Before we jump into the 10 tips to improve local SEO ranking, let’s define what search engine optimisation is; SEO is the process of improving the organic (unpaid) ranking of your pages from your website in search engine results pages (SERP).
For local Gold Coast SEO and the rest of Australia, the focus of SEO leans towards the biggest search provider Google but also to a lesser extent Bing and then Yahoo.
For a local business, local search engine optimisation means making it as easy as possible for prospective customers to find information about your company online, either when they search specifically for your brand or business or for any companies that provide particular goods and services nearby them when they search for that keyword.
Now before we jump into the makeup of SEO, and how to optimise for your local Gold Coast business, there is one thing that is key – the first thing you have to do to get your website ranking in local search engine optimisation and Google Maps is to have a physical location for your business.
It might sound silly, but this is the primary requirement to improve local search engine optimisation ranking and get your local business listed in search engines locally. It is hard to rank for ‘surfboard repairs gold coast’ if your business is not physically located on the Gold Coast (even if you provide services there). After you have a physical location of your business, you can sign up your business in the search engines: Google, Bing and now Apple.
With that being said, if you have a physical address, and would like to improve your local SEO, read on.
First off, let’s look at how SEO works;
The process of SEO is split into two parts called On Page SEO and Off Page SEO.
On-Page SEO involves optimising your actual website, and all of it’s pages and contents including the page’s underlying HTML code. Optimising includes the copy (text), pictures, as well as using the optimal keywords or phrases (long-tail keywords) to help search engines in indexing your page and site.
Some key factors of On-Page SEO include:
• Optimised titles and meta descriptions
• Correct URL Structures
• User-friendly navigation – Breadcrumbs & user sitemaps
• Optimised internal links
• Text Formatting – Use of h1, h2, h3, bold, italics
• Image optimisation – image size, optimal image names, use of ALT tags
• User-friendly 404 pages
• Fast loading pages
• Mobile-friendly pages
• Top quality fresh content – This is always the most important SEO component!
Of the two factors of SEO, this is the more complex and entails managing the websites popularity and relevance to user’s searches.
A website that is high quality and helpful is more likely to have recommendations (links) from other websites. It is more likely to have liked and comments on social media, and it is more likely to be bookmarked and distributed among communities of like-minded users.
Some key strategies of Off-Page SEO include:
• Link building
• Social media marketing
• Social bookmarking
• Your website, like yourself at work or amongst your peers has to earn it’s reputation!
Now that we have gone over the fundamentals of SEO, let’s get down to business;
10 Tips to Improve Local SEO Ranking:
The first step is to find the best keywords that searchers use to find you locally. It might sound obvious, but it is a step many don’t get right from the get go.
For example, if you own a cafe in Broadbeach, then ‘Broadbeach Cafe’ will be an important keyword phrase for you.
Alternatively, if you offer painting services for the Gold Coast regions, then you will choose your primary keyword phrase something like ‘painters Gold Coast’.
So how do you go about this research?
To start off, create a doc with your keyword ideas into something like an Excel spreadsheet or Google Docs.
To research your keyword strategy, you can use Google Keyword Planner. Alternatively, our digital marketing dashboard has a built in keyword finder which is powered by SEM Rush.
Keyword competition depends on how many competitors you have and it can be tricky to rank for your most significant phrase or “head term” for your business. However, it is commonly easier to rank for more specific terms, or “long tail” phrases. So while you are planning out the keyword phrases you would like to rank for, think about both those main and the long tail phrases that relate to them.
Fortunately, Google is getting much smarter about understanding how terms can relate to one another. So the search engines recognise that a page whose primary word is ‘painting Gold Coast’ will also be relevant to someone looking for ‘painting services Gold Coast’.
Your primary focus should be: Understand the language that your customers tend to use when they are looking for a business like yours.
As you list out your keywords in your document, be sure to record how many monthly searches each term has. From this, you will be able to plan which keywords are worth targeting.
The most important thing you can do for your local business is to provide a good amount of high-quality content related to your services or products. In today’s online marketing environment, content is critical for both visitors and search engines alike.
Forget the outdated recommendations to “stuff” your content with keywords. It is no longer valid for search engines – it will do more harm than good for your rankings. Moreover, it is not good for your visitors either. Instead, you should be creating valuable content that helps answer searches questions. After all, that is what you do when you are searching the web. You have a question, and you are looking for the best answer.
With your keywords ready to go, and some great content all lined up, you can use a website like Scribe Content Optimisation which will help you make sure that your content and it’s keyword optimisation meet search engine guidelines, and you will have a better chance of getting results faster. Alternatively, if you are using WordPress, then the Yoast SEO plugin is a great way to optimise your pages within the admin.
You will need to edit your meta title — though, be aware that this is currently what most platforms use as a default for the title when your content is distributed on social sites, so it needs to be engaging and relevant for real readers. Make sure you add the keyword for each page in the meta title, as this is one of the factors for your ranking. Also if space allows, add your desired location for your local search engine optimisation as well. Example; ‘Max’s Painting Service,’ will look like ‘Max’s Painting Service Gold Coast.’
Add a meta description. While this is not a ranking factor, it needs to be inviting and user-friendly. A clear and engaging description will help visitors clicking on your listing within the SERP and visiting your page. (CTR) Again, if you have space to add your location, it is recommended to add it in to help searches quickly understand that your service or product is available in that area.
