Organic SEO Vs Local SEO
First off, you need to understand the difference between organic SEO and local SEO. Put simply, organic SEO is search engine optimization to boost your website in search rankings based on keywords and global searches. Local SEO is search optimization that boosts your business’s search rankings based on location.
As an example, let’s say you run a carpet cleaning business specializing in pet stain removal in the San Francisco area of California. If you focus on organic SEO for your website you’re going to want to boost up keywords in your website like “carpet cleaning” and “pet stain removal”. If you focus on local SEO you’re going to focus on “carpet cleaning in San Francisco” and “pet stain removal in San Francisco”, but you will also need to focus on adding your business to local business directories, Google My Business, and building up your citation count. Check out this Forbes article that explains the importance of citations.
There are many similarities between organic and local SEO. Often time, naturally having high organic SEO means your business will already rank pretty well in local SEO. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, it’s obvious you’ll need to still focus on local SEO.
There are two main ways to optimize your small business website for local SEO.
Manually Optimizing Your Website
If you have done basic SEO research, chances are you have come across a blog post or website that mentions WordPress is built with SEO in mind. That may be true but you still need to take specific actions in order to improve your local SEO.
- Choose Main Keyword Phrases to Focus On– The very first thing you should do to show Google where your business is located lies within the keyword phrases you use. You should have between one and three specific keyword phrases you use throughout your website. They will be in the website description, the title of the website, in meta tags and even blog post titles. Local keyword phrases will be your business service/product follow by “in [your location]”. You don’t want to overly use the keyword to the point it doesn’t read well, but it should be placed strategically through your website and blog posts. The more you focus on a few specific phrases, the easier Google will pick these up. It’s also helpful to use keyword phrases people will search for naturally or keyword phrases that relate to each other.
- Post Geographically Relevant Content– Geographically relevant content is often one area businesses overlook. When crafting blog posts, try to write about something that is geographically relevant in at least every two or three blog posts. For example, writing about local events is a great way to integrate your services with your location. If your business specializes in pet stain removal, you could write a post about a local pet adoption event and give tips that cover housebreaking pets. Your business could even take this a step further by offering a special discount code for new pet parents that adopted during this event. A simple email to the pet shelter making them aware of this special discount may mean they share your post on their website or social media accounts. This not only further increases your local SEO but also opens up your business to people who need your service.
- Have a Dedicated Location Page– It is very important for a brick-and-mortar business to have a dedicated page that shows your exact location. A nifty trick when it comes to getting on Google’s good side is to use a Google Map with your location right on your website. This is beneficial for SEO and for your customers. Other items that should be on the location page are, of course, the address for each location and phone numbers. It’s beneficial to use a phone number with your local area code. It’s less suspicious and also helps with rankings. Don’t forget to include your business hours as well.
- Include Contact Information, Including Address, in Header or Footers– Depending on how many pages your website has, your business’s contact information should be on the home page, about us, location page and contact page. Of course, these will vary from website to website but including your contact information on the main pages is never a bad idea. Another place on your website that should contain an address and phone number, perhaps an email address as well, is either the header or footer of each page. Generally the footer will have a neater look depending on what WordPress theme you are using.
Other Ways to Optimize Your Local SEO Ranking
After manually optimizing your website, there are a few other things you can do to improve local SEO.
- Creating Profiles on Review Sites – More than 70% of consumers will rely on online reviews to dictate whether to trust a business or not. You should invite your small business customers and clients to leave reviews and testimonials on sites such as Yelp. These can then be included back into your website.
- Make a Business Profile on Google+ – It’s no surprise that having proper business profiles on Google will help you rank better in Google. When you have proper business profiles on Google it will ensure that when someone searches for a business like yours, your profile will pop up on the right hand side. They will also be able to click your profile to find contact information, your website, reviews and your location on Google Maps.
- Create Social Network Profile Pages – 2015 is going to be the year of social media marketing. Up until now, social media has primarily been used by individuals and large corporations. For a good reason, small to medium sized business are going to rush to social media marketing in 2015. In another post, I will go over the basis of social media marketing but the first step is actually creating the profiles. Creating profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc. etc. and including your location in the profiles will also help with local SEO. Once you have the profiles created you can then start working on your social media strategy.
Local SEO Ranking Factors
SEO is a multi-headed beast. There are tons of factors that play into SEO and search engine rankings, but here are some of the most important factors in helping your site rank well for local SEO:
- City and state in the landing page title
- The domain authority of the website
- The page authority of the landing page URL
- The quality of inbound links to your domain
- The quality of inbound links to your landing page
- Having a physical address in the city you are targeting
- The quality of structured citations
- Product and service keywords in the website title
- The click -through rate from search results
- The city and state in the landing page heading text
Local SEO Negative Ranking Factors
The above list is what you should actively try to imporve with your website. If your website focuses on and has all of those items, it will be very helpful for local SEO. This next list is made up of factors that will hurt your local SEO ranking. Some of these items have to do with online directories that your website has been submitted to.
- The Google My Business profile is detected to be at a false business location
- Incorrect business category in Google My Business or other online directories
- Mis-match of name, address, phone number on landing pages
- Presence of malware on the website
- Adding too many keywords to the business name or website title
- Multiple businesses with the same name, address, or phone number
- Incorrectly placing your Google maps business marker
Local SEO isn’t hard but there is a lot to it. It’s also something a lot of small businesses overlook and don’t focus on. Unfortunately, those business who do not care about it either already are or will soon be losing customers to their competitors who rank better in Google.
So, here is what I want to do next
Chances are, you still have questions about local SEO and how you can optimize your site. If you do still have questions feel free to leave a comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help you figure out what you need to know.