Just because you want people to come to your physical location doesn’t mean search engine optimization isn’t important. It does mean that it’s different, however. Local SEO (search engine optimization) is a specialized approach.
You can still do it yourself, just follow the principles below. If you don’t have the time, or worry about not getting it right, though, contact us. If you just need a little more advice, set up a call.
Local SEO is Different
Search engine optimization began with the idea that businesses were now virtual, online identities that sought out a national or even international audience. But as the relationship between web and world evolved, it has become increasingly important for local businesses to connect with their local audiences.
Good organic search engine optimization can be beneficial for local businesses, of course. But there are some tactics that are specifically helpful for local search engine optimization that need to be added to any serious local SEO strategy that faces competition.
As with most search engine optimization strategies, local SEO can conveniently be divided into on-page and off page factors.
On-Page Factors for Local SEO
Many on-page factors are similar to general SEO. Good content, good use of page titles, description tags, clean navigation and internal linking structure are, as always, important.
Keyword research is the same process, though with more focus on geographic terms and regional results. One key element is to include important geographic terms in some content, page titles, and h1 tags. Alt tags and image titles are also good places to include this type of information.
More importantly, contact information should be included on all pages, preferably using a location schema. These schema tell Google what type of information it is reading. The acronym for the most important elements that should go into this local schema is NAP (name, address, phone). For more information on how to incorporate the appropriate schema, go here.
You can also use an appropriate schema to incorporate a map into your website.
Off-Page Factors Affecting Local SEO
Some of these are even more important than the on-page factors. First and foremost, you need to claim your business in Google’s location service. This will place your business location and information on Google Maps, and it will also tell Google’s search service where you are and what you do.
Next, you should ensure that important local online resources are linking to your web page. Link-building for local SEO is a little different than general SEO, though. Here the focus is on directories and local publications.
Reviews are critical. Encourage your customers and clients to post reviews on Google places as well as on other review services.
Finally, the same NAP information that is critical to on-page is also a critical off-page factor as well. Off-page, Name, address, and phone links are called citations. It is important that wherever you are listed, the information is consistent. In fact, this is more important that actually linking back to your cite. NAP information, when found on other web pages, is called a citation. The number and consistency of citations is a key factor.
There are some online tools that will help with citations, such as Whitespark, Brightlocal, and Yext. Some of these require premium accounts, but if you are managing information across a number of platforms about your multiple locations, they are more than worth it.
Understanding your analytics is important for any SEO campaign. With local SEO, it’s important to recognize that often the critical information transfer from your website to the customer may occur off the page. Say you’ve done a good job putting your NAP information into the proper schema, and Google pulls the proper snippets and displays them in its search results. Your potential visitor finds all the information they need in the search result with having to click through to your website. This is still a successful result.
With local SEO, the goal is often to provide basic information, usually NAP, that enables the physical connection. Engaging the visitor with the rest of your web content may be less important, and your metrics and key performance indicators should recognize this distinction.
People are using the web more and more for every kind of information-based decision, including decisions about businesses right around them. This means that you need to connect with your audience online, even if they are your physical neighbors. To do this effectively requires an investment in local SEO. If you don’t have the time or resources in-house to accomplish this, contact us, or set up a short call.