Better rankings in search engines can have a significant impact on any business. For local businesses, higher visibility can result in more sales, more exposure, and accelerated business growth. From doctor’s offices to dry cleaners, local search engine optimization (SEO) has influenced the way customers are interacting with local businesses online. With the ever-expanding popularity of the Internet, more people are turning to search engines to locate local businesses. Local businesses that seize the opportunity that local SEO offers can experience measurable results and unprecedented growth.
How Search Engines Rank Websites
Before launching a local search campaign, it is important to understand the basic methodology used by search engines to rank web pages. Several factors are used to determine which websites are more relevant to a user’s search. Based on available evidence, there are two main components involved in how websites are ranked: relevance and popularity. These two components are also referred to as on-site factors and off-site factors respectively.
Search engines determine the relevance of a web page based on the content of that page, which includes the body text of the page, the title tag, meta description, alt tag, etc. Relevant keywords are strategically placed in the content and code of the website to alert the search engines to what the page is about and what users can expect to find when they visit that page.
While on-page factors are important, off-page factors also play a significant role in how the website is ranked in the search engines. The popularity of the page is determined by off-page factors such as the volume of incoming links to the website, the quality of those links, and the relevance of those links. In order to gain higher rankings in the search engines, it is important to ensure that the website is appropriately optimized and that a quality link building strategy is used.
Five Best Practices for Local Search Engine Optimization
While there are several known factors such as title tags, meta descriptions, and incoming links that play a role in rankings, each search engine has a unique algorithm that they use to rank web pages, and as such, rankings on separate search engines can be quite different. The algorithms of search engines are updated constantly, which means that the factors that they use to rank websites today could be different than those used tomorrow. For this reason, it is imperative to utilize the following industry best practices when implementing a local SEO campaign.
Titles & Descriptions. The titles and descriptions on the company website should be properly optimized to include relevant keywords. The title tag is considered the most important on-page factor, as it is usually given the most weight by the search engines in determining what the page is about. Optimizing the title tags and descriptions is a key step to good local search engine optimization. Here is an example of how your site should appear in Google’s search results:
Location. Make sure to include the city and state in the content of the web page that the search engine will index. The location should be included in the title tag, meta description, alt tag, and the body copy.
Sitemaps. A good HTML/XML sitemap can go a long way in helping to build search rankings. The sitemap provides a list of all of the web pages so that the search engines can quickly index all of the pages on the website. The sitemap is one of the most important elements to a properly optimized website.
Local Directories. Local directory listings can help a business reach their customers directly, and it can also provide relevant, quality links back to the website to improve the website’s search rankings. There are hundreds of local directories on the Web, and businesses can enjoy increased visibility and exposure from including their business in as many of those directories as possible. In Part Two of this three part series on Local Business optimization, we will be exploring the Do’s and Don’ts of local directories and what it takes to stand out in Google Places.
Fresh Content. Search engines love fresh content, so updating the website on a consistent basis can help gain and maintain good search rankings. The best way to keep customers updated about recent news, events, product updates, etc. is to create a blog. The blog can serve as a platform to inform, educate, interest, and inspire customers and readers, which is a great way to gain more exposure to the business. The blog also serves as the social media hub, and the content on the blog can be shared on other social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, etc.
Why a Pro is Often Necessary for Best Results
A successful local SEO campaign requires dedication, persistence, patience, and a powerful strategy. A professional can correctly optimize the website while also providing expert guidance on ways that businesses can achieve more visibility and growth. With a robust link building strategy along with on-page optimization, businesses can improve their website rankings, drive more traffic to their website, and connect with more customers. A professional can help eliminate the guesswork in working with website code and can also implement a natural and effective link building strategy.
If you would like to learn more about how SEO can help your business, please contact Net-Craft.com at 480-563-0558 for a free consultation.