How to Optimize Content for Local SEO
- A majority of local searches result in visits or calls to the business within a day, more local smartphone searches lead to purchases within a day than non-local searches, and mobile searchers (not surprisingly) prefer mobile-friendly sites.
- Localizing your schema markup lets search engines know that you’re relevant to local keywords, helping you reach local searchers.
- Your content and link building strategies should be focused on local search.
- Optimize your site design and page speed to make your site mobile-friendly.
How many times have you typed “best Thai food near me” into your phone (or asked Siri to give you some recs)? Users with high purchase intent want results that are highly relevant to their situation, and that means they need to be nearby. That’s where local SEO comes in.
What the Data Says About Local Search
Just past the halfway mark of 2019, local search is looking stronger than ever. Just take a quick look at the following stats from HubSpot if you need proof:
- 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
- 18% of local smartphone searches led to a purchase within a day, whereas only 7% of non-local searches led to a sale.
- 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site.
It’s clear that optimizing your site and content for local search is as important as ever, especially for small businesses and service industries. We’ve talked before about the importance of updating your NAP info (name, address, and phone number) and producing mobile-friendly content, and we stand by those as your first steps to local SEO best practices. But today we’re going to dive a little deeper into how exactly you can make sure your site, content strategy, and link building strategy are all up to speed for local SEO.
Localize Your Schema Markup
Schema, a specific HTML-based form of structured data, translates the focus of your site or piece of content into code so search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! can understand it. Localized schema markups thereby communicate to search engines that you’re relevant to particular local keywords. This in turn helps customers find you, your address and contact information, and your services faster and more easily. That’s good for them and for you!
Tips for Optimizing Schema Markup
- If you operate in multiple locations, create dedicated landing pages for each location so the customers who need you can actually find you.
- Include local information in meta tags and headers wherever possible. For example, a coffee shop in Seattle might create a blog called “The History of Coffee in Seattle” with “Today’s Best Seattle Coffee Shops” as a sub or section header.
Localize Your Content
When putting together your content strategy, make sure to chase local long-tail keywords – such as “best pizza restaurants in los angeles” rather than simply “best pizza restaurants” – and target content to local interests. For example, a law firm specializing in worker’s comp might write a blog post about state, county, or city policies affecting applicants in the area they serve.
But you should also think outside the content box. That means creating not just blogs, but also user generated content, optimized landing pages with local images, event write-ups, and even coverage of local news if relevant.
Tips for creating local content
- Anticipate and answer questions users in your area are likely to ask, like “How often do I replace my mattress?” for a local mattress seller.
- Consider hosting local events and then creating blogs, photos, or videos about them. For example, a woman-owned apparel brand might host a women’s empowerment brunch and then create localized content around it. This shows you’re engaging with the local community in meaningful ways.
Boost Local Link Building
Don’t forget about directory links and mentions, as that’s still important, but there are several other local link building strategies you can leverage, requiring varying degrees of effort on your part. For example, gaining local media coverage is an excellent way to build authority, though it may be harder to orchestrate.
On the other hand, a much easier way to boost your credibility and gain links is to post relevant local information to your site that other sites and blogs will want to reference. Search Engine Land uses the example of real estate agents posting local housing statistics to their sites. Another achievable link building option is to write local guest posts that can target audiences in your area, such as a New York City-based florist writing a guide to Valentine’s Day gift shopping for a nearby candy store.
Incorporate Audits for Localization
The key to a good local strategy is thorough research upfront. First, run audits to figure out where and how people are finding you. Is it through organic search? Display ads? Social media? Tools like Facebook Audience Insights help you narrow down your audience by demographics so you can home in on the most geographically relevant users.
Once you know where and how people are finding you, use Google Keyword Planner or other keyword mapping tools to find the most relevant local keywords, such as “late night dessert in los angeles.”
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
As more and more users rely on their phones and tablets to search, search engines are moving toward mobile-first indexing, making mobile optimization a crucial part of local SEO. The key to mobile-friendly content is paying attention to site design and load times. Otherwise, you risk high bounce rates with mobile users.
Tips for Mobile-Friendly Content
- First, make sure your site looks good and is easy to use on smaller screens. Responsive design can ensure your site automatically adjusts to different screen sizes without detracting from user experience. Make sure buttons are optimized for touchscreen – they should be big enough for a finger to hit them without accidentally touching another button, but not so big that they interfere with the overall look of your site. Finally, avoid Flash and pop-ups, which can make using your site difficult and turn users off.
- Slow load times are bad for SEO whether mobile or not, but many mobile devices aren’t able to support heavy sites. Increase mobile page speed by optimizing images, utilizing browser caches, and watching your code.
It seems like there’s a lot to good local SEO, but the good news is it all builds on classic SEO principles. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, don’t panic. The local SEO experts at RMG are happy to help you get you up to speed.