Local SEO Guide For 2017

Written by: Jason Bayless | December 29, 2016
Many small business owners have been using automated tools for implementing, managing and streamlining their SEO campaigns. In 2017, however, search engine optimization will invariably require a more hands-on approach. Following is everything you need to know about getting a small, local business to rank well with popular search engines. Not only will these efforts increase site visibility, but they’ll also help you build a powerful and positive reputation for your company.

Technical Criteria For Local SEO

If you designed your own website from the ground up, now is the time to have this platform reviewed by professionals and upgraded to the most basic standards of popular search engines. Your pages should load quickly and your overall site design should be intuitive and easy to navigate. Websites for local companies should be indexable by search engines and both visible and viable on a broad range of devices. In 2017, if your pages don’t account for people who are using mobile phones, tablets or other hand-held devices to search the web, you won’t be able to attain or maintain a first page position. You’ll also be missing out on a lot of valuable site traffic. Moreover, if you haven’t started the process of site design just yet, bear in mind that it’s infinitely cheaper to have your pages professionally coded and laid out properly from the outset than it is to go back and correct in-built errors.

Establish A Local Content Plan That’s Structured To Keep People Onsite

One of the factors that Google accounts for in its algorithm is website bounce rates. Your bounce rate is the rate at which people bounce right back to search results after having landed on your pages. On one hand, having a high bounce rate may indicate that people are finding exactly what they’re looking for as soon as they arrive. More commonly, however, meta descriptions and other link details are making promises that onsite content simply isn’t delivering. Make it your primary goal to keep your bounce rate low by providing content that’s both captivating and rich in value. Also, make sure that meta descriptions and meta tags aren’t misleading.

Originality is also a critical factor to pay attention to. Site owners have to stop scraping content from other websites in 2017 and should start producing unique and insightful articles and blog posts of their own. Given the magnitude of the content scraping that’s occurred in the past, Google and other major search engines are becoming increasingly adept in identifying articles that have been spun, reworded or otherwise repurposed. Make sure that your content plan has a suitable budget of time, money and resources for either generating or sourcing content that’s current, relevant to the needs of your niche and designed to provide information that hasn’t been provided before.

Decide Whether To Take A Multi-Website Approach

Companies that have multiple locations throughout various local areas will need to decide whether or not the multi-website approach is the best marketing solution for 2017 SEO. Not only is this a more costly and time-consuming endeavor, but there’s also the challenge of ensuring that content on each site is entirely unique and therefore, unlikely to undermine company content that’s been published in other places. It’s usually far more effective and far more efficient to invest your resources into creating a single, powerful site that ranks well and that delivers the information and resources your market needs.

Clean Up Your Link And Listing Profiles

An over-reliance on automated processes in the past has left a lot of websites with poorly managed link and listing profiles. Take some time to clean these up. Dead links and duplicate listings can result in harsh and wholly avoidable penalties. If you don’t have the time or skills to manually do this on your own, make it a priority to outsource these efforts.

Work To Secure Genuine Feedback From Your Customers

In 2017, company owners should be ever-mindful of the fact that customer reviews are among the most powerful marketing and optimization tools that they can ever secure. A company that has been positively reviewed numerous times is far more likely to land at the top of the page than one that has not. Encourage satisfied customers to leave their testimonials on Google and Yelp and be sure to respond to the comments you get. People are paying an increasing amount of attention to what other consumers are saying about local businesses and less to what local businesses are saying about themselves.

Integrating automation into your 2017 local SEO via software as a service (SaaS) technologies remains a smart and acceptable way to streamline and enhance these efforts. In 2017, however, companies should be working towards a more hands-on approach to overall SEO management by sourcing or creating more unique content, cleaning up their link and listing profiles and getting customers to engage via review platforms. This is also the year to move away from the multi-website approach and to focus on building a single, powerhouse platform that’s rich in value and capable of accommodating a very diverse range of needs.