Preparing your website for local search
What we are about to describe is better-taken care of when you first launch your business website, however, everything can be fixed afterward as well.
SEO can be simplified down to two key areas, these are relevance and authority. On-page signals are what shows the search engines your relevance. In local SEO we can break this down to two areas, which are services and geography. Simply put, you want to make sure the services you provide and the locations in which you provide them are clearly indicated.
Let’s say you are a dentist, in this case, you can provide your services from your location only, but if you are a locksmith, you travel and provide your services in a wider area. Your prospective customer needs to be sure that you provide the exact service they are looking for, in the location they need it at, and they need to know you are very good at what you do. All these things are what on-page signals take care of.
The key on-page elements for local businesses are:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Header tags
- Page content
- Name, address, and phone (NAP)
And to illustrate your credibility you need to include such specific elements:
- External reviews
Title tags or page titles are the most critical element. You need to make sure your service, location, and brand are clearly indicated in the page titles.
Make sure to include keywords that might help your customers make a decision, but don’t be spammy, use your common sense. There is no strict limit to the number of characters you can use in a title tag, but our long practice shows that 60 characters is the ultimate length.
Let’s give you an example to illustrate the above words. Let’s say you are a locksmith in Brooklyn, New York, who provides a 24/7 service, including emergency response within 60 minutes. This is one possible page title for you:
24/7 Emergency Locksmith in Brooklyn, NY – On site within 60 mins | Mr Unlock
Site structure is of the utmost importance here, thus if you have multiple locations, you need to ensure it is very easy for both search engines and your customers to understand that.
If you work in multiple locations the ultimate way to go here is to create area-specific landing pages for each location. Your landing page URLs will look something like this:
This way you will organically rank in places where you do not necessarily have a physical presence.
Want to be sure your landing pages are up to the high standards of the modern web? Let us have a look!
Meta descriptions are very important too, they are what forms the snippet you see in your search engine results. This is the very information that can either make your potential customers to click the link and get to you or scroll down and get to your competitors.
Bear in mind that Google is much smarter now, you can not simply put the same keyword in your title, meta description and H1 tags and be done with it. You will need to be more creative than that and use synonyms, and be as natural about it as possible.
As for the number of characters – there is no limit here either, but search engines tend to cut descriptions longer than 160 symbols in the snippets. So you need to be informative, yet brief in your meta descriptions.
Since you want to reach local clients it is better to include the city or area your business works at in the title or description.
Page content naturally has to be unique, relevant and valuable for your customers.
Images. In terms of SEO, the most important thing you need to take care here are the alt tags, they need to be present on every image you use on your website. It is considered best practice to use unique images, so try to use your own pictures as much as possible.
Map. This is pretty obvious – if you are a local business you need to embed a Google Map so your customers could easily find your location.
Name, address, and phone (NAP). These have to be consistent across your website and absolutely all the listings and citations you get. So if anything changes, the NAP has to be updated everywhere. It is also good practice to use schema markup to display your NAP.
We can do all of this for your local business, just send us a message.
You might have heard of it, but what exactly are schema markup and structured data?
Structured data is a method used for communicating your metadata to search engines. This is the code responsible for the so-called rich snippets, the beautiful and informative snippets in your search results. These are the snippets that look something like this:
A rich snippet provides more information than title and description, there can be a photo, a star rating, number of reviews, price range etc. The information included in a rich snippet is determined by the structured data markup that uses Schema.org vocabulary.
Schema.org is a brainchild of Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo! Yes, all the major search engines collaborated on it to bring you the best user experience as a searcher by providing a unified vocabulary for structured data across the web.
Here’s how a basic markup for local business will look with Scema.org vocabulary and JSON-LD implementation:
The above example provides the type of business, postal address, description, business name, telephone number, geo coordinates, opening hours and links to social profile.
Types of local business data available for structured data markup:
- Business Name
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Business Hours
- Geo-location Information (coordinates and map)
- Business Description
- Social Profile Links
- Site Name
Additionally you can use:
- Media (images and videos)
- Corporate Contacts
- Sitelinks Search Box
To create Local Business Markup you can use our Local Business Markup Generator, which works with both markups: Schema and JSON-LD.