Short Guide to the Best Local SEO Practices
These days competition is fierce, even in small local business. It is rather obvious no business can survive without an online presence. People look for plumbers, barbers, locksmith, basically everything, online. They tend to give their business to those they find on the first few search results. But simply owning a website is not enough anymore. So how do you get your small local business to the top of the search results? With the help of local SEO of course!
In this article we will provide you with the best local SEO practices that are sure to get you to the top of the search results.
Now, let’s see what’s local SEO and how it differs from SEO in general. Simply put, local SEO is a branch of SEO, that’s quite obvious, right? Now the difference is that local SEO has its focus on geo specific search. A typical local SEO campaign involves optimization for local ranking factors and use of geo specific keywords.
What we are about to tell you now is very important, you have to understand it from the very beginning if you want to get your small business to the top of local search. Local SEO consists of two components. There’s organic local SEO, which is basically what you know as general SEO, here you will optimize your website. And there’s Local 3 Pack, the section with the map. This is where you will optimize your Google my business page.
Now that you know the two areas you have to focus on, let’s see what are the best practices for both.
Organic local SEO best practices
There are two key areas in SEO: authority and relevance. In local SEO relevance is determined by matching your location and services with the ones the user is searching for. So you want to make sure your location and services or products that you offer are clear both to the end user and the search engines. This is where on-page signals will help you.
On-page signals for local SEO
The main on-page signals are: meta information (title tags, meta description and header tags), content, images, map and NAP (name, address and phone number). And to add to the credibility you might want to include testimonials, external reviews and accreditations.
Title tags and meta description are still very important, don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. These two are what your potential customers see in the snippets in their search results. So treat it like an ad and be creative. Bear in mind that there are no limitations in length, but if your description is too long it will be cut. So be brief yet informative. The best practice here is to include your geo location (your city or area where your business is located) either in the title or the description.
Content, images and map
Obviously, the content needs to be unique and relevant to your business. It has to naturally include your location specific keywords, but don’t overstuff the keywords, it will only hurt your rankings.
It is considered best practice to use unique images, so use your own pictures as much as possible. And make sure to include alt tags for each image.
And since you are a local business and want your customers to be able to find you easily, it is considered best practice to build in a Google map.
The best practice here is to use structured data markup to display your NAP. It is also imperative that your business name, address and phone number are the same across the website and on all the external resources where it might be mentioned.
Structured data is the code that creates the so-called rich snippets. These are the snippets in your search results that have more info than title and description. There usually is a photo, star rating, price range, number of reviews etc.
To utilize structured data on your website we strongly recommend hiring a professional developer.
Every time your business is mentioned on any external resource you get a local citation. These citations are awesome for your backlink profile and for actual users. Find as much business directories for your niche as possible, and submit your business. Make sure your NAP is consistent across all the submissions.
Local 3 Pack
Have you noticed that when you search for something geo specific the first results after ads at the top look differently? Something like this:
This is what we call Local 3 pack. And you want your business to be listed there.
Google My Business
To get into the Local 3 pack you need to claim your Google My Business page first. Doing it is pretty simple, just click the above link and follow the steps.
Make sure the information you provide is true and up to date, this is very important if you want to rank higher in the search results. And make sure the info is consistent with what you have on your business website.
When you are finished with the page you will need to wait for it to be verified, it usually takes about a month so make sure you claim your Google My Business page as soon as possible.
Posts for Google My Business page
Google is constantly evolving, they come up with new tools pretty often and it is important to make the best of what they offer you.
Posts are a very recent addition to Google My Business. And it is quite useful if you ask us.
Use this tool to inform the customers about your deals of the day, recent news or any promotions. Think about it as a free ad space, you can even add a call to action button. And what is really impressive about these posts is that they are displayed directly in Google Search and Maps.