While it may seem daunting trying to take your business to the top of the SEO ladder on a global scale, it’s actually more challenging to understand the quirks of your local market.
Excelling at local SEO is a far cry from what you would expect from your average SEO formula, and just when you think you’ve grasped the concept, the landscape changes on you.
The major SEO factors still apply, as they do across the board for most marketing campaigns, yet learning your local track will advance you further than the basic link and on-page SEO methods could ever get your small, local business.
Preparation is Key
Chasing downlinks isn’t necessarily the first step you want to make when creating a good local SEO strategy.
There’s some upfront work you would be wise to focus on before introducing your business website itself.
If you want to set yourself up for landing on the first page rankings, then do yourself the service of spending more time not only relying on general link-building, but updating your local NAP citations, local customer reviews and keeping track of your Google My Business signals.
Google My Business is highly important for putting your business profile on the map. Claiming your business page isn’t hard to do, and there are plenty of informational sources out there to help you get your page set-up and ready to fly.
However, there are a few more tips for giving your business that extra leg-up in the rankings.
- It’s important to add in a full description of your business, incorporating that unique quality to your service that no other business can compare to.
Throw in your links and correct your formatting into this description as well to give yourself optimal results.
- Categories are highly important, so make sure to choose the right ones.
- Upload plenty of photos to entice your potential (and existing) customers.
- Add a local phone number and make sure to verify your business address so it’s consistent across the board in all directories.
- Add your opening and closing times for the customer’s satisfaction (added perks like this will lead to better customer reviews, a topic we’ll dive into soon).
NAP Information (Name, Address, Phone Number)
It’s essential for your business to ensure that your business’s basic information is correct on every page of your website, as well as in all of your directories.
You don’t want to lose customers off of a simple mistake, or a lack of attention to detail.
Full local citations are the way to go.
For a handy way to keep your NAP information correct across multiple sites, spend some time developing your Schema.org markup language.
Search engines will be driven to this information automatically, and ensure that your business is labelled correctly at all times.
Before you start stressing out about not understanding code or HTML basics, there’s a basic code that you can apply to your own website, merely exchanging your own business information where the bold text currently stands out:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/LocalBusiness”>
<p itemprop=”name”>COMPANY NAME</p>
<p itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<p itemprop=”streetAddress”>ADDRESS LINE 1</p>
<p itemprop=”telephone”>PHONE NUMBER</p>
<meta itemprop=”latitude” content=”LATITUDE” />
<meta itemprop=”longitude” content=”LONGITUDE” />
Local Business and Customer Reviews
Want a direct impact on local search rankings? Local customer reviews are the way to go. You’ll want to spend extra time acquiring them to display on your site. After all, customer reviews are one of the most trustworthy factors for your business. They instill greater potential for more customers and keeps your existing loyal customers coming back. And Google reviews aren’t the only priority. Put more attention on getting reviews on your Yelp page (which is generally organised through Apple Maps), along with other local directories relevant to your community.
To start, it’s best to get in touch with your easiest chances for good reviews by getting in touch with your existing customer base. Encourage them to leave you a proper review, one that can be showcased on your site and invite more local interest. You could also incentivise them by offering a discount, supporting their business with back-links, etc. Or enhance your business’s website by utilising this tip from Greg Gifford‘s discussion at BrightonSEO: set up a separate page on your website entriely devoted to giving instructions to your customers on how to properly review your business (i.e. yourwebsite.com/review-us/).
It gives that extra element of organised professionalism, and it’s extremely effective when it comes to getting in touch with the less-technology-inclined customers as well.
Review acquisition is a major influencer when it comes to your business, so don’t slack on this step of your local SEO ranking progression.
Upgrade Your On-Page SEO Factors for Local Prosperity
On-page SEO for local businesses follows many of the same old-school SEO tactics that any business would, even on a global scale. But there’s a larger expectation for your on-page content in the local search listings, maintaining that sense of familiarity and inviting your local community to join in on your business. So it’s undoubtedly important that you prioritise the value of your content and citations over almost anything else. Here are a few helpful techniques that go above and beyond the basic instructions for optimising local on-page SEO.
Add your city and region, including any relevant keywords, within your:
- Landing page title tag.
- Landing page H1 tag.
