Web Content Development And Trends
What is Local Search and SEO?
You may be familiar with the traditional definition of SEO, or “search engine optimization”, certainly if you are a reader of my blog. This includes the things I’ve talked about for years, such as on-site variables (right title tags and meta descriptions on pages, and great content for examples), and off-site variables (such a linkbuilding to your site). These items are and will remain critical pieces towards maximizing your site’s visibility. These variables are still important no matter who you are, where you are located, the size of your business, etc.
However Local SEO is specifically geared towards businesses that: 1) have a physical location they expect local people to visit, or 2) have offices, warehouses, etc. that are contacted by people in nearby neighborhoods and the surrounding community.
So any business that gets the majority or all of its customers/clients locally should strongly consider Local SEO services. This could be a local restaurant, retail shop, doctor, gym, dentist, lawyer, landscaping company, auto repair shops, consumer services companies and hundreds more of course.
Because Local SEO is just starting to grow and many businesses aren’t on-board yet, you have a big advantage – at least for now. But that will change, especially when others realize the things I’m talking about here. Your opportunity, to strike while the iron is hot and take advantage of what Local SEO does for your business, is now.
Almost 50% of searches done in 2014 triggered “local listings” according to how Google categorizes their product or service, and this year that number will grow. The next stat to consider is that 94% of consumers select a link from the first page. 94 percent! And since the Top 7 Local results are featured prominently on the first page, often times higher than all organic results, being here if possible should be a primary goal for most local companies.
How can I be in the Top 7? I do both Local SEO and Organic (traditional) SEO work, described as follows.
Is all about ranking for searches such as my personally local “St. Louis”-based ones. This is done through CITATIONS – or having accurate and consistent information in as many directories and aggregators as possible. These are any place online where we can use your company NAP (name, address, phone number) all on the same page, in the precise format as your local listings. There are many thousands of potential directories to be listed in, some of the most critical and most popular include a robust Google+ page, Yelp page, Acxiom, Infogroup, Localeze, Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Bing Local, Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Factual, Apple Maps, Mapquest, TomTom, Whitepages. Yellowbook, Manta, Merchant Circle, Brownbook, Mojo Pages, Hotfrog, CitySquares and many, many (up to 30,000!) more. Each of these increases Google’s confidence in you and your business, which helps you move up “St. Louis”-based searches.
The other critical part of Local SEO are REVIEWS of your business, done most critically on your Google+ page. This is something we can work together on to solicit these great (five-star) reviews from your current and happy customers when you partner with us.
Focuses on both on-site and off-site optimizations, and is still vital for top rankings too. On-site is primarily built through the addition of unique, high-quality content added to the site frequently, in addition to some of the structural aspects of the site.
How your site is STRUCTURED is key for you. When we build new sites, or work with existing ones, all these key issues will be addressed, so there is no need for additional comment here, other than to say we will also teach YOU to add content and images in a way that follows the best practices of SEO. This ensures that you are getting the maximum value for your site’s online presence.
The other vital piece of Organic SEO is CONTENT. This can be in the form of blog posts or static webpages. But you need to add unique, frequent content on a regular basis for Google to know you are “with it” and that folks are busy minding the store for lack of better terms. This can be in form of blogging as mentioned or continually adding new photos – with very detailed descriptions (Google likes 500 words or more per page) – *regularly. I am an MBA-level writer with a strong marketing agency background, so our clients receive top quality work that is designed to convert as well.
Then for off-the-site, we need to focus on back-links. Backlinks are links to your site from others, which essentially count as one “vote” for the value of your content to others, since they are willing to share your site with others. There are numerous strategies that we use to create high quality backlinks to your website.
These are the main services that we offer at Hat Trick Associates, with a strong focus on Local SEO in 2015. If you are interested in becoming part of the Top 7 and being included on the First Page of results, please give me a call at: (314 494-3494 or shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to set up a quick phone consultation to find out more about your business, your online goals, and how we can work together to help your rankings and ultimately grow your company through increased web traffic.
Local SEO Services – Steps to Take This Year
2016 is now in full swing, it’s time to really look forward into the year and discuss marketing plans.
David Mihm, the local search wizard at Moz, just released the annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey, which helps give local marketers like me more insight into which ranking factors matter the most.
The survey shows a definite shift toward more traditional web ranking factors. Last year’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey had Google Places and Citations weighted heavily, but this year’s study shows that on-site signals and links are the most powerful factors.
