Local SEO is one of the most important, and also one of the most misunderstood aspects of SEO. And year after year, search engines are putting more and more emphasis on local search for a variety of reasons. Mobile searches mean more local searches, and with mobile searches now surpassing desktop searches, we can expect Google and other search engines to keep moving in the same direction in the years to come. This means that you’ll have to take care of your local SEO and make sure that you can tackle your local competition in the next year.
Here are few tips on how you can dominate local searches in 2019.
Understand which Factors Affect Local SEO
A lot of people are still in the dark when it comes to understanding exactly what criteria Google uses to rank websites in their local search results. The three main factors Google use are prominence, relevance, and distance.
Relevance refers to how targeted your niche is. You need your niche to be as targeted as possible, or else you will be outshone by other sites that might be more targeted than yours. Then comes distance. Google will usually use businesses that are in close proximity to the searcher and prioritize them. While you can’t control how far you are from users, you can always use on and off page local SEO tactics to optimize location. But your business ultimately has to be prominent for it to get exposure and more prominent businesses will usually outperform others. Things like Domain Trust can help, but there are many other things that you can do to raise your business’s profile.
By understanding these three factors, you’ll be able to develop a clear strategy and see the areas where you may be lacking.
Understand How to Optimize Your Google My Business Page
Claiming and setting up your Google My Business page is one of the most important, if not the most important, aspect of local SEO. Google will use your Google My Business page to populate listings and get more information about your business. The most important thing here is to make sure that your NAP information (name, address, phone) is consistent across all sites where it’s published. Whether it’s local directories, your own site or social media pages, being consistent will ensure that there is no confusion and that your site gets listed correctly. It’s also important that you include your opening hours and make sure that they are correct, or you might get unfavorable reviews from clients.
You also have to make sure that you choose the right category for your business as well. Make sure that you pick the right sub-category and target the right shoulder niche for your business. Try to include relevant keywords in your business description, but do not overdo it. Make sure that they fit naturally into the text. And make sure that you add plenty of visuals as well, whether it’s photos or videos.
You should also make sure that you take control of your Q&A page. This is a great place to include latent semantic index keywords and search queries as well. And always stay aware of traffic by going to the Google My Business “Insights” section. This will allow you to follow changes every time you update your listings.
Spread Your Name Locally
Citations from local publications and relevant directories are more important than ever, so try to get publicity on a local level if you want your business to get picked up by publications. Google is putting more and more importance on brand mentions, and getting your brand mentioned on a local level could have a huge effect on your local SEO rankings. Organic citations from local publications tend to be more in context and relevant, which adds even more value to the link.
If you’re going to submit your business to a local directory, make sure that the directory has a good reputation and is closely related to your niche. If the directory you’re thinking of joining isn’t prominent and has lax admission rules, this could actually be a sign of a bad directory. In this case, posting your link could do more harm than good, so try to keep directory submissions to a minimum and be selective.
Use Your Tags Wisely
Your title tags and meta description are two of the most important places where location information should be added. Make sure that you use detailed keywords that not only detail your business name and line of business but your exact location as well. Make sure that title tags aren’t over 70 characters, so they don’t end up being truncated in search results.
Optimize for Query Searches
With the advent of mobile and voice search, more and more searches nowadays are voice queries. With traditional searches, people will often either search for a specific phrase or a collection of keywords.
Vocal searches, on the other hand, often tend to be direct questions. That’s why you need to optimize your site accordingly by adding queries as part of your content. While it is possible to add a few queries naturally in your site content, you need to have a clear Q&A section on your site in addition to your Google My Business Q&A. This will allow you to include some of the most asked questions related to your niche in a seamless way. If you don’t know what questions to add, you could use a tool like Serpstat.
It’s a search query tool that allows you to search for specific questions people may have when conducting a search for your service. You can also use a site like AnswerThePublic, which will also give you a variety of questions you could target.