Local SEO Help

GOOGLE & SEO 2017 (small business marketing help)

SOURCE:  http://www.onlinemediamasters.com/wordpress-local-seo/ (this is such a killer article on seo and how it works in 2017 for local markets.)

The Yoast SEO Plugin should be the first thing you do when starting an SEO campaign. If you don’t have Yoast, I would highly suggest installing it then configuring my recommended Yoast settings. It also assumes you have a physical address in your targeted city which is not mandatory, but is the #1 factor in Google Maps.

Table Of Contents
1. Localized Keywords
2. Blog Post Keywords
3. Geo-Targeted Pages
4. Google My Business
5. Moz Local
6. Whitespark
7. Mobile Responsiveness
8. Mobile Speed Optimization
9. Reviews
10. Local Link Building
11. Multiple Locations
12. Measure Keyword Rankings

1. Localized Keywords

I have a separate tutorial on choosing Yoast focus keywords + green light optimization but I’ll go over this briefly. Go to google.com and use the underscore character _ anywhere in the phrase to have Google fill-in-the-blank and learn keywords people are searching in your city…

If “Orange County Website Help” is your primary keyword, you may have additional keywords you can target like Newport Beach and E-Commerce Help. You’ll want to find specific services you can target instead of just one primary keyword (not a good strategy).

Same thing with web design… you can target both Orange County Website Help and Newport Beach WordPress Design which both show up in Autocomplete. For dentists, you may have Newport Dentist, Orange County Dental Implants, Orange County Emergency Dentist, etc. Do your research and don’t limit yourself to 1 keyword because relying on a single source of traffic can be devastating.

(it also makes sense to Geo-tag your images and your videos to better help google realize you are a local business.  Geo-tagging can be a huge strategy and one overlooked for many small business owners.  More on geo-tagging below; do not forget to make use of sites like foursquare, youtube,etc. )

2. Blog Post Keywords

Blog posts usually attract the most links to your site (a huge ranking factor) since people naturally link to USEFUL content (not promotional service pages) which benefit the rankings of your entire WordPress site. Just like we researched keywords for pages, find as many informational, non-promotional blog keywords as you can, then write a post for each topic.

(Try and make posts to teach people about your services/products.  An example would be the 5 best ways to use your product or services.  Another great strategy for blogging is to curate other useful articles that relate to your business industry, your products, or even another competitor.)

3. Geo-Targeted Pages

Create a page for each keyword – target your primary keyword on your homepage, then create a separate page for Orange County Summer Wedding Photographer and other specific services. Average Cost Of Wedding Photographer In Orange County would be a good article on your blog.

Optimize content with Yoast – you can get green lights all you want, but designing a nice (ideally lengthy) page with awesome photos, testimonials, video and other useful content – is the heart of content optimization. Yoast only detects exact keyword matches so if you use “Wedding Photographer in Orange County” instead of “Orange County Wedding Photographer” in your content… that counts as a keyword. So even if that specific light isn’t green (eg. keyword density), you can ignore it as long as a variation is present. Synonyms are actually encouraged.

Presence of NAP – each location page should have your business name, address, and phone somewhere on the page. If you only have 1 location you can add this in a footer widget or your copyright area at the very bottom of your website (like I do) so it’s present on every page. For multiple locations you’ll usually want to add it somewhere in the actual content body.

Short Permalinks  – use short permalinks with your keyword in it.

Keyword Density – include your keyword in the first couple sentences and a few times in your content body (naturally). Sprinkle LSI keywords (synonyms) in your content instead of using the same keyword over and over. These can be secondary keywords you want to rank for.

Alt Text – label your images before uploading them to WordPress since the visual editor automatically uses the image file name as the alt text. This should simply describe the image – don’t stuff keywords. Images in widgets and page builders may not do this so check the HTML:

<img src=”/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Orange County-wedding-photographer.jpg” alt=”Orange County Website Help” width=”680” height=”380” />

Internal / External Links – Google follows links on your page to learn what your content is about. The important thing is linking to useful content your visitors will actually find helpful (like a blog tutorial). Interlinking blog articles/pages is also a natural way to build links to your own website but outbound links are good too since it’s kind of like citing sources to Google. Finally, always use descriptive link text (called anchor text)… never use words like “click here.”

SEO Title – use a modifier to spice up your headline so more people click on your link in search results… “Award Winning Orange County Wedding Photographer – Tom Dupuis” is a good example. Also make sure your SEO title has a decent length (the bars in Yoast should be green).

