7 Ways to Enhance Your Local Search Engine Rankings
It has been roughly five years since Google started rolling out their infamous Penguin update. While it has sent many businesses and SEO companies into a frenzy, it has been a much needed shake-up, resulting in the downfall of the affiliate marketing/Ezine Articles generation, who had been clogging up the search results with their spam-ridden content and mass produced referral sites.
Although Penguin (along with Panda and Hummingbird) has created a more user-friendly marketplace, many local businesses have suffered. This is partly due to a reduction of location-specific search results, which reduced from seven listings to three in April 2015. But even now, after all these changes, many SEO companies are still using dated techniques to rank locally.
If you haven’t updated your local SEO knowledge in a while, these 7 tips will help.
Get Local Backlinks
No matter what people say, backlinks are still the most important part of the SEO game. While Google have gotten stricter with the rules, their importance is as strong as ever. Try to get backlinks from local websites: popular local bloggers, community websites, local tourism boards, etc. Even if you don’t get that precious link juice from dofollow links, you might boost your readership through referrals.
Update Your Contact Page
You’ll be surprised by how many people have the wrong contact information listed on their contact page. Check your email address, business address (the town/city is especially important!) and telephone number. Ensure everything is up-to-date, and then embed Google Maps onto the page. Additionally, add all of the information to Google Plus. While this won’t significantly strengthen your position in the SERPs, it’s one of the many elements that Google’s algorithm will take into consideration.
Start Producing Exceptional Content
Don’t just produce any old content, make sure it’s absolutely outstanding and has a local slant. In today’s SEO landscape having a blog is essential, not just to provide fresh content, but to keep your followers engaged. If you’re trying to rank your website on a local level, it’s absolutely crucial that your content is relevant to that particular community. This will also give you a chance to name-check other companies and engage in some cross-promotion – you scratch their back and they’ll scratch yours.
Update Your Meta Information
Title and meta description tags are often considered irrelevant in the eyes of Google. While they may not hold as much weight as they used to from an SEO perspective, they’re still a small part of the puzzle that could tip the balance in your favour. In addition, title tags are the first part of your website that people will see in the SERPs. Don’t waste this precious opportunity to lure readers. Use a strong, informative and relevant title, without the dreaded ellipses (…)!
Secure Good Quality Business Listings
Search for leading, local directories all across the web, and make sure your business name, phone number and address appears in each listing, Websites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor are often the first port-of-call for people looking for a specific establishment. If listing your business on public directories, retain a public presence by engaging with the community.
Manage Your Online Reviews
Both consumers and businesses are starting to take online reviews from customers more seriously than ever before. In fact, recent surveys suggest that a staggering 88% of consumers trust them as much as a personal recommendation, and seven in ten will leave a rating/review if asked. By using programs such as Hootsuite, you can monitor your reputation and receive alerts when your company is mentioned by a social network or review website. Google have also confirmed that they do factor reviews into their ranking criteria.
Additionally, review sites often find their way to the top of the SERPs, especially when people are searching for a specific company. Therefore, a poor rating may be enough to turn potential customers away before they even visit your website.
Remain Public and Transparent
There’s nothing more off-putting for customers than reading a bad review or complaint on a social network or review site, only for it to be ignored. If you fail to respond to queries publicly, people will take notice. Nobody wants to read bad reviews; however, the general public will be far more forgiving if they see that you’re taking criticism (however constructive) on board.
Remember, when you’re competing for keywords on a local level the competition won’t be as bad, so think less about the usual SEO rules and more about how you can benefit the community. After all, Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird aren’t the last major updates Google will implement. Behind the scenes they are constantly improving their algorithm, looking for new ways to get relevant, deserving websites to the top. Providing you’re ethical in your approach and gear your focus towards quality, your website will not only survive, but will thrive.
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