Local SEO: How to Get Your Local Business Found on Google
Local SEO is the process of optimizing a local business website for obtaining organic search results in search engines. The goal of Local SEO is for a site to rank for relevant keywords within the business’s region. For example, if your business is a yoga studio in Baltimore, MD, your focus would be on people in Baltimore finding you. Therefore your SEO plan of action would focus on ranking in Baltimore rather than nationally. However, if you were a blogger who writes about yoga, your SEO tactics would be focused on getting your blog found nationally and possibly internationally. The two strategies would be drastically different, however, they would include some similar techniques like keyword usage and link building.
As with all SEO strategies, Local SEO is not reliant on just one tactic. There are multiple tactics that must be implemented to achieve high ranking results. Ranking locally doesn’t happen overnight, and once you do rank you must have an ongoing strategy to maintain your status.
Like any other SEO plan, utilizing keywords strategically is a part of the foundation. Gone are the days when you could keyword stuff to get ranked higher in the engines. Google frequently implements new algorithms that change how a search is conducted. With each algorithm change Google becomes “smarter” and is able to differentiate quality from poor-quality content.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of cramming keywords on a webpage to manipulate search rankings. This would also include using the same keywords too many times on the webpage.
To avoid overusing keywords, it is recommended that your content is comprised of no more than 2-3 percent of keywords. Overusing keywords will result in a penalization from Google, which will cause your website to be pushed further down in search results. It’s important to be tactical when using keywords in your site’s content. Google’s algorithms are intelligent enough to be able to acknowledge irrelevant and poorly written content. The best way to utilize keywords is to remember that you are writing for humans, not computers.
Keyword Usage Best Practices
- URLs: Place your keywords in the sites’ URLs and avoid using underscores. Google sees underscores and reads the words you are attempting to separate as one word.
- Use long tail keywords rather than short tail keywords. Long tail keywords are much more specific and niched. For example, the Baltimore yoga studio wouldn’t just utilize the words, “yoga classes” and “yoga studio” throughout their content. The studio should utilize words that are more niched such as “restorative yoga classes in Baltimore.” This will set your site apart from the other businesses in the area. Using long tail keywords also looks more authentic.
- Utilize your most important keywords in title-tags. Search engines highlight titles in search results. Make sure that the content on the page supports the title-tag.
- A meta-tag is a section of a webpage that exists in the page’s HTML code. This is where you can write 160 characters describing the web page’s content. The text is not shown on the actual webpage, but it is seen by the search engines. This is typically the text that is underneath the site’s name and URL in a search result. To encourage people to click your link, write a captivating description of the site’s content utilizing keywords.
NAPW is an abbreviation for Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website. It is important that this information is consistent across all directories, social media, and any other citations. Search engines will penalize your website if your NAPW information is not accurate. To determine whether there are any inaccuracies, you can utilize Moz Local. Moz Local is a local citation service where you can analyze your business’s current citations. Whenever there are any changes to your company’s NAPW remember to update this information in all citations and directories.
Citations and Directories
A citation is any online mention of the business’s NAPW. At the forefront of online citations are web data aggregators such as Internet Yellow Pages. These sites are directories that maintain local businesses’ information. While many of them are free, some do charge to be listed and updated.Citations are important for Local SEO because it sends the message to search engines that you have online authority; it sends signals that your business is legitimate. There are several directories and aggregators that your business could be listed in. Speak with your digital marketer to determine which will work best for your business.
Reviews are the bloodline of Local SEO. Positive reviews tell search engines (and searchers) that you are trustworthy and have an excellent product and/or service. Reviews have become so important to SEO that the Google Maps feature shows ratings in its search layout. While having reviews is essential to getting found on search engines, it’s important that they are authentic reviews. Yelp and Google+ have algorithms that sift through reviews to determine which reviews are authentic. Yelp tends to highlight the authentic reviews by allowing them to be seen at the top. It is ok to ask customers to honestly review your product or service. However, the best way to get good reviews is to provide exceptional service. Avoid creating fake profiles and writing reviews. It is unethical and Yelp and Google+ will penalize your business.
While Local SEO is not difficult, it can be time-consuming. Results don’t happen overnight and can take months to achieve. Once your website starts to rank high in local searches you will still need to maintain your status by updating directories and site content. Many businesses are reluctant to take the time to implement a strategy because of the amount of time and know-how involved.
If you don’t have an in-house digital marketer or someone to help with your SEO, give us a call. We will evaluate the search status of your website and implement a unique Local SEO plan for your business so that you begin to rank for competitive keywords.