WordPress has become a powerhouse in the CMS industry and the more it grows, the more its users are looking for various ways to optimize it for SEO. Out of the box, WordPress is usually SEO friendly but not SEO ready hence the need to optimize it. Even so, most users just do the basic SEO optimization and often neglect performing local SEO for their WordPress sites which is considered equally important.
Statistics during this year show that 46% of google searches are based on local search. Nevertheless most people who do search from these search engines tend to be most likely consumers who are interested to know more about a local business somewhere. In fact, further research claims that 97 % of consumers have searched online for a local business with around 28% resulting in a purchase. This gives you a clear indication on how important local SEO is to websites especially those operating under e-commerce niche.
In our previous article about WordPress quick guide on best SEO tips, we have focused on the usual page SEO which entails creating quality content and optimization with keywords and performing other off site SEO tasks. However this kind of SEO is not centered to bring local traffic even though it might for a small percentage.
It mainly generates an audience which is still beneficial, but what would be the need of being known by the outside world while the people near you do not recognize you at all? By asking this question you get what we try to drive at with this. Optimizing your WordPress site gives you a local audience who tend to be more welcoming since they can easily find your business even physically. In this article we shift our focus on how to go about local SEO on WordPress sites. We share different tips and strategies that most SEO gurus use to capture available local audience for their WordPress site and maneuver their competitors. We also see the different benefits and challenges for performing local SEO and how to out-run them. So, time to dive in!
- Write Quality Local Content
- Use localized keywords
- Use Google My Business
- Optimize your Schema markup for Local SEO
- Earn trust through Online Reviews
- Boost your local marketing
- Build your social presence
- Make use of Local SEO Plugins
An Overview of Local SEO
To start off, we first need to understand what all this means. Local search engine optimization is basically a strategy that affects the search visibility of a website within a geographical region which is mostly implemented by business sites.
We precisely say business sites as they stand to benefit more on this especially if they are offering a product or service to a community within them. It is considered as a strategy to seek attention from consumers as well as build trust within the specified region.
For instance if you head to Google and type ”hotels near me” you will find several business(hotel) sites listed in the search result that are within your locality. In case another user types the same, a search result page is given based on his or her location.
This is a search based on location which Google would often use maps if they know your location .
Another instance would be if you need a list of business sites within your area, by typing, “phone price in <your location>”. This kind of search is SEO optimized to bring several online businesses within your location that offer that service or product.
By using these examples, it indicates that search engines do understand how web users perform their local search so as to know what to display in SERPs (Search engine results page).
Positive Impacts Of Local SEO
As local SEO continues to grow tremendously, online business owners continue to rip off various benefits due to the enhanced targeting of local consumers. In this section we highlight some of the benefits that local seo creates for WordPress users with online business out there. Below are some of the benefits that we hope are able to change your mind on taking this crucial SEO step to help you.
- First it does improve Search visibility in SERPs
- Online visibility leads to more consumers finding your business physically which means more consumers for your local business.
- Local Content within your site improve business relevance
- With Local SEO, you get reviews for your website or business which boosts the trust from your audience
- You get to learn more about your customers intent so in return you can offer better service and products
- It also boosts your page rankings on search engines like Google and Bing due to the above reasons
- With Local SEO, Google ensures your online business is where your target audience is
- The best advantage to this is that Local SEO is usually free in most cases.
Factors WordPress Users Should Consider Before doing Local SEO
To perfect this strategy, WordPress users should ensure that they maintain basic needs on your site otherwise google will not consider ranking your website. Some of these aspects mostly concern the general SEO strategy. More into how your site interacts with its users. This is a key consideration that Google uses to determine how a site should be ranked since at the end of the day fulfilling the visitor’s needs is crucial.
Ensure your overall site is responsive
Websites are supposed to be responsive in order to improve the users experience. Users need to find whatever they are looking for without encountering any website issues. More so, search engines such as Google want to display search results that their users have exactly searched for.
Therefore, you can imagine if a user gets a search result from Google only to land in a messy site with no proper navigation or poor content placement. This makes Google mark your site as ineligible for high ranking and cuts you off.
Proper responsive design starts from ensuring your side has a responsive theme that also looks compelling to the visitor with well placed elements and provides the user with good navigation.
For a business site, this is important since it could replicate the services or products you offer. Lets not cross miles, a good example of a proper responsive theme would be the Kleo multipurpose theme which comes with templates to be used for your business needs. Moreso, such themes are SEO friendly and most optimization steps have already been managed for you.
A good responsive testing tool suggested by one of our readers is the Responsive Checker. The tool will help you in testing your Website across different devices. Two great things about this plugin are that the tool is free and you can actually get to browse your site within the selected device screens. This enables you to carry out an actual responsiveness test in the selected device.
