Google can make or break you and your business. With the top 3 organic search results getting 70% of traffic, you’re missing out on potential clients by not actively engaging in a local search engine optimization strategy. By employing smart marketing, and maximizing your local appeal, your business will rise to the top. Stop thinking global, and start thinking local.
Local SEO can drive traffic not only to your website but to your brick and mortar location as well. Through an effective campaign including location-optimization, content marketing, local business listings, and backlinks, you’ll gain an edge against your local competitors.
Making an advance on the search engine optimization tips that you already know requires you to diversify your SEO strategy. Local SEO takes into account everything we know about common search engine optimization (SEO) and heightens its power with a localized twist.
Why is this important?
There are numerous tools to use for the advantage of SEO and using them as a combined force is how you truly make an impact on your digital marketing. We also have to look at the evidence there is behind local search. Local search occurs every time someone seeks out a business product or service based on locality. These could be searches for car washes, restaurants, barbershops, or any number of things. These searches for things you can’t buy online now account for roughly 45 percent of all searches. Knowing about SEO is all fine and dandy, but unless your website is optimized for your location you’ll never show up for local searches.
What Effective Local SEO Tips Should I Use Right Now?
Many of the best local SEO tips involve your website and can be defined as technical SEO. This takes what we know about search engine optimization and brings it to a higher level.
To understand technical SEO, you need to research things like schema markup, permalinks, anchored text, horizontal site construction, headers/subheads, and voice optimization.
Technical SEO is where we find the coveted local search engine optimization techniques and insights that only the best marketers know. These search engine optimization tips require a strong knowledge base, but you can get a quick overview of them right here. But before we get into the heavy stuff, let’s start with the basics.
Installing Google Analytics
Gain a more strategic edge by adding analytics to your website. Around 90% of websites use Google Analytics in one form or another, but most only use the base information it gives. You need deep insight into the activity occurring within your site. There are various tools to find out how your site is ranking and how many people are coming to your site. What are they doing on your site? What brought them to your site? Why are they leaving?
You may find that you need to adjust your search campaign. You could find people from two cities over are searching your brand more than those in the city you’re in. Analytics can help you uncover these concepts. Installation is simple. Create an account with Google Analytics and install the tracking code into the <head> of your site. To verify if it’s on a site and it’s working, you can look at real-time data in your analytics dashboard and you can also install a Google Chrome extension called Tag Assistant. Tag Assistant will tell you how many Google codes are installed on your site, which of them are working and which ones need help to perform better.
Optimizing Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is a business profile that appears in the search results. With a verified GMB (Google My Business) account, Google ranks you not only in the correct niches but higher in the results.
Verifying your business through this profile option requires you to confirm your address and location (this is done with snail-mail as your only option).
Optimizing your listing with a business description, categories that describe your business and even Google Posts can help Google not only list your business but give you more authority in that niche. Remember that no single factor is enough to optimize your brand against competitors. We have to use this profile in conjunction with all of the other SEO best practices. The ongoing competition means that search engines are aware of the different solutions you offer. You have to ensure that you provide a complete SEO campaign to make the strongest impression.
There are a lot of components that go into Google’s algorithm and best practices. When these things are implemented correctly, it helps Google rank you in the correct location and industry while increasing your online visibility. The first thing I would do in this process is run a site audit on your site. There are various tools out there to do this, but a couple of my go-to’s are through Ahrefs and WebCEO. Both of these tools offer a free trial period with no obligation. Let’s break down a few key things to look for in your site audit and easily implement for optimal SEO.
Look at Metadata: The first place to look for a solid change in local optimization is your website. Start with your metadata. In a study by Siege Media, clients experienced over a 20% increase in CTR with creative, relevant title tags and meta descriptions. Some ideas to drive clicks through your meta:
• Low Price: if you’re a low price leader in the market, mention it here.
• Freshness: emphasize how up-to-date you are (such as including “2018” in the title).
• Volume: use numbers to showcase your comprehension. “1,000 Things You Didn’t Know About…”
• Speed: Free shipping, quick turn around etc.
