On-page SEO for Local Search: Things you must do
Local SEO is broad but it has been present here for some time. In this period, marketers and SEO experts have found out the things that work and that which don’t. By finding what works and yields the best results, you can get started and get quick results for your efforts.
You don’t have to try everything and see if it works for you. You can simply try the things which work for everyone. This chapter focuses on explaining the best practices for local SEO. If you want to get to the top results, you must do these things. They have worked for marketers and businesses from time to time, so they’ll surely work for you.
Performing Keyword Research
We’ just discussed keyword research in the last chapter. But it’s important to mention it here. Keyword research is the first and foremost step of good local SEO. It helps in devising campaigns and marketing strategies because, without the keywords, you can’t start optimization.
Keyword research is vital for the success of any marketing campaign because it tells you what your customers are looking for. You can use this knowledge to serve them better, reach them with ease, and enhance your credibility. When you find the keywords people are searching for, you can create content accordingly and so, increase your visibility in SERPs.For example, suppose you have a barber shop. While doing the keyword research, you find out that people are searching for ‘best hairstyles for men’ or ‘best haircuts for winter’.
You can target these keywords through publishing content and as a result, your website will appear in the results. This way you’ll boost your brand awareness and increase your traffic. More traffic means more customers. Apart from that keywords are vital for the success of other steps mentioned in this guide. You’ll need keywords in headings, title tags, etc. That’s why it is essential that you perform keyword research first.
High-quality Title Tags & Publishing Great Content
What are title tags?
According to Moz, title tags are HTML elements which specify the title of a web page. One page has one title tag. These tags are displayed on the search engine result pages (SERPs). They also appear at the top of the browser tabs. Title tags are crucial because they indicate a concise description of your page’s content. Search engines also emphasize a lot on the title tags of a website to find out what’s it about.
They appear as the title of your page and as a result, they are the first thing a user will see. Following are some tips you should follow on creating good title tags:
- Your title tags should be less than 55 characters in length. Long titles are great for social sharing but on search results, it’s better to stick with short ones.
- Make sure your brand name is clearly visible in the title. Unless your brand is well-known, keep it at the end of the title.
- Each of your web pages should have a unique title. Don’t copy-paste the same title in two pages.
- Use important keywords early in your title. And yes, include one or two keywords.
- Don’t overuse the keywords. Google doesn’t display those titles which are stuffed with keywords. Stick with one or two.
Title tags appear at the top when people share your page on external sites (social media platforms). This is another reason why they require a lot of attention.
Publishing Great Content
High-quality content is a must in today’s online market. If you want your business to appear more in local searches and get more traffic, you’ll need to publish great content. Your website’s content should inform the users, help them solve an existing problem and make progress. There are many reasons to publish good content:
It decreases bounce rate:
The bounce rate of a site refers to the rate of people who leave the site quickly after visiting it. Search engines check the bounce rate of websites and if your site has a high rate, it’ll fall in rankings. Publishing good content helps you in avoiding this. When a person clicks on your website’s link because he or she wants to find out about your content, the chances of him or her staying on your site are higher. Apart from decreasing the bounce rate, it increases the time people spend on your site. It shows the search engines that your site is a credible platform.
It improves authority:
Becoming an authority in your market gives you a lot of benefits. You’ll become more popular, people will value what you say and your business will begin to grow automatically. People will begin to trust your brand more if you have established authority. Other websites in your niche will also begin to link to your website which will bring you additional traffic. So, you’ll not have to put much effort into convincing them to buy from you. A hrefs is a great example in this regard. They published great content regularly and as a result, their product became popular automatically.
It increases keywords:
You can include your primary and secondary keywords in the content and easily increase the total number of keywords on your site. This way, you’ll be able to target a wider audience without stuffing your site with keywords. The more keywords your site has, the higher it can rank in SERPs. Your content will also have higher LSI keywords which are essential for being relevant in searches.
Writing Optimized Meta Data
Your web site's Meta descriptions give a glimpse of what to expect to the users. Just like the title tags, Meta descriptions act at the forefront of the SERPs. That’s why you should focus on crafting a compelling and optimized Meta description for your page. The meta description depends a lot on the content present on the page. However, be sure to add a few keywords in the meta description to make sure search engines rank it higher.
What are the qualities of a good Meta Description?
- A good Meta description contains one or two keywords. These keywords help the search engines understand the relevancy of your page and they rank it accordingly.
- Like the title tags, the Meta description of every page on your site should be unique. Your choice of keywords for the Meta description will depend on the content present on the page.
- Your website’s Meta descriptions should be convincing and compelling. Like your site’s content, they should attract the viewer and encourage them to click on the link.
