Local SEO best practices in 2013

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Local SEO Best Practices in 2013

As algorithms continue to evolve and strive to provide users with the most relevant content possible, search engines have put more of an emphasis on localized search results. Consequently, it’s important for businesses in nearly all industries to adapt and optimize their websites accordingly. According to Google, “97 percent of consumers search for local businesses online.” That’s why focusing on local SEO makes it possible to bring in highly targeted traffic and experience a favorable conversion rate. Here are some ways you can implement local SEO into your marketing campaign.

Google Places

Google local resultsFor starters, it’s sign up for Google Places to receive immediate exposure in your local area. This is quick and easy to do and will help your business connect with customers and potential customers through Google Search and Maps. Filling out your profile is straightforward and you will simply need to include some basic information like your company name, operating hours, contact information, etc. To maximize your impact, perform keyword research beforehand and incorporate quality keywords into your profile. Since visual content can be a natural attention grabber, it’s wise to include a few professional looking images as well.

Create a Business Page on Google +.

A few years ago, Google + had minimal leverage and seemed somewhat like a halfhearted attempt for Google to run their own social network. However, things have changed and Google + has picked up a considerable amount of momentum in the social media stratosphere. While it doesn’t carry the same weight as Facebook and Twitter, establishing a presence for your business on this network can have definite advantages. According to Daily SEO Tip, “when users who have a Google account, such as Gmail or Google + search for services, Google has begun displaying Google + business pages in addition to normal search results.”

This means that you have the potential to reach a considerable number of people by creating a simple business page. Unlike other networks that require a high volume of updates for success, it’s not really necessary on Google +. A simple update here and there should be sufficient and give your business a legitimate edge over local competitors without a page on this network. This in conjunction with a profile on Google Places can have a profound impact on your position in local search rankings.

Online Local Business Directories

While Google is usually your best bet for gaining local exposure, you shouldn’t forget about other business directories. These resources are designed to connect businesses with consumers who are seeking products and/or services in a certain location. Even if you don’t rank on the first page for the keywords you want, appearing on local business directories can give you access to the demographic you’re trying to reach. The best part is that most are free to sign up for and don’t require a major time investment. All you have to do is fill out some basic information like you would on Google Places. Here are some directories worth checking out:

Using Geographical Keywords

Whenever writing blog posts, blogs or creating any type of content with keywords, throwing in some geographical terms should give you a local SEO boost. For instance, a pizza restaurant owner in Charlotte, NC might use keywords like “pizza Charlotte” gold “pizza Mecklenburg County” rather than merely “pizza restaurant” gold “Italian food” to capitalize on local searches.

To maximize the odds of success and reach the largest amount of consumers possible, it’s wise to include some surrounding areas as well. In this case, the restaurant owner might target nearby cities like Concord, Gastonia and Kannapolis, NC. Performing a quick online search of all the towns and cities within a 25 mile radius will give you an idea of which locations you should target.

Being conscious of your geographic location and including the appropriate keywords will help your business connect with consumers in your immediate area. This should reduce the amount of competition for keyword phrases and keep traffic highly targeted. If you run a brick and mortar business where you’re primarily selling to a demographic that’s limited to a certain radius, this is especially important.

KML Sitemap

This is one option that many people aren’t aware of, but can have major benefits for your local SEO campaign. According to Google Developers, “a KML is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile.” “KML uses a tag-based structure with nested elements and attributes and is based on the XML standard.” Once consumers can consistently find your business on these resources, it can help improve your traffic volume significantly.

Due to the fact that not everyone knows about this technical, you can expect to outrank many of the primary competitors in your local region. An easy way to transfer your business’s info to Google’s server is through a KML Generator. All it takes is filling out some brief information and downloading the appropriate file.

Being Mobile Friendly

The use of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets has skyrocketed in recent times. Consequently, more and more people are using their mobile devices to perform Internet searches. A study by Localeze and 15miles has found that 61 percent of mobile users ran local searches in 2012. While most marketers knew that a considerable number of people used mobile devices for general Internet searches, they might not have known just how many were specifically looking for local businesses.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that mobile and local searches are correlated. Just imagine how many tourists in a new city would pull out their smartphones to search for a restaurant, hotel and other destinations. Since this number is likely to continue to grow into the future, putting forth the effort to make your business’s website mobile friendly is a must. In order to do so, there are three main options to choose from:

Create an alternate version of your website that’s specifically designed for mobile users.Utilize responsive web design (RWD) to create a single site that’s compatible with nearly all screen sizes. This allows consumers to browse a site through desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.Use a plugin like Uppsite that uses HTML5 to turn most sites into a web app for mobile devices.

Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to optimize from a mobile perspective, you can expect more traffic, a lower bounce rate and more conversions. When compared to competitors who are living in the past with sites only viewable on desktops and laptops, this gives your business a sizable advantage.

Creating Content Fresh

Finally, it’s helpful to continually churn out quality content to prevent your site from becoming static. Search engines naturally give preference to sites that are updated at least fairly frequently as opposed to those that sit and stagnate. For this reason, maintaining a blog and updating at least once a week can be very beneficial. Besides getting search engine love, this should keep your audience coming back to see what you’ve been up to. For maximum impact, it’s best to run your blog off of your primary URL instead of a separate one.

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