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7 Critical SEO Tips to Improve Local Search Engine Rank

Local search engine rank is slipping away? Follow these tips so you don’t miss out and lose potential customers.

1. Create or Claim a Google Places Account.

Search for your company name and city. If there is a Google Places account then it will display on the first page of Google Search result. If you haven’t claimed it yet then claim it. If a listing doesn’t show up create an account.  Populate it with information and images about your business, link it with your Google Plus business page. Create one if you haven’t! Urge your employees and customers to post reviews on it. This is the single most important thing a small business can do to improve its visibility in local searches on Google.

2. Make Sure Your Address is Always Formatted Consistently. Use Schemas.

Shocking but true, formatting your business address differently in different places will hurt you.  Make sure you have your full address in the footer, and that it’s written exactly as you have it on your contact page.  For example, if you are on NW 11th St.  – then that’s how it should always be written – on all digital presences, including your social media accounts and directory listings.  Do not substitute with North West 11th St. or NW 11th Street.  Pick a format and stick with it, both on your site and everywhere else.

Schemas are important too. They’re code level markup that’s invisible to people, but help search engine robots recognize an address properly. Read more about Schema’s at Schema.org. Feel free to copy the way we’ve used schemas for the address that’s part of our footer below.

3. Use Targeted, Relevant Keywords in Your Website Content.

Use the keywords your local audience are using.  If you are a dentist, don’t use “preventative dental artistry“. If you provide IT Staffing services, don’t talk about personnel augmentation.  Open a Google Ad Words Account. Use the keyword planner tools to understand what terms people in your town use to search for your servics. and which terms get the most search volume.  When you find the key words and phrases your audiences uses the most, incorporate them into your website menu, page names and content.

4. Generate Content. Generate Lots of It.

If you’re in business then you generate content every day. You have stories to share. Content marketing is about those stories making it to the digital world and working for your SEO.

Did you know there’s a WordPress app for iPhone and Android? Did you know you can dictate directly into your phone and make new, simple blog posts with amazingly little effort? Hey – you’ve even got a camera built into that thing. Could it be any easier? It’s hard to imagine how.

5. Don’t Link to Other Websites Unless You Know the Cost.

Linking to all your local friends, favorite organizations and partners might seem like a friendly thing to do, but don’t do it. It hurts your site by draining the authority away from your site and towards the sites you’re linking to.

There is a safe way to do link to other sites without losing local search engine rank, but it involves special HTML level code, stuff you’re probably not going to want to mess with unless you know what you’re doing.

A few links here and there aren’t going to hurt too much, but avoid putting links pointing outwards from your site in site-wide areas like the header and footer.

6. Get some Local Inbound Links.

Inbound links generally help. Local inbound links are better than links from sites half-way around the world. There’s a lot of opportunity to get locally relevant links from directory listings. Make sure your listing is up to date in sites like Yelp and Foursquare. If you belong to any local organizations that provide  an opportunity for a link from their website to yours, take advantage of it.

7. Set up a Gravatar Account and Engage on Local Blogs.

Get an account on Gravatar.com. That lets you maintain a consistent thumbnail image and inbound link URL when you comment on blogs. Contribute to conversations , don’t hijack. Don’t try to be slick about it, just be sincere. Links from local sites to yours are great not only for SEO, but branding yourself to your local audience, your market.

Good luck, and if you’ve got any questions about how to improve your local SEO, please contact us. You can also leave your comment below. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.