This post was originally published on Sachs Marketing Group.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business that serves one or more local areas, the traditional search engine optimization (SEO) approach won’t deliver the same impactful results you’d see if you were marketing on a national level. By making use of geographical keywords, local SEO, you’re alerting search engines to the fact that your business is relevant to local results, but you’re also decreasing your overall competition, since fewer businesses are competing for the same keywords within a certain radius of your city or town.
Begin with Keyword Research
Think about the words and phrases your customers are using to search for you. This is the beginning of keyword research. Using a tool like Keyword Tool or Google Keyword Tool, you can start with a basic phrase like, “roofer San Diego California” and get a list search volume and similar keywords you may wish to consider using in your optimization efforts.
Now, choose the keywords you’re most interested in using, and search them in Google yourself to determine what kind of competition you’re up against. Say for example you select:
- San Diego roofing: 577,000 results
- San Diego roofing companies: 865,000 results
- San Diego roof repair: 928,000 results
You can clearly see which one of the phrases will be harder to rank for just because of the number of results.
If you want to take it one step further, you can take note of the top 10 to 20 organic results for each of the phrases you’re targeting, so you can analyze the competition’s backlink profile. This can help you see who’s linking to them, so you can try to get links from those sources as well, and assist you in knowing how many links you should be aiming to get to outrank them. Beyond the number of backlinks, you’ll also want to pay attention to the number of pages and the length of the content on each of those pages so you can make your website a more comprehensive resource.
Optimize Your Website and Content – On Page SEO
- Site Structure: Keep your site organized in a clear, easy-to-understand hierarchy. Build out logically from your home page.
- Home Page: This may be the only page visitors ever look at – so make it count. Include all important pages – products, services, locations, and more – are visible with easy navigation.
- Locations: If your business has more than one location, have a dedicated page for each location. This gives you a chance to provide location-specific information searchers are looking for.
- URLs: Setup your URLs to include keywords, service, or location. You don’t want the URL to be too long, but something like http://sandiegoroofers.com/el-cajon-roofing is more local SEO friendly and easy to remember than http://sandiegoroofers.com/18sf09.html
- Content: Your content should be written for users first, and search engines second. You want to naturally weave the keywords in the content as you describe the intention of the page. If your competition doesn’t have a blog, consider adding one to your website where you can add more valuable content for your readers, and include additional relevant keywords to help increase your ranking. For instance, your blog could include topics like: “How to Choose the Right Roofing Material for Your Home”, “When is the Best Time to Re-Do Your Roof?”, and “How Much Does a New Roof Add to My Home’s Resale Value?”
- Meta Descriptions and Title Tags: The meta description is the small space underneath your link in search results. It’s a place to advertise why users should choose to click your link compared to the others on the page. It should explain what the page is about. Both are excellent places for keywords, along with your city and state.
- Images: Images should be optimized for quality and speed, and include a descriptive ALT tag with keywords for web accessibility.
- Page Load Time: The faster your page loads, the better. 47% of users expect a webpage to load in two seconds or less, and 40% of people will leave a website that takes more than three seconds to load. A one-second delay in page load time could decrease conversion rates by 7%. If you sell $1,000 a day, that’s a loss of $25,000 per year. Page load time is a search ranking factor worth paying attention to. If you find that your page is loading slowly, Google Webmaster Tools has advice to help you improve it. The search console can also provide other guidelines and advice about how to ensure your website is properly optimized.
- Mobile Responsive: In April 2015, Google added mobile-friendliness as a search ranking factor, as mobile traffic becomes increasingly more common than desktop traffic. Working mobile responsiveness into your website design is as simple as choosing a responsive WordPress theme, or adding a responsive plugin.
Social Media and Link Building – Off Page SEO
- List Your Business in Google My Business: Google My Business, formerly known as Google Places, is a directory that allows you get your business hours, phone numbers, and directions on Google Search and Maps. It allows you to keep your business information accurate, and controls how you appear in the results. Pay attention to how you list your name, address, and phone number here, as you should list it the exact same way in every site for the next step.
- Create or Claim Listings on Review Sites and in Local Directories: Think about Yelp, TripAdvisor, Bing, Yahoo, YellowPages, Angie’s List, and any other niche specific options like Porch, Houzz, and Zomato. However you listed your business with Google, should be how you list your business in all of these.
- Ask Customers for Genuine Reviews: Never use false reviews. User-generated content like customer reviews helps build trust and credibility in the eyes of your prospective customers, and the search engines alike. 92% of customers read online reviews, so your reputation matters.
- Optimize Your Social Media Profiles: Include your business information and a URL back to your own website on all of your social profiles, keeping them consistent from one platform to the next. Ensure your Facebook page is categorized as a local business. Encourage your patrons to check in so you increase the chance of appearing in the Facebook search results, and claim any Facebook Place pages that were created as a result of people checking it and not being able to find our business. This allows you to get credit for all the likes and check-ins.
Make Consistent Effort
You’re not going to jump from the bottom to the top overnight. It is only through consistent effort, and working on these tactics a little a time that you’ll see results. Watch your analytics and use SEO tools to track ranking over time.
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock
Do you have any local SEO techniques that you’ve seen work well recently? If so, please share ’em in the comments section below. Thanks!