The viewers read the Meta descriptions of links. So, you should put effort into writing a good Meta description. Not only that, but your web page’s click-through-rate is also an influential SEO factor. The higher the number of clicks your page gets, the higher it will rank in search results.
They should be 50 to 300 characters long, although search engines make exceptions in a few cases. So you should aim at writing a compelling, optimized and brief Meta description.
Images are media. And media files take longer to load than text. But when a site takes longer to load, it affects its ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). That’s because page speed is an official ranking factor.
So your images should be in the right format (PNG for images with less than 16 colours while JPEGs for others). They shouldn’t be too big in size as well. Lower the size of the image to make sure it takes the lowest possible space without compromising with the quality of the image.
Apart from the size, you should write great ALT text for the image too.
What is ALT text?
Alt is short for ‘alternate’ and alt text refers to the text which appears in case the image doesn’t load. Here’s the thing, search engines can’t interpret images. They can, however, interpret the text.
So, when you provide a clear description of the image in the alt text, you help the search engine in understanding what it’s about.
Add your primary keyword in the alt text of the image and the file name. Search engines can understand both of them and they will help the search engine understand what your content is about.
It will make your site more relevant and so, you will rank higher in local SERPs.
Optimizing Anchor Text
You might not have noticed but anchor text is also important for your website’s SEO.
What is anchor text?
It is the text which a website uses to link to another page. Common anchor text is ‘click here’ or ‘submit’. In this link, ‘Marketing Agency’ is the anchor text: Marketing Agency. You get the idea, right?
Search engines can interpret anchor texts and they use them to understand the keywords your web pages are known for. You can control the anchor texts present on your site but not on other sites. So, if a website links to your barber shop with the anchor text, ‘barbershop’, search engines will understand what’s your website about.
It’s important that you use a variety of anchor texts in your website with different kinds of keywords. This way the search engines will be able to connect your site with the keywords. You can get links from other websites but it’ll be discussed in another chapter.
Keeping the Site Mobile-Friendly
Google has implemented mobile-first indexing. This means the crawlers of Google will first check if you have a mobile website or not. If you do, they will check how good it is and rank you accordingly.
Google did this because the number of smartphone users is clearly more than desktop users. So you should ensure that your website has a responsive design and is mobile-friendly.
Otherwise, you’ll not only miss out on a lot of traffic but also suffer in SERP rankings. You can do a number of things in order to make your website mobile-friendly:
Your mobile site should be easy to read. The users shouldn’t have to zoom in a lot in order to see what’s written on your web pages. The text of your site should be clearly visible on mobile devices.
You don’t need large buttons on the desktop site, but on the mobile version, the buttons should be bigger. This way, your visitors will not have difficulty in selecting the buttons and taking actions.
Your mobile site should also have pictures and videos. The visuals make the site look more appealing and attractive. However, the media on your site shouldn’t damage its page speed. Page speed is a ranking factor and so, you should always keep it in mind.
Loading speed is a vital mobile ranking factor. Make sure that your site loads fast. Compress the media, and simplify the code of your website. The best way to incorporate all of these changes is to have a responsive design on your site. A responsive design adapts itself to the screen size.
Writing Clear Headings
Every webpage has certain headings. Your pages must have some too. Search engines check the headings present on a page to find out its content as well. They also classify headings on the basis of their importance.
They reduce the importance of the headings on the basis of the size. For example, a heading with
<h1> tag will get the most importance and a heading with
<h2> will get less.
Use keywords in your headings to ensure your content seems relevant. While doing so, make sure you do it naturally.
Also, limit the use of
<h1> to once or maximum twice per page. You can use
<h3> tags for subheadings.
Brian Dean (from Backlinko) suggests site owners check the code of their website and make sure the
<h1> tag is only used once. He suggests enclosing the most important target keyword in
Having a Proper URL Structure
Your URL structure should be simple. If it’s too complicated the search engines will know that it takes effort on your site to get to point B from point A.
A simple URL structure, on the other hand, indicates that your site’s navigation is easy. Google and other search engines are all about the user experience. They want to show the best websites to their users. Site navigation gives a lot of information in this regard.
Apart from site navigation, your URL structure also informs the search engines about the relevancy. So, add a keyword in the URL of your web pages too. It’ll help the search engine recognize the relevancy of your web page’s content.
By doing the above-mentioned things, you will make the website of your local business equipped to perform well on local SERPs.
These tasks might seem a little overwhelming but after a little practice, you’ll get the hang of it. While inserting keywords in your title tags, heading tags and content, make sure that you don’t overdo it. We’ll dive into the technical bits of SEO in the upcoming chapters.