SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization, if you don’t already know. An optimized website is much more likely to be found during an internet search. Likewise, local SEO helps your business in local searches.
If you’re already maintaining your website, you can do some local SEO yourself as a small business owner. However, this is doubly true if you’re writing your blog and social media posts. This article will go over some of the things you can do yourself to boost your local website to the top.
We want to thank the folks at Digital Authority Partners for outlining the following tips.
Easy DIY for Local SEO
If you have some extra time, you can begin to get your local business website optimized for the search engines. But, keep in mind your SEO efforts can take months to kick in. It won’t happen overnight.
However, according to SEO Sydney experts, there are four things that a local business owner can do to improve their SEO:
- Optimize your Google My Business listing
- Fix your web page titles and meta descriptions
- Optimize your blog posts and other content
- Pay attention to business directories
Once you understand the concepts, it’s not hard to do. However, it can be pretty time-consuming. If you don’t have the time, you can always hire a local marketing agency to help you.
First Thing: Google My Business
You could set up a business page on Google if you didn’t know. While this may not help boost your website searches, it can put you on the local search map.
A local search includes a location. For example, “fry bread Taos NM” or “breakfast the Loop Chicago” is a local search. When someone does a local search on Google, a map also shows on the right-hand side. Businesses with a Google business page that match the search phrase appear as pins on the map. Click on a pin, and that business’ Google listing pops up.
The left sidebar shows businesses that match that search; these listings also can be sorted by review stars, price, and location. As you can see, this can drive a lot of business right to your door.
If you haven’t done so already, take control of your Google My Business page. Be sure to include keywords, photos, your address, and your website. This data is by far the fastest way to quickly boost your local SEO.
Optimize Your Website Titles and Meta Descriptions
Metadata optimization isn’t complicated, but it can be time-consuming if you have a lot of posts. The process involves going back and updating or changing your post titles and adding a meta description.
Changing the titles is straightforward, but meta descriptions can be tricky. On platforms like Wix or Squarespace, you might find that option under “settings” or “SEO.” With WordPress, you can add a plugin like Yoast.
The meta description is a snippet that will appear as the description on search results. If you don’t have a meta description, the search engine may use the first sentence or two on the blog post. If you can’t find a way to add a meta description, make sure the first sentence is optimized.
Before you begin changing anything, know what your main keywords are. To optimize for local SEO, you’ll also need to include your general location. For example, if you run a restaurant in Charleston, SC, specializing in traditional Lowcountry cuisine, work that into your titles and meta descriptions.
Not only do search engines love titles and meta descriptions, so do internet users. If they see one that looks like what they want, they’ll click it. However, don’t overuse your keywords or exclusively use them in your titles and meta descriptions; these need to read logically, like a mini advertisement.
Optimizing Your Content for Local SEO
Your content is your blog posts, product descriptions, and restaurant menus. It’s also beneficial for small businesses to regularly add blog articles related to their business. For example, a restaurant could post recipes, or a hardware store could post DIY projects.
Whether you’re going back and fixing old posts or writing new ones, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Image names and Alt tags
- Internal and External Links
Divide blog posts into sections, each with 300 words or less, and each of these sections need a heading. Moreover, titles count heavily with search engines, so you need to include relevant keywords into these headings.
You can write your posts with Microsoft Word and highlight your headings there. Then, if you’re using WordPress, paste that document into the base using “Visual” rather than “Text.” The heading tags will automatically upload into the post.
Images are important, but they can also slow down your website’s load time. Reducing the pixels in your photos won’t seriously ruin their appearance online.
Also, you need to include “alt image tags” with each photo; this is a short description of the picture. Search engines also love keywords in alt image tags. So, if you run a hotel in Moab, Utah, you could include a photo of rock climbers with an alt image tag of “rock climbing near our hotel in Moab, UT.”
Search engines like to see both internal and external links. An internal link goes to another page on your site, while an external link goes to another website. These links should be “authoritative,” meaning that they should further educate your reader on the subject at hand.
For example, if you run a custom offroad shop in Lake Havasu, you could write a blog post on the pros and cons of lifting a Jeep. Then, internally link to your lift kits and link to related blog posts. However, don’t overdo it, and make sure it’s all relevant.
Search engines like links to relevant, “high-authority” websites when it comes to external links. High authority generally means a significant newspaper or a government website. So, using our Lake Havasu off-road shop as an example, you could link to an article on Lake Havasu Magazine or the Arizona State Park website. Be sure that each link is relevant, with similar keywords to your blog post.
Websites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and TripAdvisor often come up on the top of local search results. There are hundreds of local business directories online, but only a few stand out.
Be sure to claim your business listing on all leading business directories. Upload as many good photos as possible, write an optimized description, and ensure all details are correct.
Your business might show up in a Yelp or Yellow Pages search, so you might as well take control the best you can. While you can’t control the reviews, you can politely respond to bad ones. A calm, reasonable response can relieve some of the damage of a negative review.
All of this can take time, and the results are not immediate. But, if you start now, you could see a significant improvement in your local SEO results within the following year.