What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process that will improve your website's discoverability in search engines like Google. This process (when applied correctly) to your business allows you to rank higher in search results, creating more organic or unpaid traffic to your website.
What is Local SEO?
Concentrating on a Local SEO for your business can make a huge difference in how you rank among your competitors within your local area. Local SEO focuses on your location and your specific category or range of services. This narrows down your competition in search because it is based on proximity to the person who performed the search.
Not only will local SEO help establish your brand, but you are also bound to see better results since the search engine algorithms have a fondness for local searches.
Google and other search engines collect information on a user's location and search history. The result will provide a local-specific business. If you are not tapping into your local market, you're missing out on potential customers.
A Google Business Profile is the First Step Towards Local SEO
Whether or not you have a storefront, creating a Google Business Profile (GBP for short — this service was previously named Google My Business) is your first step. Believe it or not, a lot of businesses don’t bother creating a GBP listing. It is a free resource that will give you higher visibility on Google Search and Google Maps.
A fully completed listing will generate more traffic and attract targeted local customers. Follow Google's guidelines on how to improve your local ranking so that your business gets better search results:
- Enter complete data - Make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are accurate.
- Verify your location - Google will send a postcard to verify your business. Make sure this verification code goes in your listing. (Still, verify your business if you work out of your home but you can hide your address from your listing.)
- Keep your hours accurate - Working hours, days you are closed (including holidays).
- Manage and respond to reviews - Take the time to show your customers that you appreciate their opinion.
- Add Photos - add your logo, photos of your product or services.
You are now on your way to appearing in local searches. Make sure you maintain and monitor this over time so your information stays relevant and accurate.
Making Sure Everything Matches
Now that you have a Google Business Profile. Go back to your website and social media accounts and make sure you have the same business name, address, and phone number (NAP) as your GBP.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but if you fail to have identical information across all the platforms your business appears, Google may flag the information as incorrect, which can seriously hurt your rankings. It might take some time to do if you have a lot of online listings but it is worth the effort.
NAP consistency is crucial for SEO because identical NAPs determine the validity of your business and boosts the chances of your ranking. Here is an example of how to avoid minor mistakes in your listings.
Your Google Business Profile
542 Terry Street
Orlando, FL 32801
Wrong Address & Phone Number
542 Terry St. (St. vs Street)
Orlando, FL 32801
407.249.3513 (dots vs dash)
Wrong Company Name and URL
CaribbeanEats (no space vs space)
542 Terry St.
Orlando, FL 32801
www.caribbeaneats.com (www vs none)
Performing Keyword Research
Performing search engine keyword research and updating your website with those keywords is the next step, but this might be hard to navigate if you are a novice. If you aren’t sure what people are searching, Keyword Tool or Answer the Public is a good source to help narrow down your keywords.
Another way to come up with keywords is to ask yourself these questions:
- What would you Google to find your business?
- What city or cities do you provide your services or products to?
Combining your keywords with the cities you provide your services to is the best practice for local SEO.
Add Local Keywords to Your Website
There are several places on your website to add these keywords and locations. The most obvious is in the headings, body copy, and footer of your website. The Title Tags and Meta Descriptions, depending on your website, will be in the settings for the page.
The Title Tags on your website should be between 50 - 65 characters and your Meta Description is recommended at 155 characters. Note that there is a character limit on search engines. Anything over that amount and your description will be cut off when visitors view them in search.
Provided your website has multiple pages, a steady combination of your keywords and locations can be used throughout the pages on your site. We like using WebYurt‘s title tag and meta description length tools to track our character count.
Here is an example of what the home page would look like using the above character counts.
The keywords we are using: Caribbean, Jamaican, jerk seasoning, homemade food, family-owned with the location of Orlando, FL.
Make sure that you have completed this for every page on your website, use the keywords and locations from your list in various combinations.
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
Having your website load quickly is overall good for SEO and it does influence your search ranking. Speed is now used as one of the primary factors in Google’s Speed Algorithm Update.
Mobile device searches have increased to a staggering 61% of all organic searches. Showing that increasingly this is the primary device driving the amount of online traffic, local and organic. For a quick analysis of how quickly your website loads and ways that you can improve your page speeds, go to Page Speed Insights.
According to Google here are the top 3 things to look for when optimizing your website for mobile:
1.) Does it load in 3 seconds or less?
Benchmark your current load time. Then go into your website and start optimizing all of your images and compress large media files. We like compressing our images to a more manageable size using TinyPng.com. If you think that resizing your images might be necessary try PicResize.com, which allows you to crop, select a size, and compress your image for free.
2.) Is it easy to navigate?
Make sure you have appropriate font sizing for the smaller screen and it is easy to see content, menus, and buttons.
3.) Is it easy to take action?
Can the user quickly find how to contact you or find your address? Can they easily purchase your product? If you provide a service, can they fill out that form without accessing too many pages on your website?
Sharing Content & Social Media
Even though Google doesn’t acknowledge social media interactions in their ranking, it can add a layer of authenticity to your business, boost traffic to your website and ultimately increase your web presence. While this step is less tangible than the other SEO strategies we are discussing, it shouldn’t be overlooked.
The SEO opportunity here is to share local content from your website on your social networks. The easiest way to do this is to create a blog and share those posts on social media OR simply have the share buttons on your blog page. Make sure your blog uses targeted keywords relevant to your industry and audience, this gives your website a greater rank than one without. The more frequently you update your site, the more Google will “spider” or “crawl” your site.
Do you post frequently? Even better! One of the top marketing trends for 2022 is storytelling. What better way to do this than by adding a live feed to your website that tells your business’s story? Instagram is a favorite among our clients.
Sharing content across your social media adds credibility to your website and creates link building which will improve the searchability and SEO of your website. Google ranks sites that are the most current, the highest.
Take these steps now to boost your local SEO
Set up your Google Business Profile, even though it can be time consuming it will get your business ranking better locally. Remember to verify your business, and put in the code on your profile. Skipping this step can result in your business not even being listed. Don’t be in the 56% of businesses that don’t claim their listing.
If you are a fairly new business NAP consistency should be a breeze. Note what you input into your GBP, as you create new listings and social media accounts make sure that they match exactly.
Search engines cross reference everything, I mean everything. From your social media pages, website, and directory listings. If you fail to have identical information across all of these platforms the result could be spotty at best.
Get local with your website keywords and share your content
Local keywords along with your service area(s) will target your audience specific to your location and enrich your SEO. Research shows that 70% of consumers would rather shop at local businesses (online or in-store). Tapping into this newly known market can increase your visibility. It looks like the growing trend will be from their mobile device, so make sure your website loads fast and looks amazing!
Enrich your website with a blog that includes local, industry and relevant content. You took the time to create these amazing posts, share them! If you feel like some of these strategies you can easily do and others might seem a bit daunting. Don’t worry we have you covered at Belt Creative with different tiered SEO Packages.
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Belt Creative offers more insightful strategies; the benefits of Business Listing Management, or additional digital marketing services, such as Website Development, Search Engine Optimization, Branding & Design, Digital Ads, and more!