• Brand: mention your brand—this can add real weight and drive clicks
Look at site speed: If your site runs slow, has too much code behind it or lags, users will leave before your page even loads. This increases your bounce rate and Google notices when the user bounces back and in turn, ranks you lower because you aren’t providing the user with what they need. There are tools and techniques you can use to improve speed like image optimization and code minification. If you have the resources to have a web developer help you with these, I suggest doing that. If you don’t, there are plugins to assist with this.
Look at broken images/links: The last thing we want is for a potential customer to click on a link or image and have it take them to a blank page. Like site speed, Google notices when users return for different information and will penalize your site for broken content. Screaming Frog is a good tool to view the status code of every page on your site. Create 301 redirects to the correct pages and remove the old link from Google through Search Console. Doing this will minimize the number of people who find and click on your broken link.
Using Schema Markup
Schema Markup is an impeccable tool that allows you to provide search engines with more data than you could by simply publishing content. This system goes further than simple keywords can go. The search engines, for example, may be able to collect your data, but they need to be instructed on what that data means. It’s one thing to collect keywords from you, it’s another thing to then synthesize what those words mean and why. This goes into the topic of semantics.
Semantics are used to give search technology a better understanding of the language we use. You can better understand why this is necessary if you take a look at how we use daily vernacular. Saying “it’s money in the bank” doesn’t actually mean that someone makes a deposit. It could mean that something was achieved.
You can avoid the ambiguity that exists in your content and overall brand by speaking directly to this technology. Tell it who you are, where you are and what you provide. If you’ve ever wondered how Google pulls relevant information from websites in the form of rich snippets, it’s from the structured data on your site. Head over to schema.org to learn more about how to implement this data.
A great tool to use to streamline this process is JSON-LD Schema Markup Generator. You can input all of your information and copy and paste the code it generates right into the header of the page. After it’s installed on the site, I like to use this tool to verify that the schema is working and that I’ve put the information in correctly.
**Note: If you’re a multi-location business, it’s important that each location has a separate location page that has a separate schema markup on it. Optimize your structured data to your location and all of the business information in it so that Google ranks you in the right industry and search.
Local Content Marketing Strategy
The most important aspect of a website is the content. What if you centered all of your content around location and not so much around your solution? It would look something like this: “Five Wacky Things Only New Yorkers Would Know,” or “10 Best Places To Get Your Tire Fixed In Washington D.C.” You’ll need to reconsider what you think are hot and viral topics if you want to rank for location.
Do keyword research. Learning the searchers intent is critical in producing the right content. Start by utilizing Google’s Keyword Planner and Ahref’s keyword explorer tool. There are main types of searches that you should understand before creating content like how-to, awareness and brand research. What kind of information do your customers look for? If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your site, start with your contact form submissions and phone calls to your business and pay attention to what your potential customers are asking about.
Do a competitor analysis. See what your competitors aren’t doing in regards to local SEO. Take advantage of areas they haven’t cashed in on, and do your best to confirm location in every area of your content campaign. Find a tool that helps you do a content gap analysis like Ahrefs. With this tool, you can see what keywords your competitor ranks for that you don’t, and vice versa. Information like this can give you a great starting point for creating a content calendar for your blog or a content strategy for your entire website. Insert up to 3 competitors URL’s to monitor and make sure you change your settings to include only keywords that they rank in the top 10 for. This will help you identify the highest trafficked keywords your competitors are targeting.
Use call to actions in your content to request a user to act on a specific request like “buy now” and “sign up today”. CTAs are common in the sales funnel and might be the most crucial component of extending your marketing reach without having to do much of the legwork.
Use local relevancy for the users whose search intent is to find a brick and mortar location, not purchasing online. Each webpage should have unique, localized content.
We should all be working smarter as opposed to harder. Designating an entire page to local data is a big step to completing the entire localization package. Associating your contact information whenever you discuss location, is another strategic step to take. Search engines function on a process of confirmation when evaluating your brand and its content. This makes the online marketer’s primary task that of providing the search engines with data. It should be used to confirm the identity, location and product/service of a specific brand. Adding your business’s contact information like name, address, phone number, email, etc., you’re proving your legitimacy not only to your potential clients but to search engines as well.
