THE BLOG
12/11/2015 04:17 pm ET Updated Dec 11, 2016

Your Roadmap to Effective Local SEO

It can be tough to get ahead in search engine results for your industry. Prioritizing efforts into local SEO can be an effective way to increase the traffic coming to your website from search engines.

Not only does targeting a specific location make your search traffic more relevant to your business and likely to convert, but you're also narrowing the playing field and reducing your competition for top spots in the rankings.

Let's run through some best practices that will assist you in nailing local SEO for your small business.

Use Schema Structured Data

Schema data is code that is added to your html specifically to allow search engines to better understand and display your content.

Using schema to clearly indicate your location allows search engines to better list your site within local results.

While including key location information such as your address and phone number into this type of structured data may not increase your rankings, it is a great way to boost your visibility and real estate within the results.

As well as basic location information, Google supports displaying information about products, menus and events.

Your web developer should be able to easily incorporate the relevant code into your website.

Build Local Listing and Reviews

The opinions of your customers are obviously very important for your business. Reviews on directory sites like Yelp.com have a big role in setting up trust with potential customers. Positive reviews also have an impact on your SEO. Sites with a greater number of positive reviews and ratings see improved search engine ranking positions.

When it comes to SEO, the most important directory listing and profile to encourage reviews on is undoubtedly Google Places. This is managed through your Google MyBusiness profile, which includes information about your company to be used in search, maps and Google+. Creating your profile is free, and allows you to display a wide variety of options including opening hours, images and accepted payment methods.

The biggest benefit of updating your Google listing is that it is often displayed in a prominent top position in mobile and local search results. This result also displays your average customer rating so it's important to actively encourage your clients to leave positive reviews on your Google Places listing.

Although Google is considered the giant of the search world, don't ignore other search engines. Bing Places provides a service for businesses to claim or create their free local profile, although they do not currently include any ability for customers to submit reviews or rating.

Yahoo's business directory follows a pay-to-play model. Listings are actually managed through the third party providers such as Aabaco and Infoserve. You can create a business listing in over 50 directories, but only if you are willing to pay the monthly or annual fees. Yahoo Local search results pull information from many of these directories including Yelp and TripAdvisor.

In addition to search engine directories there are hundreds of other popular sites that deliver local business results and reviews and it is well worth taking the time to add your details to any sites that you see appear in the search results for your type of business.

Include the links to your listings on the most popular directories in any follow up emails or surveys that you send to customers after a purchase, and don't be afraid to ask them for their feedback.

Create A Local Keyword Strategy

It's important to consider how local customers will search for your business when creating your keyword strategy. Using the right keywords is important in both your website and the listings you have created.

Depending on the size and population of your location, as well as the type of your business, you may need to think about different tiers of search terms that could be used. For example is someone likely to limit a search for your business within an area of your large city, or use the name of the town, or search for businesses such as yours across the whole county or state? For example, someone might search for "dog groomers Manhattan" to find a local business within their neighborhood but look for "hotels in Florida" to help them plan a vacation.

If your business serves multiple locations or is looking to expand into new territories, be sure to focus your attention on your immediate local area first and gradually widen your efforts. This should be most effective in helping you to improve your local rankings as well as conversions.

Create content on your blog, website and social profiles about your business' niche or products in relation to your local community. This content will both support your keyword strategy and provide relevant content for your audience.

Click here for more tips on how to reach out to local bloggers and media to help you with a strong local SEO strategy.

Magicdust are a Sydney website development company specialising in solutions for small business.