If you’ve been following SEO methods for any length of time, you know that SEO is constantly changing. When it comes to local SEO, it is more crucial than ever to optimize your on-site and off-site SEO methods for clients and customers who are looking for your local business. Local competition is heating up, and if you’re not at the top of your rankings, your competitors will be.
Here are five strong local SEO methods to help your business rank higher for local search queries this year.
Title and meta description tags are HTML components that you can change to represent the content of your website. In search results, the text of your title and description tags is displayed. Consider this content to be a “mini-ad” that must be properly crafted.
Google extended the width of the main search results screen to 600px last year. As a result, the typically permissible length for title tags is 50 to 60 characters, and description tags can be 160 to 200 characters. Take advantage of this area and make good use of it — and double-check that your titles and descriptions aren’t being cut off in search results.
If you’re not sure how your title and meta description tags will look or how many characters you can use, try an emulator like SEOmofo’s or Yoast’s SEO Plugin for WordPress:
In the SEO field, writing titles and descriptions are considered an art form. If this language isn’t original, captivating, and detailed in a sea of competing search results, your click-through rate will suffer. Furthermore, one extra word or character could cause the dreaded ellipses (…) to cut off your writing. This isn’t necessarily a tragedy, but it does appear amateurish, especially when it appears in the middle of a sentence, making your title or description less dramatic.
What is the takeaway? This is limited space, and every character matters. Here are some pointers:
- Never squander space on page names that aren’t informative.
- If you wish to reach out to local customers, include the name of the city where your business is located and/or the area it serves (e.g., “Serving the Corridor of Iowa City and Cedar Rapids”).
- Concentrate on one targeted keyword and carefully arrange it as close to the beginning of the tag as possible.
Remember, if your company appears in the search results, you only have one chance to entice that person to click on your link. Don’t waste characters that won’t help convince a searcher that you’re worth looking at.
2. Online directories and citations
According to Google, almost four out of every five consumers conduct local searches using search engines. Despite this, many small businesses have not claimed even a single online local business listing, which is a tremendous missed opportunity.
It is critical that your company is appropriately and continuously listed on key internet business directories such as Yelp, Merchant Circle, Citysearch, and others. You should also look for reputable local directories to advertise your company in. Check the websites of your local newspaper and the Chamber of Commerce to see if they offer a local business directory where you might be included. You can also search for phrases such as “[your city] directory” to uncover other local citation sites or directories.
It is also critical to have your company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) included on major citation data aggregators such as Infogroup, Neustar (formerly Localeze), Acxiom, and Factual. Make certain that your company’s NAP is consistent across as many of these directories and citation sites as possible. Misspellings, abbreviations, a lack of a suite number, and an incorrect phone number can all cause disaster when Google cannot decide which information about your company is correct. If Google is unsure, it may display erroneous information — or not display your business at all — in search results.
3. Google My Business: Claim and optimize
Google My Business (GMB) is classified as a directory, yet it is so large that it warrants its own section. Local firms must claim their Google My Business (and Bing Places for Business) pages. It’s free and can bring you a lot of exposure if you’re optimized well enough to appear in Google’s local three-pack:
Visit google.com/business to claim your Google My Business page. You will need to go through a verification process in which Google will send a postcard with a PIN to your business’s physical location. (P.O. boxes are not permitted.) To validate your business, simply log in and enter the PIN.
This verification step is required by Google in order to validate that your business is real and that you are the business owner. Please keep in mind that only the business owner can claim a GMB page, according to Google’s terms of service. If you’re working with a digital marketing agency on your SEO efforts, you can give them permission to be a manager of your page; this way, you’ll have control of your listing even if your connection with the agency ends.
The following step is to enhance your GMB listing with a detailed description, categories, company hours, payment methods accepted, and so on. You should also include your company’s logo and photographs of its products or services. (It’s usually a good idea to post at least three photographs.)
Fill out each relevant section completely to ensure that your listing is complete. If you run a service business and don’t have a physical location where customers or clients may come to you, don’t panic; you can choose to hide your actual address when creating your Google My Business profile.
Bing, as previously indicated, has an equivalent page for local businesses called Bing Places for Business. The process is fairly similar to Google My Business, and you should definitely get your business listed in Bing’s local directory as well.
4. Online reviews matter
Businesses are finally realizing the value of internet reviews from their customers. A recent survey found that 84 percent of respondents trust internet reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and seven out of ten customers will leave a review for a firm if asked.
There are various options for reputation marketing software and tools that you can use to track, manage, and aggressively seek reviews. Here are a few to look into:
- Reputation Loop
- Get Five Stars
- Trust Pilot
Furthermore, several social media services, such as Hootsuite and Tiny Torch, allow you to monitor and receive alerts whenever your business is referenced. When a review, whether positive or negative, is left about your company, be sure to respond to it. This demonstrates to others reading the evaluations that you, the business owner, care about what your customers think.
Your company’s Facebook page and Google My Business page are two sites where you should focus on getting reviews. These are significant. Many people use social media to find out what their friends and family think about a business, so having positive evaluations on your company’s Facebook page can help you attract new clients. Positive ratings on your Google My Business page are critical since they appear on Google when someone searches for your business.
Google also mentions that “h]igh-quality, positive reviews from your customers will increase your business’s visibility,” implying that reviews may weigh into local pack rankings.
5. Use local structured data markup
Structured data markup, also known as “schema markup” or “schema.org markup,” can be added to the code of your website to provide search engines with more information about your business, such as the products you sell, reviews you’ve collected, services you provide, and so on.
Simply 31.3 percent of websites use this markup, and the majority only use the fundamentals. If you use structured data markup on your website, you may make your local business stand out (and possibly rank higher than your competition).
Google encourages the usage of structured data markup because it allows crawlers to better determine the nature of your site’s content. Google even provides a Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure that your markup is properly deployed.
If the prospect of coding makes you uncomfortable, you can use Google’s Data Highlighter to mark up text with your mouse. (Please keep in mind that your website must be set up with Google Search Console for this to operate.)
When it comes to local SEO, this is simply the tip of the iceberg. Implementing the five local search methods listed above will put you ahead of the competition. Begin right away!