**Note: If you’re a multi-location company, it’s important for each of your locations to have their own location page on your website. Google looks at relevancy and if you’re advertising a company that’s based in California, but has an office in Orlando and also a small office in Chicago all on the same page, they’ll get confused and most likely won’t rank you for any of those locations. You can and should optimize each of these pages for key phrases being searched by users (i.e. Gym in Orlando or Dental Office in Orlando).
Optimizing for Voice Search
There are over 1 billion voice searches performed on a monthly basis and it continues to grow. Using local SEO to catch these users is possible if implemented correctly. Voice search is quite different than traditional search in that those users
• Use conversational speech
• Ask questions based on location
• Provide more context to their search
• Utilize featured snippets more
• Want personal assistance
Instead of focusing on key phrases like you do with traditional SEO, voice optimization requires you to look at and optimize for long-tail keywords since most voice searches are coming from a mobile device. Over 60% of searches are said to be looking for a location of some sort, so having location pages set up on your website, as we talked about earlier, is imperative to your SEO efforts. Other local SEO techniques that can help your business show up on a voice search are
• Optimize Google My Business listing
• Use Google Posts to Keep People Informed
• NAP Consistency (name, address, phone number) with Citations
Utilizing Local Citations
Think Yelp, Bing, Yahoo etc. Having a consistent NAP across the web shows Google that not only are you a legit company, but you have authority online. This is extra important for stores that have physical locations but can help with big brands as well. Not only do local citations help with a consistent NAP, but a number of them also provide a link back to your website – a backlink. Start with the big guns like Facebook, Google Maps, Bing, Yelp etc. and work your way toward more niche directories.
**Note – you don’t want to have a billion citations from sites that have little to no domain authority or look spammy. Aim for directories that have a high domain authority and look trustworthy. Bonus points for finding directories that allow you to add your business like the ones on this list that HubSpot put together.
Local Search Engine Optimization and Beyond
After you have a solid base of SEO best practices in place, including technical SEO and content marketing strategy, consider diving deeper by adding a backlink strategy to the work you’re now doing. The process is simple, but you have to understand what backlinks are. Backlinks work toward optimizing your brand when external sites are publishing links to yours. It shows search engines, like Google, the relevance of pages, the relationship between pages and the value of the pages. The anchor text used in linking is also important. Anchor text is the clickable text that your reader sees. It should contain keywords or relevant content to what it’s linked to and in the case of local SEO, you should try to add your location into this text. Collaborating with local or national brands and websites for guest posts and showing relevancy help your backlink profile. The best way to know if a website is up for collaboration is simply by reaching out to them, showing them how you’re relevant to their site and ask if they would either consider linking back to your website or submitting a guest post to be put on their website.
If you’re working on brand recognition through backlinks, set up keyword alerts. I set up alerts through my Ahrefs portal so that if a new piece of content is found on Google with the keywords I’m tracking, I’m notified and can then reach out to those companies to have them link back to my company if they’ve written or mentioned them in a piece.
Another strong type of backlinks is those you get from content aggregation. This happens when news publications all pick up the same story, and this enables that story to go viral. This can happen by sending press releases to news channels. There are special services that send your press release to the top major news outlets. This works by getting your content sent to local channels for various districts. Some journalists are required to find press releases for interesting stories. What we’re discussing is a paid service. You’re ensured that a certain number of news outlets will pick up your press release and then aggregate it on their sites.
If all of the techniques to get you started on outranking your competitors digitally seems like a lot, it’s because it is. It takes time, trial and error and consistent effort to not only get to the top but to stay there. However, getting new clients/customers makes it all worth it. If you’re overwhelmed, know that you don’t have to implement a local SEO strategy on your own. If you’re busy running your business (obviously), let us help increase your online visibility, reputation and web traffic. Through smart marketing techniques, we can help you stand out in the digital world.