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Local Businesses are probably aware of search engine optimization but may think it is only for big business or national companies. But with fewer viable and affordable options for advertising, local SEO practices should be implemented, regardless the size of the business. Below are our four factors that weigh into local search engine optimization and steps you can take to ensure your business is positioned properly.

Website Content

Content has always been important for SEO, but ever more so now. Companies exist for the sole purpose of turning out as much content as possible, hoping to win search rankings and traffic. More is not always better, but maintaining quality, unique content and updating and adding to your site regularly is a recipe every local business should follow.

  • Quality Content

Ensure every page of your site contains unique content, created by you, that is well-written and provides information to the reader. The days of generated, overly-optimized content are long gone. The focus should be on high-quality content that is easily readable and understood by your site visitors.

  • Establish Google Authorship – This is no longer true…

Establishing a Google+ account, both for yourself and your business, allows you to include a linked relationship to Google+ in your articles or site content. If you follow the steps on Google+ and include a proper headshot, this allows your article links to have more prominence in search results, which greatly improves click-throughs.

  • Fresh Content is Better

Keeping your site content current and adding new content are two big signals that your business is active and growing. Consistently updating is key to improving your search rankings.

Social Media

If you are avoiding social media for your local business, stop now. Get on board, learn about ways to get involved and start seeing social media as a means to grow your business. When using social media for your business pay attention to the SEO factors below:

  • Keep It Fresh

Again, staying active on social media and posting quality content is the best way to signal that your business is thriving. The search engines watch this activity and will you will be rewarded.

  • Go for Shares

The number of shares/likes/retweets is typically proportional to the quality and interest of the content you post. Clogging up the feed with worthless information will ultimately be a detriment to your business.

  • Engage With Users

Actively reaching out, responding and engaging with other social media users, regardless of which platform, is another great way to signal that you care about your business online and are part of the online community.

  • Google+ Importance

For search results, Google is still the most important player. With that, increased reliance on Google+ is a necessity. Create a Google+ account for yourself and your business. Add to your circles, follow people and share quality content on your personal and business pages.

Local Citations

Citations are sources that list your business information –name, address, phone number, hours, website, images and more. You can never be certain of how a potential customer may find out about your business, so finding and creating citations in as many local directories is a good, basic practice. Keep these things in mind when creating local citations:

  • Google My Business

In addition to claiming your map listing, a Google My Business account allows you to see search insights for your business – how often you appear in search results, if people click on your website link or call, and how your images appear in search results.

  • Consistency Of Citations

Ensure your business listings are consistent across all channels: same name, same address, phone number, contact information and so forth. Consistency allows the search engines to view you as a single entity, providing you the benefit of multiple citations for your site. And definitely include your website and any social media sites that are allowed.

  • Quality of Citations

For local businesses, local directories are the best citation sources. Searching out appropriate directories can be as simple as searching for your specific business type and finding directory listings.

  • Number of Citations

The more citation listings your have, typically the better results. Try to avoid most local directories that charge a fee as they may not provide any benefit.

Website Optimization

Optimizing your site for local SEO means that you take the appropriate steps to make sure your website is the best it can be in the eyes of search engines. Here are some of the basic steps you should take to ensure your website is viewed favorably by search engines:

  • Not Over-Optimized

You need to include your search keywords in your content, but they should not be repeated ad nauseum. Ensure your keywords fit clearly within your sentence structure. There are guides available for ‘keyword density’ but an easy way to state it is that you should try to include them in the title of the page and maybe once per paragraph, at the most.

  • Local Address

Having a verified local address via Google Places for Business, which links to your business website, is very important. Additionally, your local address should be clearly listed on your website and any contact information.

  • Domain Authority

Domain Authority can be loosely described as the trust that search engines have in your domain. There is no definitive source to quantify this trust, but some companies attempt to do so. Essentially, it is based upon a variety of factors: age and registration term of your domain, quality and quantity of incoming links, number of visitors/frequency of visits.

  • Compatibility/Usability

Your website should be compliant with all web standards, easy to navigate, viewable in multiple browsers and, important these days, compatible with tablets and smartphones. Mobile web traffic is huge and if your site doesn’t cater to these visitors you are missing out on a lot of traffic and possibly damaging your site’s reputation in the search rankings.

  • Schema Markup

Schema markup is code that you add to your site that is meant for search engines to read and decipher. It tells the search engines exactly what content is on your page, allowing them to process it and display more accurate search results. Implementing Schema may be a bit tricky for the novice user, but it is increasingly important for search optimization.

If you need assistance in implementing any of these items, please contact Evoke Strategy LLC for your local SEO and marketing needs.

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