Typically when we start working with clients, we start out by focusing their SEO efforts on on-page SEO optimizations – improving the website content and elements of the website code to improve search visibility for target keywords and search terms. This is a good place to start for SEO optimizations – but what comes next when you want to optimize for local traffic and start getting more specific and targeted for your audience?
Here are 4 key ways you can optimize your local SEO efforts. All of these recommendations are what’s referred to as “off-page” SEO. Off-page SEO refers to the optimization of assets and links to a website that is not directly hosted on the website. Generally, if off-page SEO is optimized, search engines assume the content on the directed site is of high quality and valuable to users. The more traffic a website gains through links from other reputable sources, the better it will do in search ranking.
Local SEO involves increasing search visibility within the communities a business serves. By including keywords surrounding the cities and regions that your business serves, search engines will recognize the geographic keywords and increase the ranking for relevant searches performed in those geographic areas. To take full advantage of local SEO, your business can also add listings to online directories and fully optimize Google My Business listings.
- Location Pages – location pages are unique website pages that are specific to locations your business serves. Location pages should provide internal links to relevant service category pages that Google’s search algorithms can recognize. They are also important for ranking for geographic-specific keywords.
- Online Directories – online directories used to be a much bigger focus on SEO back in the early days of optimizing for search engines. Today, Google’s algorithm is much more complex, and while links are still one of the top-ranking signals, they no longer rank all links equally. Online directories still play a key role in local search marketing, but the key to making directories work for you is to make sure the traffic being driven from directories is valuable and credible. Make sure you are selecting directories that are reputable and that your target audience is likely to visit.
- Backlinks – backlinks are links that live on other websites but point back to your website. This can include a mention of your business in a news article or blog that hyperlinks back to your website. To increase backlinks, you should publish high-quality content like blog posts, catalogs, and on different industry websites (e.g. partners, bloggers, advertorials, etc.).
- Google My Business & Google Reviews – Google My Business allows companies to control how their business appears across the web, from search result pages to third party sites that use Google’s data. Images, videos, and posts on Google My Business are eligible for special positioning on search results pages. On the Knowledge Panel (the box that pops up in the right-hand corner on the first page of Google search results), you can showcase unique information, pictures, links to social profiles, and 2 Google posts. Google My Business also gives the opportunity for clients to leave reviews for added social proof.