When was the last time you looked to have food or grocery delivered to your doorstep? How often do you turn to the internet to look for an address of a company you want to do business with? When you do either of these things you are relying on the power of local SEO.
Business owners who have a brick-and-mortar shop or serve a particular geographic area leverage on local SEO to increase traffic and brand awareness. There are various tasks associated with local SEO. Some of them include searching for local keywords and creating a Google My Business account. Local SEO utilizes NAP citations which stands for name, address, and the phone number of the company. This citation also includes a link to the company’s website.
Why Does Local SEO Matter?
According to Google, nearly 46% of all its searches are for local companies while 76% of users who perform a local search on their phone visit a local business on the same day. Since results for local SEO usually include operating hours and reviews from other consumers, you can imagine what an impact it can have on a company’s revenue.
Inarguably, local SEO matters for businesses that need to thrive at a local level. NAP citations built through local SEO can help a local business’ Google ranking as long as the information is accurate and relevant.
In 2016, Google began including a small yet significant update to the way that search results, particularly for local businesses, appeared. Referred to as a local pack, it points to the expandable section towards the top of SERPs when a user submits a query that Google interprets as local SEO.
Since then, NAP citations have grown and become more accurate, businesses have learned to use Google My Business, and local SEO has grown in use and popularity.
The question now is: how can you leverage on local SEO?
How to Optimize Your Website for Local SEO
Think about it: If your website is not optimized, how can local SEO alone help in Google ranking?
The short answer is: it cannot help. You can have local SEO without optimization, but you would be missing out on a significant opportunity to have a higher ranking on Google without it. Hence, website optimization needs to happen before you begin local SEO efforts.
Significance of a Proper Contact Page
Your website needs a committed contact page. Users want to know more about your company before deciding whether or not to do business with you. This is where the NAP citation is essential.
Double-check your name, address, and phone number on your contact page. Incorrect information is not only annoying for users, but can also keep potential customers away.
Add Business Addresses
If your company has more than ten locations, you do not need to add all of them, but if it has less than ten, make sure you add all the details for each address in a convenient place on the website. Usually, the business address is located in the footer section of a web page.
Link Mobile Numbers
People tend to use their mobile phones when looking for local business. Hence, it is crucial to make all the mobile numbers listed on your website clickable. Doing so allows people to directly call your business without having to switch applications to dial your number.
If you don’t know how to do this, there are several websites which can walk you through the process.
On many occasions, users are unable to locate or understand your business address. This is a frustrating experience for would-be customers and can lead them to find another business similar to yours that is easier to locate.
To avoid this situation, add a map or provide a link to your location on the website.
When you add testimonials to your website, it lends an authentic voice to your page and sends a positive signal to users and search engines. It allows prospective customers to survey your business beforehand and decide whether or not to pursue a relationship with your company.
Schema to the Rescue!
In the previous chapter, you came across the concept of schema markup. To recap:
Schema refers to particular code on your website allowing search engines to understand what your website is all about.
When you add a specific schema that clarifies that your website is a local business and not a major brand, you attract more local users.
There are tools like Hall Analysis that help you create schema for your website.
Now that you know how to optimize your website for local SEO, you need to understand how local SEO and search engines interact with each other.
Understanding Local SEO and Search Engines
As mentioned above, there are two concepts you should know: local intent and local pack. In this section, let us focus on local intent.
Do you notice when your geolocation is active, and then you search for a bookstore or a diner on Google, it gives you a result peppered with nearby places? It happens because Google senses local intent from you and reacts accordingly by displaying local businesses.
Since geolocation relies on either GPS technology or your IP address, you can end up performing a local search even when your geolocation is turned off. A search, for example, for “diners near me” will make Google list all the local restaurants near you.
Over the years, Google has simplified local searches for users by adding features to local SEO. The local finder is one such example whereby users can view a longer list of businesses than the initial three listed by the local pack.
So how does Google’s algorithm work when it comes to local searches?
Within the context of search engines, an algorithm is a series of instructions that a computer follows to produce an SERP in response to a query. However, when it comes to local SEO, Google’s algorithm works differently. Apart from the usual factors, Google considers other aspects such as:
The relevance of the business
Prominence and credibility of the website
Proximity of the business to the user
Again, because of Google’s modified local SEO algorithm, it becomes really important to ensure that the information on your website (particularly your business name, address, and phone number) are correct and kept updated.
Understanding Local SEO and SERPs
When you look up information that Google recognizes as a local search, Google displays local search engine results pages or local SERPs. After performing local SEO searches for different things, you will notice that these results are displayed in the same format. However, there can be slight differences in format depending on whether the website has a local pack or is organically localized.
But wait, what is the difference between a local pack and a local organic search?
A local pack is what appears on an SERP when the search engine detects a local search from a user. Since it is based on location, Google typically shows a map of three business listings based on a location. An organic search is not based on location and the results can be a variety of different businesses, social media pages, news stories, blogs, videos, etc.
Local business owners should ideally aim to rank high on Google’s SERP and local pack listings. Below is an example of a local pack. Notice how the elements and layout are different from a regular search result.
Google identifies these local packs from the Google My Business account. It is a crucial part of local SEO marketing.
Having said that, let’s move on to how to make Google My Business work for you.
Local SEO Tips
Let us reiterate: your first step should always be to optimize your website before moving on to work on local SEO. Once you’ve done that, look into the tips below to build up your local SEO.
Create Online Profiles – (Principally Google My Business)
If you have a business, there are other ways to achieve an online presence apart from your company website. Consider platforms like Yelp, Tripadvisor, Facebook, and most importantly, Google My Business. You can also create your profile on local sites as it increases the chances for local reviews.
