What Exactly Is SEO?
The term SEO means search engine optimization. When it comes to the meaning of the term, it means to drive traffic to your site organically or in other words, free. The results are based on the search results produced from the search engine.
When it comes to major search engines such as Yahoo, Google, and Bing, each one has their own set of results. Therefore, one company may appear higher on Google than it does on Bing. A company’s local listings or videos are shown in the search listings based on what the search engine deems the most relevant to the users who search the term. Unlike paid advertisements, this is a free service and not paid for.
If you market for or own a local business, you probably understand and have faced many of the challenges that come with a local marketing campaign as opposed to a non-geographical specific brand.
Fortunately, local SEO is not too much different than a traditional SEO campaign, and many of the local search results are beginning to change more rapidly to accommodate local listings.
Image Source: Moz
In the chart that you see above, you will notice that it breaks down the different variations and ranking factors within a local SEO campaign. You want to pay attention to these. One of the key areas you should look at is the on-page SEO factors and links. These play a huge role in your SEO campaign and can affect your results. The main different is the TYPE of links that you use and you need to focus a bit more on these.
Below, we will go over some of the different techniques that you can start adding to your routine to help you get better local SEO results.
Where to Start
Okay, the first step is not going to be starting to find as many links as you can. In fact, there is some work that needs to be done FIRST and foremost. If you want to rank well, you need to think about your strategy. Take a moment to look at the image below:
If you want your company to appear in the search as above, you need to stop worrying about link building and you need to focus on My Business signals, local NAP citations, and local reviews of your business.
Google My Business in Detail
If you do not already have a Google My Business page, you need to go claim yours. It is not necessary to get into all of the specifics of how to set it up right now because there are other articles available to help such as this one.
The only thing you need to focus on is once your page is setup, you need to make sure you:
- Upload as many photos as you can
- Add a unique and long description of your business and include links
- Add your local phone number
- Get some real reviews from customers
- Add your business address as it appears on your website
- Choose the right category (s) for your business
- Add your hours of operation
- Upload a high-res image of your business and a cover photo
Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP)
You NEED to be consistent. You NEED to make sure that your NAP matches what is on your website. EVERY page of your website. This cannot be stressed enough. You must use all of the EXACT details/format whenever you mention your address or phone number on other websites too
A great tool to help you is the Schema.org markup. This will ensure your information appears correctly on all search engines.
Screenshot source: Bespoke Music Tuition
In the screenshot above, you will notice that this local business in London has placed their NAP in the footer section of the website, marking it with Schema.org.
Here is the code that you can use for your website:
<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” />
Simply change all of the bold text to YOUR own information.
To view more detailed NAPs, take a look at this article written by Jayson DeMers.
Local Reviews of Your Business
Local reviews directly impact your local search rankings, so you want to make sure that you take some time to get people to leave them for you.
It is important to know that this means not just Google reviews. In fact, you should focus on getting reviews for Yelp as well as other directories that focus on local reviews. Of course, you want your first priority to be Google, but not your only priority.
The best way to get results is to reach out to your current customer base and ask them if they would be willing to leave you any type of review. Another great option, sourced from Greg Gifford’s recent talk at BrightonSEO, is to create a single page on your website that will direct customers on how and where they can leave a review for you. This is actually an effective method.
Factors for Local On-Page SEO
When it comes to SEO, local on-page SEO typically follows some outdated practices in the SEO world. You always want to try to squeeze in local content when you can.
We do not need to go into a bunch of detail about this, as you can read this article to get more tips about it.
Here are some important things to keep in mind about your local on-page SEO:
- Add a city/region, plus a relevant keyword, into your landing page H1 tag
- Add a city/region, plus a relevant keyword, into your landing page title tag
- Add a city/region, plus a relevant keyword, into your landing page URL
- Add a city/region, plus a relevant keyword, into your landing page image ALT attributes
- Add a city/region, plus a relevant keyword, into your landing page main content
Embed a Google map with a business marker on your landing page
Image source: Aran Sweaters Direct
You also need to make sure that your website is also mobile-friendly or else you will have a problem. In fact, Google favors businesses that have websites that are mobile-friendly.
Image source: eCO2 Greetings eCards
Local Citations and Link Building
It is important for you to link build within your local SEO campaign. This is part of the equation that is often overlooked and many people do not even pay attention to it.
Local SEO heavily relies on more links from other websites that are closely related to your business. You do not need to grab high authority links when you focus on local SEO campaigns.
Local directories are a great source for you to start link building, especially when you need to start building some citations.
“A citation is an online reference to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP).” (source)
You do not have to link citations, which is a relief, but you do need to make sure that they reference YOUR business NAP.
Strategies for Local Link Building
There are many different ways that you can build links and if you want to a lot of them, check out this link building strategies. We will focus on acquiring links for your website and ones that will be successful in a local campaign.
Here are some tips to help you get started with the process:
Create a single local resource from some of the public data and then reach out and get press coverage from your local stations. Here are some sources to help.
Head to Meetup.com and look for local events that are relevant to your industry. From there, contact the relevant companies and ask them for a sponsorship. If they choose to accept, you will receive a link from their personal website and also on the Meetup.com page. Here’s an example.
- Sign up to press request services and see if you can get quote in local publications
- Run a local event or meetup of your own and try to bring in some links on the local event page
- Enter local awards
- Line up columns and interviews with some relevant online publication companies
- Offer a scholarship to students
- Run an add on Reddit
- Perform some local PR outreach
- Give discounts to local companies and organizations that promote your products and services or that feature a link to your website on theirs.
- Perform competitive link research on your competitors
SERP Click Through Rates
If you have heard anything about local ads, you have heard about SERPs and the click through rates. There are many reasons why you need both to be happening and Google AdWords uses these two things to help rank your website.
Moz’ Rand Fishkin performed an experiment that yielded some interesting results. He used his Twitter followers and measured the impact that a SERP CTR could have on search rankings. In as little as an hour, he saw results.
Here, we have run some similar tests of our own and we have found that there are some shorter wins, but the CTR MUST always be consistently high, otherwise, your rankings will never stabilize. One of the first things you need to do is reduce your bounce rate as well.
To help maximize your SERP CTR, try these:
- Use your Google+/Facebook/Twitter/Reddit pages to help split test your titles and to measure some of your CTR
- Use Schema.org markup
- Have a very detailed meta description
- Make your title tag readable
- Concentrate on link building in the local sense
- Get your Google My Business page up and running
- Optimize all of your search engine snippets
- Make sure you optimize your landing pages with some local keywords
- Get reviews on Yelp and Google
- Make sure your NAP is consistent