Local businesses have a tough fight to battle when it comes to Google search ranking. It can feel as if the net they cast is much smaller and more specific. But more often than not, that is precisely what makes it easier (and more interesting) to come up with SEO tactics.
We’re offering you a list of 5 tips to improve local SEO. And as you are about to see, you don’t need to make big, bold moves to get your page to rank higher.
It’s all about learning how Google’s algorithm works, and how you can use it to your advantage.
What is SEO optimization and how does it work?
Google collects information on millions of pages by letting small programs called crawlers to scour those pages and bring back the data so they can be assessed. The more easily readable that data is, the better its ranking will be. It’s in Google’s interest that users get the most useful and relevant pages first.
So in essence, SEO optimization serves to make your website (and ultimately – business), search-engine friendly. When your site and content are optimized, Google can recognize it as a reliable source, and will more likely recommend it to people.
Now, what are the steps you can take to better optimize your local business?
1. Learn from your competitors
Perhaps the simplest thing you can do is to check how your competitor businesses are ranking. You can see what keywords they are ranking for, and analyze their content to find out what boosts up their website in search results.
Keep in mind that who you think your competitors are and who they really are can be wildly different. Analyze the keywords you want to rank for, type them in the search bar, and write down the top ten results for each. The goal is to find which businesses rank high for each search term. Those that cast the widest net are most often recommended to users.
If this is a topic that interests you, you can go into much greater detail online. There are entire step-by-step articles dedicated to teaching beginners how to get the most out of analyzing their competitors’ SEO links and practices.
2. Optimize your images
Whatever images you may have on your website, do give them an alt text, and a file name.
Why?: It’s simple – crawlers can’t read images the same way they do text.
Say that you’re posting an image with the information on your latest sale, together with discounts and SEO optimized wording, hoping to get a better ranking. The bots are unable to “read” the writing because of the image format. They can only see what is written in HTML.
So what you need to do is name the images with the wording you want to rank for. Let’s say that you want to rank for “best pizzeria in Baltimore”. You can title the photo of your restaurant that same phrase. The crawlers won’t see the picture, but they will read the file name. That sends a confirmation to Google that your page is about the best pizza place in Baltimore, which can boost your rank.
3. Get locally active on social media
You can make a lot of SEO optimized content with sponsorships, influencer collaborations (where possible), partnerships and cross-promotions with other businesses, etc.
To make it even better, use your social media to promote all of these localized events. For example:
- Using trending hashtags on Instagram’s posts to boost visibility with customers in your area;
- Finding influencers from nearby and offering them a free product or service for their honest review. Those with large followings will use their own SEO tactics for promotion, which can help your business as well;
- Make cross-promotions with businesses that aren’t directly competitive to you. Offer their customers discounts, free trials, or certain perks if they sign up to your service or buy your product;
Just because you’re trying to improve search rankings locally doesn’t mean you can’t include your whole community in it. Use social media to boost engagement, and get more interested eyes on your business.
4. Use local business schema
Schema is an additional batch of code you add to your website pages. It simplifies the reading of the content for crawlers. And a local business schema can tell crawlers invaluable additional information that helps them understand how and why your business is relevant for users who search for that specific kind of product or service.
Schema.org offers help on their website, and there is a page dedicated precisely to local businesses.
5. Link internally to other pages on your website
It was time we touched on the importance of linking. Since there are mountains of information concerning them, we thought it best to focus on internal linking, and how you can make it a part of your local SEO strategy.
A website’s search rankings improve when Google recognizes it as authoritative, as a reliable source. When this happens, every link that is found on that page will garner more traffic. By finding out which one of your pages has the most traffic, you can link less-visited ones there to ensure a boost in views. Luckily for us, there are online SEO tools that help you find out which pages you can and should interlink.
Ahrefs, for example, can analyze your website and show which pages rank the best. Then, take one of the lower-ranking pages that you want to boost up and insert a link to it on a more authoritative page.
Note: The linking needs to happen naturally. Trying to force-feed an authoritative page with unrelated links can make it lose its ranking.
Just because you are trying to rank locally, doesn’t mean you can’t use tactics global businesses use. The trick is to find ways to adapt those tips and make them work for you. With social media, influencers, collaborations with other businesses and a reliable SEO company, you can boost your rankings significantly.