Why focus on Google My Business specifically?
When you create your profile on Google My Business, you are leveraging on Google’s local SEO feature and making it work for your company. Google My Business is invaluable because it allows you to enter and display details that are unique to local SEO such as your operating hours, contact information, and a link to your website. It also allows you to add your business location using Google Maps, which can be extremely beneficial to your business.
Don’t overlook business listings, directories, and review sites.
Earlier, we recommended adding to your online presence using other online platforms. Here’s why: search engines may show results from Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other similar websites when users search for your business. Hence, it’s best to create a profile for your business on relevant platforms such as these.
Pay attention to your social presence.
When considering how else to augment your online presence, strongly consider social media platforms. When doing so, make sure that you are being consistent with the information that you are providing so that visitors will know that your profiles across these platforms refer to one and the same company.
Generate Local Content
A blog on your website is one of the best ways to generate local content. When you create a blog, make sure it is on your primary business domain and people visiting your website can see it. Blogs are especially helpful because they can help you achieve natural links, one of the best ways to increase your ranking.
A great way to increase value for your blog is to create content that is localized. Local content makes your content particularly relevant because it is specific to your business and the place where it is located. The question now is: how do you create localized content?
Mention local places found in your business’ immediate vicinity (cities and neighborhood)
Add local news
Highlight local events by writing about them or, if possible, sponsoring them
Consider including opinions from local experts relevant to your business
Are there things to avoid when trying to generate local content?
Certainly. Make sure to avoid the following:
Avoid trying to overly sell your products or services using your blog. Such posts are generally unhelpful and do not help catch the user’s attention.
When you create local content for your website, make sure you do not copy other website’s information. Be genuine and make your services and products stand out by making your messaging a unique and authentic representation of your brand.
Avoid various approaches to your business. Strive to keep your website’s brand as consistent as possible wherever and whenever your company is mentioned online.
Focus on Backlinks
When you are generating content for local audiences, you also need inbound links or backlinks. Your relationship with other businesses helps you improve your efforts to gain inbound links. Begin by initiating some online interaction with complementary businesses where you see a mutually beneficial relationship. Try leaving useful comments on their blogs and add a link to your blog.
Another way to go about link building is performing a backlink audit of your competitors. A backlink audit refers to the research you can conduct on your competitor’s website to find out the links that are pointing to them.
There are tools like Ubersuggest that help in performing a backlink audit.
Pay Attention to Your Target Audience
Knowing your audience is no less important when you are looking to utilize local SEO. Do you know who your target audience is? It’s an important question that you need to consider even before you begin working on your website. Your products and services, your content and the way it is written, including the look and feel of your site need to cater to your target audience.
To have a local perspective on who your target audiences are, you may want to take a look at tools like Zip Code Lookup.
Significance of Local Reviews
Do you know how easy it is to dupe people in business? Actually, with the internet and savvy consumers, it’s becoming harder and harder. Over time, the internet has provided users with increasing resources to differentiate between a legitimate and illegitimate business. How you ask? Through local reviews of course.
When your local business is up and running, people will post reviews about it. These reviews can consist of compliments, feedback, or overall experience. People check these reviews and ratings before planning to deal with your business.
If your website or business profiles lack ratings, you may face difficulty in boosting your local SEO. As mentioned above, when you join Google My Business, you automatically enable reviews to be added to your local pack.
Reviews are continuously posted by clients and potential clients. It is crucial to remember that every comment counts. If you receive any negative reviews, which at some point every business does, reply to them professionally and courteously. Most websites include a feature that allows businesses to acknowledge and respond to reviews in-line.
That being said, Google reviews are one of the most vital local ranking factors. No wonder some businesses resort to asking customers to post reviews. As good an idea as it sounds, asking customers to leave positive reviews of your business is not a wise course of action at all. The best reviews are authentic and are generated organically as a result of a genuinely positive experience with your business.
Additionally, Google has become wise to manipulated rankings. Incentivizing positive reviews, for example, is against local SEO policies.
Everything about Citations
Citations, as mentioned above, are the contact details of your website even without an actual link to your website.
These citations are a crucial part of local SEO as they generate local signals for your brand. You need to refer to an actual physical address when building them. If your business has different locations, you can customize it, provided you are consistent with your brand name and messaging across all citations.
If you are using abbreviations, make sure it is acceptable. You can refer to Whitespark’s complete table. More on this later.
Let us look at some ways to build citations for your business.
Use local search engines
Google or other search engines like Bing use web crawlers to look for citations to update their indexes. To ensure that web crawlers find your citations, you need to focus on listing your business on Yelp, Hotfrog, or any other relevant local directories.
Use local blogs
As you read above, blogs are an essential tool for boosting local SEO. Blogs can also help to build citations. When you optimize your blog using high-quality content and relevant inbound links, search engines can effortlessly find your citations.
You should also find other relevant blogs for inbound links as they can add credibility to your local business.
Use local directories
Local directories are similar to local blogs. They increase your credibility as a business. Try using local directories that are edited by people. If you choose machine-edited ones, there are more chances of spam.
Begin your search for local directories journey by adding your business to Best of The Web’s regional directory.
After doing so, you can customize your directory search by filtering your list using the targeted city or state’s name.
Industry-specific directories or blogs
Industry-specific directories or blogs are another way to achieve citations. Look for blogs or directories that are focused on your industry and find a way to have a listing (if it is a directory) or be mentioned (if it is a blog). They may not always be local, but search engines count them as justifiable citations.
