Basically, when it comes to Best SEO Tactics, this is any activity that helps you improve your ranking on search engines such as Google, Bing, and others. With 3.9 billion internet users and over 3.3 billion searches being performed each day, securing a good rank isn’t easy. And that’s exactly why SEO techniques are so important for businesses.
If you have a local business, selling products or services, you have to think about the local ranking of your website. Local optimization will help you surface-related search queries in your area. As Google shows local results first in a lot of cases, you need to make sure Google understands where you are located.
In this article, I’ll go over all the local SEO things you can do to improve Google’s understanding of your location. All in all, part of which obviously improves your chances to rank high locally. Since the 11.0 release, Yoast SEO builds a full structured data graph for every post or page on your site!
Related Topic: What Is Google Local SEO?
A graph is a complete piece of structured data with well-defined connections to all the different parts. Search engines now not only know what all the parts mean but also how they fit together. Want to know what it does for your website? You can read all about Yoast SEO 11.0 in detail to understand more about its new toolkit features.
Google itself talks about local ranking factors in terms of:
- Relevance: are you the relevant result for the user? Does your website match the user search?
- Distance: how far away are you located? If you are relevant and near, you’ll get a good ranking.
- Prominence: this is about how well your business is known. I’ll explain more later in this article.
By all means, having a good SEO strategy while using the Best SEO Tactics is absolutely critical for most businesses. This is true even for local businesses that don’t necessarily offer online service solutions. According to a study, local searches account for 35% of all searches.
Local search functions such as Google’s “near me” have seen a massive increase over the years. And in that case, search engines are always tweaking their search algorithms and changing the value they attach to certain site aspects.
In the end, adding an additional layer of complexity to the already challenging task that SEO managers are faced with. All in all, by focusing all your best SEO tactics and efforts, your website can stay competitive and maintain a strong ranking.
Which Are The Best SEO Tactics?
Of course, Yes! Simply, because business reviews or testimonials are mostly said to work on the basis of social proof. Social proof is a psychological process in which people copy the behavior of others, in an attempt to reflect correct behavior.
As an example, brand testimonials tell you that someone you can identify with has bought a product and loved it. That must mean the product is just the right thing for you as well. However, ratings and reviews are not just valuable for your customers alone: Google uses them in various ways too, with the right Schema.org markup.
Ratings for your brand or shop will most probably be given on a website like Resellerratings.com or Google My Business. Google will see these ratings and will even add Google My Business ratings to their Knowledge Graph information. For more about the Best SEO Tactics, read and learn more about how to grow your business with ratings and reviews.
1. Use Secure HTTP
Making the move to Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) for encryption has a number of benefits:
- Security and Privacy: By securing communication between users and your servers, the chances of interference or damage by third parties reduce greatly.
This results in a greater level of trust from both your users and from web browsers – many of which now display warnings when users navigate to non-HTTPS sites.
- Improved Ranking: By virtue of your increased trustworthiness, most sites that make the change to HTTPS can expect to see a small boost in their search rankings.
You can also expect to see a larger number of referrals and traffic over time as Google is more likely to recommend secure sites in search results.
As of mid-2017, around 31% of web domains have completed the transition to HTTPS. This number is only set to rise from here as secure communication protocols increasingly become the norm across the web.
Immediately after making the switch to HTTPS, you can expect to see a dip in your website rank and search results performance. This is because of the change you make to your base URL.
However, this dip will be short-lived and you should see your rank recover or even improve in short order.
2. Use Structured Data
Website crawlers have gotten far more advanced and capable over the years. However, sometimes what is obvious to a human user is completely obscure to a machine.
The result is that, occasionally, site crawlers may make errors or omit data while indexing your site. The solution, of course, is to use structured data.
Using structured data is nothing more than formatting your website’s code into a uniform layout. When search engine crawlers index your site, they will be able to pick up a richer amount of data since it was laid out in an “expected” format.
To help webmasters optimize their data, search engines have established the open-source Schema.org markup. It has all the code conventions and standards to help structure your site and make it more “crawler-friendly.”
