Local Search Engine Optimization – Best Local SEO Practices for Business
In the everlasting race to reach more customers, businesses have started to rely on SEO to get a competitive advantage. One of the SEO most powerful methods, local search engine optimization became particularly useful.
This is why there are now many opportunities for web developers, designers, and marketers to earn extra cash. The only prerequisite is to know the best local SEO practices and how to implement them.
Best Local SEO Practices for Business
Since the SEO landscape is prone to changes, it has become very hard to keep up with the latest practices in local search engine optimization. We have decided to create and share with you the ultimate checklist of the best local SEO practices for business. Let’s get on with it.
Add Schema Markup
We decided to put the Schema Markup first because it’s one of the most powerful and easy to implement local SEO optimization techniques. When search engines crawl through the website, they try to understand the content and filter your information, so that the users can easily find what they are looking for.
Schema markup is there to help you make it easy for search engines to understand what the website is about. To start with Schema markup you have to visit Schema.org and get familiar with the tags that will be added to the HTML source code.
For instance, you can find a <div> element that gives users information about your business and edit the DIV so that it looks something like this:
<div itemscope itemtype=’http://schema.org/LocalBusiness”>
The only downside of this method is that it requires a lot of manual work, while the benefits are many. One of these is a rich snippet that will appear in the search results, making it easy for customers to see your location, opening hours, your offer, and so on.
Name, Address, and Phone Number
Name, Address, and Phone Number, or NAP, are the local SEO expert’s best friends. When Google starts to crawl through your website, one of the questions it’s designed to ask is: “Where is this business located?” In fact, NAP is one of the strongest ranking factors for local searches.
The power of your NAP efforts lies in consistency and quantity. Make sure that NAP is found on each page of the website. It’s usually placed in the footer of the website, but it can often be seen in the website header. Feel free to add it to the body of the Contact Us and About Us pages.
To increase the NAP quantity, you should also consider adding the business to all the available business directories. The best part about online business citations is that it’s usually free advertising. Use this potential to boost local search SEO and increase company visibility in local searches.
Jumpstart Local Search Engine Optimization with a Mobile-Friendly Website
Are you familiar with Google’s Mobile-Friendly guidelines? If you are not, you should definitely spare some time to go over them. This is extremely important because all major search engines have started favoring mobile-friendly websites over those that are not. By making the website mobile-friendly you will significantly increase its visibility in local customers’ searches.
Forget about making two websites, one for desktop and one for mobile. You should make one responsive website that is able to adjust and fit the screen of any device. Why? There are many reasons, the major one being that you won’t have to apply all your SEO practices twice.
There are many mobile optimization practices, and listing them all here is impossible. If you want to learn a thing or two about them, we suggest you take a look at this great Search Engine Journal guide.
Add Business to Google My Business
To make it easy for people who don’t have much time for SEO, Google has come up with the Google My Business service. You can easily leverage the powerful synergy of Google’s search and Google Maps to increase the visibility of any company.
All you have to do is go to Google My Business, fill in the forms and submit the business data. After Google processes it, the company will be visible on maps and in Google search results.
Are you wondering how your clients will benefit from this? First of all, their business will be easy to find on maps and customers will be able to use directions to easily find the location. On top of that, you’ll be able to access the analytics – insights to learn how users find your business.
You can also improve the SEO rating by taking care of testimonials left on Google My Business. Reach out to the customers who ranked the business poorly and inform them that their voice has been heard. Tell them that the appropriate changes will be made. In fact, it’s incredible how much this simple service can boost local search engine optimization ratings.
Take Care of All Customer Reviews
Once you start getting positive ratings and great comments, you will begin to see the potential of customer reviews for the local SEO optimization campaign. The statistics are here to back this up. In fact, according to this survey, over 90% of customers read online reviews when they plan on making a purchase near their location.
Do you know what helps them decide which company to choose? The answer is simple – the business rating.
Thanks to online reviews the search visibility became more dependent on customers and their feedback. Google My Business is not the only place where you should register the business. You have other options such as Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Angie’s List, and Houzz. Since this is vital for local search SEO, you might consider learning more about customer review management.
Local search engine optimization is also based on researching and choosing the right keywords. You will have to discover all the phrases and terms that the customers are using to find businesses in your client’s niche. After discovering them, you will have to analyze them and pick the best ones for your client.
Keywords are essential because search engines use them to understand what the website is about. Combining keywords with Schema markup is the recipe for success that you should definitely add to your practice.
Keywords used in any local search engine optimization differ from the ones used for global ranking in one key aspect – the geo-modifier. Geo-modifiers are words added to the keyword phrase. They make the keyword specific to the unique geolocation.
You can research the keywords and assess the estimated search traffic for each one of those by using Keyword Planner. Make sure to pick the popular ones and keep the competition levels around medium. And please don’t stuff them into the content on your website – give your best to add them naturally to your articles, titles, and metas.
Now that we’ve mentioned metas, why not continue with them? The meta description has one single purpose – to help users and search engines quickly see what awaits them on the web page if they click the link. If you prefer technical terms – meta descriptions are HTML attributes placed within the tag that provide concise summaries of website pages:
<meta name=”description” content=”Compelling and interesting text that will show up in search results.”>
While you don’t have to add your keyword with a geo-modifier to a meta description, you will have to try and keep it as descriptive and interesting as possible. Since metas can be as long as 156 chars, you will have to tune up your writing to nail your local search engine optimization strategy.
They don’t impact the SEO directly but they can boost click-through-rate (CTR). And we all know that the higher the CTR is, the higher the page’s rank in the search engine result pages (SERPs) will be. If you want to master meta descriptions, we suggest you go through this great guide found on Moz.
Optimize Your Images
If you thought you weren’t required to optimize your images, you were wrong. Image optimization is an important part of local search engine optimization. This has to be done if you want the search engines to see the images like you want them to be seen. Leverage the following opportunities to fine-tune the local SEO optimization:
- Optimize Alt-text – if an image fails to load, the alt-text will load instead. Write the alt-text so that it describes the image, but don’t forget to spice it up with a geo-modified keyword.
- Optimize Title text – you know that text that shows up when your cursor hovers over an image on a website. That’s the title text. Make sure to put your keyword in it.
- Optimize Image File Names – if you want to excel in local SEO, you should never forget image file names. And once again, include keywords to the image filename, separating each word with a dash.
Summing up Local Search Engine Optimization
You can use different local search engine optimization techniques to increase the website rank and visibility. If you don’t know where to start, Mr. Mario Peshev, CEO of Devrix has some excellent advice – “Local SEO is a segment of SEO. All rules apply here – with the caveat that you can leverage certain channels limited to your own region. Think of newspapers, restaurants, your town’s Chamber of Commerce, sponsoring local events. And expand from there.“