Local SEO is the location based Search Engine Optimization. The process helps you rank better in local searches. For instance, if you run a dental clinic in a small town and are only interested in gaining local patients, Location based SEO would increase your business (website or page) visibility to people near to your business. If someone searches for “dental clinics near me,” in that town your business will be shown on top of the search engine results. Because most of the businesses operate locally, local SEO is now high in demand. Therefore it is imperative that you equip yourself with the latest tools and techniques that would help you grow in your area.
1. Install SSL
You open a website and in the link bar you find a lock icon, or a green coloured “secured” tab, yes, that is SSL. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security technology-based certificate (a code) which establishes and ensures a secure connection between website user and the website server. The main purpose of the SSL is data security, and that it achieves through cutting edge encryption technology.
With increasing data theft in the recent years, Google has become very serious about user security. Recently, Google made it mandatory for every website to have an SSL certificate on it. It means that if your website doesn’t have an active SSL Certificate, your ranking would tank, because Google will never show an insecure website to its users. Moreover, adding SSL to your website would give a positive impression of your business and develop a trust factor between you and your visitors.
Therefore, it is advised that as soon as you launch your website, secure it with a valid SSL certificate. This is not only recommended for local SEO but also for global SEO. We must also mention that SSL is not an expensive thing. You can buy it for free, and even if you want to purchase one, the price starts from $3-5 only. If you are looking for a free SSL Certificate, you can get it from Cloudflare or you can have a self-signed ssl from let’s encrypt.
2. Setup Google Analytics
Once the website is complete, you need to setup a Google Analytics Account. Google Analytics is a Google based platform that generates website traffic reports for user data visualization. This will enable you to track your daily visitors on the website. You will be able to check which pages are doing well to gather data on the public interests. The data visualization and reporting of Google Analytics enables Google to create a profile of your website in its database which it uses to show your website to the most relevant people. All that you need to do is to create an account on analytics.google.com and it will give you a code that you will have to put in the header of your website. Just remember that you don’t have to put that code in one specific page but on all the pages of your website, that is why it is best to put it in your website header. You can read about setting up a Google Analytics Account here.
3. Add Geo Meta Tags to Your Website.
Meta Data is the data that provides information about your content and intent of the website page. It comprises of several tags which are arranged schematically in the form of HTML (Code) of your webpage. In fact, a website’s page code starts with meta data. Using coding language (HTML), the meta data, using meta tags, tells the search engines, such as Google and Bing, what your webpage is about. For instance, a meta tag of webpage description is written asThis is the snippet of your webpage that Google shows in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). If your website is local, you should add a location meta tag in the code of your webpages. For geo tags, you can use following tags:
Some SEO experts, however, believe that geo meta tags are useless and Google doesn’t consider them as a local ranking factor. Nonetheless, we follow this protocol of using these tags while doing local seo for our clients, and we also recommend you to use it as a cover. Moreover, Google is not the only search engine out there, and geo tags carry some potential for other search engines as well.
4. Add Hreflang Tag to Your Meta Data.
Hreflang Tag is the single most important tag for Local SEO. For example, if your business works in both US and Spain, and you have different pages for both the countries in English and Spanish respectively, you would naturally want to serve the Spanish page in Spain, and English language page in the US; but how would you tell Search Engines such as Google and Bing that which page is which? Worry not, you can tell the search engines which page to serve in Spain and which one would be visible to US audience. All that you need to do is adding a hreflang tag in the meta-data of your pages.
Simply put, hreflang tag is written as
Remember, you can use multiple hreflang tags in the metadata. So according to the above example, the two pages of Espanol and English will have hreflang tags written as:
Note: here emaple.com/esp relates to the second page that you have created in Spanish language.
According to MOZ, the hreflang tags do not directly add to the Locale SEO, but are more important for showing relevant content to the relevant audience in relevant language. For this reason, the hreflang tags indirectly impact the Location Based SEO to the extent that it is considered vital for ranking locally.
5. Register Business with Local Map Services
The most important task that you need to perform for local Search Engine Ranking is registering with local map providers such as Google My Business, and Bing Places. Google Maps service is the largest in the world and serves around 1 billion people every month. Other web and mobile based app services also claim a huge chunk of location finding audience. Setting up the Google Map is easy; you just have to register with Google My Business and add your business there. After your business is locally verified, people will get recommendations of your business in their local searches. You can do the same with Bing Places etc. at similar ease.
