Local Search

SEO is a field dominated by theories and differing opinions. Ask 5 SEO experts the best way to rank a site and you will most likely get 5 slightly different opinions. Thankfully in a post penguin/panda/hummingbird era we are now able to quantify and measure efforts better than we have before. All of SEO can be broken down into three levels: local, national and international. For today’s purposes, we will turn our attention to the local level and what can be done to make your site stand out from the competition.

Every year Moz surveys big name players in the local SEO space as well as takes data from sites ranking for local search. They combine all of this into a report to show which factors matter the most in local search. For 2017 these are the factors and the estimated percentage on how much each one matters.

Let’s dig a little deeper into a few of these factors and things you should be doing right now to dominate in local search.

On-Page Signals

The foundation of all SEO begins with your on-page optimization. If you have never done on-page SEO I suggest using a tool such as http://www.seositecheckup.com/ This will do a quick on-page audit of the your site and give you a grade on how well you site is doing. The best part about it is the ability to scroll down and see how to fix the elements that are hurting your on-page SEO. If your website is built within WordPress using a plugin like Yoast SEO is an easy way to edit some of the foundation on-page elements such as

·     Title Tags

·     Meta Descriptions

·     URL Slugs

Be careful not to over-optimize your page. A general rule of thumb is that the same keyword combination should not appear simultaneously in the URL, H1 and title.  I would suggest a structure similar to this.

The title tag is –  [Business Name] A/C Repair Experts in [City], [State Abbr.]

URL – JoesACrepair.com/air-conditioning-contractor

The H1 tag I would use is “Joe’s Air Conditioning Repair Serving Atlanta”

After you have made all your on-page changes run the site back through a SEO checkup service to make sure the site is above 90%

Consistent NAP listings

For both Local Snack Pack listings and organic local listings having consistency in the NAP of your listings is extremely important. NAP stands for business name, address and phone number. Not only do these need have the same information but they also need to be formatted the same way. For example your phone number shouldn’t be 888.888.8888 in one location and 888-888-8888 in another location. Create a document with the way it is formatted on your website and use that as a reference any time you add a listing in a business directory or other local site. This will ensure that the NAP is always consist. In that same document keep track of all the places you post your info in case any of the fields change in the future. This allows you to go back and change them all. Many sites have lost valuable ranking spots by not paying attention to backlinks and business listings when they have moved or rebuilt their site.

Business Listings and Backlinks

Backlinks are a hot topic in the SEO world and much debate can be had on what metrics matter most when looking for backlinks. We will not go in-depth today on strategies to acquire back links however there are foundational places to get backlinks from to help you rank in local search. First, create listings in all major business listing sites such as BBB, Yelp, Thumbtack, Angies List, etc. Second, create your google my business page. They will require you to have a postcard mailed to the business address to verify it is the correct address. While you are waiting on that to arrive take time to personalize the listing with photos, service offerings and the hours you are open. After the business is verified send the link to past customers and ask them to leave you a review. One of the most overlooked strategies by businesses is getting their customers to consistently leave them reviews. I advise my clients to focus on getting Google reviews but getting reviews on your Facebook page and Yelp listing can also be extremely valuable depending on what industry you are in. After all of this is done search for other business directories in your city. Some of these are free to post in and other ones are paid. These will send signals to Google about your business. If your business supports any charities or events be sure to ask for links on their websites back to your own site. All of these methods combines will go a long way towards increasing the domain authority of your website.

Schema Markup and User Interface

Schema is starting to be talked about more and more in regards to SEO but still only around 30% of websites are using it. The markup is added behind the scenes in the code of your website and helps search engines understand the structure of your site better. Google then will take that information and display it in the search results in various formats as seen below. You can find all the different ways to add Schema to your site on their website.

Image credit: Google

Schema markup does not directly affect your ranking, however what it does do is allow users to find what they are looking for quicker. Google does look at user behavior in regard to how long they are on your site and how they navigate through it. Make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your site and pay attention to how users are interacting with your site. Are the pages that they typically fall off on? Are they only spending a few seconds on the site? All of these can be signals that design changes need to made. Consider doing A/B testing to see if the design changes will bring about better results.

Conclusion

All SEO requires work and patience. Local SEO not only requires work on your part but getting your customers to interact with the efforts you are putting out there. Consider creative ways to increase the percentage of customers who will leave you a review or share your social posts. A few hours a week can go a long way towards making a lasting impact in your local visibility. Local SEO cannot be ignored if you are working to take your business to the next level.