Local SEO Advent Calendar – Search tips for your business

Local SEO Advent Calendar
Last updated: Thursday December 01st 2016
Reading time: 1 minute

What do you want for Christmas?

More web sales? More business enquiries? More customers in your shop? All of this can be helped with good online visibility and a positive online reputation. What better gift could you give yourself this year to ensure prosperity of your business in 2017?

Like all website owners, you are most likely limited to how much time you can spend marketing your website. So, my gift to you this year is 24 quick, simple tips you can put into place over 24 days to get your local visibility and reputation on track for the new year.

Open the advent calendar door to improve your website SEO for 2017.

Dec 1st – Claim your Google Business page

Apart from your own site, Google My Business offers the best opportunity to improve your local visibility. Surprisingly,  many businesses have not even claimed their listing. Claim yours now and make sure you optimise it.

This post will show you how to add your business to Google My Business.

Dec 2nd – Use a local telephone number

As a local business, how can you better illustrate that you are “local” other than to use a local phone number? This is both good for users as well as for the search engines.

Google will use local numbers as an indicator when ranking sites so make sure you have a local number somewhere on your website.

Dec 3rd – Optimise your Google My Business page

This is absolutely critical and is very easy to do. In many ways, Google My Business is your shop window on the Google platform, so make sure that the information you upload is complete.

Upload photos, and ensure you fill out all available fields.

Dec 4th – Install a Local SEO plugin

The Yoast SEO Plugin introduces cutting-edge local SEO functionality. Opening hours, locations and Google Maps can all be added with the correct markup to help Google understand your site and improve the way your website is presented in search results.

This webite ranks on page 1 for “web design Banbury“, “SEO Banbury” and about 60+ keywords in the Oxfordshire area – doing basic SEO does work!

 

Dec 5th – Highlight your awards and badges

Good work is awarded; highlight your achievements in all marketing material. Caro Creative have received a few SEO certificates recently which are mentioned across this website to further expose expertise and to help strengthen our brand online.

Do you have accreditations that could be shared online?

Dec 6th – Add your address to all website pages

Don’t be afraid to tell everyone where you are – to users and search engines. Add your name, address and phone number (also known as NAP) in the footer or sidebar of your site. You’ll notice mine is in the footer.

If you want to be really fancy, use schema markup. This further confirms where you are and helps you rank locally. An easy win!

Dec 7th – Do some competitor research

Just like any business strategy, competitive research is first. Begin by targeting two or three local competitors and have a look at what they are doing on their websites. If it works for them, it could work for you! Search for your keywords you’re attempting to rank for and take note of the top 10 results on Google.

Top tip: Also look at what Google uses for it’s Autocomplete suggestions (when you start typing a search) and also for “Searches related to…” at the bottom of search results. Chances are, these are popular search terms that you should be ranking for!

Dec 8th – Install an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO

You need to install Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin if you run a WordPress website. This brilliant plugin provides advanced functionality, enabling you to create XML sitemaps, noindex certain pages and posts that provide little value and also allows you to tweak page titles and meta descriptions on a page-by-page basis.

Dec 9th – Optimise your page meta descriptions

A lot of SEO’s believe meta descriptions don’t affect your ranking postions, but anyone who gives you that line is missing the point. They do influence click-throughs, and that is the aim. It’s possible click-through and engagement may actually influence results too.

Build on your page title with meta descriptions optimised to win you the click and the business.

Dec 10th – Optimise your page meta titles

You most likely provide many services and have multiple pages for your offerings. Optimising the page titles illustrates to a potential customer that you are indeed local and it will help increase the size of your keyword cloud. Google likes page titles that help users too.

As an example, a local car garage may have the following service page title: “Car repairs Banbury”. How much better would this be if it was: “Car repairs Banbury – Call Nigel today on 01295 xxxxxx”

Dec 11th – Use the Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is a treasure trove of really useful data for your website. GSC provides suggestions direct from the search engine. Paying heed to what you find here will only help Google understand your website and improve your visibility in search.

If you haven’t installed it, please do so now. If you have set-up GSC, you should review your account for any issues.

Dec 12th – Fetch & render

There is a tool in Google’s Search Console called Fetch & Render and it’s purpose is to let you know how Google views your website.

You should review the results here and take notice of the suggestions. Usually, this just involves unblocking some resources in your robots.txt file (ask me about this if unsure), and we have seen this to have a positive impact for websites competing for those top spots in searches.

