18 Local SEO Tips for 2017

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These Local SEO Tips will help businesses that want to improve their visibility in local search results, which for the uninitiated is called the ‘Google 3 Pack’…formerly the ‘Google 7 Pack’. The best thing is that they are free to implement! You’ll need admin access to your site for a some of these tips. But don’t let that stop you from completing the rest of this checklist and giving your site a boost in the local search rankings!

1. Have an address in the town or city that you’re targeting.

Without a local address, you can’t rank in the local search results for that location. You can still rank in the organic search results below the 3 pack for localized keywords, but it’s not the 3 pack…

2. Create and verify your Google+ Business page.

After creating your Google+ Business page, verify your address. You can do this in several different ways. The easiest is to get the verification code mailed to the address you provided, login to your Google+ account and enter your verification code. It’s easy to do.

3. Remove duplicate Google+ Business pages.

If your business’s name, address or phone number are listed on more than one Google+ page, then delete them! If you don’t have the login credentials, you can contact Google and have them delete the accounts.

 

Pro SEO Tip:

Google hates duplicate content of any type…it forces them to make a decision on which page, website, social account etc. is most relevant…and you’re making it difficult for them. This has turned out to be a major ranking factor on several levels. Do yourself a favour and give your entire web presence the once-over for duplicate content. If you’ve copied any content from anywhere on the WWW…it will affect your rankings if it hasn’t already. Even a poorly designed website can potentially create tons of duplicate pages with ‘Recent Posts’ widgets and archive pages…you need to use them sparingly if at all. Read my article on 5 Free Tools to Improve Your SEO to help identify duplicate content issues on your website.

 

4. Fully complete your Google+ page.

  • Write a 100+ word description of your business (which includes your keywords and services), provide your contact details and opening hours, and upload at least 5 photos and 1 video.
  • Decide what page of your website to feature on your Google+ page.
  • Sometimes another page on your site (contact, about us, services, etc.) or a newly created page is more relevant, in terms of on-page optimization (title tag, header tag, written content, etc.), to list on your Google+ Local page. If your homepage isn’t much more that a slideshow with little content, use a page with more relevancy and content.
  • Choose appropriate categories on your Google+ business page. It’s better to be more focused than worrying about catching everyone.
  • Choose categories that accurately describe your business and ensure that your category choices state what your business is (e.g. dentist, cosmetic dentist, dental clinic, etc.), rather than the services you provide or the products you sell.

5. Use a local phone number.

List a phone number with an area code for the town or city that you’re targeting on both your Google+ business page and on the specific page of your website listed on your Google+ business page.

6. Be consistent with your business’s name, address, website and phone number (NAPW).

Ensure that the business name, address, website and phone number listed on your Google+ page exactly matches the business name, address and phone number on the specific page of your website listed on your Google+ page.

 

Pro SEO Tip:

This is also one of those across-the-board things that you should take care of…the Google hates making decisions thing again. You should have a template for your information and make it exactly the same in any method that you use to communicate with the outside world. Clean up all of those old social and local listings accounts. This also very important for your website…be consistent with your www or non-www URL’s (they’re two different versions of your site and you should have one assigned as the main address for your site).

 

7. Make it easy for people to contact and/or find you.

Put your business’s address, phone number and email address in a clear, prominent position (that doesn’t require people to scroll down to see them) on every page of your site and add a contact form to your site’s sidebar or footer.

8. Add a map of your business’s location to your website.

Search for your business’s address on Google Maps, click the ‘Link’ button to get the embed code for the map, and include that code on your website – ideally on the the specific page of your website listed on your Google+ business page, but if not then on your contact page.

9. Include your location and keyword on your website landing page.

Include the location and primary keyword that you want to rank for in the title, header tag and written content on the specific page of your website listed on your Google+ business page.

10. Create a separate page on your website for each location that you want to target.

If you operate in multiple locations, create a new page on your site for each of them, and optimize (title tag, header tag, written content, etc.) each of those pages specifically for that one location.

11. Create a separate page on your website for each product/service that you offer.

Create one page that summarizes all of your products/services and have that page link to other pages that each cover in detail the specifics of one of your products/services. Use a logical site structure that has no more than 2 to 3 clicks to the content from the main page.

12. Write unique content for every page of your website.

Using near identical text (for example, only changing the town or city name) on multiple pages of your site is more likely to get your entire site penalized than get you higher rankings for multiple keywords.

13. Ensure your website looks good and is usable on multiple devices and screen resolutions.

Mobile friendly websites are the new normal…and a ranking factor. This is especially true for local searches made from mobile devices.If your site fails to meet common user expectations (readable text, easy to navigate, no horizontal scrolling, etc.) on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones, pay a web designer to make the necessary adjustments to your site’s code or get a completely new site with a responsive template or theme. If you do need to rebuild your site to meet current standards, it is very important to keep the same URL structure as your old site otherwise all of this stuff will be in vain.

14. Get your business listed on 3rd party websites.

Get your business’s name, address and phone number listed on trustworthy and authoritative websites. Ensure that exactly the same name, address, website and phone number are listed each time.

15. Get ratings and reviews on your Google+ page and on 3rd party websites.

Ask customers to rate your business and leave reviews (mentioning specific services or products) on your Google+ business page and on 3rd party websites (Yelp etc.). Ensure that ratings and reviews are spread out over a reasonable time frame and are not fake…Google can figure this out easily, but there’s nothing wrong with asking your customers to rate you.

16. Build links to your Google+ business page and website.

Build links to your Google+ business page and website (homepage and the specific page of your website listed on your Google+ business page) from websites that are relevant in terms of topic and/or location.

17. Keep your Google+ page active.

Regular updates and photos are important to show search engines that your are current and relevant.

 

18. Incorporate Schema Markup into your website and consider making the switch to HTTPS.

Schema is kind of like a cheat sheet for search engines to learn about your site while saving time and ensuring more relevant results. It’s code that can be written or generated for free and inserted into the code of each of your web pages…and now is the time to do it! Read my article on Schema Markup to learn more. HTTPS (that little green padlock in your address bar) is also a new ranking factor. Be careful before making the switch…you are changing the URL of your website from http:// to https:// which means that you are changing the names of all of your web pages. Consult a professional if your website has been around for a while and is in good standing with Google et al.

 

In conclusion: Accurate and complete Google My Business information + accurate location data + positive customer reviews + traditional SEO tactics = good local ranking (possibly). These are all great tips…just be careful when you start playing around with your URL’s.