Local SEO has become a catch phrase for a lot of different things. In fact, it is by necessity a complex discipline and one that has developed because of realities in the way that the Internet is evolving. I find that very few people really understand it (including many “experts” who make a living selling it to businesses). So first let me define it for you.
Local SEO is the process of making your website popular. That is the simplest way to say it but tells you nothing about how it is done. I want to use this story to give you a deeper understanding of all of the components that go into making a website popular so that the next time you get a call or an email from someone who claims to be able to do amazing things for your Local SEO it will be easier to tell if they know what they are talking about.
Why is that important? The logic is simple, if they can’t do it for themselves, how can they do it for you? I want to do something in this article that most SEO experts won’t do. I want to use my own website as an example of what can be achieved through successfully applying all of the various components that apply to Local SEO.
Is my site perfect? No, Local SEO is by nature an ongoing process that takes time. Is my site better in terms of Local SEO than any competitor of comparable size that I can think of? Yes. Here are the main things that contribute to a good Local SEO strategy;
- Optimized Website design
- Optimized Social Networks
- Local SEO Optimized Content
- Regular Addition of New Content
- Proper Utilization of Keywords
- Distribution of Content
- Proper Use of Tools To Monitor And Enhance Website Performance
- Proper Indexing Of Website And Content
- Rich Data Utilization
It isn’t easy to be “perfect” in all of the above categories. As I said it takes time and a lot of work. It is definitely not something that fits into the “set it and forget it” category. However the rewards of a properly planned and executed Local SEO strategy are well worth the investment.
Let me dig a little deeper into the above categories so that I can show you how complex the process really is and I will illustrate the results with my own website as promised.
Local SEO Optimized Website Design
This is the foundation of everything else that is to come. Having a properly optimized website makes everything else work better. Rules for developing a properly optimized website can be found in Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide which is free to download.
My own summation of it is that “everything you do on the web matters”. Pretty simple but unless you know what you are supposed to be doing it is also pretty meaningless. Every page on your site needs to be tweaked as does every image, video and blog post. The search engines have a sort of “dieal” model of what a web page should look like and the closer you come to that ideal the better the search engine thinks your site is.
That is the basis for doing Local SEO properly. There are various tools that can help you to evaluate the current state of your website. If you have an existing site these are invaluable for determining the work that has to be done to bring your site in line with what it should be. I will list a few that are conveniently available as extensions for Google Chrome and are free.
WooRank is a great one because it looks at a number of the most important factors that contribute to the overall Local SEO health of your website. It lists them out and tells you where you need to improve. It also grades your site on a 1 – 100 scale. Fifty percent is an average grade. Sixty percent is fairly common. Right now my site is at 75.2. There are a few things I still need to work on that will be fairly easy to fix. I am shooting for 80% by May.
As you can see in the above screenshot it is going pretty well. WooRank considers the site “high traffic” and it is the 51,201st most popular site in the United States according to Alexa.com. That may not seem very high but the competition comes from every other site in every imaginable category so it is actually a very good number.
Speaking of traffic. My site shows 0% traffic from Adwords. So all of my traffic comes from referrals by search engines, back links and social shares. If your Local SEO guru’s site shows all (I have seen it) or a good part of their traffic coming from Adwords then they are not doing their job very well on their own site.
That is not to say that advertising is a bad thing. It isn’t. Advertising allows you to go above and beyond what can be accomplished with Local SEO. It can be vital for a new business which has not had time to build a web presence. But if you make a living doing Local SEO I think most of your traffic should be organic.
I pixelated the box in the lower right corner of the Alexa traffic rank tool in the image above because it was not accurate and obviously does not update very often. The box shows a figure for the load time of the site and it said very slow. That has not been the case with my site for some time.
The speed with which a web page loads into someone’s browser is affected by many things. some of these things include; the way the site is constructed, the hosting company you use, the size of the images on your site and the distance that your server is from the computer that is trying to load your page.
With all of those factors taken into consideration and maximized to the best of my ability the site does very well in a loading speed test. Not only is this good from the perspective of a site visitor (who likes to sit and wait for a page to load?) but it is also good Local SEO because the search engines like fast pages.
Right now I have consistent page load speeds of under one second. My fastest to date is 478 milliseconds. That is very fast for any website but blazing fast for a WordPress based site. If you want to test the loading speed of your own page you can do it at: pingdom.com.
I don’t have nearly enough space in this article to tell you all of the things that go into getting a website to this point. But I do have enough to give you the tools that you need to test yours. Or, you can perhaps test the effectiveness of the work that your current Local SEO expert is doing for you.
Content Creation And Distribution
Your content too must be optimized on site. That is lumped in with the above category though. I just wanted to point out that on-site SEO is not a “one and done” deal. It is an ongoing process that needs to be kept up with.
The web today is focused on content. good quality content that people find useful and informative, entertaining or some combination of those things. Creating good quality content that is relevant to your business or products is something you just can’t ignore.
Every business on the web needs to have a content strategy. Backlinks are part of a content strategy. Places to acquire backlinks are from web directories, local business directory listing services and social networks.
If you search Street Punk Productions you will find that the site dominates the first several pages of search results. Does your brand name own the first several pages of search results in Google from any location? I mean your own name is something you really ought to have page one for, isn’t it?
How about locally? If you search for your business locally how many pages of search results are exclusively yours? If you search Street Punk Productions, Selinsgrove you will see our domination extends several pages deep.
If you do a more general search such as – online advertising Selinsgrove – or- video marketing Selinsgrove – you will see we are on at least the first page of Google results if not the first several. If you can’t match that in your field then you need some help.
How about a more general search? Try online business selinsgrove. Yep there is Street Punk Productions again. Total local search domination. If I can do it for my own site I can do it for yours.
A good content distribution strategy includes regularly submitted content. That content should also be able to rank well in search engines. That way new people will be exposed to you when they search for a related topic.
As an example the other day Twitter debuted a redesigned look for their pages. It was big news, thousands of newspapers and blogs and websites carried stories about it. I did a blog on the subject. If you search – twitter redesign – you won’t find my blog post until page 10 or so.
That probably isn’t very impressive. But, if you add in one more likely keyword that goes along with the story (try Google+ because the new redesign looks like Google+) see what happens. Searching – twitter redesign Google+ – on Google you should see my blog post somewhere on page one of the results.That is what effective content strategy can do for you.
Next there is the concept of distribution. Every piece of content that you upload to your site should be distributed as widely as possible. To show you what I mean I would like you to search the exact title of another blog post.
Recently there has been a LOT of news about how Facebook is slowly limiting the organic reach of posts from business and fan pages on their site. Search – facebook limits reach -, on Google. The blog post in question shows up in the number two spot on page one for me.
My intent with this article was just to show you just how powerful a good content strategy, coupled with proper Local SEO can be. I think I have accomplished that goal. If your own content does not perform that well then you need a content strategy. If you already employ people who are supposed to be doing Local SEO for you then maybe you are employing the wrong people.
We can create and implement your Local SEO plan and content strategy. If you would rather have your own employees carry out your content strategy we will train them to do it either on site or via Google Helpouts. In addition to making your SEO and content what it should be we can also handle your online advertising needs as a certified Google Partner agency.