Does Local SEO scare the bejesus out of you? It used to scare me too. But I know that website SEO is a critical part of a strong SEO plan.
Search engine optimization is overwhelming for most local business owners, but we're here to change that. Once you're done with this article, you'll have some simple, actionable tips to create an SEO friendly website.
Just remember, SEO IS A MARATHON! It can take time to see results.
Let's get to it...
Why Local Website SEO is Very Important
Local SEO has come a long way since its birth between 2003 and 2005. It isn’t just about local mom-and-pop shops anymore. Anyone can basically take advantage of its awesome benefits.
Here are some of the reasons why creating an SEO friendly website is important for your local business.
1. Google favors local businesses.
I'm not sure if you've noticed that Google has shown slight favoritism toward newer, smaller, more active companies over the years.
With features such as Google Post, Google My Business, and its unique algorithm tech called Pigeon, Google empowers small business owners to break new ground by targeting local, national, and even international markets.
2. Personalized results are going to get bigger and better.
What do you get when you combine location, previous searches, and browser history? Personalized search results.
Search engines love giving people what they want including unique individual search results. This is to increase the relevance of the results for the particular user.
The importance of local SEO will only grow as search engines grow more sophisticated and users start demanding even more individualized results.
3. Mobile and wearable devices are expanding.
42% of all mobile brand experiences involve search and the wearable industry will grow to $95.3 billion industry by 2021. What's in it for local SEO? Mobile devices and wearable tech both depend on local SEO.
Proximity-based searches will likely start, if it hasn't already, to become more popular, and local searches will feed on hyper-specific locations, instead of just on a regional or neighborhood-specific basis.
4. Local website SEO squashes competition.
Remember that new businesses and new websites are created each day which makes search engines too crowded. Stiff competition results in a drop in potential search visibility in many areas.
The best way to beat the competition is to optimize locally and find smaller target niches in order to achieve or maintain relevance. Local SEO becomes more important as competition continues to increase.
With that said, here are some helpful tips on how to optimize a website for local search...
Awesome Tips on How to Optimize a Website for Local Search
I'd like to jump-start this section by showing you the different factors that affect local search ranking.
We’re all looking for things physically near us. This is the reason why creating an SEO friendly website is so important for local businesses.
In order to show up in search results, you must optimize your website for local SEO. Here are some helpful tips to do just that...
1. Optimize your Title Tags
A title tag is an HTML component that defines the title of a web page and it is meant to be an exact and concise description of a page's content. It is displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) as the clickable headline for a given result.
Title tags are very important for the following factors:
Search engine result pages
Title tags determine how a website title display in SERPs. It's also a web visitor's initial experience of a website.
Always remember that a good title can be the DECIDING FACTOR in determining whether or not someone clicks on a link even if a site ranks well.
A title tag is displayed at the top of a web browser and it acts as a placeholder. You will notice this every time you open multiple tabs.
Know that unique and recognizable titles with important keywords near the front help ensure that people don't lose track of content.
Now that we have established the importance of title tags, let's talk about some simple tips for optimizing them:
- Keep your title under 60 characters long.
- Always put important keywords in your title.
- Avoid stuffing a list of keywords or repeat variations in your title.
- Assign a unique title to each page on your website.
- Add your brand to your title.
- Write a title tag that directly speaks to your customers.
- For local businesses, add location information to the title tag.
If you'd like to dig a little deeper into title tag optimization you'll find the following articles really helpful:
2. Optimize your Header Tags
Header or heading tags are part of the HTML coding for a Web page and they are used for the creation of headings, as the name implies.
Header tags are defined with H1 to H6 tags. H1 tags are the most important heading on the page whereas H6 indicates the lowest-level heading.
Header tags are used in your on-page website content. Headers help search engines identify what a page is about. It's very similar to a table of contents in a book.
Here are some writing tips to keep in mind when optimizing heading tags:
- Narrow each page to just one H1 heading.
- Avoid irrelevant words to the page’s content.
- Add exact target phrases and keywords within heading tags.
- Include target phrases toward the front of heading tags for best performance.
- For local businesses, add location information to some of your heading tags when relevant.
- Always follow the Header Tag Hierarchy. (H1, H2, H3, H4, and so on)
3. Optimize your Meta Descriptions
The meta description tag is the 160 character snippet in HTML used to describe a web page’s content. Search engines like Google use these snippets in search results to let web searchers know what a page is about before they click on it.
