Don’t let a lack of SEO experience prevent you from handling your own campaigns for local search ranking. There’s nothing magical about local SEO, but you will have to commit to a schedule of learning the basics, executing your plan, and keep yourself updated with changes as they occur.
Nobody who is a success at local search is ever really done learning their craft because the local search landscape is in a constant state of evolution. Much like members of the medical community, SEO practitioners have to stay abreast of the latest developments if they hope to achieve positive results on a consistent basis. That being said, let’s take a closer look at what’s working right now in local search.
Successful Local Search Optimization is a Combination of Local and Organic SEO
Thanks to increased competition and Google’s unquenchable thirst for advertising dollars, it’s becoming harder and harder to rank in the local SEO 3-pack – which used to be the local 7-pack until paid ads crowded some listings out. If you’re not familiar with the term, the 3-pack is a display of the three most relevant results for a local search term accompanied by a map pinpointing their location. Because the 3-pack is prominently featured above the other local listings, businesses listed there typically receive more clicks than their non-3-pack competitors.
In some cases, Google will even include paid ads within the 3-pack. For example, if you search for “pool builders in Naples”, you’ll find a paid ad positioned above the actual 3-pack listings.
In short, don’t rely solely on the 3-pack results. Optimize for local as well as organic search. If you can afford it, include paid ads in your search campaigns. Moz.com reports that a combination of paid ads and organic search optimization can significantly improve your site’s click-through rate. Wherever your customers are looking for businesses like yours is where you need to be. Big data can be a valuable resource in identifying your most lucrative prospects.
Start with a Properly Optimized Website
There’s no point in wasting time and resources driving traffic to a website that doesn’t convert those prospects into paying customers. Here’s what you need to focus on:
• Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Google studies have found that the majority of searches are now being made from a mobile device, and you want to make sure that your site is accessible to everyone. A responsive web design will properly display your content no matter what type of device is being used to view it.
• Optimize your website with unique meta descriptions, title tags, meta tags, and heading tags.
• Add alt image tags to all graphic images.
• Increase your site’s page load speed wherever possible.
• Reduce website clutter – or consider driving prospects to a clean and simple landing page offer.
Optimize for Local Search
• Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing. When setting up your account, complete all fields as fully as possible, and be sure to upload high-resolution photos of your product offering.
• Add as many relevant citations (free and paid) as possible. A citation is simply a listing on local or niche-specific online directories that serve to confirm your business presence in a given geographic area. Your basic information (referred to as NAP – name, address, phone number) needs to be absolutely consistent across the Internet.
• Collect and display positive customer reviews about your business.
Optimize for Organic Search
• Make sure your web page content is relevant and truly useful. Remember that search users are looking for answers and solutions to their problems. Illustrate your text with photos or videos where possible.
• Backlinks are still an important ranking factor – but only if done correctly. Concentrate your efforts on getting backlinks only from authority sites that are related to your business niche.
• Don’t overlook social media. Your social media presence is not a direct ranking factor, but it will attract a wider audience for your content and drive more traffic to your website.