Local SEO Optimisation and local citation listings

SEO changes all the time, but when it comes to local SEO, it’s more important than ever to optimise your on-site and off-site SEO strategies for clients and customers who may be searching for local business.

So, how can you help your business rank higher for local search terms?

Title and meta description tags

Title and meta description tags are HTML elements that you can customise to reflect the content of a web page. The text of your title and description tags is displayed in search results, and gives people a snapshot of what to expect from a page before they click the result.

Last year, Google increased the width of the main search results area. Since then, the generally acceptable length for title tags is approximately 50 to 60 characters, while description tags can be approximately 160 to 200 characters. Take advantage of this space and use it wisely — and make sure you double-check that your titles and descriptions aren’t getting cut off in search results.

Writing titles and descriptions is considered to be a real skill in terms of SEO. In a world of thousands of search results, if this text isn’t unique, compelling and descriptive, your click-through rate will suffer. Additionally, one extra word or character could cut off your text, and while this may not be a disaster, it does look unprofessional, especially when it shows up in the middle of a sentence.

Remember, if your business shows up in search results, you have one chance to get a person to click on your link.

Online directories and citations

According to Google, roughly four out of five consumers use search engines to conduct local searches.  But many small businesses haven’t claimed a local business listing online, which is a real missed opportunity.

It’s important that you get your business listed correctly and consistently on top online business directories. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for respectable local directories to get your business listed on. Check with your local newspaper’s website and your Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a local business directory that you can be listed on.

Utilise Google My Business

Google My Business is considered a directory. It’s very important for local businesses to claim their Google My Business page. It’s free and can get you great exposure if you’re optimised enough to show up in Google’s local results.

Once you’re up and running, the next step is to optimise your Google My Business listing with a description, business hours, types of payments accepted and so on. You should also upload your logo and photos of your business, products or services.

Populate each relevant section so that your listing is complete. If you don’t have a location that customers or clients can visit, you can choose to hide your address when you set up your Google My Business listing.

Online reviews

According to studies, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and seven out of 10 customers will leave a review if asked to by the business.

There are plenty of review websites online, but you can also use social media platforms to monitor each time your business is mentioned.  Whenever a review is left about your business, positive or negative, make sure you respond to it. This shows other people reading the reviews that you, the business owner, care what your customers think.

Many people turn to social media to see what their friends and family think about a business, so having good reviews on your business’ Facebook page, for instance, can help to draw in prospective customers. Getting positive reviews on your Google My Business page is also helpful because these reviews show up on Google when someone searches for your business.

Use local structured data markup

Structured data markup — often referred to as schema markup or schema.org markup — can be added to your website’s code to provide search engines with more information about your business, like the products you sell, reviews you’ve collected, and services you offer.You can make your local business stand out (and possibly rank higher than your competitors) if you add structured data markup to your site where appropriate.