While search engine optimization (SEO) can benefit nearly every business, small local businesses will find more value in local SEO than they will in the typical SEO campaign. Local SEO involves the process of optimizing websites with a focus on improving local search engine results. For businesses that operate locally, this is a way to build your website’s search credibility where it counts. There’s no sense fighting for highly competitive national or global rankings if your target audience is regional.
With this methodology in mind, there is a plethora of strategies specific to local SEO. With StatCounter, for example, you are able to track where your traffic is coming from, which can be immensely valuable to a local SEO strategy. Since we aim to help our members perform well in search engine results, we thought we would share some important local SEO tips to help your business. Read on to learn the ins and outs of such so you can determine what strategies will suit your business and website best.
If you're ready for further reading on SEO, view the articles provided below:
What is Local SEO?
Much like it sounds, local SEO pertains to specific practices within your typical search engine optimization strategies. In fact, many of the tactics within local SEO can also be used for national and global SEO, yet many national and global strategies won’t perform as well for small or local businesses. Regardless, local SEO focuses mostly on search engines and online directories, while the keywords for such are often geo specific.
In other words, the strategies within local SEO focus solely on acquiring traffic from users in your region. So, as you might imagine, local SEO is best suited for local businesses that have a physical store front. Considering this, this discipline of SEO brings in not only online traffic to your website, but foot traffic to your storefront as well.
How to Localize Your Search Engine Traffic
Local SEO may be important to small and local business, but it can be a daunting task to get started on your own, especially when coupled with other business tasks. Luckily, with some helpful knowledge, increasing your local traffic can be done relatively easily and in a variety of ways, and it all starts with keyword research. Keyword research is the backbone of any sound SEO strategy, but local SEO requires specialized keyword researchSince your SEO strategy is localized, as should be your keywords.
Real World Application
Let’s say you own a restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan that specializes in hamburgers. A keyword phrase you might want to attempt to rank for is “Burger Joint in Grand Rapids” or “Best Burgers in Grand Rapids”. Since this includes a location, search engines will know this webpage is specific to people near Grand Rapids, and should rank it accordingly.
The keywords mentioned above are also examples of longtail keywords. Longtail keywords receive significantly fewer searches every month than “Hamburgers” would. Because these keywords receive less attention than high volume searches, a top ranking is more attainable, which can surely benefit a small, local business.
Using Your Local, Long-Tail Keywords
As you find keywords and longtail variants of such for your website, you’ll then need to use them across your site to begin ranking for those terms in search results. You can include local keywords in the existing content on your site, but you’ll also need to consider optimizing any pages that have already been published to your site, then reindexing them to search engines. Some areas of your on-page content that you should consider adding local keywords to are as follows:
- Title Tags and Meta Descriptions: Title tags appear as the clickable link in search engines, and are also displayed at the top of your browser for any given page. Meta descriptions are located right below title tags in search results, and remain hidden on the website. Title tags for every page of your website should include the page’s topic, a keyword, and your business name and should be limited to about 60 characters. Meta descriptions should include similar components, but can be in sentence form.
- Header Tags (i.e., h1, h2, h3, etc.): Header tags are used within pages of your site for large pieces of content, and should be used to guide the reader through the content as well as inform search engines of the topic being covered. Header tags should always include keywords and variants. However, avoid using multiple keywords in a single title tag, as this will come off as manipulative to search engines.
- Landing Page URLs: Whenever you’re creating a new page on your website, you should ensure the URL for that page includes the keyword it’s focused on. Furthermore, the URLs should stem from one another in a sensible manner. For example, if you’re adding a service that will link from your main Services page, the URL should look something like this:
- Image Alt Text: Image alt text displays when an image fails to load on your website, however, search engines also use this info to decipher what the subject of the image is. Every image on your site needs alt text, and that should include the keyword and some descriptive text about the image.
- On-page Content: The content across your site should be based around the keywords you find in your research. As you write, shoot for a keyword density of 2% (compared to total word count), as anything more will come off as spammy, while anything less won’t allow the page to rank for the selected keyword.
Local Backlinks and Online Directories
Aside from adding local keywords, title & header tags, and meta descriptions, you’ll also need to acquire backlinks for your website. Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are any links from another website that links to yours. They are essential to building a strong domain and page authority for your website, but they can benefit local businesses in other ways, as well. Local businesses, for example, can benefit greatly from listing their business in online or local directories. Yelp! has become a one-stop destination for consumers to find exactly what they are looking for. While you might think of Yelp! for restaurant listings, you can also find home service listings there as well.
Another important listing your local company can benefit from is Google My Business. Seeing as Google is the most used search engine, creating a Google My Business page can help customers find your business easier, as it’ll provide your business with a listing within Google’s Map results. Google lists these business pages in the maps, as well as in Knowledge Graphs in the right-hand column of search results. Plus, you can add keywords to your business description and title to improve Maps rankings.
Best Practices for Local SEO
While localized keywords and directory submissions are essential to local businesses, there are some other practices you should be sure to focus on. For example, every business should have their name, address, and company phone number (NAP) listed for easy contact, however, this is even more important for local businesses. Also, be sure that your company’s NAP is consistent across websites, including your own, and directories to avoid any confusion on the part of the customer.
Reviews are also incredibly important to local SEO. Once you have listed your business in online directories, like Yelp! and Google My Business, customers can begin leaving reviews about your company. Of course, more reviews are going to help your site rank better within results, so be sure to solicit reviews from existing customers to get feedback on how to improve your business. Not only can this help improve your search result rankings, but it can also help customers get a feel for your business and customer service before working with you. Be careful in soliciting, though, as doing so wrongly can result in a penalty from Google. There’s no problem in asking past customers to leave you a review, however.
Track Your Progress with StatCounter
Once you have developed a sound local SEO strategy and have begun implementing changes to your site, you will need to track how your strategy is performing with StatCounter. In doing so, you’ll attain a strong grasp on how much traffic your website acquires and how those users are navigating through your site. You can then use your findings to make educated decisions as to where to go next with website changes and the accompanying SEO strategy.
If you are in need of assistance, however, you can contact member support by filling out the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
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