Porch is an example of an industry-specific directory. Its website connects homeowners with home improvement professionals across the United States.
Citations are undeniably an essential part of your business’ online presence. Make sure you have them wherever relevant and that they are consistent.
Other Local SEO Tips:
Now that we’ve covered the basics of local SEO, there are other aspects that we recommend you check off your list once you’ve done the above:
Improve your internal linking structure to give your local SEO a boost. As you read in the off-page SEO chapter, taking care of how your internal pages are structured is vital for your website.
Optimize your title tags, meta descriptions, URLs, titles, headers and content as necessary for local intent.
Add a location page to your website. It is similar to a citation and can help users find your business easier.
Make your website mobile-friendly as it helps in local searches. Users are more likely to search for a local business using their mobiles.
Now that you know how to optimize for local SEO, let us look at some useful tools you can use.
Top Local SEO Tools
Local SEO tools help boost your local ranking. Here are a couple which you may want to consider using:
Boosts your local visibility by validating the information in your business listing
Sends location details of your business to online directories to eliminate duplicate listings of your website
Provides access to a dashboard where you can manage your listings
Updates your status across the web as soon as you enhance your data
Allows you to monitor your reviews
Moz Local automatically synchronizes your Google My Business profile and updates your listings according to the changes you make on this profile.
Price: Ranges from $99/year to $249/year. (Depending on the package you choose)
You can use this tool for auditing citations and Google My Business profiles
Generates legible SEO reports
You can track the search rankings for targeted keywords
This tool can help fix and create new citations
BrightLocal offers white-label reporting, which is a beneficial tool for business branding. In white-labeling, you add your brand to another company’s product to show an united front to your clients. The reporting tool allows you to customize your dashboard according to your needs..
Price: $29/month (single business) with a 14-day trial period
Semrush’s Listing Management Tool
Employs Yext, a digital platform, for listing your business across all the social platforms
Provides you with a dashboard to manage your listings
Dashboard allows you to check the listing status of your website
Note: This tool is available only in the US, UK, Germany, France, and Australia for the time being.
Price: $119/month (with Listing Management Tool)
It is a Google extension, hence you do not need to leave the browser to check other details like backlink analysis, keywords, etcetera
You can have detailed information for local keyword ranking
This tool gives you information about your competitors’ keywords
GrowthBar can help you identify the top-ranking keywords of your competitors.
Price: $29/month with a 5-day free trial
This tool focuses more on local search marketing
It helps in finding local citations, tracking ranks, and building your website’s reputation across all online platforms
Whitespark helps you find promising links for optimizing your internal pages.
Price: $100/per location (You can add up to 5 industries or local sites)
Make Local SEO Work For You
Before local SEO, the local pack, NAP citations, and the tools mentioned above came along, small and local businesses had to rely on advertisements in local publications, printed phone directories, and flyers circulated in their neighborhoods. Today, business owners have a lot more control over how and where their products and services are promoted. If you are a business owner with a physical storefront or servicing a targeted area in your vicinity, make sure to take advantage of local SEO. It can help your business grow faster, more cost effectively, and efficiently
Now that you’ve understood the significance of on-page SEO and how it can impact your ranking and your business it’s time to look at another important aspect of SEO – Off-page SEO.
Why Does Off-Page SEO Matter?
Off-page, as the name suggests, refers to everything that falls outside the purview of the website. It refers to the tasks in which you have less or zero control. Whenever someone refers to off-page SEO, the only other term which comes to light is link building. But, while link building is an essential tactic, it is not the only one.
Off-page SEO is necessary for building the authority of the website. By optimizing brand building, content marketing, and your social media strategy, you can outrank other websites. Outranking other websites also gives you an idea about your competitors. And together, these tactics are useful for building a reliable reputation for your website.
Off-Page SEO VS Technical SEO
Off-page SEO is all about building a brand for your website. Therefore the tactics used here fall outside the scope of the website.
Brand Building: It refers to the advertisements and campaigns that promote your business, brand, or company.
Content Marketing: It refers to creative marketing strategies that do not directly promote your company; instead they provide a natural push towards your company’s services or products.
Social Media: Social media links are a no-follow, i.e., it does not affect your ranking on search engines. But as an off-page SEO tactic, optimizing your company’s social media accounts might get you an organic audience which can positively affect your website’s ranking.
Technical SEO, on the other hand, caters to the technical aspects of the website like indexing and crawling. Several users confuse technical SEO with on-page and consider them to be the same. Though there are some similarities, certain components of technical SEO differentiate it from on-page SEO.
Site Speed Optimization: It comes under the broader concept of web performance optimization. If your website loads quicker on a laptop and a mobile phone, it ranks better on search engines.
Canonicalization: It refers to the process of adding canonical tags to your website. These tags are useful in marking specific URLs as prime copy of your content.
Hreflang: It is an attribute that helps Google or any other search engine identify webpages in different languages on your website.
Now that you know the difference between off-page SEO and technical SEO, let us take a detailed look at the most important strategy of off-page SEO.
Everything About the Link Building Strategy
The link-building strategy ranks first in off-page SEO tactics as it serves as a root for all other tactics. Your aim when performing off-page SEO should be to build your website’s authority. For that, you need high-quality links from credible websites.
You also need to understand the attributes your website should have for effective link building.
How to Assemble a Page for Link Building?
Links are the most crucial factor for Google ranking. The initial steps for link building are vital since they are the foundation for off-page SEO.
Placing Your Internal Pages
Your priority in assembling a site page for link building should be optimizing your internal pages. Broken internal links do not bode well with users or search engines.
