Traffic is the lifeblood of your business so if you gain high rankings in the major search engines for your local business you’ll attract a continuous stream of visitors to your website that generates sales and leads. The ranking factors for local search engine optimization (SEO) differs to the ones needed for nationwide or worldwide SEO.
Top 7 Local SEO ranking factors you need to know.
These are split into 2 major categories…onsite factors and offsite factors. Onsite factors refer to the structure and composition of your actual website whereas offsite factors refer to link building.
1. Attractive Design
Most people make a split second decision based on the first impression of your website. If it doesn’t have a professional appearance visitors will leave right away and go to your competitors. Review other websites online to get an idea of the type of design you prefer then incorporate those factors into the design of your own site.
- Don’t include photos that are unrelated to your content and use plenty of white space between elements on the page so the content is easy to read.
- Utilize headings, sub headings and bullet points to split up the content as most visitors simply scan your web pages instead of reading every word.
- Make it easy to navigate your site by placing a navigation bar at the top or side of your pages. Avoid using images for navigation links because the search engine spiders only read text. Instead utilize CSS to create your navigation buttons.
2. Meta tags
These include the title, description and keyword meta tags that can be found in the html code at the top of each page.
- The title meta is the most important so make sure you place your most important keyword at the beginning and keep the length to 70 characters. You can have a longer length but it will be cut off by the search engines. The title appears at the top of the browser window after conducting a search.
- The description meta tag displays as a short description in the search engines after doing a search on a specific keyword or keyword phrase. Create a captivating description so visitors viewing it in the search engine listings will click through to your website.
- The keyword meta has carries little significance but include it anyway by adding 10 of your main keywords separated by commas.
3. Web Copy
When a person first visits your website they want to know “what’s in it for me?” Place your most important benefit (often called Unique Selling Position) at the top of the page followed by your other main benefits. Ask yourself “Why would visitors want to do business with me instead of my competitors?” Think of what makes your business stand out from your competitors. For example perhaps you’ve been in business for 10 years, offer personalized customer service, etc.
- Include “geo-based-keywords” in your web copy so people searching localll can find your site. For instance on my website I include “Affordable Website Design Bowie Maryland” in both the title meta tag as well as in the web copy on the home page. It’s important to have it in both places to tell the search engines that your site is relevant for those keywords.
- Display your address and phone number at the bottom of each page so the search engines will know your location.
4. Site speed
Search engines reward you for having links pointing to your website from other reputable sites and organizations. The quantity and quality of your links will determine your rankings. Here are some ways to gain backlinks to your local website:
5. Local search directories
Websites in Google places appear above all the other listings on Google so make sure you provide all the necessary information to get a good listing.
Here are a list of things to include in your profile:
- Business information
- Get reviews
Note: If you have a home business that targets local clients you have the option of hiding the address on your listing. Select the option that says…”Yes, this business serves customers at their locations.”
Even though Google Places is one of the most significant locations on the Web to get listed on you should also build profiles on other local sites. The more local sites you get listed on the higher your rankings will go.
Here’s a list of local directories to get you started:
- Yahoo Local
- Bing Local
- Merchant Circle
- Internet Yellow Pages
- Ask Local
- Better Business Bureau
- Chambers of Commerce
Most of these directories offer both free and paid listings. Test out the free service before upgrading to paid to see if it works for you so you won’t have to pay extra fees.
Don’t forget to also look for other local directories and networks. Search on “location name + directories” to get a list of other local directories as more appear online everyday.
Here is a great resource to help get your business listed on local search engines.
6. General search directories
Besides the local directories it’s also important to get links from general directories related to your business. Google “keyword + directories” to find them online.
7. Social Marketing
Search engines take into account the number of social signals when ranking your local website. it shows people are actively engaged with your site. Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and begin building a community.
Whenever you create new content make sure you let all your subscribers know so they can Like, Tweet and + your content.
If you follow the 7 steps outlined above you’ll boost your site’s rankings in the local search engines leading to more traffic and sales. Keep in mind it will take some time (several months) before the search engines find and index your links.
Top 10 Search Engine Ranking Factors
Local Search Engine Ranking Factors
How to Optimize Your Business For Local Search and Social Marketing
How Web Page Layout Affects Visitors and Search Engines
How Poor Web Navigation in Your Site Can Ruin a Visitor’s Experience
The First Impression of Your Website May Be Driving Away Traffic
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