Studies reveal that approximately 46 percent of all internet searches include location, 97 percent of online searchers search for local businesses, and 28 percent of local searches lead to a purchase.
That highlights how important search engine optimisation is for local businesses.
In this guide, we have compiled proven on-page local SEO tips to help you navigate the world of local SEO, grow search traffic, and increase market share.
1- Local SEO Keyword Research
Keyword research is by far one of the most crucial foundations for a robust and effective local SEO strategy. Although the basic principles of keyword research remain the same, local SEO keyword research may require a slightly different strategy and a few additional steps.
For instance, you will need to research geo-specific keywords for your local SEO strategy. These geo-specific keywords will help you rank for location-specific landing pages that allow you to target search volume in specific regions, cities, and neighborhoods you operate.
Related: SEO Keyword Research Guide
In addition, depending on the type of business you have, you may also have to brainstorm service-based keywords that may not have the keywords that represent your offered services.
For example, for a local plumbing business, gas boiler installation is also an important keyword to optimise for.
Finding The Right Keywords
The easiest way to find such keywords are:
- Extensive keyword research. Use a keyword research tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs that can produce thousands of keywords for you to filter and narrow down. Try out different seed keywords to come up with even more ideas.
- Competitor analysis. See which keywords your competitors are targeting and optimising for. You can use their landing pages with the aforementioned tools or the free Google Keyword Planner to see which keywords it might be ranking for. Apart from identifying the keywords they are targeting, you can also use the keyword gap feature that is found in many of these paid tools to quickly shortlist keywords that your competitors are targeting, but you are not. This will help you cast a wider net of keywords to capture the biggest possible share of the organic traffic.
Related: Best SEO Keyword Research Tools
One mistake that many local business websites make is that they completely ignore the role of search intent while conducting keyword research.
There are three major types of search intent:
- Informational. The searcher wants to find information and informative content. They are not necessarily interested in your brand or website.
- Navigational. They know about your business and want to land on a specific web page on your site.
- Commercial. When the intent is not to find informative content but instead to find a commercial or product landing page that offers a product or service.
Depending on the type of content you want to create and the pages you want to optimise for, make sure that the keyword has the right search intent.
In simpler words, do not target a keyword that has informative search intent with a commercial landing page and vice versa.
Once you have shortlisted the right keywords with the right search intent, the next step would be to map those keywords and keyword variations to the right web pages.
Keyword mapping can be a complicated topic. Here is a simple explanation of what to do.
Separate related keywords into different groups based on the types of search results they bring. All keywords and keyword variations that trigger the same web pages on the search results should be grouped together and mapped to the same page.
Once you have a finalized list of keywords, the next step would become significantly easier, i.e., optimising meta tags.
There are two types of meta tags that you will have to optimise.
- Meta title
- Meta description
The meta description is no longer a search engine ranking factor. However, it can still indirectly affect organic click-through rate, engagement rate, and, therefore, search engine rankings.
Meta titles, on the other hand, can be an important search engine ranking factor. We strongly recommend including your primary keyword in the meta titles for each page. In addition, make sure that the meta title is engaging, descriptive, and within the character limit — around 55 characters.
Meta descriptions should contain secondary keywords, accurately describe the web page, and be relevant. Meta descriptions should also be less than 155 characters.
Tip: If you are struggling with coming up with good meta descriptions, check out some local and successful Google Ads and take inspiration from the description in those ads. That copy is likely proven to increase engagement and clicks. Otherwise, they won’t be using that description.
Related: Tips To Improve On-Page SEO
Each web page on your site should have a unique heading tag (H1). Depending on the contents of the page, it can also have multiple H2s, H3s, and H4s.
It is recommended to include relevant keywords in these heading tags.
Divide your web page into different sections thematically. Think of these sections as sub-topics. Each “section” can then have its own subheading (H2s) with primary or secondary keywords.
4- Structured Data Optimisation
Structured data presents an excellent opportunity to local businesses to make their search results more appealing to search engine crawlers and search engine users.
Structured data allow your website to have rich results on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Rich results on the SERPs have been proven to increase the organic click-through rate (CTR) by as much as 111%.
To ensure your website stays on top of local SEO, you should earn your business listings on major maps listing sites.
And although structured data is not a direct search engine ranking factor, it can help significantly in improving search engine rankings for a local web page.
Local businesses can use the following structure data types.
If you want more, visit schema.org to see if there is a markup that fits your needs.
Related: Top Local SEO Stats
5- URL Optimisation
A relatively small thing that is easy to ignore, but URL optimisation is an integral part of making a user-friendly and search-friendly website.
