Every local business needs a local SEO strategy. Do you have tested local SEO techniques in place for your local business? If you’re not, you’re not alone. Most of the local businesses that I meet with in a given month have not thought about their mobile SEO strategy let alone their local SEO strategy.
SEO is a pretty complicated beast. Local SEO can also be confusing based on how Google changes things with company’s Google business pages, the importance off managed citations and the all-important Google reviews for your local business.
I’ve used a few local SEO techniques to solve many local SEO issues when optimizing new and existing sites. It can be a huge time suck trying to find answers to local SEO questions time and time again.
Your Local SEO Guide
The secret to local SEO doesn’t just lie in geo tags and consistent citations across the web. Local SEO needs comprehensive keyword research.
What it doesn’t need is stuffing keywords in to your Google My Business description. The following is a local SEO guide to some tricky questions, concerns, and issues that may arise when optimizing a local business website.
1. Google+ Business Page Setup: Physical Address Issues
Freelancers, co-working incubators, and start-ups with remote employees are the norm these days, resulting in inconsistent address listings.
Many business owners work from home and/or provide their services on location at a client’s home or office. Google will allow you to set your service areas based on zip codes or cities where you have clients.
Google no longer provides the option to hide your address by selecting ‘Do not show my business address on my maps’ section. They will apply the correct settings based on the selected choices from the maps dashboard.
For more details on this challenge, see the detailed guidelines published by Google for service area businesses.
2. You May Have Duplicate Content Issues
Duplicate content is something you must avoid. Your website is at risk of penalty or worse, copyright infringement if you “borrowed” that content.
I’ve seen local businesses in the Niagara Falls tourism industry typically use business websites that have template driven or boilerplate content with just the location terms or business names switched out. This is not a good practice, especially in terms of local SEO.
Don’t find yourself in this situation with your web development company. Avoid duplicate content at all cost! But what do you do if you’re forced to have duplicate content issues based on other factors?
It’s not the end of the world. There is an app for that! Or at least there is a web based tool to help you find duplicate content issues on your website.
Pro Tip: I find it best to create new pages with unique URL for all locations of a business if they have more than once location.
3. Do I have to optimize title tags on all my pages?
YES! Absolutely you do. The title tag is one of the most significant pieces of metadata to optimize. Google always looks at the page title tags when crawling your website.
I still can’t believe how many local business websites that have title tags that are not optimized. Always remember that a website’s internal pages are just as important for search visibility as your homepage.
One thing to make sure of is that your web developer or SEO consultant isn’t lazy. You need to always have unique title tags on each and every page of your website. Never have duplicate title tags.
Pro Tip 1: Maximize the amount of characters in your title tag with optimized copy. You don’t need to use your company name in all title tags.
Pro Tip 2: You should populate your title tags with primary and secondary, short and long tail keywords or phrases. Do not just stuff keywords — write titles that are easy to read and makes sense.
4. Are you encouraging people to review your business?
If you’re not, you should be ASAP. Online reviews from happy customers can provide you the much needed boost to your online presence. Don’t ever consider buying reviews or posting fake reviews of your business. Ever.
General Tips For Getting Online Reviews:
- Set up a simple landing page with a link to online review sites where you want your customers to go and write a review. Send your customers to that landing page.
- Start an email marketing campaign with customers after you they have used your product or experienced your services. This can encourage reviews while the experience is fresh in their mind.
- Stay away from setting up a customer review kiosk with a laptop/tablet. Instead provide review handouts or cards with link to your major review sites to guide them.
- Get your sales and customer service team involved, particularly those individuals who interact with customers the most; they’re the ones who build rapport.
- You must plan for negative reviews. Respond to them all. Use them up as opportunities to improve your product or service.
5. Is Connecting Your Business to Google Webmaster Tools important?
I find that not many businesses take this vital step to their website’s analytics. It’s free, too! In my opinion, it’s vital for business owners to insist his or her SEO consultant set up GWT for their business and use it for all it’s worth.
Essentially GWT provides invaluable insight to your website’s overall health. It also is a super great source for any website crawl errors, 401 pages and many other useful pinches of diagnostic website data. For example, GWT can do the following:
- Notifies you of any errors or duplicates in your meta tags.
- Lets you know if Google spiders had any issues crawling your website.
- Allows you to monitor and make adjustments to any site links that show up in search results.
- It shows issues with your schema markup.
- GWT still provides the search queries people are using to visit your site — this offers huge SEO opportunities as well as content creation opportunities.
It helps you avoid bad link penalties from the Google Penguin algorithm. Use the “Links To Your Site” section to monitor your links and ensure that they are high quality, and not spammy links, which can get you penalized by Google or just hurt your rankings.
There are likely plenty more local SEO questions that come up during the process of optimizing a local businesses website. Beyond the five items listed above, I always stress the quality of your keyword research.
Your customers and prospects are using short and long tail keyword phrases to search for your product and services.
A solid keyword strategy, baked in quality content, and published on your company website is the best way to drive qualified traffic to your website, and convert those leads into paid customers.
If you need some help with your keyword research or local SEO strategy, I can help. Please leave a comment here with any questions or reach out to me directly via email.