Local SEO is a strategy every company should make a priority in 2018. A lot of San Jose startups shoot for the moon when it comes to SEO, and that can keep them from getting a good return from their marketing. I suggest having a narrower focus in the beginning with lead generation.
Everyone dreams about being on the first page of Google, and get overwhelmed when their efforts don’t pan out in the first year. Instead, try being on the first page of Google in San Jose. You don’t have to have clients in New York if you’re in San Jose, and it’s usually easier to get noticed in your local community than 3,000 miles away.
Local SEO is a bit trickier than standard SEO practices. It’s not just about keywords, as you will see. This article is jam-packed with strategies to get you started, so employ them one at a time and then add the tools at the bottom to complete your local SEO profile.
Sometimes all you need is to update your name, address, and phone # (NAP), or offer a giveaway for more customer reviews. Other times, it requires revamping your website’s copy and possibly your entire brand. Either way, local SEO is a process that takes time, so implement these strategies as you see fit.
Complete Your Google My Business Profile
Anytime I work with a company that wants to rank with local SEO, I recommend using Google My Business first. It’s free, easy to set up and easy to use. It also gives you the option of adding visual micro-content to your Google search results and running “ads” to your website for free.
After you complete your profile you can start posting. My suggestion is post just as frequently as you would with your other social media profiles. You can use this tool to create a mini-sales funnel without paying for anything. The best part is you do all of this on your phone.
The Insights tab is particularly helpful. With Google My Business, you’re one click away from knowing how many people interact with your posts and how many people call, click, and comment. Use these metrics to create personalized content for your audience.
Google My Business also gives you the ability to run Adwords and Analytics right from the dashboard of the platform. With Google’s push towards mobile-first, Google My Business is a great first step towards ranking locally and establishing the brand you want your customers to see when they search for your company.
Make Sure Your NAP is Consistent
A study conducted by Constant Contact, states that 49% of businesses never update their name, address, and phone number online. It’s really easy to do, yet it’s quite overlooked.
Start by focusing on the major relevant databases in your industry and your social media. It’s easy to make mistakes like this, so keep a watchful eye on the first page of Google for what business directories are popping up for different relevant key terms.
The Importance of Online Reviews
Reviews are vital in Google’s eyes for local SEO. Google likes to promote credible websites and businesses that people like. For local businesses, the reviews people leave are just as good as a high SERP.
Online reviews not only help with your Google ranking, but they help build your business’ credibility within your community. For businesses like restaurants, nightclubs, and physicians having 5 stars on Google and Yelp is essential for gaining more traffic.
I tell all my clients to view reviews as currency. In many cases, it’s worth it to give out free food, drinks, and kickbacks to get your happy customers to leave a detailed review. I know I’ve picked to call business solely on the reviews alone. The website didn’t mean a thing to me in comparison to the honest review someone I didn’t know decided to leave.
Tips for Marketing Your Content Locally
Local SEO requires content that is geo-focused. It’s not as simple as plugging location keywords in and hoping for the best. As stated above, you need to be included in local business listings and have other organizations in your area link to you, even if they are not in your particular industry. When it comes to local SEO, a backlink is a backlink, so get them however you can.
Locally-oriented SEO content should obviously have the geo-focused keywords, but it should also have other locations and opportunities that are specific to San Jose.
Let’s say you have an email marketing app specifically designed for local fitness trainers. You can write a case study on one of your happy local customers and include their location and contact details within the document. By linking to them and having them link to you on their website, you create a loop of links that increases your local SEO reputation.
An easy strategy to get other organizations to link to you is to be active in the community and participate in events that improve your company’s ability to get noticed. Charity events, golf outings, and philanthropic dinners are great placed to associate your name with the community. You can create individual blogs for you website about each event and include the location, time, contact information for others to participate.
The event website should have a place to promote your business and provide at least one link back to your website. Having trouble finding a good event to participate? Try Eventbrite.com to find the right occasion in San Jose.
That being said this next section will help you get your keywords in check.
Add Geo-targeting Keywords
Sometimes all you need to do is add the city where your business is located to be a local SEO giant. This section has all the goodies on where to add your location-based SEO terms.
Start by looking for high-volume terms in the industry. Then compare that volume with the keyword + location. Here’s an example: Productivity Tool San Jose versus Productivity Tool.
Then add your locations to the header and footer of your website. This way it shows up on all the pages. Having your NAP on your contact page is great, but see if you can add it to other pages: About Page, Blog Posts, Service Pages, etc. The contact page is also a great place to embed a Google Map.
After your website is designed with local SEO in mind, then create content that contains the keywords plus the location you want to highlight.
