Local SEO offers a number of opportunities to optimize your website for several locations. However there are two sides to this coin. The right practice can mean some good results while the wrong one can mean being penalized by Google.
To start, you need to maintain comprehensive data of your local SEO campaign to avoid any kind of duplication. It should help you in ensuring the highest standard of implementation of your local SEO efforts. Additionally, research and studying the nitty-gritty of local SEO you can tailor a successful strategy rather than following dicey practices.
Evaluate your Market and the Competition
The starting point is always beginning with market research. Start by gauging the local content in your niche and its links. This will help you determine your attack strategy. For instance, take the niche of personal injury lawyers. If you are to target big cities with your campaign, you need to evaluate each market separately with regards to general and targeted markets.
This should help you budget according to your requirements. With a larger budget you can take on bigger markets. However if you have a small budget the smaller markets may be an apt choice for you. Evaluating the market will help you get insight into the traffic, ranking and some of the SEO factors to help your campaign.
Assess the Population Size
The population of every city is a significant statistics. The numbers, characteristics and overall demographics should give a peep into the buying cycles of that market. This is especially important for two reasons:
Are you selling in a high potential market that needs your service?
Is the timing of your trend the most favorable one?
These should help you maximize your local SEO efforts.
Analyze your Competition
Every market is going to have local competition for the same product or services. Analyzing your competitors means evaluating the competitor’s ranking. It helps to take a look at what linking strategy they are using, their content marketing efforts and the structure and layout of their site.
When targeting a linking strategy it is essential that your campaign is highly localized and specific to the market you are targeting. Local rankings are highly contrasting to organic search results. This is because ranking factors are dependent on the signals on your site for your location. Local directories are a handy tool in this case. They do the work of getting links for your site quickly.
Other links can come from the local newspaper’s website or from any site with the name of your city in the URL. The local chamber of Commerce is also a good place to have links. Remember to keep a check on the sites that link to you to avoid any penalty from Google.
All your efforts could go down the drain if you do not ensure compliance with Google’s quality guidelines.
Using tools such as Cemper’s link alerts help you check your competition’s strategy is a great way to enhance your chances. It is however necessary to ascertain that you build high quality links that are Google compliant as well to maximize your chances.
Content is another great tool to help maximize your local SEO efforts. The content needs to be highly optimized to cater to the needs of your local audiences. This strategy includes optimizing the URL, title tags, Meta keywords, headings, internal links, meta descriptions and a lot more. It also includes mentioning your business location in text form and not image form. Though Google crawlers do take images in consideration, taking a chance is not worth it.
Though meta- keywords may have been considered obsolete, you still need to smartly use it in your strategy. Use some targeted keywords cautiously to make the best of it.
Well Optimized Title Tag
The optimum length of the title tag is 50 to 60 characters however the newest approach is to optimize it according to the pixel width. The title tag should also preferably include the keyword phrase for the targeted location.
Well Optimized Meta Description
The optimum length is 150 to 160 characters. The newest approach with this regards is also the pixel width. The targeted location keyword phrase should surely go into the meta description even though this has no relevance to ranking. It only makes your document more approachable.
A local phone number can be included for adding a local signal which doubles as point of conversion. This is because today search results allow users to directly make a call from the search page without going to the website.
Well Optimized Meta Keywords
The Meta keywords tag may be an old practice but it is still relevant to optimization. However you need not waste too much time that other aspects are overlooked. Also be sure not to stuff tons of keywords in the meta keyword tag.
Well Optimized Schema Markup for locally optimizing rich snippets
Yes, it is true, schema.org markup is essential for enhanced local SEO though it may not be a ranking factor. It is still a huge help when it comes to appearing in the rich snippets results of Google search for your location and is a great way to get your site higher on the charts.
However the differentiation needs to be made that it is not a local ranking factor but an avenue to ensure your site appears in the top result page of the SERPs.
Targeted Local Keyword Phrase and a Good H1
An amazing way to ensure local on page optimization is a quality H1 header tag with a targeted local keyword phrase. There are no character limits but it is recommended to keep it short and eye catching to attract readers. Take care in ensuring that the keyword used in your H1 tag does not appear aggressive to your readers.
Natural Optimization for the Main Article
With Google’s Florida update keyword stuffing went unceremoniously out of order. Not only did the search giant come heavily down on sites that did so but it also created a new significance for natural content.
