Search engines and strategies for search engine optimization are constantly evolving. If you’re considering hiring a local SEO marketing agency, then it’s important for you to understand how to rank for local search engine optimization in 2017. Here’s a quick rundown of the top elements of local SEO today. While proximity is still the number one ranking factor, it’s essential that you optimize for all of these factors in order to maximize your local search engine results page (SERP) ranking and click-through rate (CTR).
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
Having a consistent NAP is critical for businesses that want to rank well in local – and national – organic search results. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. It is important that your company website is claimed properly through Google My Business and that the NAP you use is consistent across the Internet and is the same as the one that appears on your actual website. The NAP should be incorporated into your header, sidebar and/or footer on every webpage. Google and other search engines take into account how many times your NAP appears consistently on the web when determining which companies to show for geo-targeted searches.
Citations are online references to your business’ NAP. Citations are additional sites, or local directories, where you can list your business. This may include registering your company with your local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, and any regional or national industry-related associations. It is essential to check all of your business’ citations in relevant directories and websites in order to eliminate any duplicate citations and correct any citation errors.
Local Link Building
Link building, also referred to as backlinking, dominates local SEO. External linking happens when you establish the relevancy and reliability of your website by linking out to high authority industry or community websites. Local SEO also relies on capturing links from other local websites that are relevant to your company. It is important to try and get links from websites that are both local to you and from high authority websites, such as a Destination Management Organization (DMO), your local Chamber of Commerce, or the Better Business Bureau.
Social media has become a major factor in local search optimization. Social media platforms are popular for consumer reviews, and your Facebook or Yelp business page may actually show up in search results. Using social media to promote local brand awareness is critical when working to stand out among your competitors. You want to make sure your brand is utilizing social media channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. These platforms also provide you with additional opportunities to list your NAP.
You should try to claim as many social media listings as you can because controlling your brand perception via social media is essential. When customers search for brands, social profiles create opportunities for traffic and may also obtain valuable SERP space. If you can make your brand engaging through the use of social media, you can foster an audience to whom you can advertise at a very low cost. Linking to your social networks from your website and making sure you use a consistent NAP is also essential to leveraging social media.
Local reviews are the online version of word-of-mouth, and they can play a major part in raising your local ranking. Reviews provide people with information to help them make decisions about future purchases or interactions with your business. It’s important to spend time securing and monitoring local reviews. Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp reviews are primary places for consumers to provide their thoughts on your company, services, and products – and the more reviews you have, the more they can advance your local SEO rankings. It is important not to be deterred by any negative reviews, but rather to respond to them swiftly and work to counter them with more positive reviews. This requires a well-rounded strategy with someone who is regularly monitoring reviews on all local listing sites as well as your company’s social media pages.
The use of targeted local keywords in both your content and metadata helps search engines to quickly see what your page is about and how relevant it is to a specific local search query. While semantic search now makes it easier for Google and other search engines to understand what a page is about using synonyms and the overall page content, it also makes quality website content more important now than ever before. Because of semantic search, using keywords naturally within your content and metadata is the best way to ensure your company has a higher listing in the organic, non-paid search results for local queries.
A critical component of your site’s local SEO strategy is to research and select relevant geo-targeted keywords that you can realistically rank for. Although generic keywords are a good place to start, they are also highly competitive and may take more time to rank for. It’s wise to target a localized keyword that has lower competition and will be easier to optimize for while also bringing you more targeted results.
To maximize your click-through rate (CTR) on the search engine results page (SERP), it is essential to have a clear page title and detailed meta description consistent with the topics (keywords) your customers are searching for. Having a higher CTR can actually help your website to rise within local organic search engine results pages. Some factors that influence CTR are having a schema markup in place, making your title tag as clear and relevant as possible, and having a detailed, relevant meta description. The meta description provides potential customers and search engines with insight into what the page is actually about and also appears in the SERP as a snippet to entice readers to click through to your website.
High-quality content that provides value to the reader is the primary way to enhance your local SEO performance. Content is truly king when it comes to search engine optimization. Producing page content that is unique, relevant to your visitors, and rich in information is critical. Your content helps demonstrate your company’s expertise, relevance, and authority to search engines and visitors who land on your website. Better content with appropriate internal linking reduces your bounce rate, keeping potential customers on your site longer and making them more likely to purchase your products or services. Consider what makes your company unique, valuable and engaging, and use it to make your website stand out from competitors.
Each of these elements may not seem too challenging to deal with individually; however, the expertise required, time involved, and the knowledge of various platforms that it takes to manage all of them can make it difficult for a business owner to effectively handle all aspects of local SEO on their own. If you are looking to improve your local search rankings, contact Get YOU Found™ for a free consultation. We look forward to helping your business in the Greensboro, NC area thrive!