Basic SEO practices are pretty much essential for ranking a local website anywhere in search engines, never mind the front page, and this is especially true for content that is not user generated (forums or review sites for example). With search engine algorithms changing all the time, and the rise of machine learning into 2018, knowing a little more than the ‘basics’ is going to be more important than ever. With that in mind, we sat down with RFK Solutions, who offer a range of leading SEO services in Scotland. This is what they had to say with regads to ranking a website locally in 2018!
Claim Your Google My Business Page
This is the first thing that you should be thinking of, so if you haven’t claimed your Google My Business page yet then you need to make it a priority. For full details of setting up your page, you can take a look here but you need to make sure that you include the following:
- Make the listing description a long one, make it unique and make sure it includes links. Write this description very carefully, as well as properly formatted, because this is going to take full advantage of Google Search’s RankBrain update. Machine Learning in search is going to go full throttle in 2018, so try and answer possible searcher queries in your description.
- Be sure that you have selected the correct categories for your business to further help Google match up your business with the search query.
- Upload as many high quality, relevant photographs as you can. Visuals are everything and help users determine whether or not your business is right for them or not.
- Add your local telephone number (not a mobile if you can avoid it) and also your business address. Both of these things need to be consistent with what you have on your website – Google can, and does, place higher priority on listings where these details corroborate each other.
- Make your profile and cover photographs high resolution. What looks great on your mobile may not look so hot on a larger screen – and blurred imagery will get you nowhere
- If your business has opening times and days where these change (not all business types have or need details like this) then add those too.
- Get your customer to leave you reviews on Google.
Get Local Reviews
Reviews are an enormous ranking factor, especially if you run a local business. Getting reviews is actually easier than you might think but don’t focus on just Google reviews try TrustPilot too, and Yelp. Google should be your first port of call though, once you are set up on Google search with GMB.
The first thing to do is contact your existing customers and ask if they would mind leaving a review for you. It’s quick and simple and they will rarely decline. A benefit of this is that you can effectively cherry pick great reviews – you know who is most likely to leave a glowing comment with 5 stars, so hit them up first.
Generate local links and citations
Link building is a great way to boost your website’s visibility and authority, so long as the linking website is relevant to your business. The same is true with local businesses except it is more about linking with local businesses, regardless of their actual ‘standing’, that are posting about similar things to you.
Citations are another excellent way to improve visibility on search engines. Citations are, basically, mentions of you in local directories. The trick here though is making sure the directories display your NAP (Name Address Phone number) as you do on your website and GMB listing
You can use Bright Local to check on existing citations and make sure your NAP is being displayed properly. Need to actually get citations? There are a few ways to get it done, but you could this handy tool to get you started.
Potential customers won’t always be searching Google Maps, they may also look to social platforms to find local businesses. Facebook is used in this way quite a lot so it’s worth setting up and maintaining a page there just for that reason alone. Twitter can come in handy also, for the same reason.
One thing that both of these platforms have in common, and is incredibly useful, is the hashtag. Sadly, most people don’t even realise that Facebook has this functionality – don’t worry though, Facebook knows and its search tool takes them into account when people use it to look for something. The only problem is, you need to be using hashtags on your pages in the first place.
Adding hashtags to your posts on Facebook may sound like amateur hour, but you are missing out if you don’t do it. Besides, nobody thinks twice about using them on Twitter so don’t be bashful on big blue either!
Whichever platform you use, remember that they act as citation sources so make certain your NAP is consistent with every other appearance of it elsewhere.
You should have enough to go on now to really make an impression and get your local business ready for the rest of 2018 and get it ranked. Now, start contacting your customers and get those reviews coming in!