Do not forget to add your business website to google map in order not to miss the potential web traffic.
Search engines are where people search for their queries and find your businesses. If your business website isn’t listed with a search engine, there is no chance your web-pages will be shown in the search results. So, you must have your website indexed by top search engines such as Google and Bing. The way to search engine indexing goes through registering at search engine webmasters. First, register with Google Webmaster (Google Search Console), and then with Bing webmaster. Registration process is very simple, and you can follow these guides: For Google Search Console; for Bing Webmaster.
6. Register with Other Relevant Local Directories
Local directories are actually other websites with high traffic and high domain authority where you can register your business to be reviewed by people. These listing and review websites are a way for people to find and know about your business, so you must not ignore the potential such directories carry. For instance, if someone searches for home-based services (e.g. best plumbers in Manhattan), chances are that these local directories would rank in top 5 results.
The top 5 local directories to register are:
Remember that Google My Business and Bing Places are also the largest local directories, but as we have covered them above, they are not included in this list.
Note: Some local directories are country specific. So while adding your website for local listing, you should check that if that directory provides listings for your locality.
7. Create Social Media Presence
Social media is the most rewarding platform if you want to generate genuine website traffic. Moreover, creating social media profiles and actively managing them creates a trust flow for your website which is good for increasing domain authority. Furthermore, it serves as a local directory, and if you target it well, you can get potential leads and clients.
8. Keep a Check on Your NAHP information
Listing with maps and local directories is not enough. You have to regularly update your profiles there. NAHP stands for Name, Address, Hours, and Phone Number. NAHP constitutes the basic information that you always add to maps and local listing websites. Although you cannot update name, address, and phone number regularly, however you can do it for the working hours. For holidays such as Christmas or Eid you should update the working hours accordingly. Also, update your images around once a month.
9. Create a Responsive Website, optimized for Mobile Users
Most of the local business searches come from mobile phones. So, your website must be optimized for cell phone users. You should also consider using Progressive Web App (PWA) if your website is dynamic. Moreover, run a Google Page Speed Insights test to check and optimize mobile loading time, and user experience. Try replacing bulky animations and videos that you have on the desktop versions with scaled and optimized images.
10. Use a CDN if your website hosting server is in a far away from target country
CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. These are the networks of servers present throughout the world and when you use a CDN, it stores a copy of your website on its servers throughout the world. Normally, when you are sitting in India and your hosting is in the US, a user who loads your website from within India gets the website data from the US data centre. However, if you use a CDN, the requested data will be served from the nearest data centre of the CDN. This decreases website loading time which is a great thing for SEO and an overall better user experience. Don’t worry, CDNs are not that expensive. In fact, you can have a CDN for Free.
11. Create Localized SEO Content
Location based content helps you connect with your community. The more local content you create, the more brand awareness you generate in your locality. You can post news, and events happening in your business area to cater to the local population. Moreover, you can interview different local celebrities who may have some relevance to your niche. Creating offline seminars and sharing them online is also a good idea. The gist is that you have to engage the local audience.
Bonus Tips for Localized Search Engine Optimization :
12. On-page Local SEO Optimization
SEO revolves around content optimization. Onpage SEO is not only good for Search Engines but also for website users. Creating relevant content increases people’s trust on your website, and also help you rank fast. For on-page optimization, use meta tags, and use the content schema. Use heading tags properly, and include your keyword and its synonyms in those tags. Do not try to over-use your keywords or it will be considered as a spam. Remember regularly auditing your complete website for on-page optimization. Moreover, it is imperative that you remove dead code from your website. You can use following tools to check the quality of your on-page optimization.
13. Off-page Location Based Optimization
Off-page optimization is vital for creating website authority and trust. It is not limited to getting some backlinks, but also includes removing dead and spammy backlinks, guest posting.
Local SEO is the future of small business with local targeting. International SEO is a good thing, but it holds less relevance when you only want to cater to audience from a specific locality. It is therefore imperative that small business owners equip themselves with strategies that ensure their local visibility.
1. Voice Search is Going to Dominate SEO in 2020.
Voice search is not the latest of the Google’s innovations. However, the unprecedented improvement in Google’s ability to recognize and match voice based key phrases with web content is a thing to watch. According to SEOexpertBrad, 58% of the voice searches made on Google voice search in 2019 were about finding a local business nearby. This is quite telling that people have become accustomed to using voice searches, in fact they are finding it easy to speak rather than writing on their small screens.