3. Optimize Page Speed & Voice
As internet speeds have increased, so have the expectations of website performance from mainstream users. According to a study by Adobe, almost 40% of users will leave a website if it takes too long to load. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do in regards to the Best SEO Tactics to help boost that load time, most of which can be easily implemented.
For instance, use high compression for images to significantly reduce your load time. You can even use a Content Delivery Network (in short CDN) to help global users access your content without having to ping your domestic server. As part of your efforts to optimize for mobile devices, integrating better voice search functionality is a good idea.
The ultimate goal of focusing on voice search is to be considered a source for a “Featured Snippet.” Like Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa will read out information from these sources and often cite the source as well.
4. Conduct Competitor Analysis
One of the most effective and Best SEO Tactics that can help your rankings is extensive competitor research and analysis. The first step is simply to identify your key competitors, either by industry, geography, keywords, or any other factors.
A thorough analysis will help you discover areas where your competitor is succeeding and possibly unearth weaknesses you can benefit from. Any competitor analysis you perform should include these primary activities:
As one of the most important factors of good SEO, analyzing your competitors’ keyword usage is absolutely critical.
Another key SEO factor, link-building is vitally important for improving a site’s SERP rankings.
Look for their origin, numbers, and the anchor text they use to help determine how your competition is performing on this front. It may be worth contacting those sites to see if they can provide backlinks to your site as well.
Take a look at the content on your competitors’ sites.
How often do they post new content? What is the length of their blog posts? How is their content structured? If your competitor is performing better in search rankings, it may be worth emulating the practices that appear most valuable.
I’d strongly recommend that you use specialized tools available to perform competitor analysis. Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or SpyFu help with the tedious legwork required in optimizing your site for searches.
5. Analyze Your Backlinks
While backlinks are an invaluable part of a good SEO strategy, not all backlinks are created equally. Some will naturally tend to perform better than others, so it’s important to monitor their performance. This helps you zero in on the types of backlinks that are most valuable.
Or even understand which sites tend to drive the highest quality traffic. You may want to remove certain links or unilaterally disavow them if they are adding no value or penalizing your search rankings. Tools like Majestic, Ahrefs, or Moz Open Site Explorer can help you conduct a thorough backlink analysis of your website.
6. Optimize for Mobile
The mobile search market has been growing rapidly, and we’ve always anticipated that mobile may become more influential than desktops eventually. In 2017 mobiles finally took the lead and now account for more than half of all web traffic globally.
There have been a number of standards for mobile development – from clunky (and now largely defunct) mobile sites to the far more contemporary, technically, and visually elegant “responsive design.” However, it’s not enough to just look good. Sites also need to load fast or else your visitors will get frustrated and leave.
With these performance goals in mind Google, along with a number of other tech companies, introduced AMP – an open-source project to deliver Accelerated Mobile Pages. Using a stripped-down form of HTML, Google claims that AMP optimized pages load up to 85% faster. So, if you’ve not yet optimized your web pages for mobile, the time to act is now.
Let’s start with your address details
If you have a local business and serve mostly local customers, at least add your address in the right way. And the right way to do this is by using schema.org. Either by adding Local Business schema.org tags around your address details or via JSON-LD.
Especially, when using JSON-LD, you are serving your address details to a search engine in the most convenient way. The Local SEO plugin makes adding that Local Business schema to your pages a breeze. This is very much about what Google calls distance. If you are the closest result for the user, your business will surface sooner.
7. Google My Business
For your local ranking in Google, you can’t do without a proper Google My Business listing. You need to enlist, add all your locations, verify these and share some photos. Google My Business allows for customer reviews as well, and you should really aim to get some of those for your listing.
Positive reviews (simply ask satisfied customers to leave a review) help the way Google and its visitors regard your business. This is pretty much like your local market. If people talk positively about your groceries, more people will be inclined to come to your grocery stand.
Getting reviews is one. You can keep the conversation going by responding to these reviews and, as Google puts it, be a friend, not a salesperson.
But, your site’s NAP needs to be exactly the same as your Google My Business listing’s NAP
Even if your business has multiple locations, make sure to match the main NAP (name, address, phone number) on your website with Google My Business NAP. That is the only way to make sure Google makes the right connection.
