5 Effective Local SEO Strategies

Written by: Jason Bayless | June 18, 2015

Google continued to update their algorithms throughout 2014, which led to either panic or dread for many search marketers. Because Google is determined to decrease the number of low-value web pages, particularly those with spammy keywords, it can seem as if there aren’t many good optimization methods left that won’t cost you getting dinged. However, there are some very effective strategies that will boost your pages in 2015. Here are a few ways to stay on the ‘good side’ of Google:

1. Clean up the structure of your website.

Websites with clean, streamlined URLs are often ranked higher than sites with confusing structures or messy content organization. Links and URLs are the very building blocks of your site. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that they’re Google-friendly and always consistent.

Web pages that contain excessive outbound links are usually considered damaging to rankings, even though the exact number is still out for debate. Google used to have a set limit of 100 links per web page, but no longer. Now, they simply recommend that your links are relevant to the content on the page. It’s best to focus your attention more on creating a minimum of two paragraphs of original, quality content per page along with some outbound links to good quality, valuable sites.

2. Consider using secure encryption.

Fear took over that the possibility of not having an SSL certificate would drop down your site in Google’s search results ever since the announcement of ‘HTTPS ranking signal’, which resulted in several website owners to begin moving their websites to HTTPS without any real understanding or doing proper research.

If moving to HTTPS is important for your business and fairly easy for you to do, then go ahead and make the move. But, if it’s going to be incredibly hard for you to convert to HTTPS, it’s likely not worth the trouble. Also, if a website is almost entirely informational that doesn’t manage any consumer data, then there’s likely not enough SEO importance to worry about it.

3. Incorporate keywords that are Hummingbird-friendly.

The new Google Hummingbird algorithm brought a significant change regarding the way Google parses queries. Rather than corresponding separate keywords to web pages, it now seeks real search intent. Although keywords are still very important, you should now be looking for a bigger bucket of niche-specific combinations for words.

The first step is to figure out a variety of conversational phrases that most people will probably use when trying to find your products or services. For instance, rather than ‘flowers’, use phrases like ‘inexpensive flower arrangement’, ‘same day flower delivery’, or ‘Valentines bouquet’. If possible, try to target conversational phrases simply as they are, for instance, ‘where can I purchase flowers in bulk’.

The next step is to organize the phrases into three separate categories: transactional, navigational, and informational. Transaction queries indicate commercial intent. In order to rank for them, use words like hire, buy, purchase, review, deal, discount, or coupon. Navigational queries are searching for your brand name, website, or product name. In order to address informational queries, build educational content that links to your sales or product pages.

4. Go above and beyond personalized search results.

Because the search results on Google are so personalized, it’s often hard to get a good idea regarding how a web page will rank for people who have never visited your website before along with searchers in different locations. Keep in mind that using your own browser and computer won’t give you an accurate answer. This is because Google is personalizing your own search as well based on your personal search history.

Trying to track location-specific rankings can be biased due to your IP address in addition to the location set according to Google Search Tools. In order to see local, true results, both of these have to match your target location. For instance, if you’re in San Diego and want to see how a Dallas restaurant is ranking, even if you set your location on Dallas, Google will just assume based on your IP address that you’re a person in San Diego looking for a particular restaurant in Dallas and then return different results to you than it would for a person who actually lives in Texas.

Overall, these techniques are simple and just common sense. However, they’re not easy to implement. Each one of them requires a bit of time and effort, but will pay off in the end if done properly.