You want your business to get found when people are looking for it, or for the things you offer. Search engine optimization (SEO) has evolved tremendously since the days of Ask Jeeves, AOL portals, and Alta Vista.
Google has obviously become the juggernaut – it’s even a verb in conversation – and the sheer number of websites has affected SEO.
This is especially true when you’re trying to optimize for local SEO, to get people to find your location along with your content.
Add to the mix the strategy of earning attention instead of adding more ads to the mix, called inbound marketing, and you have a recipe for confusion for many businesses.
But it doesn’t have to be intimidating.
In fact, inbound marketing has changed local SEO for the better in many cases. The more you earn attention and build trust, the better your local search results will be.
What do we mean?
The Effect of Inbound Marketing on Local SEO
For one, inbound marketing’s focus on content has helped shift things over the years and put the power into the hands of customers. Content fuels much of how people find your business. Content can help fuel word of mouth referrals. And user generated content like reviews helps people decide which brands they want to engage with on a daily basis.
Also, search engine marketing tactics like search ads, focused efforts in meta descriptions, link building and more have helped increase the power of smaller companies in relation to Fortune 500 giants, because the tools are more democratized.
Focusing on content beyond blogs and videos can help turn your focus to more technical aspects of local such as citations. The inbound marketing strategies of managing owned assets like your website and rented space like social media have taught us how to monitor other assets like outside directories.
This means monitoring the information in your citations on the internet – your Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) to ensure it’s accurate across multiple platforms. This information helps Google and other search engines ensure those looking for information find what they’re looking for when it comes to relevance, distance, and prominence.
So because distance is one factor, you’ll want to make sure your marketing efforts include managing citations.
Getting found as a local business used to be as simple as putting a listing in your local phone book. Maybe even make it an ad.
Now, because of the internet and inbound marketing, businesses have a nearly endless list of how people find them. Even with that plethora of choices, it comes down to a few main places people use for search.
That might mean Google (and having a Google My Business listing), Yelp, and Facebook. Or it could include other directories connected to your region or industry. And yet even those most likely still funnel through the most-used search engine.
This is why local SEO tactics should also include content beyond your blog and business listing.
- Do you have a plan in place for local PR and media relations?
- Do you contribute to other publications (guest blogging, columnist, etc.)?
- Have you thought about a podcast strategy?
All of these ideas have an inbound marketing feel and can impact your local SEO efforts. The more you show your expertise and relevance, the more people visit your site and the more your content gets served up in search results.
Along with how inbound marketing has changed local SEO you’ll find a need still for technical SEO. This will include things like on-page SEO (page titles, URL structure, alt text on images, page load speed) and off-page SEO (link building, traffic, domain authority).
When it comes to technical SEO, you’ll want to make sure you’re remembering some of the on-page SEO tactics to ensure a positive user experience so the search engine algorithms keep serving your business up in results.
Here are some of the biggest factors included.
Provided you’re focusing on specific keywords, include your targeted phrases in the title tag of each page on your site.
Headings (H1, H2, H3)
Headings are usually the largest words on the page, which helps the reader quickly skim. They also help search engines understand your content, which in turn give them a little more weight than your other page copy. It’s a good idea to work your target keywords into the headings of each web page but make sure you accurately reflect your page content and still write for the humans reading it.
Include keywords in your URLs if possible. However, do not go changing all of your current URLs just so they have keywords in them. You shouldn’t change old URLs unless you plan on redirecting your old ones to your new ones. Consult a professional before doing this.
Alt Text for Images
Your content management system should allow you to add something called “alt text” to all images on your website. This text isn’t visible to the average visitor. Screen reader software sees this to help blind and visually impaired users understand the content of your images. Search engines crawl images in a similar way, so inserting some relevant keywords while accurately describing the image will help search engines understand your page’s content.
Page Load Speed
Google wants to help users find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible to provide the best user experience. Optimizing your pages to load faster helps your site rank higher in the search results.
Slow load times lead to unhappy visitors and higher bounce rates…
The content on your pages needs to be useful to people. If they search for something too specific to find your page, they need to be able to find what they’re looking for. It needs to be easy to read and provide value to the end user. Google has various ways to measure if your content is useful.
Linking internally to other pages on your website is useful to visitors and it is also useful to search engines. Keep people on your site – it’s the goal of the most popular sites and it should be yours, too.
On-page SEO ensures that your site can be read by both potential customers and search engine robots. With good on-page SEO, search engines can easily index your web pages, understand what your site is about, and easily navigate the structure and content of your website, thus ranking your site accordingly.
Understanding SEO and inbound marketing will help you take your local SEO strategy to great new levels. Keep working on your business, and your business will work for you.