Categorization helps to boost a website’s performance. If you throw random internal links on your page (without laying them in a logical order), it will harm the website.
This is where the use of silo pages comes into the picture. What are silo pages, you ask?
Silo pages are static pages that categorize your content for Google to find topical relevance on your website. If your internal pages stand alone, it can disrupt the whole navigation process. Similar internal pages should ideally be linked together.
Remember, it is the quality of the links you provide that counts and not the quantity. Also emphasizing your brand name is crucial here.
Topically Relevant Elements
When it comes to relevance, it should cover both content and links. In the previous chapter, you came across the concept of keywords and how they are vital for on-page SEO.
It is necessary to mention here, how crucial on-page optimization is because very often website owners or site operators forget to pay attention to these details.
To find relevant keywords, prioritize identifying the core subject of your content. It will help you be aware of what people usually search for around your topic.
Another significant element is topically relevant links. When you search for high-quality links for your website, it is wise to look for thematically similar links. For e.g., if you have a website about cars, you should look for links from other car-related websites or blogs. That is how you make your links authoritative and relevant for the users.
Are you still finding it difficult to understand what authoritative and relevant links mean? Let us dive into the details of backlinking.
Backlinks: Ensuring it is Relevant, Authoritative, and Friendly
There are 3.5 billion Google searches all around the world every day. You read it right, 3.5 billion!
That is why off-page SEO optimization becomes more significant. Natural links play a crucial role in this optimization.
Wait, but do you know what natural links are? Other websites or blogs use your website’s link in their content as it might be relevant to them; those are natural links. These natural links increase the credibility of your content. It also helps to build relationships that boost your website ranking.
Google bot spiders continuously crawl and index new information on your website. Hence, the links you provide are essential. Earlier, the emphasis was more on the quantity of the links, not so much on the quality. But the focus today, by Google and other search engines is on user experience. If your website hosts broken links, it will reduce its chances to rank higher on search engine results pages. To avoid this, there are steps you can adopt to ensure your backlink’s optimization.
Broken Link Building: This is a constructive step you can take for your backlink optimization process. Though Google does not bother about dead links, nor does it affect ranking, users may not find it appealing. Several users avoid websites that host dead or broken links. What you can do as part of the off-page SEO optimization process is to conduct thorough backlink research. The research will allow you to identify broken or dead links. You can then contact the owner of the website with the broken link and let them know about its status. If they find your information useful, they might add your website’s URL to their content.
Significance of Infographics: Infographics help to display data in an appealing format. When you add relevant infographics to your website, it appeals to the users and helps in outreach, one of the strategies of off-page SEO. If you do not want to spend an extensive amount on designing these, you can always find websites that design them without burning a hole in your pocket.
Link Building Do’s and Don’ts – Things to Avoid
It is crucial to understand the do and don’ts of link building for the optimization process.
Quality Content: If your website contains quality content, you’ve achieved more than 70% of the optimization process. It includes keyword research and adding value and relevance to your content.
Backlinks: As mentioned above, backlinks increase the credibility of your website. It involves internal links as well as optimization of all broken or dead links.
White Hat Tactics: It refers to everything you do to improve your website’s ranking ethically or as per rules and regulations. This helps maintain the ethics of your website.
Patience: The link-building process takes patience and perseverance. If you imagine it happening overnight, you are mistaken.
Spam/low-quality engagement: It is always favorable for your website to engage in reputed and high-quality websites or blogs. Connecting with spammy links may hurt the website’s reputation.
Specific anchor text: If you rely on a single anchor text, you miss the opportunity to diversify your content. Optimizing your anchor texts can help boost ranking. However, over-optimizing and breaking the rules may see you getting penalized by Google.
Link exchange: It is wise to stay away from schemes that involve you exchanging your link for another. Remember that only specific and relevant links can help your website.
Black Hat Tactics: It is the complete opposite of white hat tactics. It refers to practices that do not comply with the rules and regulations of the search engines. These practices are usually for improving website ranking.
Things to Avoid:
Spending money for links
Adding toxic links on your website
Speedy link building practices
Do you know what happens when you do not follow these guidelines? Google can penalize your website. Let us look at some tips to avoid such penalties.
Checks to Avoid Unnatural Links and Google Penalties
Google’s primary focus is user optimization. As such it gives high value to websites that provide credible and relevant information to their users.
To avoid Google’s penalty radar, one should conduct thorough backlink research and understand how relevance works as a factor. There are some steps you can take to ensure Google does not penalize your website.
Always remember, your content is for the users. Your website’s goal is to help users find relevant information or products. If your tone is overly promotional, it may become a reason for Google to penalize your website.
Diversifying anchor text is crucial. As you read above, relying on one specific anchor text does not help your website. It just shows Google that you have too many unnatural links on one anchor text, and it does not bode well for your website.
Add different but relevant keywords. Google does not appreciate keyword stuffing.
Prioritize avoiding low-quality links. When you optimize your internal links on the website, users can navigate through your website with ease. Google notices these factors and gives your page a better ranking.
Now that you’ve understood everything about link-building, let’s look at another vital strategy. Do you know how Google decides whether a brand is authoritative and authentic? It is through brand signals. Let us look at brand signals and how they affect your website ranking.
Brand Signals Strategy: How to Generate them?
Brand signals help Google decide whether your website is a legit brand. It is, therefore, crucial to send the right brand signals as Google cannot differentiate between spam and legit brands. These are the ways to generate the proper brand signals for your website.
Inspect Brand Searches
Brand searches refer to the number of people who search for your brand on Google. It is advisable to audit and inspect these brand searches as they can provide valuable information about the kind of audience that visits your website.
