If you are familiar with the SEO strategy trends, you must definitely know that SEO never remains the same. With respect to local SEO, it’s imperative that you optimize your on-site and off-site SEO strategies for potential clients searching for your local business. As local competition is becoming more and more intense, it is more important than ever to be on top of your rankings.
We have composed a list of effective local SEO tactics for you, following which will help your business gain a higher ranking for local search terms.
Don’t underestimate title and meta description tags
The text of your title and meta description tags – HTML elements that can be crafted to reflect the content of your web page – is displayed in search results. This text can be perceived as a “mini-ad” that needs to be carefully crafted for a competitive advantage.
With consideration of this fact last year, the width of the main search results area has been boosted to 600px. by Google, the title tags’ length can now be about 50-60 characters, and description tags are allowed to be about 160-200 characters. We recommend that you use this precious space to your advantage. Ensure that your titles and descriptions aren’t being dropped in search results.
In case you don’t have a clear understanding of the future appearance of your title and meta description tags or the number of characters you can use, we recommend that you use an emulator, such as the one provided by Yoast’s SEO Plugin or SEOmofo for WordPress.
Creating effective titles and descriptions is a form of art. Considering the abundance of competing search results, your text has to be original, compelling, and descriptive in order to have a shot in this fierce competition, otherwise, your click-through rate will get hurt. Moreover, one additional word or character could get your text surrounded by the notorious ellipses (…). While this would not be the end of the world, it could definitely come across as unprofessional, especially if it appeared in the middle of a sentence, rendering your title or description less effective.
The point is that this space is valuable and you should make every effort to make every character count. We have prepared the following tips for you:
- It is not worth giving precious space away to page names that are not informative.
- If you intend to attract local customers, include the name of the city where your business operates and/or the area that your business services cover.
- Try to use one strategically targeted keyword, placing it as close to the beginning of the tag as possible.
Please keep in mind that you have only one chance to get the person who sees your business showing up in the search results to click on your link. Do not lose this chance by using the wrong characters that do not merit convincing a searcher that your site is worth checking out.
Web citations and directories
According to Google, search engines are used by approximately four out of five consumers in order to carry out local searches. Many small businesses miss their golden opportunity to attract local customers by failing to have any local business listings online.
Getting your business listed effectively on top online business directories, such as Merchant Circle, Yelp, Citysearch, and reputable local directories, is highly important. Refer to your local newspaper’s website and your Chamber of Commerce to find out whether they have a local business directory you can request to be listed on. Also, try to type in keywords like “[your city] directory” to locate other local directories or citation sites.
We also recommend you get the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of your company on the main citation data aggregators like Neustar (aka Localeze), Infogroup, Factual, and Acxiom. Your business’s NAP needs to be consistent on as many of these directories and citation data aggregator sites as possible. Such inconsistencies as abbreviations, misspellings, failure to include a suite number, or a wrong phone number might lead to an unfortunate situation where Google can’t determine which information regarding your business is correct and which isn’t. Still uncertain, Google may select incorrect information to be displayed or hide your business entirely within search results.
Google My Business Directory: Don’t overlook it
Google My Business (GMB) is a special kind of directory, so we decided to dedicate a separate section to it. Each local business that wants greater exposure needs to claim their Google My Business (as well as Bing Places for Business) page. It has several excellent perks: It’s free and can get your company a large online audience if you’re sufficiently optimized to appear in Google’s local three-pack.
Please go to google.com/business in order to claim your Google My Business page. You’ll first need to go through a verification process: Google will forward a postcard with a PIN to your company’s physical location. You’ll then need to log into your account and enter the PIN to authenticate your business.
This verification process allows Google to verify that your company is legitimate and that you are, in fact, its owner. Please be advised that per Google’s terms of service, only business owners can claim a GMB page. In case you hired a digital marketing agency to help with your local SEO strategy, you can make them a manager of your page, so, if your relationship with the agency ends, you would still be in full control of your listing.
Next, your GMB listing needs to be optimized with a powerful description, business hours, categories, accepted payments, etc. It is also important for you to include your business’ logo and images of the company, its products, or services. We advise you to upload at least three images.
We recommend that you fill out thoroughly every applicable section to ensure that your listing is complete. In case you are a service business without a physical location where you could receive your clients, you can hide your address upon creating your listing.
As we said earlier, there is a comparable page for local businesses owned by Bing – it is called Bing Places for Business. The setup process is very akin to GMB’s but also powerful for with Bing ranking. We recommend that you seriously think about maintaining a presence on Bing’s local directory in addition to GMB.
The importance of online reviews
Businesses are becoming more aware of how important online client reviews are. As a recent survey says, 84% of customers trust online reviews and personal recommendations equally, and 7 out of 10 people would be willing to write a review for a company if requested by it.
Below are some of the best reputation marketing software and instrument options that a business can utilize to track, manage, and obtain reviews.
Moreover, many social media websites, such as Tiny Torch and Hootsuite let businesses monitor their brand exposure and get alerts each time someone mentions their company or product. We recommend that you respond to each review left about your company, whether it is positive or negative. Responding to reviews would demonstrate to their readers that you care what your customers think and are willing to answer their questions and address their concerns.
You should prioritize getting reviews in two major places: your company’s Google My Business page and its Facebook page. Having good reviews on your company’s Facebook page can help to attract future clients, since many people visit social media to check out what their peers think about a particular company. Because reviews about your company appear on Google whenever someone searches for your business there, obtaining positive reviews on your Google My Business page is highly important.
According to Google, “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility.” This means that reviews might potentially influence rankings on the local pack.
Local structured data markup is beneficial
You can add structured data markup, commonly called “schema markup” or “schema.org markup”, to your site’s code to give search engines more information about your company, such as offered products and services, reviews from the clients, etc.
The statistics show that 1/3 of Google search results use rich snippets together with schema markup, but Searchmetrics states that only 0.3% of sites incorporate these markups. What’s more, is that there are still hundreds of sites that underestimate an SEO potential of this tool, thus if you do use it, you are five steps ahead of your rivals.
Your use of this markup is beneficial for Google to help their spiders (like Googlebot) understand your site content in the most comprehensive manner; they even offer a Structured Data Testing Tool for you to check whether your structured data markup is well applied.
If you are a coding newbie, do not be scared — you can use Google’s Data Highlighter to mark up content. Please be advised that your website will need to be properly set up with Google Search Console in order to do this.