30.07.18 Update - We've just released an online video version of this Local SEO training, including additional hints and tips not covered in this post. You can view this training on SkillShare and by using this link you'll also get 2 months free to access all other online courses.
This article is a continuation of a previous post (Improving your local SEO – starter guide). If you haven’t read the original blog post yet we highly recommend you start there to fully benefit from these tips.
In our previous article around improving your local search rankings, we looked at the main 8 or so variables that have an impact on where you rank in search engines. We hope you benefitted from this information and now have a good rounded knowledge of what you need to optimise to improve your rankings. In this post we are going to look at more steps that you can take to ensure you are doing as much as you can to appear at the top for keywords relevant to your website or business.
If you’ve ever seen a listing in Google that includes more information than normally appears (like review stars under a title, opening hours or logo) then you have already observed rich snippets in action.
Rich snippets/Microdata allow you to send additional information to search engines. Search engines such as Google and Bing use this mark-up to extract information from web pages, the idea being that it creates a richer experience for users. Adding microdata to your website is considered to increase your search ranking as it sends signals around the business name, location, phone number and opening hours.
If you are interested in implementing Schema markup to your website (and we highly recommend that you do), go and read through this excellent guide at Whitespark.
If you prefer the plugin route, it’s worth checking out the All in One Schema plugin for WordPress.
After reading our previous SEO article you’ll now know that business citations are a significant part of ranking for local search queries. It’s really important to have consistency of your NAP information across all of your directories (including social media!) and it’s considered good practice to be included on as many high quality directory websites as possible.
Adding your business to as many citation sites as possible is great, although sometimes businesses are not getting the full ranking power of their listings without even knowing. The problem is that for many directories, your listing will not be indexed by Google for some time (if ever). This means you’ll have spent hours opening accounts to list your business and a lot of your citations will not be seen by Google. Obviously not ideal.
A really handy trick to solve this issue is to get Google to index them yourself. When adding your business to citation sites you should keep track of your profile link for each one in a document or spreadsheet. When you’ve got bored of claiming listings and have a good number of profile links, copy and paste these onto a new page of your website. You can view ours here – we’ve just included them as “More Information” resource about our business.
Once you have your new web page that includes all of your citations, jump into Google Search Console. Under Crawl > Fetch as Google you can type in the link to fetch the page then press the “Request Indexing” button that appears. Here you want to select “Crawl this URL and its direct links”. Once Google has completed this process it will have indexed all of your citation profiles, providing you with a stronger signal.
If you’re using Brightlocal it’s worth tracking your citations before doing this then re-running the report to see the difference!
Site audit Tools
Outside of Yoast or other SEO plugins you may not have explored how optimised your pages are for specific keywords. You may also not have spent any time analysing your technical SEO (things like fixing 404 errors, load speed and other website issues). These two tools can be used for these purposes:
SEMrush‘s site audit tool is really useful to identify the technical improvements that you can do to improve your search rankings. SEMrush will crawl 100 of your website pages and identify any issues that you need to resolve. Think things like 404 errors, load speed issues, broken images and more. Spending a bit of time going through the outcome of the site audit is highly recommended to prevent avoidable search ranking issues.
The Hoth Site Audit
The Hoth‘s Site audit tool is fantastic for analysing how well you have done with optimising your webpage for a specific keyword. You are able to type in your URL and chosen keyword, and the tool will analyse everything from your website load speed, your keyword density, image alt tags to how search friendly your URL is. The tool is brilliant to complete after you have spent time optimising your website copy and you can even download the unbranded report as a PDF too.
Not all backlinks are made equal
In the previous article, we kept the backlink section limited to “get as many high quality links as possible”. We spoke about the importance of prioritising links from businesses that are located close to you, in your same niche, and links that actually promote some real traffic.
If you ended up doing more research around backlinks you’ll know this is an oversimplification and there is much more you can benefit from knowing.
The difference between Follow and Nofollow
Not all links have an impact on your website’s search rankings. Nofollow is an HTML attribute that can be added to links and is used to instruct search engine bots that a hyperlink should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine’s index.
A nofollow link can still be beneficial for your website as it may generate interested web traffic (e.g. all social media links will always be nofollow) but it won’t do anything for your website rankings. If you’re aim is to build links specifically to increase your search rankings, concentrate on building follow links as a priority.
You can find out whether a website uses the nofollow attribute by right clicking the URL and then “inspect” while using Chrome. It will look something like:
<a href=”your-website.com” rel=”nofollow”>Click here</a>
The importance of anchor text
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. SEO best practices dictate that anchor text be relevant to the page you’re linking to, rather than generic text. As search engines evolve, link relevancy is becoming more and more important. A highly relevant link can improve the likelihood of both page A and page B ranking for queries related to their topic – something you should already know from our previous blog post.
Securing links that include your keywords as anchor text really give these links a boost as it provides a higher signal to Google around the context of this link and therefore your website. Since the Google Penguin update, the search engine began to look more closely at keywords in anchor text and so it’s important not to build every link with your exact match keyword. Though in general, it’s still a best practice to obtain and use keyword- and topic-specific anchor text when possible. However, SEOs may get better results by striving for a variety of more natural anchor text phrases rather than the same keyword each time.