Dec 13th – Unique product & service page content

Most businesses offer a range of services. Many business have all of these on a single page. The first rule of SEO is relevance, so ensure you have a single page for each service, and make sure you optimise these pages for the “what and where”.

Website design in Banbury (Yep, you’ll see this site is top for this search term!)

SEO services in Banbury (You’ll see we are position one, page one for this too –  it does work!)

One page listing all services can never be as relevant as a single page for each service provided.

Dec 14th – Request customer reviews

It may be a bit of a stretch to get you where you need to be regarding reviews in 15 minutes, but you can get started thinking about reviews. Online reputation is huge, and recent surveys show usage and trust in reviews growing all the time.

You need to be thinking about reviews and requesting customers to add testimonials to your Google My Business listing. Other good review sites to use if you have the time and budget are Facebook, Yell and Trustpilot.

Dec 15th -Social links

Today, your brand can be seen not only on your website but also on the social web, so be sure to keep everything consistent and “on brand”. There are technical ways to do this, and the Yoast WordPress SEO tool makes it easy for you WordPress users out there to link everything up.

You can, however, get 90 percent of the way there by linking out to your social profiles and ensuring they link back to your website.

Dec 16th – Get local links from businesses

A massive factor in ranking well on Google is back links. Local links from other businesses are easy wins and these will help boost your local rankings.

Will your partners link to you? Are there local charities you work with? Can you link out to customers? Do your social platforms have links? There are loads of opportunities to get links back to your site.

Spend 15 minutes looking at partner sites and looking for charities with sponsor pages, and see if you can win a couple of local links.

Dec 17: Reach out to get social reviews and engagement

Google is not the only place to leave reviews, and you can ask customers to leave reviews on your Facebook page too. yel.com and Trustpilot are also trusted sources to get reviews from. Social referral can be a huge factor for local businesses (Anyone know a local electrician?), and these reviews will often show up in a brand search for your business. Win-win.

Dec 18: Local citation reviews

The final places for reviews are the business listings and important directories out there. These work for users who are looking at specific directories, and they can again show up for a brand search for your business. Nothing looks better than someone searching your business name and your third-party listings all have it.

Dec 19: Show reviews with your organic listings

Google makes it relatively easy to mark up your site and show reviews with your organic listings. You need to insert a small section of correctly marked-up code and reference the review source, but it is super-simple from a code perspective and can result in your service pages showing five gold stars in the search results.

Dec 20: Citation consistency

This one is so important. It’s kind of boring but absolutely essential for solid local visibility. To make the most of your time, tap your details into Moz Local or one of the online tools, and get to work on any inconsistencies. If you really want to dig in, you will need to perform a manual citation audit, but it is all time well spent.

Dec 21: Citation optimisation

If your citations actually pop up, or the sites containing them do, then you need to furnish them with the same level of attention as you would pages on your own site. Testimonials. Images. Opening hours.

What do your customers need to do business with you? Most people don’t go the extra mile. Do so, and you will see improved traction from your citations, and you may get an SEO kickback at the same time.

Dec 22: Citation categories

Even if you have never created a citation or business listing, you could have several. Odds are they are not correct, and one key element that often gets overlooked is the categorisation. Ensure your business is listed in the correct category for the services you offer.

Dec 23: Yell.com duplication

Many citation sources offer advertising options. These can allow you to be listed in multiple locations with different phone numbers and options. In the UK, the Yell directory offers this service, and we have seen it have implications on citation consistency. Find duplicates and remove them, and certainly don’t pay for any listings.

Dec 24th – Unique location pages

Odds are you provide your services in multiple locations. You may well have offices in multiple locations. There is some care needed here, but it can make sense to have pages for all targeted locations (and certainly for each physical office).

There is some nuance to how you should approach location pages so it does not turn into a spam fest, but in essence, you want to have a page for each location targeted or at least detail micro and metro areas you cover on your contact and service pages.

Dec 25 — Eat, drink, be merry!

That’s it – the big day. If you have taken action on all of these points, or even several, you can kick back for a week or so and look forward to improved visibility in the weeks and months to come. What more could the busy business owner want from Santa?

Icons made by Madebyoliver from flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

About the author
Laurence

I am a 27-year-old WordPress web designer and SEO consultant based in Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK. I have designed and maintained sites with over 20,000 pages on large corporate websites, smaller small business sites, and tiny personal websites and blogs. I provide freelance WordPress web design services in my evenings and weekends and also work full time for a local design agency in Banbury. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and on Google+.