Why local SEO is important for your online success
Establishing your business by setting up a website is the first step to online success. But “build it and they will come” does not really apply on the Internet. You need to work hard to attract an audience — and local search engine optimisation is a key component. With so many competing sites online, each offering a similar experience to the next, those that have quality content and perform all the SEO basics often emerge as the winner.
Even if you have a website designed by a professional web developer, this is no guarantee your site will succeed with SEO. And despite the claims, free and low-cost website building services like Wix and Squarespace are rarely SEO friendly. A website can have the best design in its industry, the most intuitive interface, and the best branding. But if the SEO is lacking, lesser quality sites can easily outrank it. So what things can you do to give your online business an advantage?
Search Engine Optimisation Basics
The first step is to ensure you have the local SEO basics covered. These include:
Short, descriptive URLs
Your website’s URL’s need to be short yet descriptive. You should aim to include keywords where relevant, but try not to go overboard.
If you operate in numerous locations, a service keyword and a location keyword is sufficient.
Avoid keyword stuffing as this appears unnatural to users and will not help your SEO efforts.
A compelling title tag and description
The title tag is one of the most important aspects of SEO. Choosing an eye-catching title with relevant keywords will help you attract targeted SEO traffic.
Look for opportunities to include the areas that your business covers together with ‘local’ and ‘near me’ as people will typically add these qualifiers into their search phrases.
A well-crafted meta description is also recommended since many users will read this before clicking on your page.
Keyword research can help with both titles and descriptions.
Only one H1 heading per page
It is best practice to include a H1 heading on every page of your website. This heading should include keywords directly related to the content on the page.
Like other SEO practices, it is important not to engage in keyword stuffing. And be sure to only place one H1 heading per page. This will give you the best chances of success.
If your website has images, particularly large images, compressing them can give you a speed advantage over your competitors.
Slow sites are bad for users, which is why search engines will penalise you if your site fails to load in a few seconds. You can compress images using popular online compression tools like tinypng.com.
Don’t forget to include descriptive ‘alt’ attributes (alternative text) to describe each image. Again, look for opportunites to include service and location keywords where appropriate.
Add Schema markup
Adding Schema markup to your website can help search engines to better understand what your site is about.
Schema markup is also worth adding if you operate in a local area and want to rank higher for location-based searches.
There is a particular field that will let search engines know that you are a local business. Additional fields will allow you to indicate your particular business type or niche.
The potential to appear in ‘rich snippets’ is greater when you use Schema code.
Add internal links between pages and external links to relevant resources
Internal linking is a simple yet powerful way to increase the significance of your website’s pages. Linking to core site pages from your blog posts is one example.
But interlinking related pages can also give you an SEO boost. You should include links to any relevant external resources to increase the authority of your content.
Perform keyword research to find keywords to target
Keyword research is essential because it provides you with real data on what your target audience is searching for.
While you can guess keywords for your industry, there may be sequences of keywords that are less competitive (and therefore easier to target).
Using keyword tools like Google’s Keyword Planner will help you find related keywords and help you judge the level of competition for each word/phrase.
Assess the websites that already rank for your keyword
Assessing websites that rank for your target keywords can give you useful insights into the local SEO practices of your competition.
Look at the content, layout, and overall marketing strategy. Following a similar approach to sites already ranking can get you on the right track.
But it is always best to consider how you can beat your competition by offering better content and superior user experience.
List your business in national and local online directories
One of the foundations of good local SEO is to list your business in as many online directories as possible. You’ll probably be familiar with the likes of Yell or Thomson Local but there are many others.
Make sure to include your business name, address and phone number on every page of your website (the footer is probably the best place).
When listing in online directories make sure to use the exact same information.
As well as the national directories look for local directories or directories that are dedicated to your business niche.
Benefits of local SEO for your online business
SEO has many benefits that make it one of the most cost-effective marketing approaches. Some of the major advantages of SEO include:
Boost visitor traffic and sales
Ranking well for your target keywords will increase the number of visitors to your website and ultimately boost sales.
But while a continual flow of targeted visitors is important, it is also beneficial to ensure your website turns leads into sales.
This means a user-friendly interface, clear, informative copy, and an appealing design.
Increase your business credibility
When you rank organically on search engines, your business gains instant credibility.
This is important because people only tend to do business with sites they feel they can trust. If your website is also well-planned and continues the positive, trustworthy message throughout, the likelihood of a sale is increased significantly.
Small changes can have a big impact
Unlike more costly forms of advertising, small SEO changes can have a major impact on your results.
Although SEO is generally considered a long-term strategy, performing basic SEO can give you some big wins in the initial stages.
Keyword research, optimised titles, and targeted blog posts are just a few examples.
Better ROI than advertising
SEO is an investment in your business and over time, will deliver a constant stream of targeted visitors to your website.
While advertising can deliver instant interest in your brand, the results are often temporary.
SEO continues to have an impact long after your initial investment. The ROI is therefore far superior to advertising.
Local SEO is a vital component of your online marketing efforts. But it is important to have all the basics in place to stand the best chances of success.
As one of the most effective marketing methods, SEO can deliver great ROI and guarantee a steady stream of targeted traffic to your site, leading to increased sales and credibility.
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