Meta Description – the main purpose of the meta description to entice people to click on your link. This and the SEO title are the first thing people see in search results so spend time writing these. It should include your Yoast focus keyword, plus a secondary keyword if you have one.

Post Long Content – Google measures “average time on page” which is why videos and other engaging content is key. Long, organized content generally ranks higher than short content.

Social Media Optimization – this ensures your page will display a properly formatted image when shared on Facebook and Twitter. Click the “share” link in Yoast and upload custom images where it tells you to. If you don’t see the tabs, check your Yoast social settings to enable Facebook and Twitter meta data. Yes, this means you need to design 2 separate images for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px). I leave the other fields blank which let you write a custom headline and description when it’s shared on Facebook/Twitter.

Rich Snippets – make your snippets stand out in search results by adding rich snippets to your content. You can do this with events, reviews, recipes, articles, products, organizations, restaurants, and videos. I use the premium WP Rich Snippets plugin which supports all rich snippet types except for events (use All In One Schema.org) and videos (use Schema plugin. However if you’re doing any other type of rich snippets, WP Rich Snippets looks way better and has more options, plus they have awesome add-ons. Here’s my WP Rich Snippets review which is definitely worth the money if you have content on your site that can be marked up.

(Here is a great plugin for geo-tagging and local SEO help for your business | make sure and check it out.)

4. Google My Business

Google My Business is your most important directory (citation) since these are the actual listings in Google Maps. You want 1 page per location and to delete any duplicate listings.

Create Your Page – create a Google My Business Page if you don’t have one. To check for duplicate pages (you should do this anyway) follow the “search / destroy” section below.

Search / Destroy Duplicates – duplicates can penalize your main page. Go to Google Map Maker and search that location’s phone number. If you see multiple pages report ALL pages except the main page. If you have an office full of dentists, each dentist should NOT have their own Google My Business page or it will cause duplicates. If you have multiple locations then search / destroy duplicates so you only have 1 page per location. You can also click “delete this” (see below) if the location doesn’t exist. Make sure you send Google a comment of why you want the page taken down (it’s a duplicate), your correct Google My Business URL, and proof you’re affiliated with the business (include @yourdomain email) in your comment to them.

Make Your Profile 100% Complete And Consistent – go to your My Business login –> manage location –> edit profile and fill everything out. Taking professional photos and using consistent information as listed on your website is super important. “Citation consistency” is the #2 ranking factor in Maps. We’ll do more of this in step 4 but start with Google My Business…

  1. Use consistent NAP (name/address/phone) as listed on your website
  2. For multiple locations, list the location page (website.com/locations/Orange County)
  3. Upload all photos including identity, interior, exterior, at work, and team photos
  4. List ALL relevant categories with your primary category listed first
  5. Write a unique 250+ word introduction, preferably 400 words
  6. List the correct www version of your website
  7. List an @yourdomain email
  8. Verify your page
  9. Set a custom URL
  10. Get a 360° virtual tour from a Googled preferred vendor (optional but helps)
  11. Talk to a Google specialist for help

Orders And Appointments – enable customers to place orders or make appointments through your Google My Business page. You will need to be using a third-party booking and ordering service, like seamless.com. Then fill out this form to request it and let Google know about it.

5. Moz Local

Since citations are 25% of local SEO, this step will help you create and fix your top 15 citations. Just like you did with Google My Business you will make sure profiles are 100% complete, duplicates are deleted, and ensure consistent information is present. Run your website + zip code through Moz Local and look under “choose the most accurate listing.” Go through each one and see their recommendations. Yes, you will need each profile’s login info.

(This a very important step; make sure to keep all your passwords securely in one place; we use Google Docs to create and store spreadsheets with all your online data.  Anytime your change your login info it will automatically be updated on your secure google sheet.  We also will provide you an additional 50 online business directories to submit your online citation to.)

Correct Incomplete, Inconsistent, Duplicate Citations
Once you click your listing you will see incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate tabs. Go through each one and fix all items. Incomplete profiles are often fixed by uploading more photos or adding categories. Inconsistencies can be as easy as correcting the www website version or using “st” instead of “street” in the address. Duplicates are fixed by deleting them. Moz Local includes links to your profiles which makes it easy to fix, delete, and report profiles.

Sometimes you will only have 1-2 categories (eg. photographer + wedding photographer) so it’s not always possible to get your profiles 100% complete. Just do everything you can.

