Several times over the past year, we’ve entertained requests for information on SEO services for local businesses. Sometimes business owners specifically use the term “SEO” and other times they simply say “I need people to find my website.” One of my first questions when people request SEO services centers around what they’re really asking.
With so many choices with SEO services, what are the important SEO services especially for local businesses?
This type of SEO requires the assistance of someone who knows how to code a website. Website developers implement many aspects of technical SEO when they create your site. These elements build a firm foundation for your future SEO endeavors. Let’s look at some of the elements that fall into this category.
Google and other search engines factor site speed into their website rankings. Their goal is to deliver website listings that meet their customer’s queries and provide an excellent end-user experience. A slow loading site can affect your rankings. Plugins, large images, and other components may contribute to slow load times. Even if your site once loaded quickly, it’s important to pay attention to your site’s load time and make changes as the time begins to lag.
Most websites use responsive design. Once upon a time, website developers created both a desktop and mobile version of a website. Today, developers create one version that changes size based on the device of the person looking at the site. If your website does not employ responsive design, it’s time for a redesign.
Your website developer creates this text file to instruct search engines how to crawl your website. You may not want search engines to crawl specific pages on your site, but rather to focus on more essential pages. This txt file makes those instructions clear.
Nobody wants to visit a website riddled with malware. And you don’t want to present your clients with such an experience. Google has increased the importance of an SSL certificate, which stands for Secured Socket Layer. The SSL ensures a secure data transfer between a user’s browser and the website they are visiting. It’s particularly important for sites that process payments or request user’s information. Not accepting payments on your site? You’ll still want to make sure your site has an SSL certificate because it presents a more polished, professional image to your clients and prospects.
How you organize your website content depends on the type of site you have. Content heavy sites with very active blogs, product catalogs, or step-by-step instructions rely on strong organization to make finding their information easy. Having your website developer implement structured data increases the chances your content will appear as a structured snippet at the top of search results.
Not all SEO tactics require a developer who understands how to code a website. And even if you’ve implemented all the right technical SEO, you don’t want to ignore your site’s on-page SEO opportunities. These elements ensure when your site appears in search results the listing entices users to click on your link.
Urls, Title Tags, Meta Descriptions
We lumped all these together because they are typically what you’ll see when you search for a topic on Google. The url is the specific address of a page on your website. Having your company name or keyword in the url will help with SEO. As will including the keyword in an enticing headline. Your meta description is often what appears in the search result. Those few lines of text can draw in the user and convince them to visit your site instead of the sites above or below them.
Remember in high school or college English class your instructor wanted you to organize your thoughts before you wrote an essay or paper? Headers take back to those days. Your website has the option of H1, H2, H3, H4 tags. Each tag has a slightly different size and sometimes color, and it dictates how important the information is to the page. For instance, you should only have one H1 tag. That’s the most important header, often the title, of your page. Other header tags separate your text into manageable sections. The H2 tag is the second most important information and so on. Including your major keywords, or variations of that keyword, in the header tags helps Google understand what your page is about and what’s most important.
Content and Keywords
Avoid boring content on your website at all costs. Engaging content allows the reader to learn about the services or products you offer plus your company’s personality all from the pages of your website. The more engaging your content, the longer the reader will stay on your site and the more pages they will visit, both of which help with your search ranking. Know ahead of time what keywords and phrases are important for your business. Including those in the content of your website along with your title tags, descriptions, and headers, directs Google and other search engines to rank your site for those words. Don’t skip on the text. Search engines want to provide the best experience possible, which often means more information. Try to write at least 500 words of copy for every page on your site.
Keeping users on your website longer and enticing them to visit more than one page improves your search rankings. One way to do this is to link from one page to another with a relevant link. For instance, since you’re reading this article on SEO, you might also be interested in another article we’ve written about how Google gives preference to podcasts in their search results. See how we did that? Now if you click to read that article it keeps you on our site longer and reduces our bounce rate (the number of people who only view one page on a website). We’re not the only ones who win though. You also learn a bit more about SEO.
Not everything that affects your website’s ranking happens on your website. When readers share links to your website on social media or link back to your website from their own site, it adds credibility. This credibility increases your search engine ranking. For this reason, it’s important to share links to your site on social media and to link to your website in professional directories. Seek out opportunities to write guest blog posts or appear as a guest on podcasts and request those sites link back to your own website. When search engines realize other reliable sites are sharing your content, they’ll move your site further in up in search results.
Local Pack SEO
If your business relies on local customers, you’ll want to get this part right. Thankfully, it’s easy to master.
When someone searches for local services like a medical provider or plumber, Google starts with its usual ads followed by three maps listings. While you can’t guarantee you’ll be found in that “three-pack,” you can influence your selection by optimizing your Google My Business and other directory listings.
- Claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
- Add images or services to your GMB listing.
- Create weekly posts for your GMB listing.
- Respond to reviews on your GMB listing.
- Optimize listings on other directories like Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, and industry websites.
SEO isn’t a fix it and forget solution. It’s ongoing. Websites get bogged down as more content and plug-ins are added. Your competitors’ sites get faster with their new redesign. And Google really likes to see websites with a ready supply of new content. Yes, updating all these features of your website can be a hassle in the midst of everything else you’re doing, which is why you really want to hire someone who knows how to update your meta descriptions with just the right keyword to improve your ranking. And that person is us. If you’re tired of no one finding your website, give us a call. We’re looking forward to working with you.