Ensure your business is on the forefront of local service/product searches by maximising your Local SEO.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO (LSEO) is the optimisation of your site to appear in searches involving region specific queries. Local SEO can also be done for products or services that require face-to-face engagement, and is automatically gauged by Google.
For example, “criminal law firms.” While no geographic location is included in the query, Google will automatically provide a ranking of local “firms,” based on your browsing location.
Local SEO ensures that you are visible to potential customers, and is great for conversion rates as these keywords often carry very high consumer purchase intent. LSEO can be done organically, or inorganically.
The organic growth route requires more time and effort, and often involves using an Agency to provide the best results. These methods are always white-hat, and will add a “human touch,” to your work. It involves utilising all three pillars of SEO, on-page, off-page, and technical. We’re touching on more theoretical SEO by improving relevancy, a very important ranking factor of Google’s Hummingbird Code, first included in ranking algorithms in 2010.
The inorganic growth route is quicker, more broad, and will rank you for a diverse range of keywords. This route involves black-hat(ish) strategies, and the utilisation of Search Engine fundamentals. This is best done through SEO Ecosystems to remain completely white-hat, but is more expensive as a result. Inorganic growth is highly recommended to be done through an SEO agency as complexity of this ranking system is much higher than the organic counterpart.
Building your LSEO organically.
Here’s a list of things you can do to get your site registered for Local searches quickly!
1. Register on Local Directories
Ensure that you’re being found by people looking through directories. These also help generate locality backlinks to your domain. The easiest way to find local directories in your area is to search:
“location business directory,” for example “Madrid business directory.”
The quotations are very important as they force Google to include results that match whatever is in the quotations exactly. That way you narrow your search down to only local directories.
2. Use the 2×100 Rule
This is an on-page strategy that helps with keyword targeting, and thus will help us rank for geographic regions. The 2×100 rule states that your target keyword should be repeated twice (2x) within the first one hundred words (100).
Therefore if you’re really trying to nail Medellín, Colombia, make sure you include “Medellín, Colombia” twice in the first 100 words of text on your site. The headers are counted in the first 100 words, so whatever text appears on the front page is considered part of the word count. That means <h1>,<h2>… <p>, are all counted.
Need more on-page tips? 10 Quick On-Page SEO Tips for 2019.
3. Contact details in your site Footer
When Google scrapes sites it has special identification algorithms that specifically look for the footer for contact details. The contact details are expected to have the following, and can really help you get Rich Snippet features:
- Email address
- Full address
- Google Map with API key – A good boost
This is great for UI/UX and ranking!
4. Use an ISO top-level-domain (TLD)
ISO 3166-1 is part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and defines codes for the names of countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest.Wikipedia
ISO codes are two letter abbreviations of your national code, which helps Google identify geographically relevant information. ISO codes and state/country names are interchangeable. For example, a domain name “southafricanews,” and “zanews,” can be understood by Google to mean the same thing!
However, you can also utilise this for your TLD, it requires registering with a domain provider and some special clearance and evidence of your existence in that country. For example “https://business.es” for Spanish businesses.
5. Create region specific landing pages
A big question that is often asked: “do city specific landing pages do better?” The answer is yes. So long as each page is different enough to the next that Google doesn’t read them as duplicate content, then they will all rank separately and potentially do really well!
Having city or region specific landing pages will allow you more flexibility in ranking for a variety of places with higher strength. This will allow you to utilise all the other aspects of this guide repeatedly, to target multiple cities within a single region, or multiple regions within a single country.
If you're worried about getting your pages marked as duplicate content, read this Security Actions for SEO article.
6. Push content with geographic relevance
Start a blog that pushes content relevant to your niche. You sell shovels? Great! What do people in your region want to know about shovels? Cost, place, delivery, production, varieties, or best shovel providers? Write about all of it and make sure its written including on-page strategies such as 2×100.
Think about this as dropping fishing lines into the ocean. The more lines you have, the more likely you are to catch a fish, and relevant content is the first step in doing that.Pedro Sans
Pushing content effectively, with well targeted keywords and relevance requires a Content Strategy. It’s important that you spend some time having a site audit, or content plan put in place to know where you are now, what you are trying to achieve, and the steps necessary to get there. This centralises your content and will allow you to rank for even the most competitive keywords!