Enhance Speed within your Site
There is no visitor who wants to land on a slow website and keep on waiting in order to get the information he/she needs. Actually research shows that 53% of web visitors will leave a site if it takes more that 3 seconds to load.
For an online business site, that is a prospect loss since its most likely it would have turned out as a lead. When it comes to WordPress sites, there are various strategies to make your site faster and decrease that loading time from 20 sec to 3 sec.
Some of these techniques include caching your website whereby you can install various plugins to do so, ensuring that your site is configured with a content network delivery (CDN) platform which uses PoPs to store and load your website content upon request.
Other tips include reduction or minification of a site’s assets and image optimization. These strategies have been discovered further in our previous post on “The Ultimate WordPress Speed Guide“. This should help you prepare your website for faster loading time before performing your Local SEO.
Optimize Your Site For Mobile Use
Did you know that 77% of web users use their mobile devices to search for a local business? A well optimized website for mobile devices means that the website can be displayed into other devices with larger screens like tablets and laptops.
More So nowadays Google tends to rank sites higher that have good mobile design. They have noticed that in recent years most consumers are using smartphones to access their local businesses which is why they have to look for well optimized sites to show on the first page in SERPs.
Google’s most recent stats show that 60 % of the smartphone users have contacted a local business directly by use of the search results displayed. They have used call to action links within the displayed results such as “click to call” which can not happen on desktop devices.
We encourage WordPress users to use various tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to check if or not their website is mobile responsive. The tool aids you to resolve the issue on mobile responsiveness by giving you necessary recommendations that you need to change within your site as shown above.
Tips for to perform Local SEO for your WP Site
Write Quality Local Content
Content has been the most important factor in improving local SEO and the overall site SEO, precisely quality content. Without it then zero work is what you’re doing since the chances of being discovered or getting ranked in SERPs are too low. While most of your work should concentrate on your target audience, one should also figure out a way how you can involve them.
Creating interactive is a recommended approach for this or simply being involved with your visitors. Use polls to get more data of what they like.
Additionally, write content that matters to them. For instance one can use case studies which show you have actively handled issues within your locality.
A bonus thing for your content is that as a site owner, you can mix up content by writing some consumer news based on your locality. However be wise on how you layout your local content, avoid looking spammy by pinning down any local information.
You need to focus on customer intent which also helps search engines understand the visitor well. Finally within your site your details matter, so it’s always good to mention your locality, a city, a county, a town, site your address and phone number too and adding a map would be a plus too. This way you make your audience reach you easily and google is able to mark legibility of your site.
Use localized keywords
Keywords are considered a game changer when it comes to site or page ranking. Even though Google has minimized its focus on keywords , they are still important especially when it comes to local SEO.Having created your quality content ensures you optimize it with local keywords.
Ensure you mention your city or town within your keyword, by doing this you enhance easier targeting for what you want to rank for. To find keywords, tools such as these can give you suggestions and once done use a keyword explorer to find out their search volumes. Other local keyword sources include craiglist and google search suggestive tool (Google Autocomplete).
Use Google My Business
Listing your online business is also a key procedure to maintain your higher rank with SEO. Google My Business, Bing Places, and Apple Maps Listings are some of the online tools specialised when it comes to claiming your business. In this case we focus on GMB which is a free tool that incorporates your business to search engines and also in Google maps. This is considered a key ranking factor even for small businesses. Below are some steps to follow when it comes to setting up your business online with GMB tool.
- One can either create or claim a business in case it’s already indexed within Google. To create one, head into the google business site and simply add your business by typing in its name and then hit “add your business to google”. Once you type your business name, it should prompt you if that is the name you want to use. Simply select it and click next.
- On the following page it will prompt you to enter a business category under which it provides suggestions for you. One can read more recommended information about categories on this page.
- It then requires you to choose if you need to add a location for your business store. We recommend you choosing Yes as it shows more legitimacy of your business and improves trust in consumers. Unless you have a virtual office kindly choose No. See Guidelines here.
- Next simply enter the location of your business or the address in short. This is for those who own a business with a physical address or those who work from home(Use home address). In case you have multiple offices in different locations you can add multiple addresses by clicking on the “add line” link.
- The next section requests you to point out your business location on maps using a drop pin. Simply drag and drop the pin to your exact business location which is important for easier navigation for your customers
- The next step involves the spread of your business. In case you serve other people outside your locality. In case you do choose ‘yes’, you ‘ll be asked to include the other areas your business operates. Otherwise choose “no”.
