Top 4 Local SEO Factors for 2020
How to Get (and Stay) Visible in Search Results
There is no shortage of blog posts about how to optimize SEO for local performance. But we don’t just copy and paste factoids. Here are the top four things that our direct experience has shown will have the greatest impact on local SEO in 2020:
1. Mobile Visibility
More than ever before, local SEO is being driven by mobile user behavior. This means that the ability to appear on mobile search and in voice search results is extremely important. Many factors determine your visibility, most importantly mobile load speed, technical SEO optimization, and overall user experience. If the mobile version of your site is not showing in search results, you need to act now, because optimization and boosting a site’s ranking takes time.
Google search Console (GSC) is a great resource for identifying any issues pertaining to website crawlability or visibility. Google stores any site errors that it finds inside of Search Console.
The Google algorithm sees any technical error on a site as a sign that the site is not properly maintained. Changes to the Google algorithm can detect errors that may have otherwise gone unnoticed prior to the Google update. It’s important to keep up with it. It’s an ongoing process.
Also, GSC is free for everybody, so there’s no reason not to be regularly using it.
To learn more about GSC, click here: About Search Console
2. Backlinking and Semantic Relevance
Google is always trying to better understand your website and your business. Backlinks, which are inbound links from other sites, are powerful indicators of a site’s relevance and usefulness. Backlinks can be thought of as “votes” for particular content on a site. Google equates the sharing of a site’s content as a sign of its quality to other businesses and other users.
Backlinks also help the Google algorithm to better understand how, where, and why your business may be functionally related to other businesses in the area. An example of this would be a wedding photographer placing a link on their website that points to a local wedding planner in the same geographical area. Just as with desktop sites, the more backlinks you have, the better.
Backlinking is a manual process. To get started, make a list of local businesses that are in some way related to your business, but not direct competitors. Call those businesses and ask them to place a link on their site that points to a specific page on your site that contains mutually relevant content. In return, you can place a link to their site somewhere within your site. It’s an even trade and a win-win, because you will both increase your ranking.
3. Technical SEO and Structured Data
As always, this is the first step to assuring Google properly indexes and understands your site. All other factors being equal, the site with the most complete, most structured technical SEO will receive the higher ranking. To be competitive, your site needs to have airtight technical SEO. Also, you need to review it regularly for problems and opportunities.
Omissions and duplications of metadata and content is just as damaging as poorly constructed SEO, so don’t leave blank spaces where there should be meta titles, meta descriptions, or H tags.
4. Local Listings and Consistency
Any website that has a listing of your business should be consistent with all other listings. Google, Bing, Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau, Merchant Circle, and LinkedIn are all examples of websites where your business should appear. All listings need to be regularly reviewed for consistency.
You need to ensure not only that you’re listed in all local listings, but that the information is consistent from listing to listing. If your business name includes an ”.Inc” it needs to be spelled the same way in all listings. Inconsistencies in naming can be red flags to Google, and subsequently hurt your ranking.
Another example would be “Some Company, Inc.” versus “Some Company” without the “Inc.” Those kinds of simple inconsistencies can slowly degrade your Google ranking and make it more difficult to determine which form of the business name is the correct one.
Although there are no guarantees in the world of SEO, there are many known ways to improve a site’s SEO. Google is always evolving, which means your SEO strategy should also always be evolving. Hammer Marketing works with our client’s specific SEO needs to focus on best practices, digital strategy roadmaps, and reviewing our efforts to ensure we’re accounting for the digital landscape as it changes.