The world of marketing and SEO is always changing, in part to customers wants and needs, but also in part to Google algorithm changes. And, February 2011 to April 2012 has been one of the most important 14-month spans in the history of Google's algorithm changes.
However, since most small businesses depend highly if not entirely on their respective local market, having a highly optimized Local SEO can be a huge boon to your bottom line. And luckily, you can affect that with a few simple SEO tweaks.
First, there were 3 major algorithm changes that have significantly shifted the SEO landscape during that period of time.
- Last year was all about the value, and relevancy of content as a result of the algorithm named "Panda" which gave a huge boost to content marketing.
- This year, the focus was on quality. The algorithm that ensued and monopolized the SEO blogosphere was given the moniker "Penguin". This new algorithm was actually a penalty to all websites that attempted to heavily game the Google rankings by using what is known as "black hats techniques.
- Last but not least of these 3 algorithms was called "Venice", and was quietly rolled out in February of 2012. Venice focuses on Local SEO. As the 1st page rankings on the national level are getting more crowded due to competition by major brands, there is a lot more potential for smaller companies and brands to compete at the local level.
In order to improve your rankings locally, despite the algorithm changes, there is a plethora of actions that you can take but we will focus on the following 3 in order of ease of implementation:
It is no secret that Social Media as a whole is playing a significantly stronger role in SEO and users decision-making. Google is using strong factors from its own social network to influence keyword rankings.
As such Google+ is the easiest Local SEO recommendation to implement. If you already have a Google account then you already have a Google+ account. In the event that you do not have one already, make a point to create a Google+ Page for your business (this is different than your individual profile). Make sure to complete the "About" section as thoroughly as possible, and most importantly, complete the Contact section. The address and phone number are absolutely critical to local SEO, and be sure to utilize your local keywords here as well.
Google is all about having original and relevant content. Dedicating specific pages on your websites to local, municipal or regional areas will reinforce your relevance to that particular region in search engines.
It has been reported that about 50% of mobile searches have a local-intent. Thus, it is absolutely critical that your website be mobile-friendly, not just for SEO, but for the good of your customer; when your website is found in a mobile search your customers have a platform that has been formatted to their viewing real estate. It is the sad truth that the overwhelming majority of sites are not mobile-ready yet. If you own a website that is based in WordPress then you actually have 2 relatively simple options:
- WordPress has Plugins to tranform a regular website into a mobile website when viewed by a smartphone. There are several of them available out there and more are coming out as there is an increasing demand.
- More and more WordPress themes are being designed as "responsive" which means that they can adjust automatically to the size of the screen that it is being viewed on. Thus if the website is accessed from a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone, its layout will be different and optimized in each of those 3 different screen sizes.
Each has its own pros and cons; however, the bottom line is that both will get you a mobile-friendly site. On mobile searches Google will favor websites that are mobile-ready.
As the world is becoming more mobile, and relevancy more local, having a sound Local SEO strategy is a competitive advantage that a business should develop and prioritize. Although there are a number of additional improvements that can be done to improve Local SEO rankings, the 3 tips discussed above should help you get started on that road.
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