- Next include your contact details and website information; this is a key ranking factor as it increases trustworthiness in both search engines and consumers.
- Finally you just need to verify your business, which verifies Your Listing before your listing goes live. Normally it’s done by phone or postcard. Their instructions are clearly made to you and you just need to follow them.
Optimize your Schema markup for Local SEO
Schema markup or Structured data is also a general SEO practice but also recommended for local SEO strategies. This is used by search engines to provide further information about your website which is very important.
Data such as ratings or reviews are displayed within search engines through rich snippets. All this is done via the structured data strategy. In local SEO, schema markup provides SERPs by showing information which is specific to a particular business that appears as a physical organization within the results page.
Before setting up structured data for your local site, it is recommended to follow Googles’ own structured data guidelines and avoid inserting spam within their SERPs . Also, they do have a schema markup testing tool to check how your site has used it.
For WordPress users, in order to insert the schema markup, we recommend using the Yoast Local SEO plugin which has the ability to include Schema.org within your business details, like address, geo-location, opening hours, among others.
Earn trust through Online Reviews
Having pushed your online visibility to the top of Google’s SERPs, the journey does not end in this section. One will need to earn the customers trust and until they give good recommendations for your site, then you have not won it all yet. It is said that 88% of consumers trust online reviews the same way they would trust a personal recommendation.
Most of the common used review websites we suggest checking for local businesses include: TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google+ Local, Yahoo! Local, Angie’s List, and Urbanspoon. There are several ways of gaining great reviews for your business website and among them would simply be to ask from your consumers.
Never shall it hurt to ask, but we recommend doing so right after the customer has purchased a product and tried it or used a service. This way he/she will probably do it and you’ll stand to benefit if it’s positive.
Another way is doing what you do best. This is a clean strategy to earn trust for your new and existing customers. More so ensure you always attend to any negative reviews and follow up to ensure customer needs are fulfilled.
Boost your local marketing
Any promotional strategy applied to your local online/physical business is regarded as a search marketing technique. Local search marketing aims to involve customers in a particular geographic location to see what a business has to offer and fulfill their intent. Local SEO involves building on a solid basis to eventually win the competitive advantage. There are essential elements which are used to build Local Search Marketing among them which we’ve discussed in the previous points or as shown.
The manner in which you intuit and sell your local business should be built on the Google’s Guidelines which represent your company. Failure to adhere to Google’s regulations will lead to low ranking which is a shortcoming to your business and huge penalties. PR(public relations) could be a smart move for marketing your business since it is more engaging with your community. Moreso, performing more digital marketing practices with localized targeting is an assured way of getting your brand on the front-line.
Build your social presence
Having a social following is like having a public conversation with your customers. Using social media to get local brand recognition is crucial if you want to become a leading giant in the SEO environment where not even your competitors can reach.
The business you are running SEO on needs to have third party channels where they can grow and interact with customers too. Moreso it is important to know that most customers do research in third party platforms such as social media before heading to the real business entity to seek a service or a product.
Even though search engines do not consider social media interaction and performance of a company as an SEO ranking factor, these qualities do increase your eminence. The more popular you are the more the ranking on search engines too.
Make use of Local SEO Plugins
With the growth of local SEO, it becomes more essential than ever for businesses that own a WordPress website to choose the best plugins. Most plugins offer different strategies to make your business known locally and they are a must for every site owner to increase his site’s visibility as much as possible.
As for this section we recommend local business owners to use the Yoast SEO plugin as it is more trusted by many. Yoast WordPress SEO has been one of the most popular and downloaded plugins in the WordPress plugin store. This is due to its ability of having extensive capabilities on how to optimize your website for search engines visibility.
When it comes to achieving its capabilities for local SEO, it comes with its WordPress addon (Yoast Local SEO). This also gives extensive capabilities of making search engines such as Google aware of your local business. It gives clear details on your business name, location/address, contact details and many others.
As discussed earlier, this helps search engines show your business to customers who have the intent of getting services that your business offers.
The addon has the ability to enable you to edit details concerning GMB and also integrates with maps for better tracing of your business.There are other recommendable local SEO plugins one could use such as Google Places Review, WP Google Maps and Business Profile. However some may only help in listing of business and not focus on SEO management for your website. All in all, it’s all up to the user’s choice.
Increasing online search visibility for your local business is very important especially for those with websites and do not know how to go about it. However without performing the different practices for local SEO, this is quite impossible.
For WordPress users running their business with a physical location and within an online space, then local SEO should be in the midst of your budget. Most people search business entities within their locality through their mobile phones in order to fulfil their needs. Therefore by having a good online presence you will have attracted a dozen more of your customers and boost your business.