For local businesses, SEO requires a different strategy than e-Commerce or national and multinational businesses. All efforts must be more localized, optimizing ranking factors like Google My Business, citations and name, address, phone (NAP) listings, customer reviews, and more. Below are a few simple factors to monitor and analyze to help boost your local SEO success:
Test, Observe, and Grow – Starting with Your Page Title
Google Search Console is a great tool that is frequently overlooked and underrated by SEOs. The huge advantage with this tool is that you can look at what keywords and pages are giving your website the most impressions. Once you know which keywords and pages are bringing the most eyes to your site, make sure the page that is appearing in the SERPs (search engine results pages) contains the most relevant and valuable content for users. This will decrease the amount of “pogo-stickers,” which can have a negative impact on your rankings.
Optimize your meta title tags for your well-ranking pages to include relevant keywords and a strong call-to-action (CTA). For local SEO, there is value in localizing your meta title, whether that is Plumber Toronto or Ottawa Law Firm. There is a common misconception that you need to keyword stuff your title tag, which is not the case anymore, in fact, it can hurt your results.
If you are optimizing a product or service page, you can also add review star schema markup to enhance the appearance of the page in the search results (as below). Note: If it’s your homepage showing up in the results for that keyword, you will only be able to rely on the title tag to help you, as schema stars won’t appear in the SERPs for your homepage.
These optimizations will help your site’s click-through rate (CTR), which in turn supports your overall SEO efforts. If you don’t see improvements after a given period, , try another CTA as your title tag and continue testing until you find a combination that heads positive results. The timeframe depends on your site’s exposure, which can vary by niche and seasonality. Generally, a month or so should provide enough data to make an informed decision.
In order to gauge the effectiveness of your page title optimizations, monitor your impressions, clicks, and CTR in Google Analytics and compare it to the previous period for the same terms. Once you start seeing growth, you know you’re on the right track with your CTA and messaging.
A healthy CTR supports your overall SEO efforts and contributes to your success as the search engine bots will see users are clicking your site over others in the SERPs. This is a signal that the information on your page is informative and valuable to users. Since search engines’ primary goal is to provide users with the answers they are looking for, these clicks combined with a healthy time on page/site time contribute to improved rankings for your page and your website. So, in short, continue to monitor your rankings!
If you are seeing an improvement in your CTR, but your rankings are continuing to follow the status quo, take an objective look at the page and make sure it is delivering what your users are looking for.
To help you determine if the content and design of your page are providing the most simple and effective experience for your page visitors, it can be helpful to check your Google Analytics to see where users are coming from and what devices they are using. This will give you insight into what information you should be presenting and how your information should be presented.
Identifying Your Audience’s Device(s) of Choice
Run an Acquisition Device report on Google Analytics to receive insights on what devices your visitors are using when they get to your site (as below).
Reviewing the results, ask yourself the following questions:
• Which is driving you the most visits?
• Is there one device that converts better than others?
• Are users bouncing quicker on a specific device?
The answers to these questions will help you establish what changes need to be made to your website in order to foster a better conversion rate. This could include changes to the amount or type of content you are presenting, making conversions easier by adding a simple contact form, adding more obvious CTAs to better guide user experience on the most popular devices, etc.
With the growing popularity of mobile web browsing, more often than not, a high bounce rate is a good indicator that your website isn’t mobile-friendly (ie. text is too small, images are too big, and site doesn’t load quick enough). In the mobile age, it is integral to your SEO success to make your site easy to navigate on mobile devices. Tip: For better mobile monitoring,
Determine Your Audience’s Journey
Another factor in optimizing your website for local SEO success is to run an Acquisition Channel report in Google Analytics (as below). If the metrics (ie. bounce rate and average session duration) for your organic search traffic are poor, ask yourself if the appearance and description of the page on the SERP properly present what is on the page. If not, make alterations to either your meta title tags or the content/design of your page (or all of the above) to provide a more effective user experience.
Clicks and visits to your site are great, but if people can’t find what they are looking for when they arrive on your page, they will leave and this will hurt your SEO in the long run. Good metrics on your site will lead to good SEO results as bots recognize that your site is consistently satisfying users.