Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical for delivering positive results from an online presence. For small businesses, or businesses in Geographically isolated areas, local SEO is even more critical – particularly for businesses that service a fairly defined geography.
If you’re trying to outpace your competition within a specific market, you must understand and utilize local SEO to your advantage.
Step 1: Target Local Customers using your Content and Keywords
Assuming your content is already written well, and from a customer perspective, you only need to concentrate on adding relevant ‘local’ flavour. Your city or community name, for example can make a significant difference.. Those users who do not search for ‘edmonton plumber’ or ‘millwoods electrician’ for example – may have their locality included by major search engines without any input. Google for example has a complex set of routines to identify your location and will natively send you results from your local area first – if those sites are deemed ‘quality’.
Fully optimize your site with keywords that include your local area, key services of your business, recognized business name, and greater geographical area (i.e. construction company in Houston).
Start with your key pages and then work on other parts of your website with the 80/20 rule. Most (80%) of visitors are likely visiting for only 20% of your pages. Tackle them first.
Use local keywords naturally throughout your text to gain the greatest visibility.
Step 2: Structured Data (Micro data or Schema Data)
Though structured data is new, and appears complex, it is a simply method of ensuring that your key business information (including your local address, city, and a list of social channels) is adequately represented to search engines and media sites. Indexing will have a better idea of who you are, and when performed consistently – will allocate your site a higher ‘trustworthiness’ over time.
As a growing technology structured data isn’t heavily referenced on Canadian sites yet – but is found commonly on many sites indexed in the US on Google and Canadians will likely be included sooner rather than later.
Step 3: Use Keywords Strategically with Local Flavour
Think like someone who is searching for you. Don’t think about your marketing pitch – think about what you do for people, and what they might be looking for. Are you a home exterior painter in Okotoks? Then you should likely have ‘house painter okotoks‘ or ‘okotoks house painter‘ on your pages somewhere!
What question do they need answered? How would you go about getting that answer? If you were looking for a company to build a deck for your cottage or house, what keywords would you use? Most likely you would search, “custom deck builder in (name of city here),” right?
Simplify the description of yourself – and think about what service you most often provide, and how people think to refer to that service. Just because you specialize in thermal imaging for home efficiency, is it possible that you are simply a ‘boulder colorado house efficiency expert’?
Train yourself to see how people search by using the search autocomplete on google – which shows the most frequently used search terms. Try using ‘your-city house’ – and see what is offered next!
Once you have a list of 10 or so keywords get to writing but don’t stuff your posts full of them. One to three of any specific phrase per page is typically sufficient – as well as ensuring some of those local keywords are found in your titles, metadata, and paragraphs.
Step 4: Get Listed
Local directories of businesses, and quality aggregators in your community offer a strong link to your local status. Yelp, Google Reviews, Google Business, Bing Business, and many other directories allow you to list your site and business location. Consistently add to these directories with the EXACT same address information and formatting. Use common styles for your region and make sure they are consistent between the sites.
Step 5: Build Quality Backlinks and a Local Social Media Presence
Quality links are organic links from sites with a related topic or focus, that link back to your website. A few ways to get these links include:
- Guest posting
- Claiming your business on Google, Yelp, and other ‘ratings’ directories
- Networking with other local businesses with high rankings
- Use social clout by building profiles on all major social media sites, and connecting to local social stars
- Sending a link to your content to site authors with related content, and asking for the link!
Once you have quality links to your website, you should start to see a serious rise in your rankings on search engines.
With so many techniques available it can be difficult to know where to start with local SEO, but these tips are the core of what you need to do to get your feet off the ground.