as well.
Citation Building Hack: Distributing a press release using a high-quality syndication service can allow you to gain numerous unique, unstructured citations to your business.
Step 3: On-Page Optimization of Website/Landing Page
On-page optimization for your enterprise’s landing page or website is an essential aspect of local optimization. Some small businesses rank high in local searches if they only have solid on-page optimization. For optimal on-page optimization:
• Optimize title tag - Make sure your title tag contains city, state and your keyword is key.
• Include your service and location in alt text for images and your logo.
• Add Schema markup with your location.
• Write content that is unique and discusses location specific attractions/information.
• Link each location specific page on your site to the corresponding GMB listing.
• Remember to include customer reviews and testimonials
Step 4: Use of On Page Geo-Tagging
Geo-tagging refers to the metadata that is embedded into a photo to enable the search engine to see the association of that photo with a specific location. It is a way for companies to optimize their images for local searches. In order to geo-tag your photos you simply need to find a tool that will allow you to edit the EXIF data of your photos.
Step 5: Increase Number Quality of Inbound Links
A few years back local SEO was primarily citation driven but after the introduction of the Blended Search Algorithm, links became just as important for local SEO as they are for organic rankings. There are three types of links you should strive for as a local business:
• Location specific websites such as a local blogger in your town.
• Niche-specific blogs located anywhere but topically relevant to your business.
• High trust/authority general blogs such as local news sites, chamber of commerce or unrelated businesses in your city.
Step 6: Ask Your Customers to Leave Reviews
Having positive reviews online helps to build credibility and trust, something that most future customers will look for actively. It is essential that you gather local business reviews right away. Rather than bribing your customers, simply give them a list of review websites and let them know that you would love hearing their feedback. Consider creating a page on your website that shows all the review options, or you can send out emails to past clients asking for feedback.
Step 7: Choose Social Media Platforms Serving Your Customers
Social media can indirectly drive links to your website. It can also boost engagement, generate shares and serve as another primary source of traffic to your website. As a local business, do not fall into the trap of thinking you have to be active on every social platform under the sun. Instead, do your research and find out which platforms your IDEAL customers are likely to be on, then create a posting schedule, engage with followers and take advantage of paid ad options when available to drive social traffic to your site. If you feel like social isn’t right for your business type, you may be right, so don’t be afraid to spend your time and money elsewhere.
Step 8: Take Advantage of Visual Content
Most customers respond well to visual content. Use infographics, images and videos in your website content whenever possible. This will make your visitors stay on your site longer, increasing the chances of them turning into a lead or sale. Focus on enhancing user experience and you will find it easier to earn more links as well.
Reduce, Recylce, Re-use – Whenever you have content like images, infographics or videos, be sure to repurpose them to create links and citations. Your video can be submitted to several sites with your NAP data in the description. Your infographics can be used to build links and citations. Your images can be geo-tagged and added to your citations and photo sharing sites to generate additional local signals.
Step 9: Constantly Test and Optimize
Almost every local niche has its own unique recipe for ranking. While following the basic steps for local SEO will do the trick in many cases, testing will allow you to uncover ways to rank faster and maintain your top spot. It will also enable you to spot shifting trends in your local results and adapt your strategy before you use any rankings.
As a local small business owner you often have a lot on your plate and limited time to get everything done. While the steps above are not complex, following them is going to be a good use of your time and effort, especially if you are looking to capture more of your local traffic.
Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a Web design and marketing firm located in Franklin, TN. Travis and his team are equipped to handle any size SEO project and have helped numerous businesses to date build a rock solid online presence. When you are ready for more leads and sales, it is time to get #stellarized. Connect on Facebook or Twitter @theseoproz