You can find this detailed report on the Google Search Console. The columns of queries, clicks, and impressions give you the data you need to understand brand signals.
Investing in YouTube is one of the smartest decisions in generating brand signals. It comes in handy, especially if you are considering video marketing. YouTube videos are known to get an audience for videos that ordinary websites cannot.
Using YouTube for marketing increases your reach and brand awareness as well as allows more people to reach your website.
Setting up brand tracking for your website will help you analyze how many people talk about your brand on different forums. It helps in understanding what enhancements your brand signaling needs based on user engagement.
There are tools like the Semrush Brand Monitoring tool that provide you detailed information, including brand trends about your website.
Add Studies and Research to the Content
Adding metrics, research, or studies to your content adds to its credibility. Not to forget the large number of high-quality backlinks it provides to your website.
Users come across these backlinks and use this credibility to share your website on social media. Though social media follows do not directly affect Google’s ranking, it has an indirect impact.
Now let us look at some other off-page SEO strategies you can use to increase your organic search traffic.
Other Off-Page SEO Strategies
There are several strategies you can adopt for your off-page SEO process.
Outreach as a Strategy
When you communicate and aim your content at publishers, you are using outreach as an off-page SEO strategy. It helps in boosting relationships as the principal goal of outreach is link building. Outreach uses the contributing factors of value, relevance, and creativity of the content.
Try Guest Posting
When you provide content for other websites or blogs, it is guest posting. It primarily helps in building quality backlinks and adds credibility to your website. It is crucial to understand the difference between direct selling and writing quality content. Guest bloggers often use the opportunity to advertise their services.
Social Media to the Rescue!
Your website needs an audience. User engagement catches Google’s eye, and it gives you a better ranking. And what better way to gather an audience than social media? Understand the power social media possesses in this generation, and use it for your benefit. You can optimize your social media game to the fullest by being attentive and responsive, following all the big but relevant brands, and maintaining a uniform online reputation.
The Power of Visual Representation
Do not underestimate the role of images and videos on a website. If a website contains lines and lines of information without any visual representation, it will lack appeal to the reader.
When you notice various kinds of visual information, like images, infographics, videos, or gifs on a website, it is not just for decorative purposes. It is also to catch the user’s attention and hook them to the website. It is also crucial to remember that all visual data should be relevant to the content you provide.
Be Attentive of the Web
Being aware of what is happening on the web is probably the most understated strategy for link building optimization. Following current trends and finding your relevance in them should be a regular practice. Communication with the users regarding these trends always helps boost user engagement on the website.
Link building is all about building relationships. When you have healthy connections to other webmasters or bloggers, you can understand how outreach strategy works. Building relationships with other webmasters help your website reach audiences that you cannot.
Credibility in your content can help increase your website’s trustworthiness. Trying to catch a user’s attention with attractive titles without any relevant content can harm the website’s reputation.
You may have noticed some websites with a lock beside the URL. That is called Secure Socket Layers or SSL. SSL allows the user’s data to be private and it is an effective way of building trust among users.
Be Open To Comments
If your website hosts a section for reviews or comments, you increase user engagement through interaction. But do not focus only on user engagement. Try and understand what these comments mean and what improvements they require. When you work on these enhancements by responding to their queries, you build a valuable reputation for your brand.
Make Use of Forums
Forums like Quora or Reddit get various kinds of audiences. The question and answer format of these forums help you talk about various aspects of your products or services with some indirect links to your brand.
Of course, it is vital to find relevant forums for your website. Haphazard links to your brand may seem too promotional, and users may mark it as spam.
PR, Not Marketing
PR refers to public relations. Though most people believe PR and Marketing to be the same, they are quite different. PR is all about building a brand. It is not about selling your content, product, or services; it is about selling your brand.
When you use PR as a strategy for off-page SEO, you are opening yourself to whole new avenues for content.
Podcasts refer to the audio files available online for users to download. It can be about any topic in a spoken form. Including podcasts, as a strategy can help with user engagement as 51% of Americans enjoy listening to them and it increases your audience. Again, understanding what podcasts will be relevant for your website is significant.
Pay Attention to Reviews
Reviews are a significant part of the off-page optimization process. The brand signals your website sends out creates its persona on the web.
Reviews from users for your website make a huge difference to your website. If they do not rate or critique, it means there is less user engagement.
To optimize your SEO strategy it is important to concentrate on all the factors that go into off-page SEO.
After reading the first chapter, you’d agree that the optimization of a webpage determines its ability to rank.
Did you know that on Google’s search results, the first five organic results on the first page alone accounted for 67.60% of total clicks?
How do you ensure that your website or webpage gets to the first page and gradually to the top five?
Through on-site SEO. In fact most expert SEO practitioners agree that on-page SEO needs to be a priority for any brand or business, big or small.
Let’s first understand what on-page SEO actually means.
Also known as on-site SEO, on-page SEO refers to the process of optimizing web pages so the website ranks high on search engines. This in turn gets the website more organic traffic.
What is the Difference Between On-Page and Off-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages for higher ranks on search engines. It includes optimizing content as well as the HTML source code of a page.
Off-page SEO on the other hand refers to the optimization of factors that fall outside the website spectrum like links and external signals.
While you have complete control over the elements that come under on-page SEO, when it comes to off-page SEO, you cannot gain absolute control over its components. For instance, if you replace low-quality images on the web page with higher quality, that is optimization through on-page SEO. On the other hand, if you share links to your website personally, it is off-page SEO.
Why is On-Page SEO Important?