Meta descriptions don't really impact your local SEO, but they do impact whether people choose to click on your listing in the search results.
Better meta descriptions entice people to click your listing!
Here are some tips to help you write better meta descriptions:
- Always add words that describe value in your description to give web searchers a good reason to click on your result.
- Always use high-converting calls-to-action.
- Test your meta descriptions by using different description lengths, phrasing, and positioning of your keywords.
Here are some additional resources on meta description optimization if you'd like to learn more:
4. Create a Separate Page for Every Product, Service, or Location
One of the many things that can hurt local website SEO is page consolidation. Every product, service, or location must have a separate page.
Page separation is a best practice that serves as a clear sitemap for search engines, it helps every single page rank higher, and it opens the door to schema markup for each page.
For example, as a marketing consultant, we offer a number of different digital marketing services. Each one of these services (email marketing, content marketing, etc.) has its own page on our website.
If I was a restaurant owner with multiple locations, I would have a dedicated page on my website for each location.
5. Use Local Business Schema
Another way to let search engines know what type of organization you are and what you do is to use Local Business Schema.
Local Business Schema is a type of schema markup code you can add to your website to improve ranking.
Here are the main areas you want to focus on:
- type of business
- business phone number
- company name
- company logo
- business description
- website URL
- other social profiles
- business address
If you are using WordPress for your website there are a number of different schema markup plugins that make this really easy to do.
6. Claim Your Google My Business Page
Claiming your Google My Business listing and filling out important business information is imperative to local website SEO.
Google My Business accounts for 25.12% for the Local Pack and 8.85% for Local Organic. The success of your local website SEO depends heavily on your GMB listing.
Claiming your GMB listing isn't enough, make sure you optimize your GMB listing to get better results.
7. Directory Listings and Citations
Citations account for 10.82% for the Local Pack and 8.41% for Local Organic. There's no denying that online citations can help boost local search ranking.
An online citation is a mention of the Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) of a local business. Citations occur on local business directories, on websites and apps, and on social media platforms.
A Directory listing is a library of important information like NAP, website address, map listings, etc.
Check out our article about Why Directory Listings & Citations Are Key for Your Local Business to learn more about this important ranking factor.
Have you checked your local directory listings lately?
Run a FREE scan to check the health of your online business information now! You'll instantly get access to your report.
8. Get Active on Social Media
Social Signals account for 2.82% for the Local Pack and 3.47% for Local Organic. They may not be as high as other factors but they're still important.
What is a social signal? It's engagement on your social media pages. When people comment or like your posts those are social signals.
What you need is to create a social media marketing plan that works and learn how to manage it.
9. Take Advantage of Online Reviews
When search engines calculate the best results for a certain search inquiry, they look at a number of factors in their algorithm. The number of reviews you have on review sites are all part of that process.
Online Reviews account for 15.44% for the Local Pack and 6.47% for Local Organic so it only makes sense to use them to improve your local search ranking.
Remember that online reviews, including negative ones, are important because they build trust and confidence which are the ultimate driver for sales and business growth.
In addition to improving your local SEO, online reviews also entice people to choose your business over the competition!
10. Implement SEO Best Practices Throughout Your Website
Optimize On-page Content
Aside from title tags, header tags, and meta descriptions, you should also work on your site's on-page content.
No need to keyword stuff, but sprinkling in relevant keywords and location information will help improve the SEO traction of your on-page content.
Google likes to rank web pages with fresh content. So, it's important to find ways to update the content on your site regularly. The easiest way to do this is through a blog.
A Uniform Resource Locator aka URL is also important in local SEO. It improves user-experience, rankings, and linking power.
You want to make sure keywords are in your URL's and if location information is relevant that should be in your URL's.
Here's a URL cheat sheet from Moz you might like. Just click on the image to view the full article.
And those are our top website SEO tricks for local businesses.
These SEO friendly website hacks are not set in stone and may change in the future, but if you implement them now, you will surely reap great results.
As always, don't hesitate to seek help from experts if the need arises. We are just a click away!
Did you find these tips helpful? Is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments section.
If you feel this article is worth sharing, we'd be honored.
Are you looking for more solid local marketing tips and tricks? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Local Marketing.
Header image courtesy of Pexels.