Say you have a business that relies on a local customer base, you want to rank high in search engines for local users, right? SEO is going to be integral to making that happen and, by implementing the following steps, you will be well on your way to being more visible to your local customers.
Local SEO isn’t about gaming the system; it’s more about convincing a robot (a search engine) that your site is the most relevant for users in a certain location who may want your products or services. Local SEO is a series of signposts that allow the robots to understand where you are in the world and what you’re providing. It allows them to better rank your site according to the search terms the user enters.
In designing your site, you will still want to follow general SEO practices, for example, conducting keyword research into the most relevant search terms. On a technical level, your site will still need to meet best practices for crawls. But, to target a local audience, you will need to go even further.
Every page on a site should have a title whether or not SEO is your goal. It just makes sense to have one. In terms of using <title> tags to create local relevance, you should consider the following:
- Include your brand name within the title.
- Include the actual title of the page that was derived from effective keyword research for relevancy to the page and search demand.
- Include the location where you are based or the area in which you operate.
And accomplish all that in 70 characters or less! Easy, isn’t it?! Below is an example from a search for “Servicing Horndean”
2. Meta Descriptions
As with titles, a Meta description isn’t something you should have only for Local SEO; it’s something every page on a site should have. After all, it not only offers a search engine a little more insight into what the page is about, it also appears in the search results as a mini advert or snippet to entice the user to click on your page over a competitor’s. To create the right Meta description you should consider the following:
- Include the brand name.
- Include relevant information about the page.
- Include your targeted keyword.
- Include your location or area of operation.
Try not to force all of these elements into your description as it could seem cramped, read roughly, or appear ‘spammy’ to the user or search engine. In order to fit entirely within the search results page, the description should not exceed 155 characters. Personally, I try not to go over 148 just to be safe. Using the example from above, you can see how the description was written to include these elements.
Schema works in a similar way to the Meta Geo tags in that they can hold up another location signpost to a search engine. However, instead of working behind the scenes to show a search engine where you are, Schema helps to embed visual structured data into a web page and allow a search engine to gain more of an idea of the important information you are marking up. In this instance, location! For an example of how you can implement Schema into your business address take a look here.
4. Address In The Footer
Since it is always a good idea to have your business address in the footer of your site across all pages, why not use Schema to make your base even more obvious? While adding your business address, you should, if possible, include a local area telephone number.
5. Site Content
This one is pretty obvious, right? To make sure your site is as relevant to an area as possible you should include references to the location within the content of the pages. Be careful, though, to avoid stuffing references to the area you are targeting in the site copy; just add it where it fits naturally. Consider referencing your location in the same way you would reference your targeted keywords, not too much to be considered ‘stuffing,’ but enough to ensure the page is relevant to the term/location.
6. Geographic Targeting In Webmaster Tools and TLD’s
If you want to target a specific country there are some very easy and obvious things you should do. Firstly you should run your site on a TLD that is based in that country. For example www.mysite.co.uk if you are based in the UK. You can also go into your webmaster tools account and change your preferred geographic target as shown below:
7. Local Profiles
Setting up local profiles will work wonders for your Local SEO efforts. They provide a relevant link to your link profile, referral opportunities from a locally optimized site/page, and added context for search engines as to the location of your business. At a minimum, you should set up the following profiles:
- Google+ Local
- Bing Places
- Yahoo Local (Provided by Infoserve)
These profiles will obviously be favored by the respective search engines so they make the most sense to secure first. The list of local profile sites is almost endless with profile sites likely dedicated to your city or business niche.
8. Embedded Maps
Embedding a map of your business address from Google Maps (showing your Google+ Local profile) on your site’s “Contact Us” page is another way to both help the user and help your site’s Local SEO rankings! The map will give more context as to your location and will also help users find your business if they want to visit you in person.
Ensuring you have a presence on review sites like yelp and qype offers further location relevance for your site through the links and location information in the profile. They also offer a great opportunity for users to become advocates for your business. If users are looking online for a local business, they will be more likely to take their business to you or your site if they see other users have rated you well. Google+ Local, which outranks other review sites, is a good place to push for customer reviews.
Some great review sites are:
These are what I consider to be the most important elements for Local SEO for a site. There are other things that can be done, too, and I’m sure there are some good opinions out there from personal experience so please feel free to share your views or ask any questions in the comments below.
One great Local SEO resource can be found here, and I highly recommend that you download it for future reference. Mobile sites are becoming more and more important in SEO and this is especially true for Local SEO. Take a look at one of my whiteboard videos which covers a few mobile SEO considerations that you should also incorporate into your Local SEO strategy.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and have taken something useful away from this post. Feel free to connect with me on the social platforms below and get in touch if you have any questions.
That’s some good information you’ve put together in the one article there. I still think that getting quality backlinks to the site is one of the most important SEO elements, regardless of whether it’s local or not.
Backlinks are a part of the formula, but certainly when you say “most important element” you are saying that it’s over 50% of the formula.
Clearly with all of the other factors that come into play in local search, saying backlinks is the most important element is not correct.
I would put local citations (NAP matches) and customer reviews ahead of backlinks when it comes to local search results all day long.
Thanks Jamie and Tim. I am inclined to agree with you Tim. Backlinks are important as they are still currently a ranking factor. The value of links has shifted recently with more effort on good quality content and good quality sites that gain their links naturally through shares and natural linking. I think that the best and most useful backlinks to consider for a Local SEO campaign are in the local profiles and review site profiles as this not only offers the user an alternative way to visit your site (more referral traffic for you), it also offers the user an opportunity to review the business thus increasing the social signals, brand citations and in local campaigns customer testimonial is very useful.
Thanks for reading 🙂
Excellent content. Thank you. Going to go over this piece with a fine toothed comb as I review my blog site.
Thanks Trudy. Glad to hear it! 🙂
cool and helpful, thx.
well, nice informative article and I read The 9 Most Important Local SEO Elements its good tactic and big idea.
Not bad bit of information for beginners. This is something that you might like as well; as this article is more advanced for local SEO users. http://linkworxseo.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/how-to-improve-your-nap-for-better-local-placement/
I think just to add to your very good list, is a prominent TEXT phone number, preferably in the header, upper right, so it becomes familiar with the visitor on any page. Text so google easily picks it up.
I also found interesting article at http://www.geoseo.net/every-keyword-is-a-campaign-local-seo/ which describes about local seo key phrases and online local marketing.