When Google rolled out its first local algorithm, search engines become aware of a user’s local intent, which completely changed search results. For example, now entering general terms like “restaurant” will automatically prompt Google to locate restaurants that are close to the user’s approximate location. The famous 7-pack of local results now appear on the map before organic results will. Now is the best time to jump in with these local SEO tips for 2015.
1: Google My Business Page
It’s as important as ever to get a business ranked in a mapped result. The best way to achieve this is by registering for a Google My Business page. This account requires you to provide accurate address information and supply verification to be submitted to Maps results.
2: Content Marketing
Google and the other search engines have one primary goal: Give searchers the most relevant and most helpful websites that pertain to their query so they don’t waste time scanning page after page.
As such, the highest ranking pages will have the most useful content. Websites considered to be a great resource of information when a visitor reaches the page will stay on it; they won’t bounce away and click towards a competitor. Nobody wants bouncing visitors.
3: Responsive Web Layout
It’s well-known that Google now penalizes websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, but having a responsive layout is still an important factor.
Everyone knows someone who uses their phone to browse the Internet. As a comfortably technological society, we expect big things for our devices. Nobody wants to pinch and zoom if another website can readily be viewed. This is why you need responsive design, which differs from a mobile version.
Mobile versions show scaled-back versions of a website using a different design. There isn’t enough information, which doesn’t help a search engine or user. Responsive design features the same content and design, but it can detect the device a visitor is using and show a rearrangement of content based on the known screen size. Everybody wins!
4: User Experience
A responsive web design is a great start, but you need to complete the puzzle by ensuring everything on the website is easy to find. The layout should be appealing, and accessing content should be easy. User experience is deeply important; frustrated users will bounce away from you to a competitor, and we’ve already determined that nobody wants a bouncing visitor — which leads right into the next point:
5: Bounce Rates
Search engines want useful websites to prevent searching past the first page of results. Google Analytics can help track the bounce rate of the website.
What does this rate mean? It’s the percentage of sessions where a user left your page after visiting and without interacting in any way, meaning they didn’t look at other pages or click any links or buttons. If too many people do this, Google thinks your website isn’t as useful as others. Linking to other articles on your own website can help encourage additional views.
6: Click-through Rates
Your click-through rate is the number of times that your website came up in a search result and the number of people who selected your website among the search results. There is continuous debate whether it really affects search result rankings, but the end goal is the same: You won’t get visitors if your results aren’t compelling enough to click on through.
SEO has evolved in many ways over the last few years. One major factor has always been linking to and from other websites. Back in the day, it was about the sheer number of links you could get, but quantity isn’t as important anymore. Your goal should be to link out toward other sites in your industry that are also considered to be valuable resources, and you might even get some links back in exchange.