What it means for the SEO experts is that they should look forward to writing the content in conversational flow, rather than giving a robotic expression with stuffed keywords. When people search for voice, they usually tend to speak longer sentences. So, the web content and page title should cater to those queries. For instance, most of the questions start with Who, what, where, and How. So, a query would be like, who is the president of the US? Who wrote the Alchemist? Why do I feel pain in my legs after exercise? Therefore, it is imperative that you answer these questions directly.
It must also be clear to you that your chances of ranking in the voice search results are low if you do not rank on the first page of that term already. The chances are the highest if you are already in the top three results, and if you rank in the featured snippet for that search term (Source).
2. Search Intent will be Defining the Rankings
Gone are the days when people used to manipulate Google’s rank algorithms with keyword stuffing. Google is fast replacing Lexical Searches (That looks for literal matching of searched keywords with web content) with semantic searches (which focuses on search intent of the user). Consider that a keyword “Absolute” is the name of multiple businesses e.g. a Hand Sanitizer brand, a Cleaning Service, a Firing Range, and an Aesthetic Clinic etc. Now if you are already searching for Hand Sanitizer, it would be stupid of Google to show you a Firing Range when you type Absolute in the search. It means that based on your previous activity and behavior, Google already knew your search intent, and showed you the most relevant result. If it was based on lexical search, it would have shown you the meaning of Absolute, instead of any business, or even if it were a business, the result would have been the one with exact match keywords arranged in a structured way.
Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for you as a SEO expert that you focus on context of the content rather than stuffing keywords in headings unnecessarily. Also, hire the writers who know how to create a sense of the content. Always remember that Google rewards you when you make things easy for its users and crawlers.
3. Google’s Natural Language is Going for a Kill
Google is serious about showing its users the most authentic and relevant content. As its indexing and processing is shifting away from literal match to semantic match, one thing that’s coming out of it is Google’s natural language. This is the language that Google is developing naturally through machine learning. Google processes millions of searches on daily basis, so it stores all those search key phrases and matches them to the web pages people visit following those keywords/phrases. After repeated questions and answers, and tracking user behavior, Google is now able to understand what we actually intend to search. These advancements were not possible, but for the two artificial intelligence tools/algorithms: Rank Brain, and Humming Bird.
Rank Brain is Google’s latest artificial intelligence-based innovation that is designed to recognize and process words and phrases to improve search results. As an extension of the Google’s search intent program, Rank Brain has the ability to think independently. This feature allows it to handle search queries at high sophistication level.
Another technology that is improving day by day is the Hummingbird by Google. It is also an assistive algorithm that processes the website content as a natural language. This helps Google understand the context of the website content which it uses to put it in the relevant category and then load it in the search results when a user makes a query relevant to the keywords and context of the website content.
4. The Mobile-First Indexing is Changing the SEO Game.
Mobile first indexing means that Google prioritizes mobile indexing of web pages rather than desktop indexing. If you are familiar with old Webmaster Tool of google, you’d know that Google used to give people an option to fetch as google for mobile and desktop indexing separately. Now it has changed, after the July 2019 update, Google automatically fetches and indexes pages in their mobile versions.
This decision makes sense because most of the people now use mobile phones to access google and find answers to their queries. Nobody bothers opening a desktop to find ‘sushi,’ in their town.
This warrants an immediate mobile optimization of the websites which perform poor on cell phones. We recommend using a lighter version of your website for mobile view. For this, you can remove unnecessary and bulky background videos, animations, and unused code. If you are still unsure as to how your website performs on mobiles, run a speed test on Google Page Speed Insights, and make amendments recommended by the Google.
5. Visual Search Technologies are the Future of SEO.
Visual search has become a new norm following the ability of search engines to analyze and process images and videos. With Google Lens been used over one billion times, and Pinterest hitting 600 million views each month, visual search is taking off. According to Backlinko 2020 is the year when visual searches will become one of the predominant searching method.
This appears to be true given the ability of people to use just a mobile phone camera to take image of a product, text or a QR code to get search results on it. Mobile phone companies, such as Samsung and Huawei have already rolled out built-in apps to find product info using cell-phone cameras. Google lens, Microsoft Lens, and Google’s reverse image search are all indicating a shift towards visual searching.
To cope with the changing SEO dynamics, what you need to do is to optimize your web images for search results. For instance, you can add proper alt-attributes, title attributes, captions, and description for images that you upload on your web.