What Can affect your Local Search Rankings?
When you have a local business and you deal with your own SEO, it’s important to think… locally. The internet is a gigantic, worldwide market, and sometimes it’s actually harder to concentrate on actually ranking locally.
Depending on what business you’re in, you don’t care if people in another country will ever know about you. You want to stay local. There are a few ways that you can do this easily, even if you’re just starting out and if you don’t know that much about SEO.
Here are some “cheats” – but really, in the world of SEO there are no true cheats. You have to make sure to check all the boxes, be clear with your intent and have your data back you up. You can’t go wrong with that.
Of course, there are many SEO tools you can use – sites like proranktracker.com, Google Analytics, SEMrush, moz.com, Search Engine Land and ahrefs.com are all good places to start in order to keep track of SEO trends and to actually monitor your site and plan out your strategy.
Put yourself on the map
This might seem obvious, but sometimes it’s forgotten. Make sure that if anyone wants to find you online, they will also need to find you offline. Especially if you want local traffic
This doesn’t only means Google Maps, but Google makes it easier on you with tools like “Google My Business”. Here, you will fill out information like
- Phone number
- Profile image
- Business hours
- Detailed description
This is a free and very effective way to tell Google what your business is, where it is and what it is you do.
Another tool that helps with local SEO are review websites like Yelp. But if you are a walk-in business, you probably already have a page without even knowing about it. Trust us. The one thing that you can do is to make sure that all of your information is updated on it. Consistency is key.
It might seem redundant, but when designing your web page, make sure the address is clearly seen in the footer of every page.
A good thing to know about here is Schema markup. This can actually tell the search engine what to display in the SERPS – this way, users will immediately know what’s important on your site. Do you have a local event calendar? This is the ideal way to display it.
This is basically a markup that helps to define what your site is all about – it defines the meaning of all the content on your site, so Google doesn’t have to guess. It makes it easier for search engines to know what you do, and who and where you are. It was developed by Google, Yahoo and Bing.
You should make sure not to block access to your structured data pages to Google bots. After all, what’s the point? Google will determine what makes the most sense and has the most value to their users, and you have to make that easy for them.
Never try to be “smart” and try to markup content that is totally irrelevant or it misleads the user. Users don’t like that – therefore, Google doesn’t like it either.
Another way of helping Google really notice where your are involves some thoughtful content. Make sure the name of your region, town or whatever you consider “local” is to be found somewhere in the H1 or H2 tags on your landing page and sub pages.
Hit the directories
A long time ago, people would find local businesses through phone books. In these modern times, people hardly ever look at online directories. They seem to be a jumble of businesses put together by who-knows-whom.
But you know who actually looks at these directories? Google does. Having your business name, link and address in a number of local directories will actually help to put you on the map in local search rankings.
Especially if somebody in the neighborhood types in a few keywords related to your business. A hint – don’t go for every single directory you can find and waste money. (They are sometimes paid.) Try to find the one that relates directly to your niche, like “The Ultimate Chimney Sweep List of New York” or “Wedding Caterers of California”.
This will easily place you in both local and niche searches.
If you’re one of the two shoe stores in a small village, you want the villagers to be talking about you, right? Okay maybe that’s a bad example, but a great bet for Google to see that you should rank locally is to make them see that you carry some weight with the locals.
If there are any niche-related local blogs, try to write to them and see if you could work together. Be it content, a marketing scheme, or just a mention.
“Hey, I noticed you wrote about attending the apple festival with your kids – mind if you mentioned us and added a link? We did catering for that event!”
If you are truly a local business, this should be the fun part. Networking, and getting to know your local community can not only get you ranked better but also provide some opportunities to meet other local business owners as well as bloggers and social media influencers.
Finally, define what “local” means to you. Is it your neighborhood? Your town? Your country? Or your state? When you have the borders drawn up, it will be easier to set your goals.
While ranking local is more challenging, if you’re legitimately interested in helping out and servicing your local community, it shouldn’t be too grueling. Ok – except for the gritty technical stuff. But if you have a good developer, you can make sure to share their concerns with them and make sure they know that ranking local is your priority list.
Some developers don’t think in terms of SEO – they think in terms of design. And while design is important, make sure you design your business website with SEO in mind.