Chapter 3: Onsite Optimization

Congratulations to you for arriving at step three; this is where you’ll start to see the magic happen. After all of your hard work researching and analyzing, you will now begin to implement changes based on what you discovered in the previous chapters.

The most important aspects of on-page local SEO are:

  • Meta Data
  • URL Optimization
  • Geo-Sitemaps
  • Schema.org Integration
  • Contact Page Configuration
  • Content Optimization
  • Image Optimization

1. Create Local Title and Description Tags

Meta data is simply lines of code that title and describe a web page. Think of it as though you are writing an essay; the title would be the title of the essay, and the description would be a short summary of the essay. It’s important to note that the title and description tags are primarily used by search engines. They are only visible to users in Google’s search results and at the top of a website’s browser.

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Meta data (specifically title tags and meta descriptions) are very important to local SEO. Meta descriptions should always include the location information, preferably the city and province/state.

When optimizing your title tag consider the following:

  • Include 1-3 keywords
  • Include your postal code
  • Include your city and state or province
  • Include your telephone number with area code
  • Include your brand name

Example: Windows Calgary | Window Installation in Calgary, AB – (403) 555-5555 | Bob’s Windows

When optimizing your meta description consider the following:

  • Include the keyword you are attempting to rank for (it will highlight in Google’s search results)
  • Ensure your meta description is less than 156 characters.

2. URL:

The URL is your website’s address or domain name. For example: www.wikipedia.com would be considered a domain name.

If possible, the domain name of a website should attempt to include keywords and/or location terms. This isn’t always something that can be changed but is a very important thing to consider when creating a local business website.

If you don’t already have a website and domain name consider choosing a domain name with your key terms within it (ie. JoesPlumbing.com). This isn’t mandatory, however, we have noticed a correlation between websites that include a keyword in the domain name and higher than average rankings.

Read this article for more information about domains using “exact match” keywords: The Exact Match Domain Playbook: A Guide and Best Practices for EMDs.

3. Geo-sitemaps

This is where things get a little technical but stay with me, it will all be worth it. A geo-sitemap is a file that sends signals to search engines about your business’s location. They come in two formats .xml and .kml. It’s not critically important that you understand the difference between the two. What you should remember, however, is that these files must be uploaded to your website’s main folders (called a root directory). If this sounds like another language than I would suggest you hire a developer to take care of this part for you. Creating and uploading a Geo-sitemap and KML file shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

To create geo-sitemaps, use the following tool: www.geositemapgenerator.com

Tip: Once created, submit the .xml geositemap to Google Webmasters. If you don’t have a Google Webmasters account you’ll first need to create one. Here’s a simple guide for getting started with the tool.

4. Schema.org

Schema.org is a relative new comer to the SEO industry. Search engines have forever been on a mission to better understand information on a web page – Schema.org allows them to do just that. Schema allows you to differentiate between similar information and keywords on a website.

For example: If I were to search for the word “Avatar” in all likelihood I’m searching for information about the 2009 film directed by James Cameron. However, the word “Avatar” is also used to describe the little online photos that display beside a blog comment. So, how is a search engine supposed to understand the difference between these two pieces of information? That’s where Schema comes in. It allows you to provide details about specific pieces of information on your website by wrapping it in additional lines of code.

I know what you’re thinking – dear god not another recommendation that requires a developer… Sadly that is the case.

Although relatively quick for a developer to program it can be quite cumbersome for a non-techie to wrangle the correct markup and embed it correctly on a website. However, there are two websites that make it much easier

Using schema.org location markup is a small detail that often goes unchecked, however, this tiny tweak makes it easy for search engines to scan your website and instantly and accurately identify the location information.

Tip: The correct markup, found at Schema.org/LocalBusiness, should be applied to every instance of the NAP (name, address and phone number) on your website. In addition, the location with the correct markup should be added to every page of the website if possible. This is usually done by adding it to the footer.

5. Contact Page Configuration

A website’s contact page is another crucial component of SEO for local businesses. In addition to providing contact and address information, it also sends those important location signals back to search engines.

It should contain:

  • An embedded Google Map with your verified business location
  • Your business Name, Address, and Phone number marked up in Schema.org
  • Optimized title tags (including your brand name, city, and state/provide)
  • 300 words of unique content about the location

For businesses with multiple locations, you need to be sure that each location resides on its own contact page, along with a separate Google map and address with Cchema.org markup applied.

6. Content Optimization

It should not be a surprise that fresh content is an important ingredient in local SEO. Your content should achieve the following goals:

  • Be valuable and be locally relevant – think events, news and stories.
  • Be specific to your audience
  • Be entertaining. You can’t bore someone into buying your product!
  • Include at least 300 words. Search engines need enough content to grab onto.

A good example of this is the Calgary Area website. If you click around the site, you will find a number of great articles and valuable local information.

7. Image Optimization

In addition to adding a visual element to your website’s design, images can also contribute to its optimization. Images have two specific opportunities for increasing a website’s optimization level. The first is the image’s file name, the second is the image’s alt attribute.

The file name is the name of your photo. For example, a photo of a jelly doughnut shop in calgary might title its photo jelly-doughnut-shop-in-calgary.jpg as opposed to an ID number from your phone or camera.

Secondly, attributes can be added to images providing a better user experience. The alt attribute is a short description of an image. It’s the text that screen reading programs read to blind users navigating the web. When images are uploaded to a website with platforms such as WordPress, a user has the opportunity to insert their desired alt attribute. As a general rule the alt attribute should include a short summary of a photo and attempt to incorporate keywords when appropriate.

Chapter 4: Google My Business

Inbound Interactive

"Calin and his team at Inbound Interactive are the best in the business." — Michael Oykhman, Calgary

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