Ready to go beyond the low-hanging fruit of local SEO?
Yeah, you are!
If you’re like most, your local SEO strategy probably looks a little bit like this:
Step 1. Create Google My Business and Google+ pages
Step 2. Keep your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) consistent across all platforms
Step 3. Optimize your website for target keywords
Step 4. Wait for that traffic to flood to your site—voila!
Oh, if only it were that simple!
Don’t get us wrong—these are still valuable and highly necessary ways to help your local SEO (prerequisites, really). But if your search traffic is still at a slow trickle, then it might be time to look beyond the basics. Here are five actionable ways to boost your local rankings in 2018!
1. Have a solid strategy for generating reviews
There is perhaps no greater influence on local SEO than the types of reviews your business receives. A few bad reviews could wreak havoc on your business, and the way you handle them can make or break your reputation. Along with a good online reputation management strategy, you also need a reliable way to garner the positive reviews you want.
Give your customers incentives to leave reviews. Special offers, giveaways, and bonus perks are all great ways to encourage reviews. The more positive reviews you receive, the most value search engines will place on your business pages.
2. Boost your local SEO by partnering with other small businesses
Joining forces with other local businesses is not just great for networking. It also opens the door for countless additional hyper-local business citations
and links. This is another GREAT opportunity for managing your page authority and popularity. Even better is if you can partner with a business that’s in a related field.
You might start small with guest posting to each other’s blogs. Beyond that, consider brainstorming some events you might be able to put on together. This tactic will have the dual effect of giving you both new links as well as building awareness around your brands by getting involved in your community.
3. Optimize your website for mobile to keep up with Google’s changing algorithm.
Mobile search rates have been soaring for years now. So, it came as no surprise when Google announced back in 2016 that it planned on rolling out mobile-first indexing. But this means that businesses without a mobile-friendly site will find it very hard to rank in search result pages. Thankfully, Google has a tool called Search Console that you can use to check the mobile-friendliness of your site.
To get your site optimized for mobile, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First and foremost, you’ll want to maximize your page speed. This might mean minifying code, keeping images and videos small, or leveraging browser caching. Equally important is having an attractive and streamlined mobile interface. User experience (UX) is given heavy weight in Google’s algorithm, so it’s crucial that your website’s design translates well on mobile.
We can’t stress this enough.
Users have very short attention spans, especially on mobile. You have two seconds to earn their attention. If your page is slow or has a clunky, inefficient mobile layout, they will get frustrated leave. It’s that simple. This might result is a high bounce rate which can devastate your local SEO, to say nothing of your page authority.
NOTE: Remember too that maintaining good on-site SEO practices goes hand-in-hand with mobile optimization and local SEO. To optimize for local searches, add geotags wherever possible. This signals to search engines that your business is location-specific.
4. Improve your website’s code with schema markup to make it easier for search engines to crawl your website.
Your web pages are full of information that’s easy for people to understand. But that same information might make very little sense to a search engine.
That’s where schema markup comes in. Schema is code that helps search engines derive meaning from your content. One of the ways this is achieved is through HTML Microdata tags attributed to different concepts in your content. Think of it as search engine shorthand.
Why is this important?
By assigning microdata to your pages, you help search engines return the best results to users. It’s a way to make sure you appear in as many relevant search results as possible. Microdata can help your site rank better for all kinds of content. There are different microdata tags for categorizing:
- Local businesses
The list goes on. You can get a more detailed understanding of how to use microdata on your website at Schema.org.
5. Effectively manage your local citations to give your page authority a boost.
Once you finalize your information on Google My Business and Google+, you’ll want to broaden your reach by claiming citations on other data giants. These include (but are not limited to) Infogroup, Acxiom, Neustar Localeze and Factual. Having citations with these data providers is a great place to start with building your backlink portfolio.
But beware of bad link neighborhoods!
Not all links are created equal. Many people make the mistake of registering their website on any and every directory in pursuit of those easy links. This is not a good idea. Spam sites and other domains that use black hat SEO tactics are penalized by search engines for manipulating the system. If your website stumbles into these bad neighborhoods, you might be penalized by association.
Obviously, you don’t want that.
A simple way to avoid ending up in bad link territory is to do your research before claiming your citations. Stick with reputable sites and hi
gh authority directories. Think your local chamber of commerce and small business networking sites.
It should go without saying, but make sure your information is uniform across all your citations.
BONUS TIP & FINAL THOUGHTS: Always approach your content with a user-first mindset.
When it comes to content, the user rules the roost— always. If you take nothing else away from this post, let it be that. All the technical SEO tactics in the world are worthless if your content isn’t engaging to your users.
That’s not to understate the importance of keywords, backlinks, and all the other nitty-gritty aspects of local SEO we just discussed. All that stuff is obviously important, otherwise, we wouldn’t bother talking about it. But in 2018, it’s way more vital to produce highly useful and shareable content for your users consistently. If you stay user-focused and deliver valuable content, the search rankings generally follow suit naturally.