Need a bit of help creating a sound Content Strategy? Read about The Basics of Content Strategy.
7. Build local linking text
Linking text? What’s that? Linking text is text that overlays a hyperlink. For example if I’m writing about SEO agencies, and I link this great SEO agency to SEOSPIDRE. The linking text is “great SEO agency,” the href (in HTML terms) is https://seospidre.com.
Google pays serious attention to this and helps it come to a conclusion about the identity of your site from external sources. If you’re constantly referred to as “shovel seller,” but you’re a shoe store, you’re busy pulling in two different directions with your SEO which will squander your ranking.
Imagine a circular rope held by 5 people, if each person pulls in a different direction it goes nowhere. If everyone pulls together, it travels great in a single direction. Similarly, linking text all has to point in a single direction for it to be effective. Sometimes it will be a better decision to disavow backlinks that refer to you extensively by things that you aren’t, than keep them.
To learn how to disavow backlinks, read refer to our Security Actions for SEO article.
8. Get involved with a geographic Ecosystem
SEO Ecosystems are the best way to build strong linking text, geographical off-site relevance, and increase your inbound traffic. Ecosystems allow you to build quick backlinks on relevant sites, in this case the relevance being geography. You can also become a part of an ecosystem with geographic AND function specific relevance, but then it becomes difficult to find webmasters.
It’s best in this case to create ecosystems with sites that are not your direct competition, because you’ll be helping them rank better, and they’ll be helping you rank better. This works by giving outbound links preference to Ecosystem sites. This ensures that the backlinks you’ll be receiving aren’t forced in nature, and are toward a multitude of pages within your domain. In return, you do the same.
Having trouble finding an SEO Ecosystem? We can fit you into our network. Contact Us.
9. Create a Google My Business (GMB) Account
The ultimate tool in geographic relevance.
This is best for brick-and-mortar businesses, as there is a requirement to have a physical location. If you’re an online business, I still highly recommend creating a GMB but setting your location to your household, or office. Click here to get started.
This is the best way to begin ranking for Rich Snippets. People googling for local services will be prompted with a list generated from Google Maps, and local GMB businesses. It’s important to get your keywords right in your description, product/service type, and company name!
Ensure that you rank highly by getting reviews, being active on the posting account, and ensuring that your pictures on GMB stay up to date. It’s important you link this to your site, and include your GMB account in your Structured Data Markup as “sameAs”
Building your LSEO inorganically.
These methods are a lot more technical, and a lot of them we actually have guides, coverage, or instruction on. These are best done by technically experienced website owners, or by Agencies on your behalf!
1. Get published by local media sites
Tougher to organise, and requires a lot of cold-calling patience. HARO is a great way to get your site and information published to relevant publishing authorities! The best way to find local sites open to content publishing is through a search of:
“location self-publish” / “location media publish” / “location media create account”
2. Capitalise on Image SEO
Alt-tags, descriptions, re-posting, it’s all very important. Create interesting infographics that can be reused by sites in your niche! There is a factor of Image SEO where Google monitors the reposting of a particular image according to an internal timestamp system,
While no one really knows how that system works, it’s certain does rank images highly when it has been repeatedly reposted across multiple domains with similar linking text. Make sure you’ve got a branded watermark, or tag somewhere in the photo to generate spillover of ranking onto your URL’s.
Images and URL’s aren’t ranked according to the same algorithm, therefore you can rank highly for one and not the other.
Interested in the technical nuances of Image SEO (ISEO)? Read our Image SEO article.
3. Develop a Satellite network
Networks that you own that are peripheral to your Core site are very important. These sites will allow you to measure fluctuations in traffic and query searches well before Google Search Console (or analytics) reports anything back to you!
This allows you to not only be two or three days ahead of yourself, but also your competition that aren’t using Satellite sites. By adjusting according to the feedback your Satellite sites provide, it will allow you to target higher growth keywords and enter the niche before the traffic boom. Pair that with geographical relevance, and you can be the go-to information center for specific queries in your region.
This will drive up general traffic, and increase your direct, recurring visitors.
Ready to create a network? Learn how to with: What are Satellite Sites in SEO?
