Mastering Local SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | November 19, 2015

Every business wants to be on the first page of local results. That’s all well and good, except that there’s only one first page. How well positioned is your site to reach local consumers? If you’re not already on the first page of local search results, you need to implement local SEO. Even if your site is on the first page, you’re going to need local SEO in order to stay there. The following techniques can help your site to stand out from the competition and get noticed by potential customers in your area.

Local Keywords

You’re probably already using relevant keywords to help prospective customers find your site, but unless you’re using location keywords, it isn’t enough. Suppose that you own a hardware store in Seattle. Rather than just optimizing your site for keywords like “hardware store” or “plumbing supplies,” you’ll want to use keywords like “hardware store Seattle” or get even more specific and include your neighborhood or even the name of the street your business is located on.

Keep in mind that a great deal of local search traffic (approximately 50%) comes from mobile users. Not only are these consumers looking for something in their city, they’re looking for businesses who are close to their location at the time. This hyper-local search traffic makes it all the more important to include location keywords in your on-page content and off-page SEO efforts.

Your keywords and your location should appear in your page titles, descriptions and if possible, your URLs as well as your actual content. In order to make the most of your local SEO, you may want to consider creating a separate page for each product or service your business offers. Not only does this give you more opportunities to reach potential customers near you, it also allows you to narrowly target consumers who are looking for specific products or services.

Mobile Site Design

Since so much local search traffic is from mobile users (and mobile local searches tend to be very purchase-focused), local businesses ignore mobile search at their peril. Basically, you have two choices when it comes to mobile site design: create a parallel site for mobile users or use responsive design. In case you’re unfamiliar with responsive design, this is a layout which automatically resizes depending on the screen size of the device accessing your site.

It really doesn’t matter which method you choose from a purely SEO standpoint. However, you should keep in mind that designing a separate site for mobile users mean that you’ll have to maintain two separate websites, so you can count on doubling your site maintenance workload. At the same time, creating a responsive website takes more know-how and time, which can take time away from other tasks or increase your costs if you’re outsourcing your web development.

Local Directories

People use Google and other major search engines for local search, but that’s not the only place they’re looking for businesses like yours. Keep in mind that a significant portion of mobile local searches are done using apps, which include Google Maps as well as Apple Maps, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, etc. Being listed in these kinds of directories is something like having high quality backlinks – in other words, search engines take notice of these listings.

The more attention you pay to local SEO, the more attention Google and the other major search engines will pay to your business and the more easy it’ll be for local consumers to find you and start doing business with your company.