📢 Crush Local Search Rankings in 2020 With These 7 SEO Tips 🎯
Most business owners have realized the importance of search engine optimization. As more people are using the internet to inform their buying decisions, large retailers are shifting their marketing dollars to meet them. Higher digital ad costs mean optimizing to show up in search results is one of the cheapest ways for small businesses to market themselves online. So how do you rank higher on Google in 2020?
Far from being a hard science, effective SEO requires a mix of creativity AND data analysis. Although the creative component means that strategies will differ based on industry competition, target audience, etc., there are some general steps that can be taken to increase your site’s rank. Here are the top 7 things you should be doing to rank higher on search engines in 2020:
1. Claim your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is Google’s online business directory. Considering that over 90% of internet searches are done on Google, it should go without saying that claiming your Google listing is a critical part of effective SEO. It’s also key if you want to show up in any of Google’s special Local Packs.
In addition to Google My Business, you should claim as many business listings as you can. Bing has its own version called “Bing Places for Business”. Then there’s Yelp, Foursquare, Angie’s List, your local Chamber of Commerce, Thumbtack, the Better Business Bureau, on and on and on. Dont worry, there’s no need to claim ALL the citations. A quick Google search for your product or service is an easy way to figure out which online directories are popular in your area and/or industry.
Click here for Hubspot’s list of 57 popular online directories ranked in order of their domain authority.
2. Add Your Metatags and Descriptions
No matter how fickle some ranking factors tend to be over time, title tags and meta descriptions remain the backbone of effective SEO. Metatags are snippets of computer code that describe your site’s content to search engines and screen readers.
A lot of people get lost here because it sounds so technical and quite frankly…ain’t nobody got time for that. But think of these descriptions as the name and numbers on your mailbox. No matter how popular you are in town, without this information the mailman (Google) won’t be showing up with any bonus checks or fan mail.
While metatags and descriptions fall on the technical side of SEO, optimizing them requires a bit of creative flair. The extent of creativity is partly determined by the amount of industry competition in a given area. In mid-sized cities like Augusta, sticking to the basics can be highly effective for getting high search rankings.
Insider tips to writing good meta tags and descriptions:
- Use location when targeting keywords!
- Descriptions should be around 160 characters to avoid being cut off by ellipsis …
- Don’t duplicate metatags and descriptions from page to page.
- Fill out alt tags and descriptions for videos and images to increase chances of ranking on YouTube and Google Image searches.
- Phrase title tags as questions.
- Add a Call to Action in descriptions.
3. Optimize for Voice Search
There’s a popular debate in the SEO community about how soon voice search will surpass typed search. Judging by the number of times I hear my four-year-old screaming “more Taylor Swift songs” into her iPad, I’m inclined to believe it will happen sooner than later. But viral pop superstars aside, there are a couple of trends that point to a rise in voice search queries.
On one hand, there’s the popularity of Google Assistant and other smart home devices. Over 50 million were shipped in 2018. On the other hand, many states have started implementing “distracted driving laws”. Twenty states, including Georgia, have banned hand-held cell phone use by drivers. These developments reinforce the truth that an increasing number of searches will be conducted without the use of a screen.
A study by OC&C Strategy Consultants suggests that by 2022, voice search results will drive $40 billion in sales. With some data showing as little as 4% of sites being ready for voice SEO, there’s a major opportunity for savvy business owners who realize that the way a brand sounds is just as valuable as the way it looks.
4. Get Your Site Mobile – And Fast
This is not a drill. Google announced that as of July 1st, 2019, all new sites will be ranked based on their mobile versions. This marks a change from its previous standard of using the desktop version of a site to determine its rank. Considering that mobile use has finally eclipsed desktop use and that by 2021, mobile devices will influence more than $1.4 trillion in local sales, this change is merely a sign of the times.
What does mobile-first indexing mean for your site? Well if you’re building it after July 1st, 2019, it means that Google will rank the mobile version. If you have a site built prior to that, Google will still index it based on the desktop version, but unless you’re already ranking high in searches, you’ll find it almost impossible to do so now.
If you want more insight into how to prepare your site for mobile-first indexing, check out what Google has to say.
5. Add Schema Markup to Your Site
Schema, another super technical term that makes the average person glaze over with thoughts of a midday nap. But what is SEO Schema in simple words? Schema is data written into a site’s HTML code that is used to give Google a more detailed view of a website’s structure and content.
Schema is the pathway to being the featured snippet, also known as a rich result. The new “top” of search ranks, Position Zero (the listings above the #1 organic result) is usually occupied by a snippet of web content that directly answers a search query. Rich results appear in about 41% of searches that involve a question, but they’re also popular with searches for recipes, how-to guides, and concerts.
If you’re in an industry that gets a common set of questions, there’s a tremendous opportunity for you to provide the answers that Google could then choose as featured snippets. Reaching Position Zero is not easy with results sometimes changing by the hour. And no strategy can be assumed to be fool-proof. But the marketers who understand their users’ search intent – and provide structured, valuable content – will be the ones most likely to be in pole position.
6. Geotarget for Places AND Events
Geotargeting is commonly associated with the practice of delivering paid advertisements based on a user’s location. However, many don’t realize that there are ways to use geotargeting for SEO. A common tactic is to target location-specific keywords such as “kids activities in augusta”. An equally effective strategy is to target event keywords like “kids activities in Augusta when it’s hot”.
Local events should be leveraged whenever possible. An easy example would be an Augusta-based restaurant optimizing for the keyword “best restaurant in Augusta during Masters week”. This isn’t rocket science, but most business owners at the local level aren’t taking these steps.
Long keywords that target a location AND an event are easier to rank for. They’re also more conversational, speak closer to user intent, and thus tend to do much better in voice search rankings.
7. Use Data to Craft Valuable Content
Content marketing is the glue between creativity and data science. In small cities and niche markets, adhering to technical SEO best practices should be enough to ensure you have a solid presence in local searches. But for the most competitive keywords, the advantage will come down to which sites offer the most valuable information.
Technical SEO best practices should be enough to ensure you have a solid presence in local searches. But for the most competitive keywords, the advantage will come down to which sites offer the most valuable information.
That’s why it’s important for business owners to be thorough with their customer discovery process. Understanding a customer’s needs at each stage of the buying cycle is the key to crafting content that resonates with them. Competitor analysis and social data are just as important as the creative output and should be the guiding force behind your marketing content.
The Last Word
Staying front-of-mind and providing useful, engaging content is how you gain the trust of your customers. It’s how you build credibility with search engines. And it’s how you build a local business into an industry leader.
As Google RankBrain gets smarter and more intuitive, on-page SEO hacks are becoming less effective at achieving high search rankings. It’s practically assumed at this point that sites load fast, are mobile-friendly, and deliver content over secure connections. The sites that go the extra mile of offering valuable content will lead search ranks in 2020.
Whether through social media posting, blogging how-to guides, or starting a YouTube channel, content is valued by how effectively it guides your customer’s experience. Can you be the expert who’s a click away when your customers need you most? If so, you may find your business crushing search results like… idk, Taylor Swift. 🤷♂️
Freemouth Media Company is a digital marketing agency based in Augusta, GA. We leverage social data and digital media to raise the volume on the best products, services, and ideas. Want to know how loud your online presence is? Sign up for one of our custom SEO audits!