What is local SEO?
We all know SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plays a critical role towards the success of your website. There are literally hundreds of SEO tasks to do, so where do you start?
SEO tasks should be prioritised based on your business needs. For instance, you may have a small business that provides child care services in your area or region. Visitors outside your area are unlikely to be interested in your services. That’s where Local SEO comes in. Local SEO allows you to focus on reaching just those visitors in your geographical area.
You still need to focus on your overall SEO strategy such as content marketing and link building etc, but you will have a better reach by putting a stronger focus on using local SEO.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.
First you need to become familiar with Google My Business by registering and verifying your business. There are several steps to follow and you need to fill out all required information, address, service location, images and other promotional works etc. You may need to wait several days until Google verifies your account. This often includes sending you a postcard containing a validation code. You will need to enter the validation code to complete the process.
If you have completed everything correctly, Google should begin to serve your site’s listing when people search businesses that provide your services/ products, including a map to your location, your website, your phone number and hours of operation.
Reviews and ratings
Reviews are a major ranking factor for local SEO. Getting positive reviews and managing negative reviews plays a very important role. Here are some activities you should do to ensure your ratings help with local SEO:
- Follow-up with customers after they receive services/ products to ensure everything was as they expected and ask them for a review on your Google My Business site. Be realistic about what you promise and don’t try and make it a sales pitch. Over-promising often leads to low customer satisfaction.
- Listen to negative reviews and thank the reviewer for their feedback. If possible, offer them compensation in some form and let them know how you will improve things.
- Always ask for reviews from satisfied customers. Dissatisfied customers are far more likely to post a review than those satisfied with your work. This means you have to work much, much harder getting satisfied customers to even out your reviews.
- Integrate positive reviews with your website so visitors can easily read how wonderful you are. Consider integrating reviews with your product or services pages.
- Never pay for any reviews.
Meta tags and markup languages
Schema markup has been around for some time but is often neglected as part of SEO. It’s use has progressively decreased with the rise of new Google Algorithms, such as Panda and Penguin so you still need to focus on good meta tags. If you have to use a Plugin consider using All in One SEO or Yoast to add appropriate meta tags to your pages.
For local SEO, make sure your meta tags include location information, such as Richmond, South East Melbourne or Victoria.
Make sure your content is marketed well, containing unique, valuable content on a consistent basis. Don’t make it a sales pitch or promotional material. Blogs are commonly used for providing good outbound links with infographics, posting at least once a week.
Make sure your social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are combined with your blogs. Make sure most of what you share is non-promotional, and only share promotional material occasionally. Also, sharing other peoples content is good because it encourages them to share your content.
Is your web page mobile-friendly?
Remember, users are much more likely to use a mobile device to access local businesses. Make sure that your site is responsive and adapts to a variety of devices with different screen sizes. Google now penalises websites that don’t look great on mobile devices. Test how easily a visitor can use your page on a mobile device by using Googles Mobile-Friendly test.
Also make sure it’s easy to navigate and find menus, maps, phone numbers, and addresses. Consider using site like responsinator which helps you quickly get an indication of how your responsive site will look on the most popular devices. Just remember that it won’t precisely replicate how your site will look, for accurate testing always test on the real devices.
Beware of SEO agencies who promise to rank you number 1
Once upon a time you could circumvent or manipulate search engines to drive traffic to your site. This type of SEO used to achieve quick results in ranking and helped boost traffic to your site and is defined as Black Hat. Black Hat SEO refers to the use of aggressive SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that focus only on search engines and not a human audience, and usually does not obey search engine guidelines.
If Google detects Black Hat practices they will ensure you never show up in search. There are SEO agencies that still use Back Hat techniques and my advice is to stay well clear of them.
Below is an informative checklist which you can use courtesy of Velvet Cloud One