Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a culmination of different strategies in a bid to achieve higher ranking in the search engine results. The search engines such as Google, Bing and others look at different factors to rank and index your page.
Search engines put the factors together to determine the relevance of the site to the queries brought forward by internet visitors. It then determines which sites will appear on which page of the search results.
This sounds great! But, what if you are a small business with a focus on a local or regional area of customers. Do you need to compete with Amazon, or find customers in Dubai? Probably not. Sure, you want to rank high in a search, however, maybe ranking in a local search is better for your business.
There are two major types of SEO we can do as a local business, namely local and organic SEO. Here is a quick breakdown of each type and how it affects your business.
What is organic SEO?
Organic SEO works well on websites that are not necessarily tied to a given location or geographical area. Users visit these sites primarily to get information on a given topic. The content on the site adapts naturally to the information making it relevant for people across the board. Websites that focus on organic SEO usually aim at ranking as high as possible on a given set of keywords or phrases.
Benefits of organic SEO
- High return on investment (ROI) – Organic SEO results in a higher ROI than other forms of marketing because it costs nothing to optimize a website or page.
- Good at targeting – Organic SEO brings traffic that is likely to be searching for the goods and services that you are offering.
- Long-term results – Organic SEO brings long-term results in the form of rankings or authority on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) unlike the pay-per-click (PPC) that brings short-term results.
- 24/7 promotion – As long as your website is up and running, you can drive quality traffic at any time of the day or night.
- A wider reach – Organic SEO provides access to the markets beyond the geographical boundaries of the area that the company operates. It is an easier way to open up new markets.
10 common ranking factors
- Quality of the content – Search engines today can determine if the content is of high quality or just spammy advertising. Creating good, quality content for readers is a huge factor in search results.
- The number of backlinks – The search engine looks at the sites that link to your site and those that you have linked to. It assumes that if many authoritative sites have linked to your site, then your site must be credible and authoritative.
- Keywords and alternative words – There is a lot of thoughts on how keywords are used today. With the introduction of new search AI technology such as RankBrain, many people believe that focusing on specific keywords is not relevant anymore. My thought is that keywords are still great for determining content or topics, but the content needs to be written for the reader. If it is high quality, it will rank for keywords.
- Mobile-friendly – With over half of website traffic coming from mobile devices, search engines give priority to mobile users. A site that is mobile-friendly is likely to be ranked higher than those which are not.
- SSL certificate – A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate secures the connection between the browser and the web server. The certificate activates https protocol and a padlock will appear at the top of most browsers.
- Domain search visibility – The search engines look at the number of times the website has come up in the search engine results on a wide selection of keywords relevant to the page.
- Domain trust – Trustworthiness is vital to making your content believable. Trustworthy pages rank higher on the search results page.
- Domain history – If there have been penalties in the past, it may affect the current page rankings.
- Click-through rate – The number of people that click through a website determines how important it is and influences its ranking. Doing small things such as creating good title and description tags can help increase the click-through rate.
- Time on the website (bounce rate) – When searchers go to a website they can quickly determine if the content is relevant to what they are searching for. The longer a reader stays on a site, the more a search engine will see it a quality, relevant content and rank the site higher.
Types of businesses that benefit from organic SEO
Many types of businesses can benefit from optimizing for organic search results. If a business has no regional restrictions on where can sell products or services, it should focus on organic results. Information sites, such as blogs, news, and information sites should also focus on organic search. Even local businesses can benefit to increases their rankings in organic search results on SERPs.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is primarily tied to specific industries in specific locations. The aim is to drive local customers to the business at the time that the clients are looking for the product or service. The business seeks to get a high ranking in the relevant results for a given location.
The benefits of local SEO
- Get a highly targeted traffic – Searchers looking for a specific product or service will see the results based on their location and show the closest providers.
- High ROI – Tons of Local SEO tools are available for free. The tools help you track and quantify your marketing efforts.
- The traffic can convert to in-store customers – Many people are searching for places to obtain what they are looking for. Restaurants, hardware stores, and comic book shops can all benefit from local SEO driving traffic through their doors.
