Dominate Local SEO Search

If you have been working on SEO for any length of time you will know that SEO changes all the time.  This is why, when it comes to local searches, you need to optimize your site to ensure that customers find you when looking for local businesses.  Competition for local searches is heating up and if you are not at the top of the rankings then you are going to lose out to your competitors.  However, there are some solid local SEO tactics that you should consider to help your business rank highly for these searches.

The Title And Meta Data Still Matters

The title and meta data for your website are HTML elements that you are able to customize to ensure people know what your site is about.  The text in these areas will be shown in the search results so it is important that you have them.  You should consider these items as a mini-ad which needs to be carefully crafted.

The width of the main search results on Google has increased to 600px which means that the acceptable length for a title is 50 to 60 characters.  The description for your site should be around 160 to 200 characters.  It is important that you take advantage of this space and ensure that your title and description are not being cut off by the search engines.  If you are unsure about how the title and description will look you should try using a WordPress plug-in for this.

In the SEO world, many consider the writing of titles and descriptions to be an art form.  As you are competing with other websites you need to ensure that the text is unique and compelling to ensure that people want to click through to your website.  If your information is too long then it will be cut off with an ellipse and while this is not a huge problem many consider it to be unprofessional.

Online Directories And Citations

According to Google, approximately 4 out of 5 people will use search engines for local searches but many small businesses have not claimed any online business listings.  This is a huge opportunity that you could be missing and you need to get your business onto online directories like Yelp and Citysearch.  You should also consider other reputable local directories that you can list your business on.  The best way to do this is to contact your local Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a listing of local directories.

You should also get your information onto major citation aggregators like Neustar, Factual, Infogroup and Acxiom.  Your business name, address and phone number need to be consistent across all of the directory and citation sites.  Any discrepancies can wreak havoc on your local listings because the search engines will not be able to determine whether your business information is correct.  If the search engine is unsure then they could end up showing the wrong information or leaving you out of the rankings completely.

Google My Business

While Google My Business is considered to be a directory it is very important that you set up your account.  The account is free, but is able to get you unbelievable exposure when it is correctly optimized.

Start optimizing your My Business listings with a good description, categories, business hours and the types of payments you accept.  Uploading your logo and other pictures of your business, services or products is also recommended.  It is recommended that you have at least 3 pictures on your account.

Once you have fully populated all aspects of the account your listing will be complete.  If you are a service business that does not have a physical address then you do not have to worry.  You can choose to hide your physical address when you set up your account.

Online Reviews Are Important

Many businesses are finally starting to realize how important online reviews are.  A recent survey found that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  The survey also found that 7 out of 10 customers will leave a review of a business if they are asked for one.

There are 2 places that you should focus on getting reviews on and they are Facebook and Google My Business.  As many people turn to social media to get information about businesses having good reviews on your Facebook page is essential to getting new customers.  It is very important that you have good reviews on your My Business account because they are shown with the search results.  Google has also stated that high-quality, positive reviews will help improve a business’s visibility which implies that the reviews impact the rankings.

Use Structured Data Markup

Structured data markup is often called schema markup and can be added to the coding of your website.  This will provide search engines with more information about your business such as the products that you sell and the reviews that you have.  It has been found that only 31.3% of websites actually make use of this markup and many of these businesses are only using the basics that are on offer.  It is possible to make your website and business stand out by adding a structured data markup to your website where it is appropriate.

Google likes when websites use a structured data markup because it makes it easier for their spiders to look at your site.  The spiders can use the information provided to easily determine what the site is about.  This is why there is a Structured Data Testing Tool available from Google that you can use to check that your markup is set up correctly and is properly implemented.  When looking at this tool you should also consider some of the other webmaster tools that Google has on offer which will help you optimize your site correctly.