SEO is a big collection of processes, rules, and best practices that’s one of the most important parts of a digital marketing strategy. Effective SEO requires that all its aspects are given equal attention. One of those aspects is local SEO.
Local SEO delivers great results for most small businesses because it has smaller, more achievable goals. Local SEO services target customers in the business’s vicinity or a particular geographical region.
Below, we’ll take a deep dive into local SEO and how website layout can be used to improve it:
Getting Started with Local SEO
It brings you closer to the potential customers around you. While it’s true that local SEO is most beneficial for businesses with a physical location, any business can use it to its advantage.
Many small businesses first get started with local SEO when they:
- Want to promote their online business in a particular region
- Want to increase foot traffic in their physical location
- About to move to a physical location after following an online-only model
- Plan to expand their physical presence by opening up a new location
Think of it as meeting your potential customers halfway. If you implement your local SEO strategy correctly, your business is more likely to be discovered by customers in the area. Here are the first steps you’ll need to take:
Understanding the Local Audience
If you want your local SEO to be successful, you’ll need to understand the mindset of your local audience and what makes them tick. All local SEO services want to help you connect with your local audience—the better you can understand them, the better your results.
An easy way to do this is by creating a thorough profile of your ideal website visitor. Failing to determine your target audience will lead to a directionless SEO strategy.
These are some good questions to start with:
- Age group of your target visitors?
- Gender of your target visitors?
- Marital status? Are they single, married, or dating?
- Their income bracket?
- What are the problems they’re facing that your business can solve?
- How can your local business add value to their lives? (AKA your “value proposition”)
Answering these questions will help you figure out the people that your local business can help.
Keywords and Local SEO
Just like traditional SEO, keywords also play a vital role in a local SEO strategy. Without the right keywords, your website could fail to build credibility and improve its rankings in search engine result pages (SERPs).
You’ll find that location is a key factor in local SEO keywords. Additionally, your keywords shouldn’t be limited to potential customers only. Create a wide range of keywords that help your local SEO work on customers at every stage in their journey.
Local SEO and Web Layout
Once you have your local audience and keywords figured out, your next move is to ensure that your web design strategy supports your local SEO goals. No matter how much time and energy you put into making your local SEO strategy just right, shoddy web design will cripple it.
These are the biggest factors to focus on, and they all fall under on-site SEO:
1. Website Metadata
Meta tags, meta descriptions, and page titles work behind the scenes and contain information about a website. Adding local keywords here will provide Google with valuable details about your website and boost the relevance of your website from a local perspective.
2. Loading Speed
The importance of a website’s loading speed cannot be overstated. This is a chance for your website to make the right impression even before your ideal audience finds your content. Think of it as the first test that your website needs to clear. If it doesn’t load in about seven seconds, your audience will move on to another website.
A website also needs to load quickly if it’s to rank highly in search results. Load speed is one of the ranking signals Google takes into account, and it rightly equates slow speed with a poor user experience. Ultimately, your website will end up low in the rankings.
3. Ease of Navigation
Your website should be easy to navigate for your audience. If it can’t accomplish that, it’s failing. Visitors to your website shouldn’t have to think too much or search too long for where to click next. Instead, your web layout should anticipate their response and clearly show them the next step.
A few other elements to focus on are:
- A clean, no-fuss layout
- No animations or oversized images
- No pop-ups or intrusive ads
- Large size font that can be easily read
- Strong CTAs that clearly stand out from the other content
4. Internal Links
Proper use of internal links does two things. It encourages your visitors to discover more content and spend more time on your website. Secondly, it’s great for familiarizing Google’s algorithm with your website structure.
This helps your local SEO efforts. More time spent on your website shows its relevance and value to Google, and a better understanding of your website’s structure allows for faster indexing.
1. Mobile Optimization
There are no two ways about it: your website must be optimized for mobile use. Google implemented the mobile-first rule a few years ago, so now it prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in search rankings. Not only that, but it also penalizes computer-only websites with poor rankings and low visibility.
If those reasons aren’t enough, consider this: most of your potential clients are using the internet on their mobile devices and not their computers. If your website isn’t created to meet them where they are, you’ll lose a major chunk of your target audience without even realizing it.
2. Local Business Schema
Like metadata, local business schema often proves too technical for small business owners to handle. If that sounds like you, you can always enlist SEO services to handle the technical aspects of local SEO for you.
In essence, a local business schema is just a bit of code that’s added to your website. It “communicates” with web crawlers about your business and what it does. Including location-specific information here can prove your website’s relevance to crawlers in a way that they understand.
3. Image Optimization
You need high-quality images on your website to increase engagement and make it more visually appealing. But Google and other search engines can’t “see” these images in the traditional sense. You can make things easier by providing filenames, alt tags, and meta descriptions for all images on your website.
Making image optimization a part of your web development makes your websites more accessible not just for search engines but also for visitors. It also allows you to include local keywords and further increase your website’s local relevance.
4. Location SEO
Whether you’re operating in multiple locations or not, a good web layout rule of thumb is to create a different page for each location, product, and service. This instantly gives you more space and content that you can leverage for local SEO.
The location pages, in particular, are useful from a local SEO point of view.
With some patience—and perhaps some help from local SEO services—you can make most of the changes we’ve discussed here for better local SEO outcomes.
However, local optimization isn’t limited to your web layout only. You should be availing every opportunity to highlight the local value of your website. Here are some more tips that can help you make the most of your local SEO efforts:
All About the “About” Page
Locally optimized content on your about page can make a strong impression on your audience. It’s typically the first place people look when they want to know more about a business. Highlighting your location and local ties can help your audience connect with you right away.
The Value of the “Contact” Page
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If your business has a physical location, sharing its complete address and contact number on this page is a must. You should also include a map of the area.
Don’t forget that your content should be locally optimized too. Remember these quick pointers when creating content:
- Write well-written, informative content that offers value, insights, and knowledge to your audience.
- Emphasize the local perspective in your content.
- Consider discussing topics that are trending locally.
- Offer your point of view on local news and current events.
- Switch things up by sharing photographs and even videos from local events. Visual content is more engaging and interesting for your audience.
- Collaborate with other local businesses on promotional campaigns and marketing activities. You can write guest posts for each other’s websites and interview each other for greater brand awareness.
The best thing about local SEO is that it helps small businesses generate more organic traffic and attract qualified leads from their surrounding areas that can be turned into paying customers. Its effectiveness isn’t limited to brick-and-mortar businesses either. Instead, all businesses can use local SEO techniques for boosting their reach and having a positive impact on their bottom line.
If you’re thinking about using local SEO to your advantage but don’t know where to begin, these tips offer a great place to start. You can also consult a local SEO services provider for customized solutions.