The whole process of SEO works around search engines and helping them understand your website and its content better. This is where on-page SEO comes in. Not only does it help search engines understand your website, it also helps identify whether your website is relevant to a search query.
You will agree that search engines have become more sophisticated. Search engines like Google place a lot of emphasis on relevance as well as semantics when it comes to the ranking of search engine results pages or SERPs.
Google for instance, is known for its extremely complex algorithms that work to:
Decode search queries in order to understand what searchers are actually searching for.
Delivering search results that actually match the searchers criteria or requirement.
You would be surprised to know that Google’s search algorithm takes into account over 200 factors when it comes to ranking websites.
Wondering why there’s so much emphasis on Google alone?
Consider the following statistics.
In 2019 75% of the global desktop search traffic went to Google. Bing at second place accounted for 9.97%, followed by Baidu at 9.34% and Yahoo at a measly 2.77%.
Not convinced yet?
Google received approximately 2.3 trillion searches in 2020 alone.
So, if you are a business, this number would mean that a large percentage of your potential customers are on Google. It, therefore, goes without saying that your website needs to rank on Google so potential customers get to know your brand and your products.
Your website needs to meet all the criteria that Google’s algorithms seek. You can start by making sure that your website, as well as the content, are well optimized according to industry standards.
When it comes to content optimization, there are two kinds of content. One that is visible to the visitors on your website including text copy, images, videos, audios, etc. The other type of content is one where the elements are visible only to search engines. These include HTML tags, and clearly defined or structured data.
Relevance is the most crucial factor in search engine optimization. When a search engine finds your webpage relevant, your website automatically ranks higher. For instance, using appropriate keywords and phrases helps to achieve optimization.
Basic Steps to Optimize On-Page SEO:
Be Aware of Google’s Criteria
Understanding Google’s criteria for ranking websites is crucial and probably the first step towards optimizing on-page SEO. It involves considering the first impression of the website. To understand what comes under the first impression, visit your website from the audience’s perspective. How long did the website take to load? Is the content on the page relevant to the topic? If these factors are proper, they match Google’s criteria.
Adding appropriate keywords and phrases is another crucial criterion for Google. It increases the audience’s engagement to the page.
Another factor to keep in mind is the content’s credibility. Fake or incorrect content on your website may create flak and harm the website’s reputation.
Check Keyword Placement
As mentioned above, keyword placement is vital in optimizing on-page SEO. For example, if you add the main keyword for the topic in the first paragraph of your content, it increases the chances of Google finding your webpage relevant.
Avoid adding keywords haphazardly to the content as it shows lazy work. It will also harm the quality of the work. Try adding synonyms of the main keywords throughout the write-up. These synonyms should blend in with the content rather than standing out as odd words and phrases that seem out of context.
Consider Formatting Content
Formatting is equally vital for the optimization of on-page SEO. Utilizing H1 tags for Titles and H2 for sub-headings improves the chances for bots to recognize the content. These tags should hint towards the central idea of the content.
Websites rank higher on search engines if the format is easy-to-read since this creates a positive user experience.
Take a Look at those Links
This is a very significant point and should not be overlooked. Linking includes both outbound and internal links.
Outbound links refer to external sources on your website that point to another website. They are a common industry practice and often used within online content with the purpose of adding more context to the information on the page. They help direct readers to another information source that is more comprehensive and add more value to the topic at hand.
Outbound links increase the credibility of the website’s content, which in turn adds to the quality of your website.
Internal links refer to the links which direct the user to another page on the same website. Internal links play an important role in building authority while improving ranking and organic visibility. In other words they help increase user engagement and reduce bounce rate.
Increase URL’s Relevance
When you create an appropriate URL for your website, it automatically adds credibility to your content. Users and search engines receive the content they were looking for, and the website’s URL is tagged as relevant.
Accurate Title and Meta Description Tags
Imagine this scenario.
You search Google for the difference between on-page SEO and off-page SEO. Google throws up numerous websites matching your search, but the first one has the same title and meta description you want. You click on the website only to find that the content is entirely about some other SEO-related topic. Wouldn’t it be disappointing?
It is therefore crucial to create a title and meta description relevant to the content you provide, to avoid this scenario. The title comes right under the URL and the meta description below the title. A meta description is a chance for you to publicize what your website is all about.
Regular Revision of Content
You should know that Google’s algorithms keep changing. Hence, if you keep revising your old content according to the new algorithms, it will enhance your website.
Remember, the ultimate goal of your website should be quality content. You might have a great looking website, but if the quality of your content is mediocre, irrelevant and inaccurate, it will impact the ranking of your website over time.
Images Can Boost Engagement
Many surveys suggest the correlation between images within the content on a website and user engagement. If the pictures are easy to load (reduced file size) and relevant to the content, it will increase user interaction with the website.
When including a picture in the content, it is vital to put appropriate alt tags and titles for better clarity.
Aim to Improve User Engagement
Your main goal is to improve user engagement, and your objectives are listed above. On-page SEO optimization aims to attract users to the website. It increases the chances for the website to rank higher on any search engine.
Increasing user engagement requires a simple user interface. Less loading time, clear headlines, uniform formatting, concise and relevant content, proper layout, building towards CTA’s (Call-to-Action), et cetera, are all examples for simplifying the user experience.
On-page SEO Tools and How to Use Them:
There are various types of on-page SEO tools. The tool you choose will depend on the element of on-page SEO that you want to target. Some components need extra attention. For instance, keyword research requires special attention as it affects ranking on search engines.
