The most important part of any successful SEO strategy should be for the optimisations to benefit the site users in some way. Wether it’s the added value in the content, the performance of a website or how well someone can find it in the search results. In the long run user experience optimisations will far out-weigh other SEO tricks that may even result in a demoted ranking. In this tutorial we will discuss principals and SEO techniques that can be applied to many different variations that may include; one business location with one website or one business website with multiple physical locations and so forth.
So if a business has multiple physical shops or service areas and only one website, a good SEO strategy would be to create location specific URL’s. “example.com/locationone” – “example.com/locationtwo“. As both locations are sharing the some domain name, it’s important that each location is optimised in the search results individually. This can be achieved by optimising and localising the on-page elements and also by utilising the off-site SEO factors that point to and influence the individual URL’s.
Local SEO on-page tips
Page titles should be H1 tags that play an important role for SEO localisation. So for example: Two shop location, product and or service page titles could be “Welcome to example product service town one” and “Hello from example product service suburb two”. It’s important that each page title is unique and location specific to really help them stand out and give definition to their individual areas of service and content topics.
Meta data is very similar to page titles in the sense that we really want the meta title and descriptions to be unique and contain relative information. This will help the search engines to correctly display the website in the search results, for locations, products and services that are targeted to the area of the intended audience.
Localising content with area specific map addresses, directions, nearby landmarks, phone numbers and staff members is really important here to. If you plan to copy a webpage and then reuse it in a new URL, always place new and unique text on each page to avoid duplicating content. Even though the two pages may include the same general information we really want to customise each page so that the search engines see them as relatively unique along with identifying the different locations in the text.
Keyword Research is another important SEO tool that should be given a lot of emphasis. There is no real point in focusing keywords on phrases that won’t receive a healthy amount of searches. Check out ‘Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool’ and find a mix of low to high volume keywords that relate to the content topic and to the nearby suburbs, towns and regional areas. We really want to focus on the variations of keywords that relate to the products or services provided by the website, while combining the location along with surrounding areas. It’s ok to include neighbouring suburbs and towns within the content as long as it reads natural and benefits the user. Example: only five minutes drive from a nearby landmark, suburb or town. It can sometimes be worthwhile creating new pages and blog posts that focus location keywords into the page title, meta data, Alt Tags and content. Just make sure it benefits the user experience by adding different map directions and location specific content, this might include different services offered in different areas.
Regional Blogging is also a really powerful tool that can bring in traffic from many different locations if done properly. So we are using the same technique as explained previously, in the sense that we want to customise the page title, meta data, alt tags and content around a location specific focus keywords. You may want to get creative here, but the bottom line is, if it benefits the user, the search engines should index and rank it. There is a lot of time consuming potential here so I will only make a short example. Let’s say an online business is selling products in Town A but also ships to Town B. It’s ok to create a post or page targeting Town B so long as there is a useful reason for it. This may be something along the lines of depot pick up address or alternatively any kinds of important information that relates to the product or service offered in a specific location.
Schema Mark-up can also help the search engines to find relevance for the content and it’s business locations. So by adding Schema Mark-up to individual pages with the different addresses, we can really help to target a page for its intended region in the search results.
Local Business Schema Example:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/LocalBusiness”>
<span itemprop=”name”>Example Business Name</span>
<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>Example Address</span>
<span itemprop=”addressLocality”>Example Town or City</span>,
<span itemprop=”addressRegion”>Example State or Region</span>
<span itemprop=”postalCode”>Example 4225</span>
Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”>Example Phone Number 07 55 777</span>
Footer Links are another great idea to present the different business location pages on a website. Footer links can also help site users and search engines to navigate and understand the relationship between the different pages.
Local SEO off-site tips and techniques.
Now let’s take a look at some of the off-site ranking factors that can impact efforts when localising a business online. There are actually quite a few different off-site SEO methods that can be utilised to create a stronger search presence for the intended target areas.
Local listings and directories such as Yellow Pages (Yellow Book), Yelp, Super Pages and so forth, can be set up to not only strengthen search positions for Local SEO, they can even bring in new organic traffic. Let’s take a look at some useful techniques here that can really help to maximise your search localisation efforts. Make sure you fill out the local listing and directory profiles in every detail including; opening hours, profile and business photos, website URL’s, business description and any other information that will help to describe a business and make the profile complete. There may also be some SEO benefits in updating these listings from time to time, especially if there is a change in address, opening hours and business services.
Search engines are constantly crawling the web to find new and updated information, so if Google bot crawls a local listing and finds new or updated content, it may certainly give it more credibility than a listing that is say three years old and has not changed. It is also really important to create separate listings for individual business locations along with finding the correct category to list the webpages within.
Developing local link partners can also be a constructive way to improve page-rank and search visibility. This can be achieved by approaching local businesses and asking them for a link to your website in exchange for a link back to their website. You could create a new page called partners, where you can list the partner links and if you include promotional discount vouchers, it may also help to attract new customers and localised traffic to your website or pages. This may not seem important, but a website with no quality inbound links (Backlinks) may find it hard to receive high placements in the search results without them.
Adding URL’s to email signatures, news letters and just about everywhere else you can think of is a great way to create awareness for a website and attract more targeted traffic. Placing the relevant URL’s on receipts, business cards, stickers are just a few common ideas. Though you can really get creative here as the more visual exposure a site has on the ground, the more chances it has to attract new local traffic online.
Word of mouth has always been the best form of advertising. Telling friends and business associates is another great way to promote a site on a local level. Word of mouth may not seem relevant to SEO, though you might be surprised how it can indirectly affect it. So if someone hears about a website and then searches through Google to engage, bookmark and or link to a site. These are all positive impacters that contribute to higher search positions.
Brand name mentions can also contribute to a successful local SEO strategy. This simply means that your brand or domain name appears on other local websites. So by this I mean, a mention in the text and not a backlink. Citations as they are technically known are another SEO contributor that can help to improve a local online presence.
Reviews and Ratings are yet another source for improving your search engine optimisation locally. This can be achieved by having a rating system on your website. There are also some social networks and many local listing and directories that offer reviews and ratings as well. It is important here, not to fake the reviews. Google and the other top search engines are smart enough to detect fraudulence. It is far more beneficial to implement them into a marketing strategy by simply reminding satisfied and happy customers to give your business a five star review or rating.
Social Networking plays an important role for Local, National and International search optimising. As this is already another on this website, I won’t go into a lot of detail here, though in relation to Local SEO it’s important to create individual profiles for individual business locations. It’s also important to target followers in the desired areas along with actually interacting and engaging with them. It may seem easy enough to set up a social profile and then just forget about it, but if you really want to get the most out of a local SEO strategy, it really is important to spend at-least a few minutes here and there posting new content and replying and interacting with local users. To get the most out of local SEO there are quite a few good social networks including Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, YouTube and last and probably the least Facebook. Utilising all of these networks will certainly maximise your SEO efforts.