Local SEO Done Right: Out of the Box SEO to Start
SEO tends to intimidate a lot of people who haven’t spent a lot of time in Internet Marketing or running a website online, but the truth is most of that is due to trying to tackle too much at once. While there are hundreds of different factors that go into how a website ranks, the simple truth is that many of those elements barely move the needle, while others are relatively beyond your control. By focusing on what Google has laid out as the best webmaster practices you might not instantly jump to the top of the search engines, but you will beat most of the competition. You will also get a good look at just how much real work will be needed to boost yourself up to one of those coveted top three spots.
Start every single local SEO campaign with these steps, and whether you’re trying to get clients to an established site or get attention starting from scratch, you’ll be happy with the results.
This is an absolute necessity. Google demands websites to be mobile-friendly or responsive if you want to rank near the top of the local search markets and especially if you want to stay there. Over half of all online searches now start with a mobile device whether that is a smartphone or a tablet. If you don’t have a website that looks good on mobile devices, then you’re going to struggle, especially if there is any competition. Google has even come right out and said this is a major ranking point now.
Mind the Tags
If you want on-site optimization, you need to make sure all your tags are in proper place. This includes meta tags that give Google a description of each page, alt tags that tell Google and other search engines what each picture is, and title tags. Title tags always have a little bit more of a boost when it comes to ranking for keywords. If you want to get the most out of all your search engine optimization efforts, then you need to make sure all of your tags are adequately optimized.
Claim the Listings
Claiming local listings is an especially important part of proper local optimization efforts. Google maps, Apple maps, Yahoo Business Listings, and Google Listings are just a few of the listings that every business should claim. You’ve seen local search results come back with a map first, and no business gets out on those without actually claiming the listing. These are the sites often see first, and being high on that map often means you are also highly rated on the organic listings below. Having all of these listings claimed is a great first step to make sure any local business starts showing up for the right keywords.
Get Positive Reviews
While no one has tied positive ratings to local search engine rankings, but there seems to be a strong correlation between the two. Often the local businesses that have the most rankings (especially if those rankings are positive or high) will be the first to show up in the organic rankings or the map rankings. If you have several loyal customers, ask them to write positive Google reviews for you. This actually does make a huge difference and can be the extra bit of help you need to shoot up in the rankings.
Finally, take care of basic geo-targeting. Aim for 5-6 local areas, but don’t go much beyond that. If you list 20 locations, Google will hit you for spamming. This way you can get attention for a few core areas, and when you rank well Google will have you as a viable option to those other nearby towns and communities, as well. Even a few basic mentions goes a long way to helping those local results.