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A local SEO audit

By Expert commentator 20 Jun, 2013
Essential
Local SEO

A 5 step checklist for reviewing your local SEO Campaign

Thanks to Google's algorithmic changes, many small to medium-sized businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to make their mark on the search engines. Big brands have big budgets, and can pay SEO agencies big monthly fees to optimise their website for competitive keyphrases. But smaller businesses are getting left behind; watching their rankings slip and their conversion rate tumble.

But smaller business shouldn’t be competing on the same level as these big players; not right away at least. The first step in any search engine optimisation campaign should see these businesses reaching out to the audience that is most likely to buy from them.

And that is the audience on their doorstep.

The importance of local SEO

The customer base in your local area is perhaps the most important tool in your marketing arsenal, and one that every business should be tapping into. By employing a local SEO strategy, you can increase your visibility both in the local area and online.

Thanks to the Google Venice updates, the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) are now filled with localised search results for relevant queries. For example, you can search ‘hairdressers’ without being logged in to your Google account and still see all the salons in your area. This, coupled with statistics that show 43% of Google search queries carry a local intent, localising your SEO strategy suddenly looks very interesting.

SEOLocal-results

Here, we’re going to show you exactly how you can implement a local SEO campaign for your website, with this essential checklist:

Our checklist to review or implement your local SEO campaign

  • 1. Competitor audit

Before you can stand out from the competition, you need to know who they are.
Carrying out a thorough competitor audit can help you benchmark their current success, and identify where you can fit into this market.

Simply search “[your business type]” in [your area]” and carefully review both the organic and the local pages.

You should also check how competitive the keywords your competition is targeting are. While keywords and phrases with a local intent are naturally less competitive, you don’t want to make your life harder by targeting terms with huge – or even worse, no – local monthly searches.
Read our post of 4 free tools for benchmarking your competitors for some more tips on nailing this aspect of your local campaign.

  • 2. Onsite SEO

On page optimisation is perhaps the most important stage in your local campaign. This is the mark-up that Google, Bing and the other search engines will use to determine what to rank your web pages for.

The elements to play close attention to here include:

  • 1. Title tags, headings and meta data
  • 2. Names, addresses and phone numbers
  • 3. Onsite content and blog

Title tags still hold huge importance in a local SEO campaign, as they tell the search engines right away what your webpage is about.

A good example of a title tag, continuing with the hairdresser theme, is as follows:

SEOtitle-tags

Meta descriptions on the other hand, are no longer classed as ranking factors but should still include your location.

You also need to make sure that your local SEO is present onsite too. Include a full address and local telephone number on each page, your location in page headers, and in the content itself where it feels natural to do so.

With quality written content becoming an increasingly important factor in website rankings, you should pay close attention to your company blog. Fresh and engaging content will keep customers coming back from more, but you also have a great opportunity for publishing local content.

  • 3. Local pages

When searching for a business online, you will have noticed that Google+ for Business Pages now appear alongside the organic search results. By making the most of these local pages, you can double your chances of attracting local customers.

Both Bing and Google give you the chance to quickly and easily build an online presence for a regional term, with their local pages. Doing so, is easier than you think. Head to the Bing Business Portal, or Google+ for Business homepage to get started.

Carefully go through this process and fill in as much information as you can. Keep your address consistent across all your profiles, as this will further help your business appear in the SERPs for relevant local terms.

Remember as well, to encourage reviews on these local pages and these are a great way of enticing people to click through to your website and a ranking factor for these pages.

  • 4. Offsite SEO

Once you’ve correctly optimised your website, you can begin a localised offsite SEO campaign.

This is a crucial factor that determines where your site will rank, with the search engines using the links pointing to your website as an important gauge in its importance and relevancy.

Link building strategy

Here are some ways you should start building links and citations for your website:

  • Directories – Including your website on a small number of relevant, local directories can be hugely advantageous. They help raise your profile, and increase your reach in the local area. Just be sure to include your physical address and local phone number to boost your SEO campaign.
  • Local companies – Local government websites, suppliers, businesses and other peers are also great places to look for a link back. If they have a resources page or something similar, try to build a presence.
  • Guest blogging – Providing quality content to other websites is a great way to share your expertise, build your industry authority, and get a link back to your website. Choose local websites where your specialist knowledge will attract customers.
  • 5. Social media

Social media marketing is a hugely powerful way to network with regional prospects. More than this though, it is an important step in maximising your local SEO campaign.

Facebook has Google Maps integration, allowing customers to get directions to your business. By syncing your address to this map, you can build on your local SEO campaign.

You should also be sure to write your address in your company description.

Facebook

Likewise, Google+ has this important feature so be sure to take full advantage of it. Not only can customers find you easier, it sends signals to the search engines giving a much needed boost to your local SEO efforts.

Twitter also allows you to include your location on your profile, so be as accurate as you can. If you have multiple addresses, name them both as this will help ease any confusion customers might have. Social media is a great way to drive customers through the door, so make sure they can find it.

By following these tips, you will be able to develop a robust local SEO campaign for your business. The customers in your region are perhaps the most important market you should be tapping in to, so reach out to them when they need you.

Local SEO is an important part of any businesses marketing mix, so be sure to run an intelligent and complete campaign.

By Expert commentator

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