Following the latest local algorithm update of Google, the local SEO rules have changed significantly. In this article, we will discuss the best options you have to improve your local search this year.
We are already in 2015 and a lot of businesses are already looking for new ways in which to improve their marketing plans. The annual survey Announcing the 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors Results by David Mihm presents local marketers with additional information on which ranking factors are most important.
His survey points to a trend towards the more traditional factors for ranking on the web. The Local Search Ranking Factors survey of 2013 has placed a big emphasis on the Google Places and Citations, but a study from 2014 showed that the most powerful factors are on-site signals and links.
A shift such as this one goes hand in hand with the recent update of Google’s local ranking algorithm, Pigeon. Although some local SEO experts stated they were not affected by Pigeon in any way, it is highly unlikely. The reason for this is that they took a more healthy local SEO approach, and as a result, their websites gained more authority.
What we are trying to say here is that you cannot fool the experts of Google. Whatever you try to do, you should always ensure you work towards better user experience, instead of trying to cheat the search engine into ranking your pages higher in search results.
If we take into consideration what we have already claimed about the Pigeon update and add to it the results of the 2014 survey on the local search ranking factors, there are 2 obvious tips for ensuring your local search success in the current year:
– Be awesome in every sense of the word
– Acquire great backlinks
It looks simple for sure but at the same time it is not that easy for implementation by local businesses. If you examine the websites of your competitors, you will see that nearly all boost similar content, and on top of that most of these lack inbound links.
But how are you supposed to be so awesome and what can you do to achieve it?
You should gather up all your energy you normally spend into trying to cheat the search engine and use it instead to ensure better user experience on your website.
Examine both your website and the websites of your competitions and determine what you can do to make yours better in any way. Knowing exactly what your customers are looking for on these sites, makes yours better in your particular vertical.
You should also be careful not to fall for some common pitfalls. Although these are too basic, we have seen a lot of websites tripping up on them:
– Lack of content on the home page. Both the search engines and your clients need to be aware of what you website is all about. If the main page of your site only has a banner or/and a slider and very few sentences, adding more useful content is a necessity.
– Very limited text on a page. Your website is constantly being examined for relevant and useful content by both your potential customers and the search engines. You can’t simply claim that you are selling the product X. Instead, you are required to provide additional information so that your clients are informed on the product or service you are offering.
– Keyword spamming. This outdated tactic is still employed by far too many websites. Including your keyword 100 times into a single page content won’t help you rank it any better. Try to determine whether your content is meaningful and provides useful information for the visitor. Dispose of excessive keyword junk whenever you can.
– Terrible use of title tags. Your title tags have no more than 500 pixels of width. If they span longer, they are truncated in search results. Your title tags are expected to summarize your content and not represent a large stack of keywords you use to try to rank better. It is a good practice to place your main keyword phrase at the start and put the name of your business at the end. Having 100 or more keywords in your title tag won’t do you any good. It only makes you look more desperate.
Local optimization is important – don’t neglect it!
As on-site signals are becoming more and more important, it is vital that you have your local optimization in place, especially if you are a Toronto SEO company. Google expects your site to include local signals, and it won’t do you any good if it doesn’t.
Although these are all basics from the old SEO school, few sites are doing local optimization correctly:
– Your title tag should include city or state. The title tag is increasingly important for optimization purposes, and if you strive to be relevant, you should also include your city or state.
– Your H1 heading tag should include city or state. It shouldn’t take the entire heading. The important point here is to mention your city or state in the heading of the page.
– Your content should include city or state. A great number of websites exclude city or state information from their content. Local search optimization won’t work if this is the case with your site.
– City and state information must also be present in your images’ alt text. The number of websites that still use alt text in their images never fails to amaze us. Alt tags provide additional information for your images, and this is very important since Google can’t see them.
– Your URLs should include information on your city or state. Try to include this information into your URL if your site permits it. This sends a strong local signal to both Google and your local customers.
All these tips are specific and for a reason – they serve to make your website better. Forget about ranking for a moment, and concentrate on making your site awesome in your particular niche to increase page rank and ensure better conversion.