This article was contributed byRavi Sharma.
Countless hours have gone in to the study of search algorithms by experts. It is an ever-evolving process that requires diligent training and practice. The best developers have built up a list of resources and techniques that have shown to work efficiently. Although, will the introduction of AI and machine learning, we may never know the true process used by Google to rank search results. We are starting to reach a point where the search engines will code themselves!
Even so, companies are still hiring SEO experts more frequently than ever. Job boards are filling up with posts for “SEO marketing managers” who can beat the algorithms. Special firms that offer local SEO services are popping up all over major cities throughout the world.
In this study we will take a look at what you should know about local search engine rankings. By the end, hopefully you’ll have a good idea on how to use SEO strategically for your business.
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The Mobile Era:
Mobile device use is higher now than ever. We expect that this trend will continue for many years to come as access to wifi and data rate speeds go up. 5G technology is just around the corner, and who knows how that will change the game. Because of the popularity of this trend, search engines now place priority on mobile-friendly websites.
If your website is not adaptive to a mobile format, then expect to drop in the search engine rankings dramatically. It is even possible that this is the first thing Google looks for in a website, given how much importance is placed on it. Integrating a mobile app into your company is also a good idea. This way you’ll have all your bases covered for the best user experience, and better SEO.
Right now, mobile design feels like the future. In past years it felt like an afterthought. Now, you can’t survive without some form of mobile integration.
Proving your value to Google is done through your content. This has been true for a very longtime, and will probably be true for the rest of online history. Well structured content that is easy to read for users is also easy to read for search engines. Taking time to create something that looks good and reads well is how you stay on top of search results.
Also, quality is very important. Pumping out content piece after piece only does so much. Having that regular stream of updated work is good, but if the work has no value to the user, it won’t rank well. Search engines can determine if something is written well, and that the content is not only related to the subject, but also an authority on the subject.
Well written and designed content gives value to the end user. Google will see this, and then recommend that content to other users. This is the foundation of content rankings. If you are a local business, don’t let your content slack. Always be innovating and building a better product.
A New Type of Keyword:
You may have heard of the term “long-tail” keyword. What does this mean exactly?
A long-tail keyword refers to a phrase. This is usually something a few words long and is more of a complete thought. Opposed to a random string of words. Long-tail keywords are very specific to the context that they are being used in. Typically, they can be in the form or a question. That question probably refers to a specific line of products, services, or business types.
There are two main reasons long-tail keywords have started to develop into popular use. First, people are more often making searches about a specific thing. For example, you might search “Italian restaurants near me open till 10 PM.” There is a lot more detail there than just “New York City Italian.”
The other reason so many long-tail keywords became popular is because of the introduction of voice search. In recent years, voice search has started to play an important role in SEO. When using voice search, the user is more likely to say a complete phase. Thus, in 2019 we start to see the integration of long-tail keywords.
If you are a local business, try to start using key phrases that sound like someone asking a question. “Siri, find the best food near me” is something you might hear people say regularly. That is the kind of wording a business needs to incorporate to maintain better local SEO results.
Most websites should already be using encrypted communication to protect any sensitive data. This is always necessary for commerce websites that will be processing credit card information during purchases. There has been a trend in users avoiding unsecured websites on Google, but did you know that it now affects SEO results?
Google recently made a big push to ensure more websites are staying up to date in their security. As a result, you may notice more often a popup message telling you that the website you are about to visit is not secured. This is huge red flag for users, and will hurt your ranking and keep people away from your business’s website.
We see this as a good decision overall. Bank accounts, social security, and personal information are always at risk when stored in an online format. Encouraging universal security practices will be a good change for everyone. Now it will affect your SEO also. Hopefully this will encourage you to make a change if you haven’t already.
It is not uncommon to see local businesses forgetting SSL encryption. If want to get an advantage over the local competition, now is your chance.
This factor can vary depending on the content quality and subject. It is good to keep in mind that stuffing words in for a higher word count doesn’t correlate with better SEO in local rankings. Creating quality content is still more important. Sometimes the content doesn’t call for 1000 plus words, and that is okay.
In general, many people are using 300 to 500 words in most content pieces. Although, higher word counts have become the new normal, so you often see content with up to 1000 words. It really just depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Consider what value the words bring to the user, and that should help you find the right amount.
Website speed is important to get better search results. Using graphics in your website can also help boost SEO. These two things need to compliment each other however. If your website graphics are very large and difficult to load, this will impact you negatively. Consider using optimizing tools to shrink files sizes down to better suit load times. The final size should be around 100k. If the media is meant to be large, like for a brochure or other printable document, then these can be larger file sizes.