7. Mobile Responsiveness

The best way to check for mobile errors is to setup Google Search Console and use the mobile usability section. This checks for ALL errors on your WordPress site (instead of just 1 page) which is only what Google’s mobile testing tool does. Even if you’re using a responsive WordPress theme you can still have mobile errors! So it’s definitely a good idea to check.

(we always build our website on a responsive style wordpress site; there are times when an APP or a Mobile-Only website are needed but not very often.  The technology these days with WordPress and being able to adapt to all devices is pretty much solved.  Did we mention we love WordPress.)

8. Mobile Speed Optimization

Most businesses doing local SEO have a good amount of mobile visitors (you can check in Google Analytics under Audience –> Mobile –> Overview). If you haven’t read my W3 Total Cache tutorial which shows you how to configure the performance tabs, Cloudflare, and MaxCDN, I would start with that. Then you can optimize images and make other optimizations from my WordPress speed guide. This helps you fix items in your GTmetrix report (the speed testing tool I recommend using) and improves page load times for both desktop and mobile.

To make your WordPress site load faster specifically on mobile, you can use AMP pages (accelerated mobile pages) using the AMP plugin and Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP. You can read Yoast’s AMP tutorial but this will basically add an “AMP” sign to your mobile search results…

 

9. Reviews

You’ve heard this before so I’m not going to state the obvious. But you should know that Google My Business is usually the best place to get reviews since these appear directly in search results, and you need about 5 of them for the review stars to start showing up…

Avoiding The Yelp Review Filter – Yelp reviews can get filtered even if they’re legitimate. You can avoid this by doing a Google search of “business name Yelp” and sending them that link. If you send them the direct link to your Yelp profile, Yelp will know and could filter it. Ideally you would ask existing Yelpers since they are more likely to get their review posted (another factor is if their profile is filled out and Facebook is connected). You should friend your reviewers too.

(We have created a proprietary Reputation Marketing system that your positive reviews are automatically showcased on your website, Google+, Facebook and Twitter, and indexed by search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo for higher search result ranking.)

You know links are super important for your rankings, and it doesn’t have to be a pain in the ass. But yes, you WILL need to reach out to people to get these links. Here are some tips…

  1. Ask partners to link to you
  2. Ask sponsors to link to you
  3. Ask suppliers to link to you
  4. Get published by local newspapers
  5. Get included in list articles (eg. best pizza in Orange County)
  6. Make sure these articles include a link to your site
  7. Find business directories and organizations who promote green businesses
  8. Turn your business relationships into links, that’s what it’s all about

(Linking to other local government websites and .org sites in your local area is a superb way to gain traction with Local SEO rankings.  

11. Multiple Locations

Create Multiple Location Pages On Your Site – sometimes you should create 1 page per city (if only 1 keyword is being search in that city), or multiple pages per city (if multiple keywords are being searched). It depends on how many keywords people search and whether you need content about different services (miami dentist vs. miami dental implants is a separate page).

Add Location-Specific Content To These Pages – your Orange County page might have photos of your Orange County office. Or testimonials from your Orange County customers. Or a Google Map showcasing your Orange County location. Avoid creating ‘search and replace’ pages (identical pages only you simply change the city name) since these are duplicate content and will not rank.

Create Citations For Each Location – each location should have it’s own Google My Business page, Yelp, Facebook, and other citation profiles you can use Moz Local and Whitespark to create (see steps 4, 5, and 6). Whitespark’s citation building service will save you a LOT of time. If you do this yourself, list the specific location page (website.com/locations/Orange County) when listing your website. Photos and business information should be unique to that location.

12. Bonus Tips

Google Search Console – I mentioned this a couple times in this WordPress local SEO guide, but you really should take advantage of this tool. My video and Google Search Console tutorial show you how to set it up, submit your Yoast XML sitemap to Google, fix crawl errors (broken URLs), and quite a few other site optimizations. You can use it to test AMP pages, rich snippets, and find indexing, mobile, and security issues. Once signed you will need to wait around 1 week for the data to populate. But definitely revisit it and take advantage of it’s features.

 

LOCAL SEO can make or break a local business; more important than getting on the front page of the search engines; is to stay there…this article does the perfect job in showing you exactly how to rank for keywords and how to make those local keywords stick forever.  If nothing else go through all the steps  listed above and we will guarantee you a huge increase in rankings; which should lead to an increase in search activity, which generally leads to more sales…!

 

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