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It doesn’t matter if you’re an international organisation or a sole trader; if you want to compete in your marketplace, you’ll need to make sure your website is ranking well in the major search engines. More of us than ever before are turning to the web to find local products or services, and companies who neglect their web presence run the risk of losing their competitive edge.

If you’re running a local business and you want to gain a bigger share of the market in your city or county, you’ll need to get yourself more exposure from localised listings – and to do this, you must apply a series of white-hat onpage SEO techniques to your web pages and your platform as a whole.

Is it difficult to rank a local website in search?

Ultimately, Google’s algorithm is responsible for deciding which web pages are the most relevant for a particular keyword search (and these are the pages that will be listed highly in the organic search results). This intricate code relies heavily on a wide range of website markers – known as ranking factors – to determine whether or not a page is going to be a suitable resource for the user, and if it’s worth listing for their consideration.

The problem is, Google is always tweaking and refining its algorithm to deliver a better experience for browsers, and this means that these ranking factors are changing all the time. So, while it’s not especially difficult to ensure your website ranks well for local searches, you do need to make sure you’re employing the right onpage SEO tactics if you want to achieve those all-important first page positions.

How do I ‘do’ local onpage SEO?

There’s a tonne of conflicting local onsite SEO advice out there, and if you’re completely new to the concept of search engine optimisation, it’s difficult to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the seven smartest local SEO practices. Follow our tips below, and you should see a significant improvement in your organic presence within a matter of days.

Our 7 top local onsite optimisation tips for SEO novices

1. Add a relevant local address to your website

It may sound simple, but we’ve come across a lot of businesses who are keen to rank highly in a particular location yet don’t display their local address anywhere on their site!

If you’re not comfortable displaying your physical address online, or your business is actually registered elsewhere, consider setting up a virtual address in your targeted location with a trusted virtual office provider.

2. Get your meta tags in order

Your meta tags sit in the code behind your web pages, and they’re often the first port of call for any search engine crawler that wants to learn more about what your website stands for.

Use your meta title to clearly state the nature of your product or service, and the area you’re able to cover. Similarly, include a mention of your offering and your targeted region in your meta description to make it double-obvious to Google which keywords you should be ranking for.

Remember that your page meta titles and descriptions will appear below your website’s URL in the listings, so as well as being optimised for local SEO, they also need to appeal to your potential customers.

3. Make good use of structured data

Structured data – which you’ll often see referred to as schema markup – works in a similar way to meta tags in that it sits ‘behind’ your web pages and isn’t immediately visible to the user. However, it does, provide Google’s search engine spiders with a whole wealth of information on your site’s content, so it needs to be accurate and up to date at all times if you want the best chance of ranking well.

Those of you who aren’t confident writing schema code can use Google’s own Data Highlighter tool to mark up basic structured data patterns on your site.

4. Boost your load speeds

Your customers will quickly get bored and frustrated if your site is slow, clunky and difficult to use – and so will Google!

For the best results in and out of the search listings, make sure your web pages load quickly, especially on mobile devices. There are lots of free tools out there that can help you check your current load times; try Google PageSpeed Insights to begin with, and if you want a more in-depth summary of your website’s performance, run your domain through Pingdom or the aptly named WebPageTest.

5. Add the site to a range of online directories

Creating genuine listings across high authority web directories gives you fantastic exposure on these platforms – and it’ll give your local SEO a great big boost, too. Check out this useful list of the most valuable local directories from Website Helper and start adding your business to these sites right away.

When adding your company to different online directories, make sure your name, address and phone number (NAP) all follow the exact same format every time. Keeping your NAP details consistent makes it easier for Google to recognise ‘mentions’ of your business across the web.

Keep a record of your logins for every directory, because if any of your business details change, you’ll need to go back and update every listing you’ve made so far. It’ll take time, but it’ll be worth it in the long run!

6. Claim, optimise and verify your Google my Business listing

Talking of directories, you’ll also need to set up your company profile with Google my Business, Google’s own company index. It’s free, and it’ll increase your chances of being listed in the search engine’s infamous ‘three pack’ section, which in turn will get you in front of a wider pool of potential customers who are searching locally for what you have to offer.

Claim your listing by heading here. Enter your company information, taking care to ensure your NAP details follow the same format as any previous listings, and choose the categories that are the most relevant to you. You’ll then be asked to follow a verification process; this is essential if you want your listing to be indexed. Normally, you can ask for Google to send you a unique PIN number in the post, which you can then use to set the listing live.

It’s important to add lots of images to your Google my Business profile, too. Doing so will give your users something to interact with, which will improve engagement on your listing and send even more positive signals to Google’s crawler bots.

7. Ask for reviews!

The more (positive!) reviews you can get online, the more faith Google will place in your business.

Reviews aren’t just a brilliant marketing tool – they’re also a clear indicator that your company is credible and reputable, and Google likes proof that you’re doing a good job! You can ask your customers to leave you feedback on a huge range of platforms, including Facebook, Trustpilot and even Amazon, but for the best results, get them to add their kind words to your Google listing. For exmaple, if you are a tattoo studio in highams park you would want to collect reviews from people in your local area.

Stuck in a rut with your onsite SEO?

If you’re struggling to optimise your website for local search success, feel free to get in touch. We offer a range of packages that are specifically designed to support regional businesses.

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