SEO Crawler: This on-page SEO tool is highly efficient and can make your work simpler. Manually checking your website for errors and mistakes, can be both time consuming and manually exhausting. An SEO crawler works as a site auditor tool and highlights all the on-page errors on your website. After you fix all the highlighted issues, you can use the rank tracker option to check the website’s improvement.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer: This on-page SEO tool is beneficial when you need access to various keywords and phrases in minutes. While you can also use other keyword searching tools what makes Ahrefs different is that it provides the keywords your competitors are using while also giving you specific ideas you can focus on for your website.
Copyscape: This on-page SEO tool is crucial for your website. It detects any duplicate or plagiarised content your website may contain. One of the ranking factors for Google is the uniqueness of the content. If it finds duplicity in your content, it will not accept it as relevant.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider: This on-page SEO tool is considered very effective because it lists down all the on-page elements of your website. This helps you understand what you can improve.
Google Developers PageSpeed Insight: As mentioned above, your website’s loading time is also considered one of the ranking criteria by Google. This on-page SEO tool gives you an idea of your page loading time. It also provides suggestions on how to optimize loading.
Moz On-page Grader: This on-page tool is popular because of its easy-to-use application. It provides you with a comparison of the SEO checklist, making your on-page SEO optimization process simpler.
Website Errors to Focus on:
There are several types of website errors that you need to look out for since these can affect your website’s ranking.
Unclear title and meta description tags
Low Word Count
Slow Loading page
You might wonder: Why do you need keyword research for on-page SEO optimization? By now, you should know the significance of keywords for your website ranking. Keyword research allows you to understand popular search terms in your niche. In other words, the queries that people are asking and the percentage of the search.
Keyword research helps you to create specific content directed towards your target audience. It assists you in avoiding generalized content creation as search engines prefer specific and relevant content.
Where Can You Find Keywords?
There are several ways you can find keywords for your content. Keyword searching tools provide you with seed keywords. They are phrases related to the central topic of your content. For instance, if your main focus is roses, it provides you with words related to roses. It can be “red roses,” “rose plants,” “Bouquet of roses,” et cetera.
Google suggestions are one of the most effective ways to find keywords for free. It appears when you enter the main keyword to the search console or at the end of the page. There are other ways to find keywords. Here is a list of the top five keyword tools.
Soovle: This keyword research tool provides you with various lists of keywords acquired from all the search engines and not just Google.
Jaaxy: This keyword research tool gives you thousands of keywords and phrases within minutes. It also offers the list of competitors, search volume, and possible traffic.
Google Keyword Planner: While this keyword research tool might seem elementary, it is actually reliable given that the data it presents comes straight from Google’s database. This tool also throws light on how much advertisers are bidding for top of the page ranking.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer: This research tool, as mentioned above, is a proven efficient on-page SEO tool. It hosts a feature that analyses the in-depth difficulty of the keyword.
SECockpit: If you need in-depth analysis in keyword research, this tool is the answer given its ability to perform deep filtering.
Long Tail VS Short Tail Keywords
Short tail keywords refer to general queries. If a user needs universal or mainstream information regarding a topic, short tail keywords come into play. For example, if the user keys in a search for roses, the short tail keyword comes up as “types of roses.”
Long-tail keywords refer to a more specific query. If a user needs a particular piece of information regarding a topic, long-tail keywords come into action. For example, if the user needs information about roses in cold weather, a long-tail keyword may display as “types of roses in cold weather.”
Tip: Including long-tail keywords and phrases in your website’s content is considered more effective since it is more likely to catch attention given that it involves components of short-tail keywords as well.
How to Use Keywords for Landing Pages?
It is crucial to know what a landing page is to understand the process of using keywords for landing pages. The page a visitor lands on after clicking through from an ad, an email or another digital location is called a landing page.
It is designed in such a way so as to convert visitors into leads. It is usually a standalone page with a form that allows you to capture crucial information from the visitor in exchange for an offer.
A landing page is the most effective way of driving traffic further into your sales funnel. It therefore needs to be optimized like any other page on your website. Here’s how you can optimize your landing page with keywords.
Understand the keywords you wish to target. Do thorough keyword research, because if you do not get it right, your landing page will end up with very little traction.
Using a keyword rich domain name can make all the difference to your ranking. You can incorporate a keyword into your domain name in the following ways: 1. Increase exposure by incorporating a keyword in the top level domain 2. Get ahead of the competition by adding a keyword as the first word in the domain name 3. Include appropriate keywords in subdomains.
By now you are probably aware that search engines do not restrict their crawling to website content alone. They also crawl through images on your site. Therefore add keywords in the image titles and alt tags.
Don’t forget to index your landing page. Use a tool that allows indexing by Google and other search engines. Such tools also give you the room to include keywords.
Did you know that globally, around 3.5 billion searches are done each day on Google? That’s more than 40,000 search queries on average, every second and the numbers only continue to grow.
Astounded? Well, there’s more.
According to research for every click that lands on Google’s paid result, there are 11.6 clicks to organic results.
A survey by the Search Engine Journal concluded that almost 81% of businesses consider their blogs as a vital asset to the growth of the business.
Wondering why these numbers matter?
That’s because these numbers prove that SEO is far from dead.
If you’ve been hearing this term a lot, it is only because SEO is pivotal for the success of any online business. So, let’s start with the basics first.
Definition of SEO
SEO also known as Search Engine Optimization is the process of increasing not only the quantity but also the quality of traffic to your website or webpage organically.
Confused? Let’s make it even simpler. It is the process of improving or optimizing the content on your site or page to increase its visibility for relevant keywords. When this happens, search engines will like to display your site or page among the top results for search queries.
