Back in 2014 when I had my old blog I wrote a post called “Five Ways to Boost Local SEO.” At lot has changed in the SEO world, so I thought I’d give the blog an update and post it here.
First, if you’re new to the world of web design and internet marketing, you might be wondering what the heck is SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, it’s about boosting your website through techniques on and off your website to get search engines to notice your site. The better your SEO, the more highly you’re likely to rank on search engine results. Local SEO refers to rankings when someone searches for your business locally (in your area).
Now that you know a little bit about what SEO is, let’s look at five ways you can boost your local SEO right now.
Claim your Google and Bing business listings.
Make sure your business is listed on all the relevant online business directories.
Ask customers to review you on your Google and Bing listings.
Work your linking.
Make sure your on-site optimization is up to snuff.
Let’s do a little bit deeper dive into these five things, shall we?
No. 1 - Claim Your Google and Bing Business Listings
If you want to play ball with the major search engines, then you need to take advantage of what they offer. It’s easy to set up a listing. Claiming and managing your business listings are the the most contributing factor that search engines use to rank your site (up to 27% of ranking factors). All you need is an email address to get started.
You can search for your business to edit your listing, or if your business isn’t found, you add a listing. Make sure to fill out the information as accurately as possible. You’ll be asked to include information about your business including: business name, business categories, location, service area, hours, website (and appointment website if different), highlights (things that might make your business stand out to consumers like being women-led or veteran-led) and business description. You can also add photos and videos to your listing. They give you prompts on the types of photos to upload so it’s pretty helpful to know what customers might want to see. There are also some more advanced options for your listing, but if you’re just getting started then this is plenty to do at first.
Bing makes is convenient by allowing you to import your Google Business listing and then tweaking the information from there. They also ask for the same information. Make sure to keep these listings up to date, because these are what Google and Bing show to consumers who are searching for your business online. You can also get your customers to rate you on your business listings, which will help you SEO. But we’ll talk about that in number 3.
No. 2 - Make sure your business is listed on all the relevant online directories.
This can be a bit of a tedious task, but making sure your business is listed (accurately) on other listings helps grow your SEO efforts by providing information to search engines that your business is legitimate and it also helps provide easy back links to your website.
Here’s a list of some online directories you should be listed on:
LInkedIn, Yelp, Yellowpages, Manta, Local.com, Whitepages, SuperPages, City Search, Merchant Circle, Yahoo Local, BBB, EZ Local and more. Here’s a more complete list from Local SEO.
No. 3 - Ask customers to review you online (Google and Bing)
Getting online reviews from your customers impacts your SEO more than you think. Getting good reviews is part of a public relations/marketing practice called Reputation Management. Good reviews allow potential customers to see what they might experience at their place of business. Bad reviews allow you the opportunity to connect with unhappy customers to correct any issues and it shows potential customers how you are able to hand criticism and problem solve issues you may have.
If your business an impeccable online reputation, more customers are going to come to you because people they know, or people like them trust and use you. That’s how customers use reviews, but how what search engines? They rank online review pretty importantly. In fact, according to Moz, a leading expert in SEO and internet marketing, search engines can influence your search engine rankings up to 15%. And it’s not just search engine reviews. Sometimes Google pulls in the reviews and recommendations from Facebook and other review sites as well. So it best to make sure those are updated too.
How do you ask for a review? It’s best to have a clearly strategy in place. If you’re a brick and mortar business, you can place signs around your place of business asking customers for reviews or ask them to review you at check out. It’s best to have a sign with clearly labeled icons or web addresses where people can review you. If your business involves emailing with customers, make sure to send them a thank you email after purchase (or at end of service) thanking them and asking them to review your business if they’re happy with their products/services. Don’t forget to give them clear links that they can use to review you on. Keep the links to most important places you want to get reviews. Customers won’t want to click on four or five link and write a review on each one.
No. 4 - Work on your linking.
When I say work on your linking I mean two things: back links (which are links on other websites that link back to your website) and internal links (links located on your own website). Let’s look at these individually and the best practices for each.
Link building is the practice of acquiring back links. When Google crawls a web page to determine if a website is “good enough” quality to be ranked, they also look at outside factors like reviews and back links. The more back links to a website or web page, the more “authority” (in a sense) your website has. Now this isn’t to say that ALL back links are good. Google also looks at the quality of the websites that are linking to your page. The higher the quality of those sites linking to you, the more valuable they are to you. The lower the quality, well, you get the idea.
The world of search engine optimization has changed a lot of the last five years or so since I’ve I wrote this post initially. It used to be that you could just bloat your pages with keywords and you could rank pretty well. But Google has really cracked down on how the content that ranks well and the way you build links. Many ways of building back links in the past are now penalized. So what can you do now to link build?
Reach out to relevant blogs and websites in your area or within your field. This can look like several things. It can be promoting a blog, e-book, or freebie on your site that you think that website’s users might find helpful. It could be asking to guest blog on their site and including links to your site in the post. These are two of the most Google-rule friendly ways to build links. There are other methods, but with Google’s ever-changing algorithms and rules, it’s best to stick with these if you’re a beginner.
Internal links refers to links within your own website that link to other pages within your site. For example, right now I’m going to link to a blog post on my site called “How To Write A Wordpress Blog Post That Is Search Engine Optimized.” That’s an example of an internal link. It helps the user (you) navigate to other parts of my website. The links you see in the menu bar are another example of internal linking. Not only do they help you navigate my website easier, it also establishes a hierarchy or ranking of which pages are the most important. So first we have my home page, which is an introduction to my site and links out to other important parts of my site. Then you have Services page, where I want customers to see what I offer. Then you have my About page, where you can learn about me and my business. Then you have a link to my blog and then finally a link to a contact form where you can hire me. Internal links help search engines like Google establish how the website is built and ordered, and it is equally (if not more) important than link building.
No. 5 - Make sure your on-site optimization is up to snuff.
On-site optimization refers to all the things you do when building your website that will help your website rank better in search, This can include: internal links (like I mentioned above), heading tags, alt tags, content quality, keywords and page speed.
To learn about headings tags click here (I talk about optimizing a Wordpress blog post, but the information about the heading tags is the same for a website).
To learn about add alt tags to images click here.
Content quality refers to several things. Google has its own list of guidelines that help determine the quality of a website. They can be pretty intensive, so feel free to look at all of them here. Some of the takeaways are making sure your content is original, isn’t spam or malicious content, hiding links and texts or stuffing your pages with unnecessary keywords.