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Local SEO for Beginners: 5 Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings

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Particularly for new local businesses, competition is fierce. Figuring out how to rank high in Google’s search results is a huge challenge for many businesses.

When someone requires the services of a plumber or a landscaper, they will frequently conduct a Google search and contact the first few names that appear in the results. It is critical to climbing to the top of the rankings in order to grow your business.

We’ll walk you through our tried-and-true, step-by-step process to catapult you to the top of the list in this guide. But first, let’s take a look at why local SEO is so important…

3 Reasons All Local Businesses Should Invest in Local SEO

1. Google is the New Yellow Pages: Until recently, placing an ad in the Yellow Pages and waiting for the phone to ring was the tried and true strategy for local businesses. Today, however, a staggering 97 percent of people use the internet to look for local businesses, with Google being by far the most popular option.

2. Free Traffic: Despite the fact that search advertising can be a very effective channel, nothing beats free. You can benefit from an ongoing stream of free traffic that you can convert into customers if you improve your organic Google rankings.

3. Level Playing Field: Small local businesses compete on an equal footing with larger, national businesses in local SEO. It’s not uncommon to achieve first-page rankings in as little as 30 days if you follow Local SEO best practices.

Here are the 5 steps to get you started…

Step 1: Select Your Keywords

Make a quick list of simple keywords that describe your services first. An accountant, for example, might use the terms “accountant,” “cpa,” and “tax advisor.” Continue until you’ve compiled a reasonable list, then sign up for a free Google AdWords account.

You don’t have to create or fund an ad campaign to use the Google Keyword Planner, but you do need a Google Ads account to use it. This useful tool allows you to enter your chosen keywords to see how much traffic they generate, as well as suggestions for related keywords you may not have thought of.

You’re ready to finalize your list after running all of your potential keywords through Google Keyword Planner. All keywords can be divided into two broad categories:

Buying Intent Keywords

People looking for keywords with buying intent are looking for your product or service right now. For example, someone looking for “tax help Orlando” is likely looking for answers to specific tax questions as soon as possible.

Your initial focus should be on keywords with buying intent, as these are the ones that are more likely to generate leads and customers for your company. Include those keywords in your homepage’s content and create service pages for them. The #1 most important “buying intent” keyword should be the focus of your homepage. Then you should optimize each of your service pages for keywords related to those specific services.

Research Intent Keywords

Keywords with research intent indicate that a prospect is “just-looking” or possibly looking to do the work himself. The person may require your services in the future, but not right now. For example, the question “what does a cpa do” indicates that the prospect is just beginning to consider how an accountant can assist them. Similarly, someone looking up “how to plant a dogwood tree” might not be interested in hiring a landscaper right now.

Keywords with a research intent should not be prioritized because they do not result in quick conversions. Keep them, though, because they’re great for FAQs and blogs. These educational posts introduce you to potential customers who may remember you when they are ready to buy.

Step 2: Optimize For Your Keywords

You can now move on to optimization after you’ve finalized your keywords. You must optimize your Google My Business profile and your website separately for them. Here’s what you should do:

A) Google My Business

Consider your Google My Business page to be a mini-website that will appear in the Google local listings’ “Map” section. It provides a quick overview of your company.

The important thing to remember is that for many local searches, Google prefers to show Google My Business pages. When people search for a dentist or a yoga studio, Google recognizes that they want to see local results, so it prioritizes the “Map” results (Google My Business listings) over the regular website results.

Your Google My Business page must be completely filled out and accurate in order to rank on the first page.

To get you started, here’s a checklist:

  • Verification: To begin, claim your page and submit it to Google for verification. Google will send you a postcard with a verification code in the mail.
  • Make sure your company’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) is current and consistent across your Google My Business profile, website, and other online listings. With MozLocal, you can check the accuracy and consistency of your NAP. Choose a local phone number rather than an 800 number to show Google that you have a local business.
  • Google categories must be more focused on services than on results. A fence company, for example, might select Fence Contractor and Fence Supply Store, as well as any additional services such as Handyman. Aim for a total of 3 to 5 categories. Mike Blumenthal has compiled a handy list of Google My Business categories.
  • Your description, which should be between 100 and 200 words long and end with a call to action, is a brief overview of your business that concludes with a call to action. Something like this could be used by a fence company: In Your City, Name of Company offers professional fence building and repair or similar services. Provide some background on your business and/or why customers choose you. For a free estimate, call Phone Number today!
  • Hours: Double-check that your business hours are correct and consistent across the Internet.
  • Images: Images help potential customers connect with you and can increase customer engagement. You might include a few photos of your office and staff, your team at work, or even your satisfied customers, depending on the nature of your business (with permission).

B) Website Optimization

Start with your core pages, such as your homepage and service pages, and optimize them for your chosen buying intent keywords. Later, you’ll use your research intent keywords to optimize your blogs and FAQs, or content pages. Here’s how to do it:

i) Webpage

A 50 to 65-character title tag, which is roughly equivalent to a book’s chapter title, is the most important element on your homepage. A title tag like this could be used on an orthodontist’s homepage:

Name of Your Practice | Orthodontist in Your City

The meta description, which should be between 100 and 150 characters long and describe your core services before concluding with a call to action, comes next. It might look like this for an orthodontist:

In Your City, Name of Practice provides high-quality orthodontic services keywords. To schedule your free evaluation, call the Phone Number today!