Create Content For Local SEO
A website is nothing without loads of good content, and if you want to rank locally, you have to talk about local topics. Hubspot says: “When they published 11+ blog posts per month, they generated almost twice as many leads as companies that published 6 – 10 blog posts per month.”
Study Silicon Valley and link to local events, other businesses, clubs, charities, etc. Then call them up and tell them you linked to them. If you link to them, they should find a way to link back to you. If they don’t understand or can’t do it, you can even write something for their blog if need be.
Getting backlinks should be a major goal for your startup. Luckily, Silicon Valley is a very densely tech-filled community, so finding companies to partner and collaborate on marketing projects shouldn’t be a challenge.
A great way to think about creating content for local SEO is to tie in local news with your company. Your company should participate in the San Jose community, and that lends a hand to create unique content for your blog, direct mail, and lead magnets.
Another good idea is to put your local community’s name in the title of the articles.
Create A Locally-Oriented Page for Every Product Service and Location
Every page on your website is an opportunity to show Google where you want it to show up on SERP results. Some of your competitors will have everything they do on one page, and while that may look nice, it’s not as powerful as having all their services on individual pages.
This does two things:
- Reinforces which terms you want to rank for.
- Expands the amount terms your website is eligible to rank.
After you have a service page for everything you do, you should include them in the top menu. Use a drop-down box and link to each individual page.
Each page should have links going to it and corresponding blogs to ensure you are properly supporting each term.
Apply a Local Business Schema
A local business schema is a markup code, you can add to your website to let search engines know what type of business you are and what you do. It’s an easy way to improve local SEO, and by now many of your competitors are doing this, so it might be an essential ingredient to remain competitive.
You do have to some coding skills to do this, but if you don’t you can always try Schema App instead. It’s $30 per month for a single domain, but it sets everything up for you and allows you to monitor your schema using analytics.
If you’re looking to give coding your own local business schema, then check out this article by Brainchildstudios.com to get you started.
After you’re done test it with Google’s Structured Testing Tool to ensure you did it right.
Optimize Meta Descriptions and SEO Title
Another easy way to fix your local SEO is to make your website’s meta description point in the direction want it to go. Look at the example below to emulate good local SEO practice. Make sure description is short (under 155 characters), but has your location and the main keyword you intend to rank for. I usually try to get the keyword in there two times if possible and the location once.
A good SEO title has the city and state you’re in with 50 to 60 characters. However, depending upon how densely populated your city is you might want to consider niching your location down further. In Chicago, there are many neighborhoods that people will search for (e.g. Gold Coast, Downtown, and Bridgeport) to find what they’re seeking
Here’s an example of good a local SEO title tag and meta description…
If you’re struggling to cover all the bases with your Local SEO, invest in one of the Yoast SEO premium plugins. They tell you everything you need to know to rank your website based on your preferences.
Local Guest Blogging
Guest blogging for Forbes, Startup, and Entreprenuer.com is a great way to get your name out there, but it’s not that easy to get your work there as a beginner. Trying to get into the local San Jose blogs is a good place to start.
Most of the time, these blogs will not let you directly sell your business, but they will allow you to share your expertise. This is actually better than writing a blog/ad, because most of the people that go to tech blogs are not looking to buy anything. They want to learn. By sharing what you know, you make yourself an expert in their mind.
Think about this like being a guest speaker at an industry event that never goes away.
Must-Have Local SEO Optimization Tools
If you follow the guidelines in the article, you will greatly improve your local SEO strategy, but many of these steps will take time to get right. For those of you that have already implemented these strategies and are looking for a little extra data, try these tools to supercharge your local SEO efforts and simplify your process.
Wouldn’t you like to know how Google crawls your website, before it actually does? With Screaming Frog you can. It’s one of the most advanced SEO spiders and website crawlers available and will greatly help you raise your ranking and help you fix all the problems with your onsite SEO. It works with PC, Mac, and Linux and has free trial for a limited time. Click the link above to see if it’s right for your business.
SEM Rush helps you find out almost everything about your website and your competitors website to be able to beat them at their own game. It’s an all-in-one tool that allows you to set up your website to your specifications so you get the results you want.
It’s sleek user-interface and the plethora of data you can aggregate makes this a must for any serious SEO practitioner.
Beyond the Keywords
Going beyond the keywords you choose for your brand is a big step towards creating the right local SEO image. Sometimes revamping your website is not enough for you to truly succeed. Your company image might be stale in your customer’s eyes. That’s when you probably need a complete rebrand.
If your company fails to stand out among a sea of San Jose and Bay Area competitors, you should seriously consider making a larger change than just trying to rank locally. What you need is to give your brand a new look, logo, life by making every page stand out with more than just persuasive copy.
You need might need a brand consultant to help you through a big change like this, so check out this brand auditor to see if you’re a candidate for a rebrand.
Also published on Medium.