Today’s Question: What are the best tactics for local SEO?
Stoney deGeyter’s Answer from an SEO Perspective:
I’m no local SEO specialist, but as someone deeply rooted in organic SEO, I would pay particular attention to architecture and usability issues. Local and mobile optimization go hand in hand, in many cases, and a big focus of the mobile algorithms is on site accessibility. Specifically, make sure the site is mobile usable and super fast. If you get these two things nailed down, you’re halfway there to strong local optimization.
Annalisa Hilliard’s Answer From a Link Building & Local SEO Perspective:
The local SEO landscape, along with search results in general, have seen a vast shift over the past few years. With the changes have come increased competition and fewer local pack spots (from 7 down to 3). Along with this, ads are also starting to take up real estate in the local search results. With this new landscape, local businesses must be even more diligent to implement the best practices of local SEO in order to earn visibility in search.
The factors that have always been important for local SEO are still big pieces of the optimization puzzle. This includes having consistent NAP (name, address, phone number) across the web, optimized local listings in key directories, and local specific optimization of your website.
However, these factors are no longer enough by themselves. With ranking for local being more difficult, there are additional components businesses must employ in order to win one of the coveted spots in local results. I’m going to cover four of those elements here:
- Performance signals
- Well-rounded strategy
- Review signals
- Social signals
Performance signals consist of how well you perform when your business is shown in search results. There are elements of optimization that can help or hinder your performance. Title tags, meta descriptions, and structured data are all influences. Search engines look at click-through rates to determine if searchers are getting the results they’re looking for.
Well-rounded strategy is something that all segments of your marketing should have. In relation to local, it’s just as important to implement good marketing offline as it is to be building an online presence. The two are connected. Think word-of-mouth. Branding happens both in the real-world and on the internet. Is your message consistent? Does it tie the two worlds together? A strategy that overlaps online and offline marketing reinforces your brand presence in the mind of your audience.
Review signals come from having a review strategy in place. Before you create your strategy, it’s important to find where your audience is engaging online and the best way to get their reviews. In order to have good signals, even when you get a bad review, you’ll need to monitor your brand for mentions across the web. The occasional bad review is inevitable. Plan for how you’ll handle a bad review and be sure to acknowledge it by responding appropriately. Doing so will help search engines process your reviews and hopefully keep your review signals strong. Getting reviews is a great way to build your authority.
Social signals are important for local and organic search results. Again, you’ll need to figure out where your audience is and what social networks they engage on. It’s always best to have fewer social networks and do well than to be on every social network and be spread too thin. Social is a great place to engage with you audience and build your brand.
Local SEO in 2016 requires more effort and resources. As the search result real estate has gotten smaller for organic local results, the competition has gotten fiercer. In order to rise in the results, you have to do more than the basics. Hopefully, this has given you some new areas to branch out into and build a more robust local SEO strategy.
BONUS LAP WITH: Shane Barker, Digital Marketing Consultant
Shane Barker is a frequent guest contributor tp our E-Marketing Performance blog. As a digital marketing consultant, he specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.
Local SEO can be challenging at first, but once you understand the factors that affect local search rank, it gets a whole lot easier. You can then plan your local SEO strategy and get to work on convincing search engines that your business deserves to rank at the top of local search results.
Of course, as search engines change their algorithms, local search ranking factors change as well, so it’s important to stay informed. I keep a close eye on research and updates from local SEO experts like the folks at Pole Position Marketing and Moz.
3 of the Best Tactics for Local SEO
1. Improve Your Link Profile
For both traditional and local SEO, links have a huge impact on search ranking. To improve your link profile for local SEO, focus on getting quality links on authoritative and locally-relevant sites. You can do so in a variety of ways, including submitting press releases to local newspapers, sponsoring local events or causes, getting listed in local business directories, and by contributing content to local magazines.
You should also optimize anchor text with both product/service keywords and city/location keywords whenever possible.
2. Optimize Your GMB Page
Your Google My Business Page affects how Google identifies, categorizes, and ranks your website in local search.
Check that all of your business information is complete and accurate, including name, address, phone number, business hours, website URL, and categories. According to Google, categories should describe what your business is, not what it does or sells. Double check that all of the categories you’ve selected are relevant and that they follow these guidelines.
You can further optimize your GMB page by uploading relevant, high-quality images which will be displayed in search results. Images should be professional, and should accurately represent your business.
3. Optimize Your Website Content
Your website content also affects your local ranking. Check your website to ensure that your business information, (business name, address, and phone number), is updated and accurate. It’s important that this info is as consistent as possible in all listings, including business directories, your GMB page, and on your website.
Next, optimize your site for local search by combining relevant product/service keywords with relevant location/city keywords. For example, use “plumbing service Arizona” instead of just “plumber.” Use these location/product keywords to optimize your regular site content, blog content, and meta content.
Your link profile, GMB page, and website content are not the only factors that affect your local search ranking. They are, however, three of the most important components of local SEO.