Add the main address on every page (you are a local business so your address is important enough to mention on every page). For all the other locations, set up a page and list all the addresses of your branches.
7.1 City and state in the title
The obvious one: for a local ranking, adding a city and (in the US) state to your <title> helps. Read this article (2014), as Arjan sheds some more light on other aspects of local SEO as well.
And please keep in mind that the effect of adding your city to your titles might be a lot less for your local ranking than adding your business details to Google My Business. But, it won’t hurt for sure!
7.2 Local directories help your local ranking
Next to your Google My Business listing, Google uses the local Yelps and other local directories to determine just how important and local you are. Where I usually recommend against putting your link on a page with a gazillion unrelated links. Bearing in mind, the common ground for a local listings page is, indeed, the location.
And these links actually do help your local rankings. So, get your web team to work, find the most important local directory pages and get your details up there. I’m specifically writing details and not just links. Citations work in confirming the address to both Google and visitors.
If a local, relevant website lists addresses, get yours up there as well. And while you are at it, get some positive reviews on sites like Yelp as well, obviously!
7.3 Links from related, local businesses
Following how directories help your local ranking, it also pays off to exchange a link with related local businesses. If you work together in the same supply chain or sell related products, feel free to exchange links.
Don’t just exchange links with any business you know, like these. In most cases, they will be low-quality links for your website (because they’re usually unrelated).
7.4 Facebook listing and reviews
What goes for Google My Business, goes for Facebook as well. Add your company as a page for a local business to Facebook here. People search a lot on Facebook as well, so you’d better make sure your listing on Facebook is in order.
Facebook also allows for reviews, like here for the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. Note that this really is a local review, as the Fifth Avenue store scores a 4.6 average rating. And the Amsterdam store just scores a 2.9 at the moment.
8. Social mentions from local tweeps
Again, there’s a local marketplace online as well when it comes to the Best SEO Tactics. Whereby, people talk about business, new developments, products on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more. All these social mentions find their way to Google’s sensors as well. The search engine will pick up on positive or negative vibes.
And then, use them to help them rank your local business. If a lot of people talk about your business and/or link to your website, you must be relevant. Monitor these mentions and engage. Some say links, from other websites, directories, and social media, are the key factor for local rankings.
As always, we believe it’s the sum of all efforts that makes you stand out from the crowd. Not just optimizing one aspect. Take your time and make sure your Google My Business profile is right, schema.org details are on your site and you have the right links to your site. And also, the right people talking about you on for instance Twitter.
In addition, please don’t forget to do proper keyword research and simply make sure the right content is on your website.
9. Optimize your content for better local rankings
Even though you have the Best SEO Tactics in place, Google won’t rank your site for a keyword if that keyword isn’t on your website. And it’s as simple as that! If your business is in city X, you probably have a reason why you are located there. Write about that reason.
And note that these may vary:
- You are born there or just love the locals and local habits
- There is a river which is needed for transport
- Your local network makes sure you can deliver just in time or provide extra services
- The city has a regional function and your business thrives by that
- Always remember, there are 6 other businesses like yours, and you’re obviously the best. And you all serve a certain percentage of people, so your business fits perfectly in that area.
These are just random reasons to help you write about your business in relation to your location. They differ (a lot) per company. Make sure your location/city/area is clearly mentioned on your website and not just in your footer at your address details! You can read and learn more about the Tips for your local content strategy »
10. One more thing!
Important to realize, that Google also uses prominence as a local ranking factor. To enumerate, Prominence means that when Google can serve a result first from a well-known brand or business, they actually will. And despite all your efforts to improve your local ranking, this might get in the way of that number one position.
It just means you have to step up your Best SEO Tactics game. Keep on doing the great work you do and trust that eventually, Google will notice this as well. And as a result, Google might allow you to rank in that number one position for that local keyword! Finally, I hope you have gathered enough information from this Best SEO Tactics guide.
But, if you’ll need more support and help on this or more of our blog topics, please feel free to Contact Us and let us know how we can sort you. Or simply share your contributions or thoughts in our comments section below.