Local SEO Tips – Seven Local Search Engine Optimization Tips for Better Results
Local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy whereby you attempt to rank your website within Google for location specific search terms. The importance of embracing local search engine optimization opportunities should not be taken lightly as the traffic volume of such searches might be higher than you think.
According to Google, 20 per cent of all searches are related to location. However, this percentage seems set to rise significantly over the coming years as more and more users embraces mobile search environments. Speaking at a Mobile Marketing & Advertising event in Las Vegas in 2010, Diana Pouliot, director of mobile advertising at Google, revealed that one-third of all Google searches via the mobile web pertain to some aspect of the searcher’s local environment.
The following list of Local SEO tips will you effectively optimize your sites for local search results:
Tip 1 – Use Webmaster Tools Geographic Targeting.
Webmaster tools offers site owners a very simple way of advising Google which country it wishes to target. You choose the location you wish to target and you can expect a significant improvement of your websites rankings within Google country specific search results.
It’s important to note that you can only use this feature for sites with a neutral top-level domain, such as .com or .org. Country-specific domains, such as .ie or .fr, are already associated with a country or region. So, if you don’t want your site associated with any location, select Unlisted.
Tip 2 – Choose a country specific domain name.
Google state on their Webmaster Tools help centre:
“If no information is entered in Webmaster Tools, we’ll rely largely on the site’s country domain.”
With this in mind, it would be safe to assume that country specific domain extensions provide Google with another key indicator to help it rank more effectively within local search results. However, country specific domain names can offer website owners with more than just local SEO benefits. A recent research study highlighted that 77 per cent of British consumers preferred to use a .uk rather than a .com when searching for information online. A more trusted domain within a specific geographic market can bring with it higher click through rates from the search results and an increased onsite conversion rate.
Tip 3 – Host your website in the country you are targeting.
Your website IP address is another factor which Google will take into account when ranking your site within its local search results. Hosting your website in the country you are targeting not only provides Google with a clear local SEO indicator, but it also offsets latency issues, whereby your web pages load faster to visitors within the same country which your web hosts servers are based in. This can help improve page load time (another SEO factor) and your websites conversion rate.
Tip 4 – Develop inbound links to your site from websites within the country you are targeting.
Inbound links to your site are seen as votes of confidence in the eyes of Google when it comes to its search engine algorithm. It makes sense that if you are targeting a specific country then the inbound links to your site should naturally come from within this region. Search for link building opportunities on sites which have the local domain extension and/or are hosted in the country you are targeting. Submitting your site to local business directories is also an easy way to develop such links while bringing potential customers to your website.
Tip 5 – Use local keyword phrases within the body of your website content.
Avoid focusing solely on generic search terms and add localised variations within your content. If you are providing IT courses and your business is based within London then make sure you target “London IT Courses” and not simply on the search term “IT Courses”. Providing Google with as much targeted content on local search terms within your on-page SEO efforts will increase the keyword relevancy and help you achieve better rankings.
Tip 6 – Use a local business address within the footer of your site.
If you can, you should include your full local business address within your webpages to target the local search engine you are hoping to rank highly within. The footer section of a website is a useful place to include your business address and it will ensure that every page on your site contains local search terms.
Tip 7 – Set up a Google Places account.
If you have a ‘bricks-and-mortar’ business then you simply must set up a Google places account. Google is constantly tweaking how its results pages display content to users, and places listings now take up a large proportion of the pages when applicable local terms are searched for.
If you’re targeting state/city/town local search terms then chances are you will see a lot of your competitors filling the results pages. Claiming your Google places listing is relatively straight-forward and allows you to be found on the main Google search results within the places listings and also within Google Maps search results.
It’s worth noting at this point that the effective optimization of a Google places page is something which deserves its own post and I will be blogging about this in a follow up article. However as a starting point, simply linking your website within your Google Places sends Google even more relevant information specific to your local market and should begin to improve your local search ranking.