Trying to crack Google’s local algorithm has been a priority for digital marketers for a while. Why? Because those who do will find themselves with the keys to a very valuable house.
Local search is all the rage because, not only are the stakes high, but it doesn’t leave anyone out. There are startup organizations and new businesses out there that can and do rank higher than national chains in a particular region simply because their local search engine optimization is on point. For example, a simple search of “industrial supply companies, Bakersfield” yields regional results that rank local company Mobile Ag over the national chain, Johnson Industrial Supply.
So what’s the secret? How are marketers supposed to know how to properly optimize their business for prime position on the local results page? To start, let’s look at some basic factors that we already know play a role in solid local SEO:
- Name, address and profile of the company in question on the website
- Google My Business Verification
- Domain authority
- Website domain age
- Basic on-site SEO
- Number of positive reviews and citations
- Quality of website content
- Number of quality backlinks to website
- Quantity and quality of clicks on a local search result
- Distance of the business from the users performing the search
These are all factors that any good marketer stays on top of. But looking deeper into current trends will help anyone investing time in SEO strategies to leverage their efforts for higher search rankings. So with that in mind, here are some local SEO goals every marketer should adopt in 2019.
Optimize your Google My Business Listings
By “optimize” we simply mean ensure that your Google My Business listing is updated with the appropriate information. First, if you haven’t claimed a listing already, do so. Make sure your business info (address, phone number, website URL, hours of operation, etc.) is correct, and select the proper categories.
If you have a service-area business, select that option; if you service customers outside your specific location, tick that box. And be sure to add photos. Google likes real, non-stock-image photographs and adding them to your listing will help you rank higher.
Make sure your website is mobile friendly
Google moved to a mobile-first index in 2018, which means it ranks sites that are properly optimized for mobile viewing over those that are merely optimized for desktop. There’s a quick and easy way to determine if your website is indeed mobile friendly, and it involves doing a search on Google’s handy checker. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you won’t stand any shot of ranking higher than your competition.
Perform keyword research
This is vital, particularly regarding local SEO. Keywords are the terms a person enters into a Google search in order to find information on a subject. To have your website content properly optimized with common local search terms will place you ahead of the competition. Google has useful keyword tools that will help you find those most relevant words and terms, but you need to perform other keyword research as well. You need to research your competition.
Take a look at those competitors who rank higher than you in local search results. Put their contact page URL in the Google tool referenced above and see the list of words they are using that you are not. Do their websites have dedicated pages for that particular location, and are their contact details repeated on every page? Take these things to heart and update your pages accordingly.
Once you have an idea of which keywords your audience is searching for, get creative. If you have an industrial supply company, you’ll want to add relevant keywords based on your location, such as “industrial supply services, Houston,” or “industrial tools, Seattle.” And don’t forget long-tail keywords.
These are complex search terms that are more specific and really help you to reach a target audience. Maybe you’re a B2B software company in San Francisco that focuses on sales force automation. An example of a long-tail keyword would be along the lines of “San Francisco B2B software solutions for sales force automation.”
Optimize your tags
Now that you have your keywords, you’re going to want to incorporate them in your website content. This includes your heading tags—those titles that come up in a search result. Each page on your website needs to have a unique title that naturally incorporates your keywords. You should keep these tags to 60 characters or fewer as to give Google searchers a clear idea of what’s on your website.
You’ll also want to optimize your meta descriptions. These are the brief descriptions that appear below your website listing on a Google search. Use keywords here too, and be sure that they fit naturally in the description. Also, try to aim for descriptions of 130-165 characters.
Even if you’re a smaller operation there’s no reason you can’t capitalize on some of the cutting edge technology rocking the marketing world at the moment.
Take augmented reality, which is a 3D visualization tool currently used in a number of marketing mediums, like trade shows. It can be the perfect cherry on top of your local SEO strategy.
Say you’ve done your keyword research, maintained data consistency across your various online listings, and have garnered great reviews. Say it’s these factors that have contributed to your listing’s rise in Google’s “Local three pack” (the top three local business listings that appear above the rest of the organic search results.)
Now, how do you set yourself apart from the other two? Consider adding an augmented-reality map app that will grab the attention of the searcher and allow them to see the location of your business in three dimensions. This is particularly useful for those searchers seeking directions, as it displays road maps in 3D.
By focusing on these strategies you should be able to knock your local SEO out of the park in 2019. And if you’re struggling for creative content ideas, not to worry. Glean some inspiration from this list of content types that will help your local SEO efforts.