Local SEO is an integral part of companies’ search engine optimization efforts, especially if they offer services or products in a specific area. Brands must stay up-to-date with the latest Google algorithm updates in order to make their online presence stand out and catch their audience’s eye. But with local SEO best practices changing all the time, it’s easy to get confused about what works and what doesn’t.
Last year’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey showed that Google Places and citations weighted heavily for local SEO, but this is no longer the case in 2015. This year’s study shows that on-site signals and links are the most powerful factors to consider prior to putting together a successful local SEO campaign.
Take a look at the following step-by-step guide for doing better local SEO in 2015.
1. Consider Behavioral Signals and Optimize Accordingly
User behavior has been long-believed to affect local rankings, which is why website owners should consider behavioral signals as an important factor when implementing a local SEO strategy. But there are different elements that can impact your position within search engine result pages, and you must carefully think of them before you start the optimization process.
2. Reviews Weigh Heavily
A study conducted by Nifty Marketing has shown that, with so many different options to choose from, users don’t always click on the result at the top of the page. While most do so, many click on paid advertisements, local business listings, and even images. The image below reflects behavioral signals shown for the “salt lake city hotel” search phrase.
If you look at the image again, you will certainly notice that pages with the most reviews got clicks. To improve your local SEO campaign and generate leads, you must get reviews from your customers – and here’s how:
- Ask Your Gmail Customers for Reviews
One of the smartest ways to get customers to share their experience is asking them to leave a review on your Google Plus page. The best option is sending them the URL of your page, but since many of them might not be familiar with the reviewing process, it’s always a good idea to redirect them to the review popup. To do this, access your Google Plus page, and replace the “/post” in the URL with “/?hl=en&review=1,” which will automatically take them to the review page (if they are logged in to their Gmail account; if not, they will be asked to ).
- Check Out Review Services
According to Casey Meraz, owner at Ethical SEO, using review services such as Mike Blumenthal’s Get Five Stars can help your business get more reviews and great feedback in a relatively short time. These reviews can help your business rank higher within search engine result pages, increasing click-through rates and giving you more exposure as well.
3. Optimize for Behavioral Signals
It’s important to keep in mind that optimizing for behavioral signals should be a top priority if you want your local SEO campaign to thrive. The optimization process typically focuses on four main areas, and while you may be very familiar with the first two, you should never ignore them.
Your Google My Business page also includes photos, which can help give an accurate representation of what customers are looking for if you choose the best pictures. Opt for high-quality, non-generic images that catch your audience’s eye and entice them to click through your links.
Your title tags should be properly optimized for search engines and prospects alike. Each of your web pages should have a unique title tag, which should necessarily help users with their queries. Meraz gives the following example of what not to do when optimizing title tags:
Although meta descriptions don’t directly impact your rankings due to not always showing up in Google, Meraz recommends optimizing them for specific keywords and behavioral signals to get more click-through opportunities.
According to Casey Meraz, a large number of businesses overlook the opportunities offered by the Schema markup. Coding reviews in Schema and adding the markup to appropriate pages can help display the orange stars in organic results, hence generating more traffic, leads, and sales.
3. Earn Some Good Links
While Google experts recommend avoiding manipulative link building, Merez suggests that this strategy is still viable as long as you focus on getting fewer high-quality links from authoritative websites instead of thousands of low-quality links.
Instead of links redirecting to your business website, opt for links redirecting to your Google My Business page, which can exponentially increase rankings and exposure. Solid links to this page will help build authority, which, in turn, will catch your customers’ eyes and possibly generate leads and sales.
III. Have Consistent Citations
Citations are no longer what they used to be a few years ago, but they are still an important part of your local SEO campaign in 2015. Identify and correct incorrect or duplicate citations, and consider using specific tools for this (e.g. Whitespark). Your goals are 1) to ensure that there are no duplicate citations; and 2) to ensure that there are no incorrect citations with wrong or old NAP (name, address, phone number) information.
Meraz states that website owners should be focusing on the top 50 citations only, and forget about low-quality websites to ensure that they are getting the best results.
If you plan on creating a campaign, consider reading our article on local SEO, and don’t forget to find and consult an online marketing agency in London.
Many aspects of local SEO get overlooked, which causes businesses to have lower positions within search engine result pages. Before you implement a local SEO campaign, make sure to put together a to-do list with the different tasks that you should handle to maximize efficiency.