Over the last three years, it has become a lot easier to locate nearby stores, businesses and items, which had created a significant shift in web user’s search behavior and intent.
At one time, users would have to type in the location when they were conducting a search query, such as “book stores in Chicago”. However, now they just have to type in “book stores near me” as long as they are in the location that they want to be, such as Chicago, and Google will begin to fetch book stores in the local area.
According to research, 33 percent (one in three) of Google searches have local intent. What does this mean? It boils down to the fact that people are searching for and expecting local information in search engine results and priority is being given to optimizing on- and off-site local SEO strategies.
So, with that being said, here are four things that you need to keep in mind as you begin to optimize your website for local SEO:
1. Title Tags and Meta Descriptions Didn’t Go Anywhere; They Do Still Work.
Title tags as well as meta descriptions on HTML elements that are used on-site that specifically reflect your page content. Both of these appear in the SERPs in addition to browser tabs. Due to the fact that Google has recently increased the width of the search engine result page to 600 pixels, the length of your title tag needs to be 40 to 50 characters long (for SEO best practices) and meta descriptions should not exceed more than 160 characters.
The title focuses on the page content is about for search engine crawlers as well as visitors, while the meta description focuses on the summary of the page content. When creating title tags and meta descriptions, you need to ensure that you include keywords that you are attempting to rank for. For instance, you may want to include a keyword like “bicycle rentals in Miami Beach” – as you can see, this title tag includes a specific keyword as well as a local reference.
Titles and meta descriptions need to be unique, descriptive and compelling because it will impact click-through rates from the SERPs to your page.
Utilizing the aforementioned length information above, make certain that your title and meta description are fully display on the search engine results page. You can use several tools that will allow you to see how your title tags and meta descriptions will appear in the search results. These tools include SEOmofo, SERP preview tool, and SEO plug-in from Yoast.
2. Keyword Research
When it comes to your SEO campaign, keyword research is everything. When it is done properly, keywords will increase the amount of traffic that comes to your website as well as the rankings for your individual web pages. Keywords represent individual terms as well as phrases that web users will type into search engines to locate local businesses, products and/or services.
Local SEO keyword research will involve the optimization of your website pages for keywords that have geo-modifiers – for example, place names/locations. For instance, if you have a candle making business, then a non-local and generic keyword would likely be “candle makers”. However, for a business that is working on local SEO optimization, an appropriate keyphrase would be “candle makers Boston” or “candle makes Boston Massachusetts”.
In order to successfully optimize your local SEO keyword research efforts, you need to take the time to brainstorm keywords and keyphrases that have a geo-modifier that web users may use when searching for your business. You can then take these words and phrases through Keyword.io or Google Keyword Planner to get some ideas with traffic stats.
This can be a time-consuming task, but it is very rewarding in the end.
3. Optimize for Google My Business and Bing Places for Business
Previously known as Google Places, Google My Business will permit you the ability to display your company’s phone number, hours, and directions to your location on Google Search as well as Map. Best of all, this is a free service and will help with your overall SEO efforts since your business will automatically be listed when web users search for you and/or your services.
Now, when you are optimizing your page, make sure that you take the time to upload your logo as well as some photos of the business. These photos can be anything and everything, from the office building to members of your staff.
If your business does not have a current physical location, then you will be able to hide your address; however, you will want to ensure that every single other piece of information is filled in and validated. One piece of information that is misplaced, such as a phone number, can cause you to lose customers as well as revenue.
Now, with Bing Places, the process is very similar to that of Google My Business. However, when it comes to use and search traffic, the two cannot be compared, as Bing only gets about 3.5 billion searches daily. Regardless, there are plenty of customers that will use Bing as a search engine, so you will want to make sure to accommodate them.
4. Local Structured Data
Often referred to as schema markup, structured data are codes that are added to sites in order to provide search engines like Google with in-depth data about your services, products, business offering, location-based offerings, prices of products/services, and more.
According to reports, less than one-third of sites utilize schema markup and those only use it on a basic level. However, structured data can help your site stand out in the search engine result pages with rich snippets and other things, which can really help improve your click-through rates.
When it comes to implementing structured data, you have a multitude of options. For example, you can optimize your site based on your business type (travel agency, dentist, lawyer, etc.), events (business listing for upcoming events), as well as location (a location markup).
Google is beginning to force marketers to utilize scheme markup and is also rewarding them for doing so because it helps search engine crawlers to better understand pages and the content on those pages. If you are unsure whether your website is optimized for structured data, you can utilize Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
The aforementioned four points are simply a foundation for you to get started with local SEO optimization. There is a lot more to it, but they will help you generate the results that you want and need and help achieve improved conversion rates. To learn more about local SEO optimization or if you have any questions, contact us at WebDetail.