Within your content, where it is natural, you should also include your city and state, to give both visitors and search engines know where you are.
Finally, don’t forget to create pages with testimonials, customer stories, or Q&As from your local clients or customers.
There are lot’s of different blogs and forums out there with many different points for SEO. Sifting through all of it can be tough. However, when it comes to SEO and Google speaks, treat it as Gospel.
To get your business listed on Google Maps and in local search, you need to list your business on Google My Business.
Google now has an excellent page which walks you through the process of adding your business listing.
Make sure you go through and complete all the steps.
Get started here: https://www.google.com.au/business/
Either on local directories or review websites, you will want to create or claim all listings for your business on these.
Each one of the listings will represent citations, and citations are an important element used in the ranking algorithm by Google and other search engines as well. (When we are talking about citations in search, a citation is a mention of your business online, even if it contains a link or not)
To add your listing, there are various websites you can add your business. Below are five examples to get started with. For further listing sites, search for ‘local directories’ or similar. Alternatively, we can help you list your website with our Gold Coast SEO services.
Neither Google or the other search engines like inconsistent listings of your business online. Inconsistency can negatively your impact presence – so make sure they are all the same.
Use the exact wording of your business name, physical address, and phone number — across all listing websites.
On top of this, make sure you use the same details on your site, on your social media profile as well.
Again, being consistent is key.
Businesses are finally recognising the benefits of content marketing by of creating and maintaining blogs on their website. Developing location-specific content is a fantastic way to improve local SEO ranking as well. For example, a painting service on the Gold Coast may choose to write an article called, ‘2017 Interior Colour Trends for the Gold Coast’, with the intent of ranking for search queries like ‘Gold Coast interior colour trends’. This kind of content has multiple benefits including it boosts local SEO while simultaneously building your business’s overall reputation.
So what is quality content?
We must ask ourselves the following questions about our content on our website;
If I were a new visitor to a page within my website:
Would I trust the information?
Does the content look to be written by someone with authority or an enthusiast who knows the topic well?
Does the page have spelling or stylistic errors?
Is the content original and provide value?
Does it answer the questions searches are looking for?
The list could go on. Always start by asking the questions you would ask yourself if you were visiting another website.
Building out a content marketing strategy is key to providing valuable information based on well-researched facts and delivering the answers people are looking for with a sense of authority on the topic.
All links pointing back to your website should be high-quality and, for the benefit of increasing local SEO, come from local sources. Inbound links to your site from local bloggers, local news or social media accounts is a great way to boost your rankings because these types of inbound links are typically deemed trustworthy in Google’s and other search engine’s eyes.
A good starting point is to reach out to local news outlets to share the latest and greatest news about your business. Connecting with them via social media can help put your business on top of their minds. The more effort you make to get your business name out there and to engage with the local community, the greater chance you will have of getting earned media coverage. In turn, boosting your authority which will lead to higher local rankings.
Another great way to drive awareness to your local business is to get other people to talk about and link to you. This recognition will be gained via great blog content or engaging social media posts.
To find out who is linking to you now, use Google Webmaster Tools or Open Site Explorer by Moz. This may give you some insights and inspiration to find new places that can offer you more exposure.
Furthermore, you can use Open Site Explorer to “spy” on your competitors and see their inbound links. From this information, you can see whether or not you can also get a link from the same sources.
*Remember, earn links by having high-quality content. Once that content is in place on your website, there’s nothing wrong with politely asking if sites would be interested in linking back to you.
To find local bloggers, you can use searches like “your location + blogs” to find bloggers who might be interested to post about your local business. Same goes for local news as well.
The key is to obtain trusted, high-quality backlinks from respected local websites.
If you have just a single location, make it visible to Google by naturally sprinkling your address into your content whenever possible. Adding location information throughout your website is the fastest and easiest way for your business to rank higher in “near me” search results. Just don’t go too crazy with it. Otherwise, it will feel like you are trying way too hard for your visitors — and your rankings will take a hit as well.
A short and simple point. However, crucial! Search engines love fresh content, so it is a good idea to be regularly updating content on the pages of your website & blogs.
Once you start working on your local search optimisation, you need to set up the tools that will help you monitor and analyze the results.
Our website marketing dashboard has a great keyword tracking tool which includes; local ranking and the volume of searches for that term.
On top of your rankings, monitoring the impressions and clicks of your keywords is also important. This will help evaluate how well your meta titles and descriptions are performing. (CTR) If you are having a good number of impressions, but not many clicks it would be advised to rethink these to help improve visits to your site.
Finally, use Google Analytics to analyse the organic traffic and see if it is growing. Google Analytics can be confusing for new users. Our We Build Ideas dashboard provides a simplified version with all the necessary information to evaluate your optimisation.
If you follow these simple tips, you should start seeing your listings appear within weeks from starting to work on your local Gold Coast SEO optimisation campaigns.
For now, just get started!
Ranking on the first page for your local SEO may take some time – depending on how much competition you have. However, in the end, the more meticulous you are, the better you will rank. Make sure your business listings are consistent and correct, begin to create local content, sprinkle a few location-based social posts into your marketing calendar. Build links and trust in your community and finally monitor your results and adjust your strategy accordingly. If you follow these simple steps, you will be ranking higher in search results, getting more leads and ultimately more customers.
It might look like a lot to do right now, but take it one step at a time, and you will get there!
Consistency is key.