4. Purchase expired domains and create redirects
This is getting into quite a technical region of web development and networks. Expired domains are domains that have been previously owned by other people. These domains often carry backlinks to some extent, and allow you to capitalise on the existing SEO of the domain, rather than starting from scratch.
Make sure that the expired domain is relevant to your niche. There is no need to buy law related expired domains if you are selling cookies to school children, in fact, it will often do more damage than good by confusing Google on your site identity.
Once you have purchased the domain, create a 301 Redirect which takes people from that URL, to your own site with your own content. This builds strong backlinks to your site, and if done with country TLD’s will very powerfully improve your LSEO relevance.
HTTP Response Codes allows you to customise the way users interact with information provided on your web-servers. This involves things like 404 Not Found codes which we experience all the time on the web. 301/302, and 306/307 are the different types of redirects that apply most often to websites. 301 Redirects pass on link juice from the original domain, while 302, 306, and 307 do not. Therefore if you are trying to pass on link juice from an expired domain, ensure you are using 301 Redirects.
Ensure that you have created the right HTTP response codes; incorrect ones will generate index penalties which take time to remove.
Creating redirects requires access to your .htaccess (Apache) site file. Read more about Creating 301 Redirects.
5. Include geographic relevance in Structured Data Markup
Structured Data Markup, easily generated, difficult to write and optimised. The Search Engine powers of the internet in early 2010 decided that there needed to be an internationally recognisable data markup for websites to allow them to identify themselves. Schema.org was born, and nearly 10 years later has become industry standard.
Structured Data Markup allows you to input data about your site, website, organisation, and products which provide a great deal of relevancy for ranking. One of the schemas of which is localBusiness. Here are some of the things you can include ONLY through the localBusiness schema to get you featured on Rich Snippets, and help with rankings:
- address (very important)
- areaServed (very important)
and then the rest of the standard schema markup that applies.
Get ready to implement Structured Data Markup for your domain.
6. Barnacle SEO with local competitors
Barnacle SEO = leveraging your competitor Domain Authority, and brand awareness, to build your own site up. This is very important that they are a locally operating business, because by competing with multinationals you may confuse the locality targeting system you have set up so far.
Barnacle SEO requires you to incorporate the name or website of your competitors and write reviews that compare your products, their services, or your honest opinion. Do remember, while you do have the freedom of speech to do this, writing bad reviews on your own site (as a competing service/product) will make your website look much worse.
I recommend doing a fair comparison of products/services, and detailing why yours is better, nice and simple. This leverages their keywords, brand, and allows you to get exposure and get pulled up in the rankings as a result.
Ensure you don't step on black-hat SEO lines. Read more about Barnacle SEO.
7. Parasite SEO with local forums
Parasite SEO, sounds diabolical doesn’t it? It isn’t, but done incorrectly will make your domain appear trashy and unreliable. Parasite SEO involves dropping your link or content on forums that enables you to create accounts or publish content. This is considered a black-hat SEO practice which is grey-hat at best.
Doing Parasite SEO could lead to Google's Black Mark. Please be aware of the risk of this strategy if done
First of all you need to identify websites that target your region and support self-publishing content, or account creation. An easy way of doing this is “location register* or “location create an account.” Once you’ve found something, you find the blogging or forum section of the site and ask leading questions that direct towards your domain.
This can be done through content publishing, or through comment sections which enable you to link to external domains. This is a risk as a lot of websites set these to no-follow links (as they should) to avoid being used for Parasite SEO to provide external domains with free backlinks.
Doing this correctly involves providing valuable insight, and providing value through your comment or published material. Writing valuable content will encourage users to visit your site, and although you link to your content doesn’t instil a feeling of distrust.
A risky strategy that has high reward lying in wait, Parasite SEO.
8. Measure search growth in your region
Using Google Trends you can see what search queries are popular in your areas. This allows you, much like Satellite sites, to adjust quickly to increasing “breakout” terms and gain a foothold in the SERP! Doing this allows you to rank for content in your region, exposing you to your target market.
This is a great way of quickly finding keywords to create content for, but does require a lot of man-hours in monitoring for something that is relevant to your niche. If you are running a local media site, something like this could be perfect for your domain.