What does search engine optimization (SEO) mean to you? For most people, it means hyper-focusing on keywords, and while that’s all well and good, it’s not the only thing that determines how your website ranks in relevant searches.
Google not only wants to provide its users with sites that match their search terms, it also wants to give them high quality content that they can trust. After all, it’s not very helpful if you search “pizza restaurants” and get a page of results filled with restaurants that closed three years ago or haven’t updated their phone number since they moved a few months back.
Keeping your information updated and staying current with search ranking trends is essential to staying at the top of the local pack. Luckily, you don’t need a whole website redesign to boost your ranking. You just need to set aside an afternoon to complete these 5 easy steps:
1. Claim Your Google My Business Listing
This is the #1 most important thing you can do to improve your local SEO. If you haven’t claimed your listing yet, stop reading this article, and take a look at our Introduction to Google My Business to get started.
2. Make Sure Your NAP is Consistent
And no, I’m not talking about your sleep schedule.
NAP stands for name, address, phone number, and if they aren’t consistent, that’s a huge problem. Tying a consistent name, address, and phone number (NAP) to your business verifies that it is legitimate. If that information isn’t consistent, it raises red flags.
To combat this issue, make sure that this information is the same across all the sites on which your business is listed (website, My Business listing, and any local directory sites). Also, the more “local citations” you have (on sites like Yelp, the BBB, local chamber of commerce, etc.) where your business information appears, the better.
3. Include Locale in Title Tags
Think of how people search for local businesses. Most people will use a similar format when searching for local businesses. Usually they’ll type something like “pizza restaurant near Austin, TX” or “laundromat near Boston, MA.”
That’s why SEO experts often recommend adding location to title tags to help your business rank higher organically when users search using location. These title tags appear on the search engine results page as the headline for your webpage. They help search engines determine the content of your page and allow visitors to easily gauge if it will be helpful to them in their search. Including a location will make it more likely for Google to rank your page higher in location-based searches and for people to actually click when they see your title tag pop up.
4. Use Outbound Links in Blog Posts
Ethos matters when it comes to ranking high in search. Search engines want to provide their users with information from experts, not just some guy with a blog. That’s why you need to be able to speak with authority.
If you don’t already have that authority in the form of a high search ranking, you can borrow it from someone else. Just like citing sources in an essay, you can include outbound links to well-known and respected websites to make your site appear more credible and trustworthy. That’s why, when you’re writing blog content, you should look for places where you can link to outside sources like news reports or relevant articles to provide context.
5. Add Social Sharing Buttons
While Google says that social media metrics aren’t a ranking factor, social sharing does influence other factors that determine where you end up in the search results.
Social sharing makes your content more visible. It allows people to amplify your content, and the more people share your content, the more likely it is that they will link to it on their own site. Those links are an important SEO factor because they illustrate to Google that others like your content and view it as valuable.
In addition to adding social sharing buttons to your content, it never hurts to get the ball rolling by promoting your content on your own social media and asking your friends, family, and coworkers to do the same.