Layout of Google SERP
The layout of the search engines results page depends on what the search query is. If you are looking for information or “how-to”, the results page will usually show ads at the top and bottom of the page, with the top ten organic results in between. When searching for products, services, or information you may also see an additional map box, know as the Google Local Listings Pack. Other types of result can include images, video, and books among others.
Ads on SERPs
On a SERP, the search engines place ads along with the location or website on the top of the page. These ads are from website purchasing keywords to show in the best spot on the page. Come on, you didn’t think Google was doing everything for free, did you?
Google Local Listings Pack
Businesses make use of Google My Business to add Google Maps, addresses, phone numbers, and reviews of their business on local search results. The search results have a local pack that includes three local listings based on geography and local rankings.
Clients do not have to add the word ‘near me to get local results. All the places on the listing can receive organic results from the search. However, the three listed on the pack are most likely to get the highest traffic. As a local business, this is where you want to be seen.
Organic search results
The organic search results may include local businesses, information website, or any other type of website that search engines see as relevant to the searcher’s query. This is another good place to be seen if you are a local business or service provider.
Most searchers do not look past the first page, so a good SEO strategy can greatly increase your website and in-store traffic.
5 common local ranking factors
- Google My Business signals – These signals can include the location, contact information, website link, address and opening hours.
- Link signals – Link signals are the number of legitimate sites that link to your site. Linking from spammy or penalized sites can also result in a penalty on your site.
- On-page signals – These signals include the name, address, and phone number of your business. Keywords, meta tags, site credibility, and more can all influence the ranking.
- Citation signals – This is how well the business details can be verified by another source online. Such sources include directories and social media platforms.
- Reviews – The reviews from other online sources are a big factor in the ranking of a website.
Businesses that can benefit from Local SEO
There are many businesses that can reap high rewards from local search results. Brick and mortar stores, restaurants, attorneys, real estate agents, insurance agents, consultants, plumbers… The list is almost endless. If you have a business that provides any kind of product or service to customers within a geographic area, you need to be focusing on local SEO. Local SEO helps to drive traffic to the local businesses straight from the SERPs.
What are local citations?
A local citation is a local mention of the local business. The mention includes the phone number, name, and address. It can be done by review sites, apps, and directories.
Local citations also drive traffic to the business as prospects use the details to reach out to the business. They also have an impact on the search engine rankings
Types of citations
- Social media – Social citations can come in many forms. You may have a Facebook or Twitter business page that has all your information listed with links to your website. There may also be other pages that link to or mention your pages. These are all great ways of getting citations. But remember, if you do have any business social media pages, USE THEM! Post all the time and encourage everyone to like and share the posts. But that is for a completely separate discussion.
- Business/industry directories – Such online business directories include can Google My Business, Bing Places and Yelp among other review sites. There are also industry related directories that you can list or create a profile on. Again, these can all add credibility to your site.
- Local directories – Local directories can include Chambers of Commerce and city directories. These directories are usually maintained by the local entities but can have a great deal of influence to local searches.
Finally, understand that citation building can take time. There are more than 100 common sites for citations, not including industry specific directories. There are several places you can go to that will offer citation building for a cost. If you decide to go that route, do your research. Ensure the company not only lists your correct information but maintains it on a recurring basis. Some will also be able to provide analytics on your citation campaign.
Importance of keeping the information updated
You should always keep your website and citations updated for the following reasons:
- It gives the right impression for your business and shows that you know what you are doing.
- Updated information makes it easier for the clients to find you and find what they are looking for in your site.
- Updated information gives clients a reason to come back since they get accurate answers.
- It boosts rankings on search engines and helps drive more traffic from citations and directories.
We have only touched on a few areas related to SEO. The key was to get you to understand the difference between organic and local search results. While your particular business may want to focus on one piece or the other, it is important to remember that both exist. Make sure you take advantage of both and increase your chances of being seen in multiple searches.
If you would like to know more, please contact us at FarsideDev. Also, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn to stay up to date on all our latest posts and videos. Leave a comment below and let us know if you have any questions you would like us to answer in future videos. Thanks!