Your local business will also want to strategically label images. Name files with something that a person would search for and see on Google images. Keep it related to the picture in question, and try incorporating local search terms if it makes sense. Don’t forget to add things like captions, descriptions, and alt text to your website media also. Better quality images also mean a better user experience.
Visuals can be a powerful tool. They draw in customers, and help them remember information about your business. Follow our tips to use them to boost SEO and grow your business locally.
This can be a really important of hitting top local search results. Almost 100 percent of potential customers will consult an online review before making a decision. If you want to stay on top of SEO trends, then make sure you are getting good Google reviews.
To do this might require a little extra effort. Make sure you follow up with customers, and ask them to rate their experience. Especially if you are sure that they had an overall positive experience with your business. Use email and phone calls to reach out. If that doesn’t seem to do the trick, offer a bonus to those who leave a review. It can be something small like a discount or free sample.
The important thing is to entice a few reviewers to start leaving good reviews. Once they do, your business will earn a little more credibility and trust. This will lead to higher recommendations in the search engines.
At the same time, people are more likely to leave reviews if they had a bad experience. If this is the case, don’t fret. Do your best to quickly address bad reviews, and calm any concerns others might have when they see a bad rating. If you are patient and diligent, there is a good chance you can resolve the situation and improve your review score.
Reviews are all about reputation. Reputation is an important element in SEO and branding alike. Keep up the good reviews and show them off proudly.
My Business Page:
Google’s My Business page is an important part of “NAP” and getting better local results. NAP is short for name, address, and phone. A search engine will look for consistency in this information between various sources. So first, make sure all your information is filled out correctly on the My Business page.
Then, double check that any local directories display the same information. This can be local commerce pages, churches, job boards or more. If Google sees that all this information is the same across multiple sources, it will know that the information is reliable. Then, Google will be more confident in recommending it to other users.
You will also need to claim your business, and set accurate operating hours. Adding directions, linking a company website, and putting a map image will boost SEO as well. Consider where you are trying to rank as fill out this information. Google will take into account the distance of your business from the nearest major city you want to rank in. As long you put a valid mailing address, that is where search recommendations will go.
Now anytime a user searches a term with your city, they will have a better chance of getting search results from Google with your business information.
The final step in filling out your My Business page is the business categories. These are like keywords that you would traditionally use in SEO content. If users search a tag you have assigned, it will help your business show up in results.
Be careful though, attaching unrelated tags is a great way to confuse users and net yourself some bad reviews. Double check that anything you tagged your business with makes sense. This way you don’t end up in the wrong category of results.
If you have multiple locations for your business, it is important to distinguish them.
Have custom URLs and content on your website for each location. This can difficult so try these suggestions. Have information about the local employees who are at that location. Consider letting the manager write a post about the positive aspects of working there, and the local community. Feature reviews that apply to that local business, and not just the company as a whole. Make sure the webpages for each location can be told apart by users.
If you do all these things, it will help each individual location rank better in the local search results. You even have a good chance of beating out big name brands who often neglect to distinguish locations on their website.
Quick List of Important Factors and Tips:
- High volume searching of your company name will flag to Google that this is a local expert for your business category
- Links to other sources with good SEO will help you appear more relevant
- An actual image of the location of your business boots organic search results
- Maintain regular content updates
- Verify that Google can confirm your physical address. Be specific, not just a street name
- Keyword the area. Big cities like Los Angeles have many districts, be specific to your location (e.g. “West LA”)
- Citations from local resources help a lot, but only if your info is correct and consistent
- Quality always matters. This includes design and security
- Try to have an average of 500 words per website page
- Keep content unique. Don’t copy and paste on multiple pages
Local SEO Summary:
We covered a lot of important information in this post. By now, you should at least understand that boosting local SEO results is no easy task. This overview will help give some places to start when optimizing your website this year. But sometimes work this complicated should be left to the professionals.
It is always recommended to consult with local SEO services to build the best website. They will know all the tricks and tips we discussed here in more depth. Plus, more strategies that we didn’t cover. Don’t forget that every year the SEO strategies change. Experts will be able to assist you in creating the most optimized website when the algorithms change.
SEO isn’t just for the big companies these days. Local businesses need to follow best SEO practices to stay relevant in todays market. With the rise of mobile searches, the difference in growing a business, and having to close one could be the quality of your Google My Business profile. Don’t neglect these resources, and good luck hitting the top of the results!
Ravi Sharma, CEO of Webomaze is a highly enthusiastic entrepreneur. His love for making every business reach the greatest heights in their industry made him establish his digital marketing company delivering the best local SEO services. He has got a great grip on the idea of effective SEO process and tactics which are vital for virtual exposure. He is a fun-loving person and a keen traveler who always hunts to find adventure in new places.