On-page tactics for local search optimization

Local SEO is critical for local small businesses. It’s vital that you optimize your website for local search.

72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics)

Here are six reliable website tweaks that you can use to help your business rank higher for local search terms and bring customers to your door.

1. Titles and meta descriptions

Title and meta description tags are HTML elements that you can customize to reflect the content of your web page. They’re the little blubs displayed in search results. You can think of them as little mini-ads. Carefully worded titles and meta descriptions can be a big boost for search ranking.

Google displays titles and meta descriptions like this:

The acceptable length for title tags is 50 to 60 characters, and description tags should be 150 characters. If you make them longer, they’ll get cut off, and Google will replace the text with an ellipsis (…). It can look unprofessional and diminish the impact of the description or title.

The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress will help you find the right length. You can also use a web-based service such as the one at To The Web

Writing titles and descriptions is something of an art. If this text isn’t unique and descriptive, then you won’t stand out in search results. So you need to say something meaningful in a very few words. Here are some useful ideas:

  • Never waste space on titles that don’t provide valuable information. Instead of “Home” you can call your homepage something that includes your location, or a few of the primary services you offer.
  • To reach local customers include the name of the city your business is in or the area you serve in your description.
  • Pick one or two keywords that best describe what you do or offer and use them in your titles or descriptions. Do this for every page and post choosing keywords that describe what the user will find there.
  • Search for your keywords and see what comes up. Check out the titles and descriptions. Which ones make you want to visit the site? Which ones are boring or unhelpful? Try to model yours after the top-ranking ones, but don’t copy. You want to be unique.

Remember, if people like what they see in your title and description on Google, they’ll be more likely to click the link and visit your site.

2. Google Maps

You should embed a Google Map of your business on your website. Not only does it help customers find you, it ensures that Google can locate you also.

To embed a Google Map, you’ll need an API key, which you can get at Google Maps APIs. Then you’ll need some way to display it.

WordPress offers several plugins for this:

Many WordPress themes and page builders provide Google Maps modules for embedding them on your website. Website builders such as Wix and Squarespace also allow users to integrate maps.

Remember, you should only use Google Maps, they’re the most comprehensive and reliable.

3. Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP)

Contact information is essential for local search. Your business name, address, and phone number should appear on your homepage and elsewhere on your site. Make sure that your NAP exactly matches what you’ve used on Google My Business, Bing Places, and other directories.

Consider building your NAP into the site footer or sidebar so that it automatically shows up on every page.

4. Email

Having your email address on your website might seem like a no-brainer, but there are a few important things to remember:

  • Don’t link directly to your email. Link to your contact form instead. Direct links using the mailto: tag opens your email and your site up to a variety of problems including spam, viruses, and malware.
  • You can collect more information using a form. You can also be more specific about what information your respondents provide.
  • When accessed through a direct link, browser email services like Gmail can behave unpredictably

5. Hours of operation

You should include your hours somewhere on your website. Put them with your other contact information and make sure they match the hours you’ve used with other citation services.

6. Use local structured data markup

Structured data markup or schema markup is code that you add to your website that provides search engines with detailed information about your business.

Essentially, schema markup tells search engines what your information means, not just what it says. It shows the relevance of your data in context. When you wrap your NAP or other data in schema markup, you’re not just saying to Google that you have a business, you’re telling it about your business.

You can show all sorts of nifty things in your search results with schema markup, such as ratings, product information, and hours of operation.

You don’t have to be a coding wiz to use schema markup. WordPress has several plugins that can help:

Several WordPress themes and page builders use schema markup in their HTML code.

You can also use Google’s Data Highlighter to point and click your way to excellent schema markup.

While schema doesn’t officially raise your page rank, it does increase the likelihood that someone will click on your link. The information it provides is specific and not many websites use it. More information is better information. Schema markup puts you ahead of the curve and your competitors.

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