Just like it is important to optimize for organic SEO, it is also important for local SEO with targeted local phrases. When you have dedicated pages for multiple locations it is important to optimize them to suit the local audience there.
Make Your Local Content Unique for Every Page
Remember that though you are optimizing for different locations, you should not use the same content. Google’s latest Panda update has forced a stop to it. It is important to create quality content for each of those pages of different location that are being optimized. Lazy SEO where they only change the location based parts while using the same content thinking only users from those locations will check the page.
While this may be true in parts, it is not entirely the case. You would want to take into account visitors who want to visit other pages as well. Take for instance someone who is visiting a particular location and checks both the pages. This is sure to affect the way a user views your business thus affecting conversions. It goes without saying that you need to use unique and quality content for each location. It is good precaution from future updates to algorithms and even manual penalties from Google when you will be asked to change the content.
Boost Quality with Longer Articles
Article length is another aspect to consider when it comes to local SEO. Articles that are longer perform better in terms of lesser bounce rate, better retention and better chances of being shared more if they contain the right information. 400 words seem to be the optimum size for most industries.
It is also important to check what your competition is doing by going through their search results. However be careful about checking what really is affecting the site traffic whether it is the articles or quality links that benefit the organic traffic. It is just as much likely that a 1000 words article is more popular than a 4000 words article. It helps give you an idea about the general range you should be targeting.
The gist however is that a 1000 article can still beat a 4000 word article if it has all the correct and precise information for readers. Your content has better chance when is specifically caters to the needs of your target audience. You should also try to share it with relevant sources that promote it.
Here is a summary of the dos and don’ts discussed in this article:
1.Stay away from bad content for every page and increase the local SEO information
2.Don’t stuff your content with keywords
3.Do ensure that the meta keywords, meta description and title tags are optimized
4.Do ensure proper optimization of content text
5.Do ensure that H2s do not include the targeted keywords and are punchier and eye catching enough to draw attention
6.Do ensure the inclusion of schema markup if you want rich snippets for your local SEO campaign
Optimizing for Off-Site Signals
Firstly, do conduct a local SEO audit of existing off site-signals. This should help you judge your current campaign and make changes accordingly if needed. If it needs to be changed, it should be cleaned from the ground up to make it highly effective.
What to Target in your Audit
When you begin the audit there are some assumptions you start with. You may assume that the offsite signals are not right and you should be fixing them in time. When you are evaluating the offsite signals on your site, your business’ contact information is where you need to start. You may have to meet with your partners to ascertain the exact business location information. It is not easy to have a website you completely own but it is not always possible and your offsite signals will take a hit in the process.
Audit All Main Money Profiles
These profiles include Google, Bing and Yahoo local. This should be your priority after which you check the lesser profiles.
Claim All SEO Profiles
Tools like Brightlocal and WhiteSpark allow you to edit your local profiles. This will help you build a spreadsheet to analyze every single address in every profile. This is important because even a small difference in the address information can affect your local SEO. For instance,
1200 North Street
San Francisco, Florida
Is a totally different location for Google local SEO then
1200 N. St.
San Francisco, FL
This is why it is highly important to make sure that your business address matches all other addresses on offsite profiles. Otherwise it could mess up the local SEO signals thus interfering in your rankings.
Prioritize your Strategy to Go after Money Profiles and Claim Local Profiles
Use a tool like Yext to skim through all your local profiles for accuracy and to submit the site to different local profiles. You can then go to Google SERP and find those lesser sites to obtain local links. Setting up Yext ensures that all profiles are accurate which allows you to go to Google and evaluate SERPs for good links to help your local SEO ranking.
Scrapebox is another great tool to make the task easy but the manual process ensures you can vet each of the links. It will allow you to create a custom solution for your local SEO.
Define Your Linking Strategy Based on Key word Audit
You need to find the strategy that works best for your niche. For instance, if you take a keyword and look up its strategy, you may find a variety of factors coming into play. You may find a 2000 word content per day. Their link strategy will also reveal a varied link profile. How do you take this on with a lower budget? You can do this by creating a much more valuable content. By making the content more valuable you can outrank 2000 words with a 1000 words article.
Local SEO can be complicated to pursue and especially when you have multiple locations to target. You can however follow best practices, keep an eye on algorithm updates and sound research to land on the right strategy. Follow these measures with white hat techniques and Google Webmaster Guidelines and you are likely to hit that top spot.