Next, make sure you have a well-written H1, your page’s visible headline. It should be short and to the point, and it should include your primary Google category. Here’s an example of an orthodontist’s homepage H1 template:

‘Orthodontist in City, State’ is the name of the practice.

Finally, think about the copy on your page. It should be 500 to 1000 words long, well-written and edited, and liberally sprinkled with your primary keyword. Give some background on your company, a brief description of your main services, and a strong call to action at the end.

Also, make sure your homepage has a prominent call to action “above the fold,” so it’s clear how to contact your company without having to scroll down the page.

Service Pages (ii)

Each of your core services should be listed on its own page. Follow the same steps as you did for your homepage to optimise each for a buying intent keyword.

If you’re an attorney with several practice areas, you might want to create a separate page for each one (such as estate planning, criminal defense, and personal injury). And each of those pages should be optimized for both the service and the location keywords.

The title tags for the pages, for example, could be structured as follows:

Attorney for Estate Planning in

Attorney for Criminal Defense in _City_, _State_ | _Name of Practice_

Personal Injury Lawyer in

iii) Pages for Locations and “Service Areas”

We recommend creating a page for each of your locations if you have more than one.

If you travel to your customers/clients, we recommend creating a Service Area section of your website with 5-10 pages optimized for your top 5-10 priority towns.

The service keyword and the geographic keyword pertaining to your primary service and the town could then be included in the title tag of each page.

iv) Every page has a NAP

We talked about how important it is to have accurate and consistent Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) information for your business online earlier. One crucial step is to have your NAP listed on every page of your website; a simple way to do this is to include your company’s name, address, and phone number in the footer of each page.

Step 3: Develop Citations and Links

You’re ready for citations and links now that the skeleton of your local SEO campaign is in place. Both increase your online visibility and help you climb the Google rankings.

A) References

A citation is simply an online directory listing of your company’s NAP (name, address, and phone number). General national directories, such as Yelp, general local directories, such as your town’s Chamber of Commerce website, and industry-specific directories are all popular choices.

Make certain that your NAP is consistent across all of your listings. Moz local can be used to check the accuracy of your NAP.

B) Hyperlinks

It’s critical to establish a foundation of links in order to compete with your local competitors.

Directories are a good place to start when it comes to building links and citations.

Consider your “real world” offline relationships with colleagues, partners, and suppliers, and see if you can get links from their websites or swap links with them.

Also, look into where your competitors are getting their links. Moz Link Explorer and Ahrefs.com, for example, can show you where your local competitors get their links.

Step 4: Request Reviews

There are two reasons why online reviews are so important. First, they inform Google that you are running a legitimate business. Second, they can aid in persuading prospects to try your company. All reviews are beneficial, but Google My Business reviews are clearly the most crucial for improving your Google rankings.

Sending your customers a direct link to where they can leave a review on your Google profile is the best way to get reviews. We recommend sending an email to your customers with the direct link. The only issue is that Google does not make it simple for you; you must create this direct link yourself.

Here’s how to go about it. When you search for your company name, a Google My Business profile preview should appear in the top-right corner of the search results. Below your profile preview, you’ll see the “Write a Review” button next to your company name. Copy the full URL from that link and paste it into your browser. That is the link you should send to your customers. Because it will be a long link, simply include a hyperlink in your email and say, “Click here to leave us a review.”

People are generally eager to assist, and doing so on a regular basis can ensure a steady stream of new reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Results

It’s critical to track your Local SEO results so you can see what’s working and what isn’t, as well as how to improve over time.

The following are the three most important metrics to keep track of:

The following are the three most important metrics to keep track of:

A) Rankings

Google’s search results are personalized based on your location and previous browsing history. Using a tool is the best way to get consistent ranking metrics (rather than checking manually). Rank Ranger, AgencyAnalytics, and BrightLocal are some of our favorite tools for tracking Local SEO rankings.

B) Traffic

Use Google Analytics to track your website’s traffic or visitors.

We recommend keeping a long-term and short-term eye on organic search traffic trends. For example, look at long-term SEO traffic trends over the last year and compare the most recent month (January 2020) to the previous month (December 2019) as well as the same month the previous year (e.g. January 2019).

You’ll be able to tell whether your traffic is increasing over time, as well as how each month compares to previous months. If you have a seasonal business, it’s also important to compare the previous month to the same month the previous year.

C)Leads 

Finally, it’s critical to keep track of the leads your website generates. Set up Google Analytics Goals to track web form completions when people fill out a contact form on your website, sign up for a coupon, or subscribe to your email newsletter, for example.

You can track how many leads you’re getting from SEO using Goal tracking in Google Analytics, as well as which pages on your site are generating the most conversions.

Need help with getting your business found online? Stridec is a top SEO agency in Singapore that can help you achieve your objectives with a structured and effective SEO programme that will get your more customers and sales. Contact us for a discussion now.