Local search engine optimization (SEO) efforts are often spread equally across on-page and off-page techniques. Inbound links and reviews are important to a successful campaign, but generating them shouldn’t come at the expense of on-page optimization. Here are seven of the best techniques for local SEO.
Targeting appropriate keywords is the first step in any local SEO effort. One of the most difficult aspects of choosing geographic keywords comes from the fluidity of regional designations. Targeting a narrow area may lead to fewer hits, which may be more relevant and lead to higher conversions, while targeting a broader area may mean a longer road to high rankings.
Choosing keywords isn’t the only important thing, however. Using them in the most effective way is one of the great challenges of search engine optimization, and finding the best balance of frequency and placement should be a prime concern. Search algorithms punish overuse of keywords, called keyword stuffing, and instead favor keywords that flow naturally with the surrounding text.
Search algorithms may categorize by keyword, but they favor unique, useful content. Spending time developing a site into a resource for visitors will be rewarded in search rankings, page views and conversions. Here are some tips for creating detailed content:
• Create new website copy for product descriptions and news items. Reusing content that appears elsewhere can have a negative impact on rankings.
• Update content regularly by removing or updating outdated information and adding new content.
• Avoid using pages that are short on text. Adding extra information in place of generic calls to action makes the site more useful.
Many websites make the mistake of having thin landing page content. As the first page visitors encounter, the landing page should be rich with information, including targeted keywords, business description, links, and a map.
One of the best ways to show visitors and search engines where a business is located is with a map on landing pages. Using an embedded Google map with a location marker the greatest SEO benefits. Keep in mind that using a plain image map will not be as effective for local SEO: search engines will rely on the descriptive text used in the image tag to understand the image.
A geographic area lies at the center of every local SEO campaign. That area, such as a city and state or neighborhood, should be repeated frequently in website content, including
• In text content.
• In page URLs.
• In meta tags.
• In title tags.
• In H1 headers.
When paired with a relevant keyword, repeating the targeted geographic area, including city and region information, is essential to the success of a local SEO campaign.
Liberal use of geographic and other relevant keywords in image tags is important, and it’s often overlooked in favor of other SEO efforts. Search engines can’t catalog the content of images and infographics without descriptive tags, and they serve as an opportunity to make sure those algorithms can account for the value images add to website content. In addition to the targeted geographic keywords, image tags can contextualize any additional information about that image.
One of the most important things for a local SEO effort is having consistent name, address and phone number (NAP) information across the web. While it’s harder to control references to this information on other Web pages, it should be present in an identical form on every page of the business’s website. Spelling, the presence of abbreviations, and punctuation should match in every place the information is presented, and it should be presented frequently.
The importance of a consistent NAP can’t be understated.
The above on-page techniques combine well with the myriad off-page techniques to create a successful localized SEO campaign.