- Landing page URL.
- Landing page content.
- Landing page image ALT attributes.
And it’s also encouraged that you embed a Google map with your personal business marker on your landing page, to make your location appear more easily visible and more reliable.Also, these days, optimising your website to be mobile-friendly is vital to gathering all of your customer bases. Check out Google’s mobile search update to optimise your mobile outreach.
Build Up Your Local Links and Citations
Link building, while seeming the most obvious for local (or any) SEO campaigns, is incredibly important – and also overlooked more often than you may believe.
Differing from your standard SEO campaigns, local SEO relies heavily on links from other local business sites, especially those also relevant to your business.
While high authority websites are great for link-building and upping your stakes, ranking-wise, getting links from relevant websites closer to you in your community are important for bringing in customers from other businesses selling similar things to what you do.
Local directories are, for this reason, highly useful resources for link building, and this isn’t truer than when it comes to building citations.
Citations don’t even necessarily need to be linked directly; they just need to incorporate your business’s NAP info consistently with the other citations around you.
Up your chances by using a tool like Bright Local to verify the info on your existing citations, while also keeping a focus on your competitors’ citations (which you can then add your own to as well).
Follow these few guidelines for getting local citations:
- Indulge in a service like WhiteSpark, who help you find and upload local citations.
- Filter through a comprehensive list of citations on the Moz website, while also submitting your own.
- Invest your time in a tool like Majestic or Open Site Explorer to combine competitive link research and search for citations that your competitors have already been attached to.
- Set up Google Alerts to track for any word-of-mouth promotion regarding your competitors’ NAP listing.
More Techniques for Local Link Building
There are plenty of ways to build or earn a database of links, and if you’re looking to score with a good amount of them, centre your attention on gathering links that are especially useful within local link-building campaigns.
Here are a few steps for success:
- Use the power of your local community. Go to Meetup.com, search through a varied list of local events relevant to your trade, and find their websites. Once you’ve located them, use their contact sheet and discuss sponsorship. If they decide to work with you, you’ll get a link from their website and their Meetup.com page, which is an essential location for getting higher traffic.
- Form your own local resource page from public data. Contact any local press to get coverage on your business. The focus your efforts on running your own local meetup or event, adding in links from the local event page at the same time.
- Get in touch with press request services to get a quote in local publications, which is great for reaching higher authority links in your city.
- Set up a conversation to circulate on feeds through Reddit (within your industry’s scope) as well as within other local communities.
- Call in for interviews and blog posts with relevant online publications who are willing to help spread your name.
- Give discounts or share backlinks with other local organisations for your products and services.
- Spend more effort reaching out to local PR firms, to get both online/offline attention in local communities.
- Expand your competitive link research, leveraging any opportunities that your competitors have already achieved gains from in the past.
- Finally, offer general scholarships or student job opportunities (search community colleges and universities for links from their career pages).
Integrate your CTR From SERP’s Into Your Overall Approach
It’s also highly beneficial to focus on your CTR (click through rate) when gathering data and considering your ranking from SERPs (search engine results pages).
In fact, Google’s core Quality Score measures make this signal so strong, advancing it within their Adwords platform.
In general, it makes sense that they would measure any and all user experience data that searchers are aiming to find.
This method does earn your business rankings some short-term wins, but CTR needs to consistently remain high to ensure that they’ll be able to stabilise over time.
To upgrade your SERP CTR, try a few of these ideas:
- Organise your Schema.org markup correctly, adding in positive reviews.
- Create a title tag that’s as easily readable as you can for your customers (potential and existing).
- Use a detailed meta description, making sure to add in words relevant to what users will be looking for in their search.
- Use your favourite social networks to split test titles and measure your CTR from those areas. Carry on with those findings to change your SERP snippet where necessary.
Overall, it only takes a few key steps, and a different outlook on future research, to really elevate your local SEO rankings from their current standing.
- Keep your citations updated and correct, so as to drive traffic your way efficiently, every time.
- Optimise your contact pages with local relevant keywords you’ve acquired through your research data.
- Make sure your NAP info is always right, across the board with local directories.
- Encourage and always use customer reviews on your site to engage further action from potential users.
- And absolutely maintain a steady process of link-building throughout your community with other local businesses.