SEO or search engine optimization refers to techniques and practices used to influence a website’s ranking position in the search engine results page. Unlike traditional SEO, local SEO efforts are a lot more nuanced. There’s a lot more detail involved, more work, various elements you need to consider and, of course, a greater chance of messing it up. When executed properly, local SEO allows potential clients to find your business more easily. That said, here are 6 SEO tactics you should use to take over the local market.
1. Title and meta tags are still important
Title tags and meta tags represent specific HTML elements which can be customized to reflect your website’s content. They are both displayed in the search results, with the acceptable length for the title being around 50-60 characters and 160-200 characters for the description tags. Titles and descriptions need to be compelling, descriptive and unique, or else you risk getting a low click-through rate. For reaching local customers, it is best to include the name of the city and the area where your business resides, as well as the targeted keyword which should be placed close to the beginning of the title tag.
2. Claim the Google My Business page
Claiming the Google My Business, as well as Bing Places for Business pages is crucial for local businesses. Not only is it free, but it provides a good level of exposure, which is imperative for driving local traffic. Claiming the Google My Business page is simple, all you have to do is visit the GMB page and go through a simple verification process. This process is used to let Google know your business is legitimate. Once claimed, you have to optimize the page using a proper description and details such as business hours, categories, payment types, etc.
3. Optimizing for online directories
According to a study performed by Google, 80% of consumers use the search engines to perform local searches. Unfortunately, most small businesses simply don’t claim their local business listing and miss an excellent SEO opportunity. Green Web Marketing experts recommend that you list your business consistently and correctly in various business directories such as City search, Merchant Circle, and Yelp. Your NAP or name, address and phone number need to be correct and present on various listings, as well as on citation data aggregators such as Acxiom, Factual, Infogroup and Neustar. Any discrepancies in the data, such as abbreviations, misspellings, and wrong numbers are detrimental for local SEO, so make sure to double check the information you provide.
4. Use a local schema markup
Schema markups, or structured data markups, are used to provide major search engines with additional information regarding your business. This includes any products and services you’re offering, reviews your business has collected, etc. Schema markups are an excellent addition to doing local SEO, as they help Google’s spiders to better determine exactly what your content is all about. Google is offering a dedicated, Structured Data Testing Tool which you can use to check if your schema markup is correctly implemented. For those who don’t have enough experience, or simply don’t like coding, there’s another Google tool called Data Highlighter, which lets you mark your content up by using a mouse.
5. Work on getting (positive) reviews
Google My Business page and your business’ Facebook page are the two single most important places you should work getting reviews on. As most people use social media on a daily basis, having positive reviews on your profile can actually help drive traffic to your business. Google My Pages is equally important; as the reviews, you collect are displayed in the search engine results page whenever someone tries to look up your business. You can use various marketing software tools to monitor and maintain your reputation on social media, such as Reputation Loop, Trust Pilot, and Vendasta.
6. Use PPC for advertising
Getting your website to rank high takes a lot of time and while you wait you can use paid search to significantly boost your business profile. As a local entrepreneur, you can use PPC, or pay-per-click ads to target specific keywords your local customers are likely to type in the search bar. Once they do, the results should display your business at the very top. Simple phrases cost more than longer words, and as such are prone to a lot of competition. This is why it’s recommended to focus on a long tailed keyword which precisely targets the customer base. This way, you not only save money but also attract just the right kind of consumers.
There are more local SEO tactics which were not covered in this article, such as link building and advanced local strategies which help both with traditional and local SEO efforts. However, these techniques represent the utmost necessity when it comes to comes to local SEO efforts. If properly implemented, these practices create an excellent foundation on top of which you should proceed building the rest of your local SEO campaign and absolutely dominate the local market.
Steven Clarke is a digital marketing specialist. In his spare time, he likes to write about his ideas and share them with the world. Steven is a regular contributor to several websites.