An Easy Guide to Local SEO

An Easy Guide to Local SEO - aerial photo of a town

Get to grips with local SEO for your WordPress website with our easy guide to local SEO.  What is local SEO and why is it important for your business?

In this blog, we’re going to take you through the essential basics of local SEO, to make your website visible to your homegrown community or your chosen local area.

Many people started buying locally during the pandemic and will carry on doing so. Are you being found by people who need you?

SEO – Delivering Good Search

Here at Shake It Up Creative, we know that you know that search engine optimisation is most definitely not a dark art.

In recent years, search engines have upped the ante, with a focus on quality and user experience with each and every major update. Put a service and a location into a search engine, and Google will sort through and rank billions of web pages in the blink of an eye.

Sounds straightforward. Yet, at the risk of understatement, with over two hundred currently known factors in search algorithms, there’s a great deal more to it than that. It’s precisely how they’re sorting out those pages that’s of interest.

Local SEO is of course no different.

What is Local SEO?

It’s what it sounds like: optimising your presence online to be seen by local users. A quick Google search reveals that 46% of all searches are for local businesses – an impressive statistic. You most certainly don’t want to be behind the curve.

Sending the right signals to Google could reward you with an uplift in the rankings. And, each of the sections in this article could easily deserve its own blog, so do get in touch to book a free #ShakeItHUB slot if you’d like more detail.

1. Have a Great Website
An easy thing to say, but not necessarily so simple to deliver. And what do we mean by “great”?

Site structure with local business schema. Schema is a structured data markup code added to your site to flag up to Google what you do, and where you do it. It’s a major ranking factor. To support you, Yoast (SEO and content experts) offer a useful local SEO plugin that you can download in WordPress to help you do this.

NAP graphic: Name, Address and Phone Number for Local SEO

Name, Address & Phone Number (or NAP). Sounds obvious, but search engines and your audience need to know precisely where you are. Add your contact details to your footer and without a doubt – in your contact page.

Deliver Super-Easy Navigation
Don’t operate a sales prevention system with a hard-to-move-around website!
How are your competitors’ sites ranking? What do you notice?
The top-ranking ones will offer easy routes around them. We’re happy to offer you advice on this important topic.

2. Google My Business
You can create a Google My Business account for free with your Google login (and access other great free Google tools).

This tool is self-evidently owned by the world’s largest and most powerful search engine. It’s a local SEO essential for your business and will display your location and business profile on Google Maps. Make doubly sure that the address you add to your profile is exactly the same as on your website (even the difference between “street” and “st” could cause identity conflict for Google).

Moreover, all the details about your business need to correspond with your website, even your opening hours.
Importantly, the greater number of positive Google reviews you have, the better. Google reviews are highly trusted and valuable.
Add photos and content to Google My Business. Plus, a link to your website!

3. Content
Yes, it’s all about the content – or nearly all.

Consider two competitor websites:

Website no.1 has 20 pages with well-written, easy to read content broken up by headings that guide the reader to the next point. It has images with plenty of alt text, graphics and careful, subtle calls to action. It evokes expertise, authority and trust. Also, it instils complete confidence in this business owner’s ability to deliver a great service to his or her local clients.

Website no.2 has 5 pages with none of the above. It offers just a few paragraphs on each page because “nobody want to read all that”.

Which site will rank better locally? Well, quite.

If you create an awesome first impression on your would-be customers, your website is likely, but not guaranteed, to rank better than a site with little or nothing to say.

4. Keywords
Picking the right keywords is essential.

You may want to think about mid-tail keywords –that is, those that include a local area as well as a keyword or two. However, including geographical keywords in your optimisation is not essential as Google takes these cues from other places.

There are some useful free keyword tools available, which can show you search volumes. Don’t forget your research, though. What keywords are your high-ranking competitors using?

And if your site is ecommerce, read our tips for that here.

5. Links and Citations from Related Sites
Otherwise known as off-page SEO.

Social “proof” is the key here.

Google sees your website as part of a network and getting legitimate links to your site is a focal part of local SEO. Bear in mind that links from social media, directories and paid links don’t work well enough. In fact, some are what Google refers to as “no follow” links.

“Follow” links include those from your local Chamber of Commerce, a high-profile, local online newspaper, and a high-ranking, high domain authority, well-established website. Also, those in a related profession can and will add to your findability.

As it sounds, link building, or rather link earning is by no means easy, not least in today’s post-spam, post-black hat SEO environment.
See above regarding great content: delivering copy (including fabulous blogs) that get shared and referenced with a few much-deserved hyper-text links could see your website rise in those all-important search engine results pages.

Why is all this relevant? Because Google will receive a clear signal that you’re a well-known business, involved in your local community and with your customers. You’re aiming for people to talk about you – in an effective way. And thus, prove that you’re an excellent choice for them to rank you highly.

6. On-Page SEO
Without on-page SEO, your site is comparable to a car without any petrol, or without a car key – unable to go anywhere and stuck in your driveway. Your site will struggle to function in the way it should.

With on-page local SEO, you’re literally telling search engines what your business website is all about and where it is, and thus making it easier for the search engine.

To help you do optimise a page step-by-step in a WordPress site, there’s the Yoast plug-in which guides site owners on things like:

• SEO page titles
• Meta descriptions/Snippets
• H1 and H2 headings
• Alt text
• Content formatting
• Transition words

Website managers are guided by a traffic light system. Do contact us for more advice and information on using Yoast or to tap into our SEO expertise, but this easy guide to local SEO should at least get you on the right track.

Rachael Dines, Shake It Up Creative

Main photo by KM L from Pexels