One of the hottest SEO topics of 2015 was localization and how it impacted traffic. Local SEO is starting to be discussed less and less, with more emphasis being put on content marketing strategy, keyword optimization, responsive design and social media integration. The truth of the matter is that while local SEO isn’t discussed as much anymore, it doesn’t make it any less important. Use this guide to learn what search engines like Google are looking at when they rank your website.
What is Local SEO and How Does It Work?
An entire book can be written on local SEO tactics and how they impact a website’s visibility. Local SEO is using search engine optimization to target a local audience, rather than one that is just interested in a single topic. This helps businesses better target people around them and it helps people find products and services they are more likely to purchase. This is especially useful for businesses that rely on people physically visiting them to complete a purchase, such as a restaurant.
Google Still Relies on Local SEO
Google and other search engines are rapidly expanding their services. Google Maps, for example, is being used more by individuals. In order for Google to provide their users with accurate results, they need to put an emphasis on localization in their algorithms. While Google Maps does rely on more data than keywords and social reviews, it does include them when it displays results to the user.
More searches also include a location as part of a keyword. For example, a buyer is more likely to search for “restaurants in Orlando” rather than simply “restaurants” if they are hungry. In some cases, users don’t even have to type in their location. Search engines record the user’s data as they search, automatically displaying options that are close to them. Typing in “restaurants” often brings up results near the person, and it uses keywords to do it.
Businesses need to be willing to take advantage of these search terms if they want to reach their target audience. Even businesses who don’t offer a location-based service may want to consider adding one to a keyword. For example, there are still plenty of people who search for “picture frames for sale in US.”
Factors Google Uses to Rank Local Websites
Search engine algorithms rely on several different factors when they rank websites, rather than just keywords. In many cases, keywords play less of a role in search engine optimization than people think. Instead, one of the leading factors is authority. Search engines want to rank strong websites that have a lot of value and are easily recognizable.
There are hundreds of other factors that search engines like Google look at when ranking a website for a local audience. According to Moz.com, some of the biggest search factors include:
- Domain authority
- Authority of inbound links
- Physical address in city and proximity to user
- City and state listed in landing page
- Proper category associations
- Click-through rate from search
- Keyword relevance
All of these factors play a role in SEO, regardless of whether or not you are focusing on a local audience. This makes optimizing your website to tap into a local audience much easier.
Should Your Content Always Focus on Local Topics?
While local SEO is an important aspect of your website, it doesn’t mean that all of your content needs to cater to a local audience if you want to be successful. Content creation is about showing off your expertise in an industry and giving your customer something useful. While having a few local topics won’t hurt you, you don’t necessarily have to squeeze “restaurant in Orlando” into every blog post you write.
Remember that your overall authority plays a huge role in how your website ranks locally. That’s why some big name websites still pop up in local searches, provided they are relevant. Otherwise, trusted national brands would easily be buried in the search results. For example, “buy picture frames Orlando” does not yield a lot of local results; instead, national chains and some online stores fill the first page. This isn’t due to there being a lack of places to buy frames in the city, it is because there are several websites that people usually buy frames from with very high authority ratings.
What to Do If You’re Worried about Local SEO
Ranking on a local keyword may be a little more complex than a general keyword, but many of the steps are the same. Practicing good SEO techniques, such as posting relevant content based around your keyword, not stuffing keywords, utilizing META data and encouraging social sharing can help boost your ranking.
Aside from writing SEO-rich content, you will also need to ensure your business address is updated. Your address should be prominently displayed on your website and social media profiles. Check your business listing on Google and make corrections as needed. You also need to ensure that your business is properly categorized.
Another factor is online reviews. Search engines like Google love displaying results that are highly rated. Having great reviews on Google+ can help improve your overall authority. High quality reviews from websites like Yelp can also play a role how frequently your site is displayed in search results.
Local SEO is an important part of marketing a website and it should be considered when creating content for your users. Because only small changes are required in order to become appealing to a local audience, local SEO isn’t usually anything to worry about.
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