Every good SEO practitioner should know the ins and outs of SEO. Local SEO a simple enough form of SEO that a surprisingly large amount of people get wrong all the time. I’ve spent years studying and practicing local SEO, and succeeding, mainly thanks to the fact that most people don’t know what they are doing.
Why is local SEO so important?
Well, first let me tell you a story, long ago I worked for a company that provided software and websites to many different apartment and housing complexes in my city. They hired me to be a part of the SEO team, but they didn’t give me any control over what we did on the team, I was simply hired to write and reach out for the links that they wanted. Their SEO strategy was horrible, I mean absolutely horrible. All they went for was straight up links to the site, usually from guest blogs, they didn’t have any reviews online, and they spent most of their time worrying about content that they were going to put on the blog. To top things off, they never actually promoted any of the content that they published.
I tried to teach them the strategies that I am going to teach you here, after all that’s why they hired me as a freelancer, right? None of their clients were ranking at all. Instead, they told me to do the work or hit the road, so I hit the road; I don’t like doing work for clients that won’t work out in the end.
Anyway, hopefully this will help you understand the importance of good local SEO. To be honest that company wasn’t doing normal SEO all that well, but they certainly weren’t doing anything to help themselves locally.
Now that you understand how some companies are doing local SEO I hope that you will understand how easy it is to gain new local clients. Most SEO companies really have no idea what they are doing, especially when it comes to SEO. I would recommend that you read over these tips and try to find a few local SEO clients to help out. They’ll be extremely grateful when you get them real results, and the referrals will start coming through. This is an easy way to start or expand your business if you are just starting out.
Local SEO Is Different
The act of optimizing your web page is still similar to how it was before, but there are a few key differences in local SEO.
We are going to focus on things such as local citations and review pages, these kinds of things can give you an added advantage over any of your competitors that are trying to rank as well.
Please remember that there are differences based on situation and strategy, so you will want to make sure you fully understand these differences before you try to start a local SEO campaign.
Yes, that’s right; we are going to talk about on page optimization and tags.
Want to know why?
Because these are some of the most important things that will help you with your local SEO; remember that company that I had mentioned earlier?
The one that refused to listen to me? Yeah, they refused to work with tags as well. Instead, they let their WordPress sites automatically put up whatever they wanted to.
The first thing that you will want is to have the city and state in the title tag. This will quickly show Google where you are located and where you want to be found in the search engines. You’d be surprised at how many websites ignore this step.
Make sure to mention the city and state again in the H1 heading, this is just an added bonus that will help Google find you and know where to place you. Remember, these small on-page optimization strategies can make a huge difference in your rankings. We once got a new client, and without building a single link, got them from page 5 to page 1 just by changing their on page optimization. Generally off page is pretty good for most of our clients; it’s the on page SEO stuff that no one has really bothered with.
Another place to add the tags is in your alternative text. If you have an image put your city and state in the alternative text to the image. Make sure it is relevant to the image, but by putting this here you’re giving Google, another reason to rank your site.
The last and easiest one is just putting your state and city information into the actual content on your website. Sometimes I’m surprised at how often people will ignore this. I’ve had many new clients who supposedly have been working with an SEO company for years only to find that they have no content that relates to their city and state at all on their website. This always surprises me. Remember, you need to guide Google and show exactly what you want to be ranked for.
Google Maps and Local
You will want your business to be added to Google Local Listings which you can do in Google +. This is pretty simple and can really help you out; the other thing that will give you an added boost is adding an embedded map onto your website.
If you are adding an embedded map make sure it’s the location that you have in your Google Listing. This will tell Google exactly where you are; thus when people search for your keyword, and they are in your city, you are much more likely to appear at the top. This also makes it easier for your users to find your location which is why Google likes the fact that you would add it to your website. This is always the key, if you make it easier for your users, Google will like you more.
Citations are extremely important in local SEO. Back a few years ago you used to be able to rank only based off of citations, but now-a-days you need to make sure that you have everything else done properly as well.
Citations are when your name, phone number, and address are located on other websites that talk about different businesses. This means that you want this kind of information on sites such as Yelp, Google reviews, and places like Urban Spoon.
Make sure all of the information is correct, misspelling the name of your business, a wrong phone number, and a wrong or inconsistent address can really hurt your rankings and confuse Google. Try to get listed on as many sites and social media sites as possible so that it can improve your local rankings.
If you’re looking for a tool to help you with local citations, we prefer Whitespark’s tool. It’s pretty simple and does a lot of the work for you. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed by having too many clients, I will recommend getting this software to help you speed up the process.
Reviews are extremely important, especially when it comes to local SEO. In fact, if you have ever done a local SEO search, you may have noticed that Google now shows the different reviews for those services. If you want to gain more visitors and conversions having good reviews online is extremely important.
So how do you get good reviews? A big problem that a lot of businesses have is generally the only people who have an incentive to leave a review are the ones who have had a few problems with businesses. The key is to ask people to leave a review when they are still actively involved in the product.
Some restaurants do this by leaving a flyer asking for a review. The best time to do this is right when your customers are leaving the restaurant, if they had a good experience a lot of times they will be willing to leave a good review.
If your company is a longer term service, you may ask for a review over email after you, have finished your services. This can be a good idea since the product and service is still fresh in their heads.
Remember the more reviews you have, the better. Look for every opportunity to gain customer reviews. Remember it’s much easier to get new better reviews than to try to rank higher than them. Some companies will tell you that they want to get rid of Yelp reviews from Google, but we have found that the easiest way is to get more honest and positive reviews in Yelp, which will help conversions in the end.
In conclusion, local SEO is something that every company should know. The actual act of doing local SEO is fairly simple, and most of it boils down to basic on-page optimization as opposed to link building. In fact, most companies may have noticed that they can build links until they are blue in the face, but without proper on page optimization and citations they’ll never rank.
Anything else you like to do to help your local clients work? Feel free to discuss and share your secrets below.