By now it is more than likely that you have heard of search engine optimization (SEO), but have you heard of Local SEO, and do you know how to rank for it?
It’s no secret that the higher your website ranks in the search engines for relevant keywords pertaining to your web pages, the more qualified visitors you are likely to have. It’s also no secret that getting to the top of search engines for these keywords is no easy task.
However, with the onset of local SEO it may be easier than you think for business looking for local traffic to get the visitors they want, if you follow the right steps.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing a website to rank high in search engines when people search for a keyword or keyphrase in a specific geographical location (i.e. city, state).
For example, you own a pizza restaurant in Phoenix, AZ; while it’s great to rank high for a term like “best pizza restaurant”, it becomes much less important if you are showing up for that search in Los Angeles instead of Phoenix.
Optimizing your website for local search is one of the most beneficial strategies you can implement if you are looking to connect with people who are in your community, as local seo searches make up more than a third of all inquiries on search engines.
So, How Do I Rank for Local SEO: Local SEO Checklist
Going back the pizza example above, you want the search engines to know what city and state your business is located in.
To do that there are a number of things that businesses can do to optimize their site for local SEO, and many of them are rather simple.
- Displaying the city and state where a business is located on the website is an important start. This includes mentioning it in both the page content and the title tag. The most important part of doing local SEO correctly is to make sure that the business’ name, address and phone number (NAP) are correct and clearly stated on the site. Companies that have more than one physical location should have a separate page for each of their branches.
- Adding the business to local listing directories is a good idea as this can help verify where the company is located. There are many of these online, but the most crucial is likely Google Places.
- Submit your site to Google Places for Business and go through the verification process. Fill out as much information as you can on your Google business page – including your address and website, as well as, the category that best suits the company. It’s imperative that the address listed on your website is the same as the address you enter in your Google Places profile as search engines will compare these when determining site ranking.
- Another essential factor in local SEO are Reviews. Reviews play a critical role in establishing you reputation from customers that have had an experience directly with the company. Good reviews facilitate more traffic to your website, which helps to increase your search engine rankings. Companies can either email their customers and ask them to leave reviews or speak to them when they are in the store. Business owners should monitor their reviews and always respond when a person says something negative. There are tools available to help people keep track of their reviews if they are listed in so many places that this becomes a problem.
- Make sure to get quality inbound links. This is key in any kind of search engine optimization.
- Use keywords that describe the business’ products or services in the anchor text for inbound links. It is also a good idea to do the same in the title tag on the landing page.
- Always be consistent with the business name, address and phone number when adding it to a directory. Being consistent will help to ensure that the site gets the biggest boost that it can from the listings. In addition, inconsistencies can lead to multiple listings, and this can have a negative impact on local SEO in addition to confusing people who are trying to contact or locate the business.
- Never choose to hide the business address in the Google Places page. While this may be an option, it is not good for SEO.
- Be sure not to overuse location information in both the site text and title tags. This can lead to a penalty for over-optimization as search engines may flag the site for containing spam.
If you’re looking to optimize your website for local SEO, you can follow the above steps, or contact one of our SEO consultants for more information.