SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of optimizing your website for best placement within search engines like Google and Bing. Local search engine optimization is a more targeted approach for local businesses. The art and science behind SEO is always changing, as search engines improve their indexing algorithms in an attempt to provide users with the most relevant results for their search queries.
Local Search Engine Optimization
Optimizing your website for best ranking within search engines is always a good thing, but optimizing your site for best placement in search engines for users within your target locales can take your online marketing efforts to another level. For example, if you sell fishing licenses in the state of New Jersey, you don’t want to promote that service in California.
There are some basic things you’ll need to know about how search engines like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo provide locality-based search results to people looking for your products and services.
First: Search engines prefer to provide users with local results. This means if you are selling fishing licenses in New Jersey, Google and Bing would prefer to display your site and store information to people looking for a fishing license in New Jersey. To take this a bit further, the search engines would like to know exactly where your store is within the state, and then provide users searching within a reasonable mile radius of your physical location, the proper results.
Search engines allow you to register your business and related digital properties within their databases. Local SEO is about this process, in tandem with other tactics, like optimizing the copy within your site with on-page SEO, so it is reflective of your actual location.
To rank within the above types of listings, you’ll rely less on the link building side of things, and more on local NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) citations and local reviews (Google and Yelp). If you prefer to partner with professionals, check out Bright Local – Local SEO Made Easy (affiliate link), or you can follow these steps to do it yourself:
- Make sure you have your full NAP on your website on every page. Use the exact same details for your address on other websites. Online data aggregators continually scrape the internet for the most up-to-date name, address, and phone number – NAP information – and push that data to thousands of partner directory sites.
- Use Schema markup on your NAP for search engines to show your company information correctly. Google offers a free structured data markup helper. After you’re done all the tags, generate your structured data code by clicking HTML and choosing JSON-LD (Google’s recommended format) then paste the script to the head section of your theme settings. If in doubt, ask your web designer/developer to add the code for you.
- Set up a Review Us page or ask for testimonials.
- Don’t forget to add a Google map with your business marker in a footer widget.
Second: Customer reviews and other indicators of your business’s reputation exist online in multiple places. Services like Yelp and Google Places offer customers a way to provide ratings and feedback about your business. These reviews and ratings will be connected to your online presence, and it is important to consider the way you monitor and handle this important information.
Third: Social media presence plays a huge role in determining your reputation within consumers’ minds, and within the search engines’ databases. Relevant social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, etc.) for your business will be connected to your listings within the search engines, and should also contain accurate information about your location and contact info.
In addition to the information you provide to consumers and search engines via social media, your involvement within these communities will affect the way that engines decide to index your site. If you are very active in updating your content across all digital channels, you will see better results when monitoring your placement within a search index.
Scratching The Surface
The information above is a short summary of some key elements that relate to the potential success you can see when creating content online for a specific location. SEO and other digital marketing tactics require a steady approach and consistent dedication.
BONUS READ: Should you write for search engines or people?
Currently, you may or may not be engaging in some of the basic things we’ve touched on in this article, but we’d like to find out where you are (no pun intended). Contact us when you get a moment and schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation.