Local SEO in 2016

Written by: Jason Bayless | February 11, 2016

Small businesses rely heavily on local SEO for best results. There are generally two main categories of local business: those based on location and those that operate in a service area. In both cases, if someone is making a local search, SEO can be the one way to gain a better advantage compared to your competitor. In 2016, completing best local SEO practices can make you seem much more credible and visible than anyone else in the industry.

1. Optimize Local Business Pages

Previously known as Google Places, Google My Business is a first step for anyone auditing their local SEO campaigns. The dashboard of this service provides a wealth of information that any business can use to get started with further SEO efforts. Beyond that, it’s important to ensure all information listed on this page adheres to the guidelines and is accurate.

Consistency is absolutely key in this regard. Your business name, address, email, phone number and other direct contact information should be correctly listed on your website and the Google My Business service. Google will consider your website untrustworthy if your business name and contact information don’t match up across the web, which greatly impacts ratings.

Aside from Google, it’s worth ensuring you have a listing with Yahoo and Bing as well. In both of these cases, you’ll have the chance to establish a business account for your company, providing contact and location information.

2. Improve and Optimize Landing Pages

Another thing to consider when improving local SEO in 2016 is to categorize what business you’re in and develop great content around it. Make sure landing pages have relevant content as search engines will categorize your website based on this information. By having the right keywords and listing the city and state in the content, a search engine can understand what your business provides and offer it in the relevant results pages.

3. Get More Reviews

Google and other search engines factor how many reviews you have when determining page rank. The more reviews you have, the better the chance you’ll rank higher than a competitor in a relevant search result. Fortunately, it’s not particularly difficult to increase the number of reviews you get.

One thing to avoid is writing your own reviews; this is something frowned upon. The best option is to have reviews from real people. Ideally, you should already have made a good enough impact on your customers that you will have a few willing to provide reviews on your website. To help encourage this action, consider adding a review button on your website so that anyone could leave feedback.

4. Understand Local SEO Schema Markup

Taking advantage of schema markup for your local SEO practices is another way to help stand out. This markup informs the search engine what kind of business you use, what your hours of operation are, how many reviews you have, what your menu says, when your movies show, and all other kinds of industry-specific data.

Using schema markup can seem like a difficult task, but it can greatly benefit your website. It isn’t something that visitors will be able to see, only search engines. Div tags are used to contain this information. It is recommended to go through an in-depth schema markup tutorial first.

Above all, remember that great local SEO means delivering a great customer experience. At the end of the day, whether a prospective customer decides to buy depends on what kind of experience they have. It’s impossible to control every single aspect of the process, but you can certainly have a bigger impact than you think.