Here are a few qualities that URLs on your local business website should have:
- Keywords that you want to optimise the web page for
- No special characters or upper-case characters
- Proper organization and hierarchy as per the site architecture
- An appropriate length. URLs that are too lengthy or have a lot of crawl depth can negatively affect the page’s search performance.
6- Website Loading Speed Optimisation
The loading speed of your website is an important search engine ranking factor and part of on-page local SEO optimisation. Apart from SEO rankings, website loading speed is also a crucial factor in ensuring your local business has a high conversion rate.
According to a study, website conversion rates drop by an average of 2.11 percent with each additional second of load time. Moreover, approximately 70 percent of online consumers confirm that the loading speed of a web page affects their willingness to buy from an online business.
Related: Best Ways To Increase Site Speed
Pay special attention to Core Web Vitals.
Core web vitals refer to three metrics that Google uses to measure the user experience on your website. Those three metrics are:
- LCP or Largest Contentful Paint. LCP measures how long it takes to render the largest content element visible in the viewport.
- FID or First Input Delay. FID measures the time difference between a user’s first interaction with your page and the browser’s response to that interaction.
- CLS or Cumulative Layout Shift. CLS measures unexpected layout shifts that occur before the page is fully loaded.
Related: Core Web Vitals Guide
7- Internal Links
Internal linking is a key component of on-page SEO optimisation.
You see, links are of two types:
- External backlinks that you get from other websites when someone creates a hyperlink to one of your web pages.
- Internal links that you create from one page to another page on your site.
External backlinks are not always in your control. While backlinks are generally more valuable than internal links, they are also harder to get from high-profile, relevant, and authoritative websites.
You can, however, still pass link equity and guide search engine crawlers to different web pages on your site by strategically using internal links.
Here are a few tips to help you build an effective internal linking strategy for your local business website:
- Identify the top 5, 10, or 15 pages that are most important to your business.
- Create contextually relevant internal links to these important pages.
- When creating the internal links, use keyword-rich and descriptive anchor text. The keyword here should be the one that you want to optimise the web page for.
- Make sure that the internal links are do-follow, so search engine crawlers can pass the link equity.
- It is considered a good practice to have these links open in new tabs.
Another recommendation is to use internal links to eliminate orphan pages on your website. Orphan pages are those that do not have any links pointing to them. New pages or posts you publish are easy to fall into this category.
Because there are no links pointing to these pages, it becomes very difficult for search engines to find, index, and rank these pages. Consequently, you have fewer web pages from your site competing in the search engine results pages for traffic and organic share.
Creating internal links to these pages can help solve that problem.
8- Image Optimisation
Local business websites often have a lot of images — product shots, images showing the business itself, photos of team members, etc. Images can help with user engagement rate and search engine traffic.
However, it is important to optimise those images for search engines first. Otherwise, unoptimised images can potentially do more harm than good.
Here are a few tips for image optimisation:
- Use relevant keywords as the title of the image.
- Always populate alt text attributes with a keyword-rich description of the image. Alt-text is used by search engines to identify what an image is about and by website visitors who cannot see the image for some reason.
- Last but not least, make sure that the images are web-friendly. For instance, if you upload an image that is 2MB in size, that will slow down your entire web page and, therefore, directly affect the search engine rankings and conversion rate of that web page. In terms of image size, the less, the better — as long as the quality of the image is not compromised.
The best way is to compress the image before you upload it to your website or content management system (CMS). This is usually done with software such as Adobe Photoshop. However, you can also use WordPress plugins to compress images when you are uploading images.
9- Website Security and Credibility
Last but not least, website security plays an important role in search engine rankings and optimisation. It is especially important for local business websites.
Otherwise, your website may appear like this:
Internet browsers also explicitly warn users that they are about to visit a website that is not fully secure. That deters a lot of people from trusting, visiting, and buying from your business website.
Moreover, website security is also a search engine ranking factor. It has been one since August 2014, when Google announced it in a blog post.
“Over the past few months, we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.”
Since then, site security has become more and more important.
Here are a few tips to help you secure your website and make it more search- and user-friendly:
- Install an SSL certificate and migrate your website from HTTP to HTTPS.
- Place real customer reviews and testimonials on your website.
- Use trust badges when it is appropriate. Trust badges can also increase your site’s conversion rate.
- Clearly display your business’s return, shipping, and privacy policies on your local business website.
Related: Free SSL Certificate Generators
Without proper on-page SEO optimisation, it is nearly impossible for your local business website to compete in search engine rankings. The above-mentioned local on-page SEO tips will help you build an effective SEO strategy.
If you have any questions, drop a comment below or reach out to us. Good luck!