Optimizing a business for local SEO requires you focus on on-page elements of the business’ website. Beyond this, you need to work on link building, citation building and social media as well. If you were searching for a quick local SEO course that will help you understand what search engines expect from the business that you’re managing, you’ve come to the right place.
We get sales calls where people tell us that they’ve even quit their jobs at agencies to work as a full time SEO/local SEO consultant. We’ve been helping businesses and agencies do this for a long time now, and we are looking forward to helping you out as well.
Our seven step local SEO course is designed to give you simple, neat explanations about how you can conduct a local SEO audit by yourself and successfully optimize a business for local searches. Get ready to learn all that you need to about the basics of local SEO.
#1 On Page Local SEO
On-page optimization is what we’d like to start with when it comes to local SEO. In case you are new to this term, on-page optimization includes reviewing the title tags, heading tags and meta tags of the website. There are tons of examples that we can give you right off the bat when it comes to businesses that are on top of the SERPs owing just on-page optimization. See what happens when we search for “carpet cleaners in florida” on Google.
Right after the Google ads and local listings (we’ll talk about these two things in a moment), you can see the organic search results on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Quite a few websites that are optimized for the term “carpet cleaners in florida” are showing up in this section, even before the Yelp listings start appearing. On closer inspection, we found that the title tags of these websites look like this:
You see how they’ve made sure that the terms “Carpet Cleaning” and “FL” are added in each of these title tags and meta descriptions? That’s what’s helping them rank on top.
Your first order of business must be to review the website of the business you are managing and make sure that these things are done right. You can read more about optimizing title tags in this article.
#2 Online Listings
Like we saw earlier, when a user runs a local search, the results usually contain online listings in a local pack. These online listings appear even over the normal search results, because Google knows that users are trying to find businesses around them that will cater to a certain need.
This makes listings an important part of optimizing a business for local SEO. If you want the business that you own/manage to be found more on local searches, having online listings is absolutely mandatory. Since users tend to search for businesses from different search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo), different devices (Siri and Apple Maps on Apple Devices, Google Maps on Android) and different websites/apps (Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor), it is absolutely critical that you get your business listed on all platforms.
It is extremely time consuming for local SEO-ers to list a business on 30+ websites manually, especially if you’re handling multiple business locations. Using an automated listing platform like Synup can save you a great deal of time in this kind of a situation.
#3 Google AdWords
Using Google AdWords to show up for local searches need not be mandatory in your local SEO process. However, if you/your client can set aside some budget for it, we highly recommend that you run a Google AdWords campaign for local keywords (like “carpet cleaners in florida”, as mentioned in our previous examples). While AdWords campaigns can be a little expensive, they have an average return of 2:1, making them a reliable investment.
You can read more about optimizing Google AdWords campaigns for local keywords in this article.
#4 Schema Markup
Using structured markup data in websites is one of the most ignored parts of SEO (and local SEO) in today’s world. In case you’ve not come across this term before, structured markup data is a means through which users can provide rich data to search engines, like star ratings, event details, schedules, etc. This data will show up directly on the search engines. This is how schema will look like on search engines.
If you’re wondering how to go about learning to do this, then worry not, because it’s pretty simple. Google’s Structured Data Markup Tool helps users add schema to a page. Kissmetrics has an amazing article about how users can use Google’s Structured Data Markup tool to add schema to webpages. You can read step-by-step instructions of how you can go about it in this article.
While you’re at it, you might want to check out schema.org, which was created for the sole purpose of educating users about structured markup data. The websites also acts as a well-organized database of schema code. To get started, check out the local business schema page on the website.
#5 Social Media Profiles
The social media profiles of businesses need consistent and constant maintenance. Having a well-kempt social media presence will help businesses increase their online citations, reach a larger audience set, and improve their online social proof; more importantly, well-optimized social media profiles is a key part of local SEO. And when we say “well-optimized”, we mean profiles that provide rich data about your business’ website URL, location and pictures/text about what you do. Take a look at this Twitter profile:
Look at how the profile carries an address and a link to the website, apart from a hashtag suggestion that other users can add in their tweets. A closer inspection of this Twitter account will also reveal that Four Seasons, New York posts a lot of pictures, something that followers generally love.
Four Seasons is very active on Instagram as well, with 1342 posts as of May 8, 2018.
However, it is to note that having a Facebook account allows you to do so much more than any other social media profile. Facebook profiles allow users to call you directly, get directions to your business, check out pictures and event details that you’ve posted, read reviews about your business (from other platforms as well), and even sign up to your newsletter, amongst other things.
This makes Facebook a powerful medium for a business’ local discovery and engagement. If you’d like to read more about the complete anatomy of a Facebook page and how you can use Facebook to help your business grow, check out this guide.
Now that we’ve established the importance of having data rich profiles on social media, you need to work out a strategy to effectively maintain your/your clients’ social media. Using social media automation tools like Sendible and Hootsuite is a great way to go about this.To know more about how you can effectively automate handling social media, check out this video by Kat Sullivan from Marketing Solved.
#6 Review Generation
There’s no better validation a customer can get about a business’ quality of service and reliability than online reviews. Reviews as a ranking factor and their importance has been a topic that has garnered much debate. However, Mike Blumenthal in LSA18 spoke about how it was more important for businesses to address the question of “How do I earn more reviews”, rather than, “How do I get more reviews?”.
Online customer reviews of businesses speak for themselves. The reviews that a business gets are all that a customer needs make a judgement about choosing a business or its competitor. In such a scenario, it’s very important that you have the right kind of reviews on your business’ online listings. You can use products like Synup that allow you to generate more reviews for your business to achieve this.
#7 Local Link Building
Link building has always been considered the #1 ranking factor for search engines. Link building can be a little time consuming, but with tools such as Majestic or Ahrefs and a clear process defined, it can be an high-impact local SEO exercise.
“The traditional thought process when we think about link building is that we want high authoritative domains to link back to our websites and we want as many of them as possible. But, that way of thinking might not always be relevant for a brick-and-mortar and small business website”, says Wells Yu, SEO Manager at Eventbrite.
You can read detailed step-by-step instructions about local link building in this article from him.
That’s it! You’re all set to begin working on the local SEO of your own business or your clients’. We’ve made a neat printable local SEO checklist that you can use to go about first few projects. That in association with this course should give you all that you need to start your journey to becoming a local SEO expert. Happy optimizing!