Is it an art or a science? Well, I’d like to think it is a healthy balance of both.
SEO is an integral digital marketing strategy and should not be overlooked. The process works through search engines.
What Are Search Engines and How Do They Work?
A search engine is a software system that enables users to find answers to their queries by presenting a systematic list of options. These options are a result of the search engine’s database.
The job of a search engine is to navigate the web by downloading web pages that match with a search query and then following the links on these pages to locate more new pages.
What are these search results called, you ask?
These search results which appear when you enter a particular query are called the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).
These results match the user’s query and can be in the form of pictures, videos, content, or a combination of all three. There are several search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, AOL, et cetera, with Google being the most popular among them.
Though different search engines might present their information in distinct ways, they build on the same three basic principles, i.e., crawling, indexing, and ranking. These three principles and all the processes that make them up, come under the SEO process and its functions.
How Does SEO Work?
The search engine is not just some other website. Think of it instead as an entire library for web pages.
ACCORDING TO ESTIMATES, A MASSIVE 4.2 BILLION PAGES EXIST ON THE WEB
And the numbers keep changing by the second.
Like I mentioned above search engines work on the principles of crawling, indexing, and ranking. Let’s understand what they are.
It involves web crawlers (bots or spider bots) continuously searching for new web pages on the internet. Once a bot finds a new web page or link, it scans the content and passes it along.
In other words, search engines crawl hundreds of thousands of pages in a matter of seconds. They do this by using their web crawlers commonly known as spiders or search engine bots.
Once a bot finds a new page and scans the data, it is added into a data structure. This is called indexing and this data is now a part of the search engine’s database. Any discovered URL along with several relevant key features about its content is included in the index. Key features include:
The keywords in the content and the topics that the page covers
The type of content being crawled and similar content on the page
How up to date the content is or when it was last updated
The user engagement on the page or domain. It includes data on how most searchers interacted with the content on the page
While it does sound complex, indexing is a rudimentary method for building a website library. Crawling and indexing are continuous processes.
Ranking is the step that decides the hierarchy of the website result list. Let’s say you perform a search. The search engine then runs through their index for content that ranks high on relevance to the search query and then lists down that content to solve the query.
This listing of search results by relevance is known as ranking and organic search results play an important role.
Organic search results are those search engine results not determined by paid advertising. These results are ranked or categorized on the basis of their relevance to the term being searched.
Wondering why they’re important?
0-80% OF ONLINE USERS IGNORE PAID ADS, FOCUSING INSTEAD ON ORGANIC SEARCH RESULTS
Not convinced yet?
How about if I tell you that clicks on organic searches outnumber paid searches by nearly 12 to 1.
Once the role of the search engine is over, optimization comes into play. Optimization concentrates entirely on the content of the webpages. It involves owners, content creators, or editors checking every element on a webpage. This includes internal links, title tags, meta description, et cetera. Once they scan every element, they approve the content.
The content creators and editors of a web page ensure the content’s credibility and enhance it enough for the bots to find it easily. Now you may wonder why is it vital for the bots to find the page effortlessly?
It is because if a spider bot discovers a page without any effort, users can also find it.
How To Optimize for Google?
To understand the process of optimization for Google, you need to understand the various ranking factors and what they signify. Ranking factors refer to the criteria, which search engines utilize for ordering web page results. Some examples of ranking factors include:
Accessibility: This ranking factor tops the list as it is significant to have an easily accessible and secure website. A well-coded website improves search engine ranking. If a website is accessible, more bot crawlers can track it.
Page Loading Speed: This factor is essential as slow loading pages repel users. The page loading speed should include mobile page speed also. Speed is critical because 40% of internet users accept that they move on to another page if a web page takes more than 3 seconds to load.
A DELAY OF EVEN A SECOND IN THE LOADING TIME OF A WEB PAGE CAN LEAD TO A 7% LOSS IN CONVERSIONS
Optimized Content: This ranking factor is obvious. If you do thorough keyword research and take relevance into account while creating content for your website, you are on the right track to a higher ranking.
Optimized Links: Always double-check every link associated with the website. These include internal as well as external or outbound links. Broken links reduce your chances of ranking higher on search engines.
Overall User Experience: This factor takes into account the amount of time a user spends on your website. Ask yourself questions like, is your website mobile-friendly, how long do the links take to open, do users click on the CTAs, et cetera.
Now that you know what ranking factors are, you may be surprised to know that Google has over 200 of them! Curious about what they are? Well, only Google knows the answer to that and they don’t seem to be in any hurry to let us know.
Another crucial point to remember about Google is that it uses these ranking factors for web pages, and not for websites. And this is where the importance of keywords lies. But more on this later.
How long does it take to learn all about SEO?
There is no definite answer to this question. It all depends on how keen you are about the subject. The basics of SEO are not that tough, especially for anyone that is technically inclined. But, learning to master this process is a different ball game altogether. It may take several months to even years.
SEO is not a process you can learn overnight. It needs practice and consistent learning as it is evolving every day. Even when you get an SEO certification from any institute or online platform, it comes with validity as new concepts keep adding up frequently.
How can SEO help my business?
Search engine optimization is one of the most contemporary forms of marketing. If your business has an online presence, it requires web traffic for popularity.
If you hire someone in your business for the SEO process, that person can ensure ranking through organic searches by enhancing your content.
How long does it take for a ranking on Google?
Again, it depends. The optimization process is not an overnight tool for ranking your website. It requires time and patience.
Most importantly, it requires quality and relevant content, with all internal links, title tags, meta description, et cetera, in place.
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