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A Simple SEO Guide to Securing Long-Term Local Rankings

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Local SEO Guide
Local search has become a major factor in SEO, with an estimated 46% of all queries having local intent. Where not too long ago it was fairly easy to rank for most terms based around an industry and location, this has now changed. More businesses have woken up to the potential of SEO, so there is far more competition trying to rank for a limited number of spots on the first page. It is still possible to compete with most sites as long as you focus on the areas of optimization that really matter. So what are the main SEO factors to consider for local rankings?

Optimize Your Website

Optimizing your website for local terms involves using the business location and industry keywords sparingly, helping the search engines to understand the area you are targeting. You should include the location within the title tags, meta description, and main body content. Search engines are able to understand the context of keywords, though, so you don't have to overdo your word placements. Additionally, ensure the business name, address, and phone number (NAP) details are included, making them consistent with the map reference. If you have a number of different branches, creating different pages for each location will usually benefit your rankings.

Claim Your Google My Business Listing

Google My Business is a business profile that will be used across all relevant Google platforms. In most cases, there will already be a listing in place, but verifying you are the business owner lets you edit the details fully. As mentioned above, ensuring your NAP details are consistent is vital, so this should be the first priority. You can then change the business hours, create a category, and add images and video. This listing will then be used to power your search listing on Google, with Bing Places for Business being the equivalent for the Bing search engine.

Use Google My Business Posts

Google Posts is a feature included within the Google My Business dashboard. The feature lets you share content on your profile, with the post appearing for up to seven days. You can add a short amount of text, an image, and a clickable button. As you can add multiple posts, it is worth updating this section regularly. Some options to try are coupon codes, events promotions, product launches, and important information about your business.

Gain New Citations

A citation is any mention of a businesses NAP details across directories, blogs, and social platforms. There are various syndication services that will ensure your details are listed across all the important directories. You can then manage each of these listings, updating information as required. You may also find less common directories that have geographical relevance for your business. New stories can lead to citations as the story can find its way to industry sites, local blogs, and broader news platforms. Finally, content marketing is a useful way to build citations, with quality blogs often willing to post your content or link to your own site as a reference.

Add Schema Markup

People have traditionally used search engines to find relevant websites to visit. Now, though, much of the information a searcher requires can be found directly on the search listing. Factors like phone numbers, user review scores, social media accounts, and much more can often be sourced from the search results page. To ensure this information is comprehensive, schema markup can be used to assist the search engines. Structured data can be found for a host of categories, so take the elements that are appropriate for your business and add them to your website. The Google Structured Data Markup Helper offers a user-friendly way to create the code for your site.

While there are many traffic sources local businesses can target, SEO is usually at the top of the list. Consumers rely on the search engines to find out about businesses, seeking out contact details, product information, and brand reputation. If you can achieve a top ranking for the most common industry terms, it is possible to brand yourself effectively and become the first point a consumer visits. Using these SEO techniques can't guarantee success, but they will often be enough to compete successfully against all other local businesses in your area.