This shift is consistent with Google’s recent local ranking algorithm update, Pigeon. Many Local SEOs reported they weren’t hit by Pigeon – because they took a more wholesome approach to local SEO, it’s likely their sites simply had more authority to begin with.
The most important point we try to hammer home to potential clients is that you can’t fool the nerds at Google. Everything you do, both on and off site, should be working toward the end goal of making your user experience awesome… not trying to fool Google into placing you higher on search results pages. Besides, web visitors that don’t convert because their experiences are sub-optimal aren’t worth much, are they?
So, taking what we’ve been able to figure out about the Pigeon update and adding in the results from the 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors survey, these are two very simple tips to help you with Local Search success in 2015:
1) Be Really Awesome
2) Earn Really Awesome Links
Yes, it’s that simple… but at the same time, it’s NOT really easy for most local businesses. Take a look at your competitors in your vertical – nearly every website has the same or similar content, and most sites don’t have that many inbound links.
Okay, So How Are You Supposed To Be Awesome using Local SEO Services?
The best thing you can do for Local Search success in 2015 is to take all the energy you put into trying to fool Google and instead use that energy to make your site better.
Take a long, hard look at your site and look at your competitors’ sites. What can you do to be better? You know that your potential customers will be looking at multiple sites, so make your site the best in your vertical.
Make sure you’re avoiding these common pitfalls – they’re all basic, but we still see far too many websites tripping up on these:
No Home Page Content. You have heard us talk about web content for 6 years now. Your customers (and thus the search engines) need to know what you’re all about. If your home page has a slider or banner or just a few sentences, you need to add more useful content immediately.
Only A Few Sentences On A Page. Once again, your customers (and the search engines) are checking your website for useful, relevant information. If you offer a product or service, don’t just say, “We sell X, call us today for more info!” Today’s shoppers want immediate gratification when it comes to research and comparison shopping, so you need to pack every page with useful content.
Spamming Keywords. You would think that word had gotten out by now, but far too many websites rely on this (extraordinarily) outdated tactic. You’re not going to rank well everywhere in your state simply because you listed out 100 various cities separated by commas on your home page. Does that huge list of cities provide useful information for customers? No. Does it help you rank in Google? Definitely not. Get rid of the junk and populate your site with relevant, informative content instead. It’s not just about SEO, it’s about SALES CONVERSIONS, this keyword spam just turns people off.
Awful Title Tags. You’ve got about 500 pixels of width for your title tags; anything longer will be truncated when it’s displayed in search results. The title tag should summarize the page – it shouldn’t be a huge chunk of keywords you’re trying to rank for. Put your primary keyword phrase at the beginning and your business name at the end. If you’ve got 100 keywords stuffed into your title tag, you just look desperate.
Don’t Forget Your Local Optimization
With on-site signals now carrying so much weight, it’s more important than ever to have your local optimization ducks in a row. It won’t do you any good to bang out a ton of citations if your site doesn’t include the local signals that Google expects it to have. Our Local SEO Services are all about addressing this increasingly important topic.
Again, these are old-school basics, but we hardly see any websites correctly optimizing for Local areas:
– Include City/ST in your title tag. Remember, the title tag is incredibly important for optimization, and including your city and state is an important signal for local relevancy.
– Include City/ST in your H1 heading. It doesn’t have to be the entire heading in and of itself — what’s important here is to include your city and state in the page heading to further show local relevancy.
– Include City/ST in your content. Far too many sites forget to include City/ST information inside the site content. Optimizing for local search won’t work unless you’re talking about your local area in your content.
– Include City/ST in your alt text on images. It’s amazing how many times we see sites that don’t include alt text. Remember, Google can’t see what’s in your images, so alt text helps provide a better understanding of your page content. – – Including City/ST information can really help boost local relevancy.
– Include City/ST in your URL. If you’ve got the ability to edit your URL structure, try to include your city and state information in your URLs. Again, this can go a long way toward providing a stronger local signal to both customers and Google.
(Important Note: if you’re going to update your URLs, don’t forget to set up 301 redirects so that the old address is permanently pointed to the new one.)
These are all just specific tactics to help with the main goal: to make your site more awesome. Stop thinking about how to make your website rank, and start thinking about how to make your site the best in your niche. That’s how you’re going to rank better and convert more visitors. Isn’t that the goal?
If you’re looking to connect with your awaiting audience thorough Local SEO services in St. Louis and elsewhere, give Hat Trick Associates a call today at (314) 494-3494 or send me an email directly, at: email@example.com.