Over the years, Google has made clear its preference for businesses that focus on their own locality. Get it right with a local SEO campaign, and you are far more likely to climb the rankings than when casting your net too broadly.

But just as is the case with SEO in a more general sense, the local SEO landscape is continuously evolving. A point raised by Google’s John Mueller in a recent Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout, when he was quizzed on local SEO by a small business owner.

Outdated Information?

The individual in question asked for John’s advice on how to approach local SEO. In response, Mr Mueller said that introductory SEO guides published online by industry experts could be helpful starting points. He also said that as the basics of SEO are fairly straightforward, most of these guides contain accurate information.

However, he also warned that many of these guides discuss website design and development in a way that has become outdated.

“The tricky part with all of these starter guides, at least the ones that I’ve seen, is they’re often based on an almost old school model of websites where you create HTML pages,” Mr Mueller said.

“For the most part, small businesses when they go online, they don’t create HTML pages anymore, they go into WordPress, or into Wix, or into any of the other common hosting platforms, and they create their pages by putting text in and dragging images in, and all of these things,”

“And they don’t really realize that in the back there’s actually an HTML page.”

More specifically, he pointed out how many introductory guides have a tendency to complicate things unnecessarily. These days, web design and SEO for smaller businesses are more about filling fields and dragging-and-dropping elements than coding HTML.

“So sometimes when you go through these starter guides, it can feel very technical and not really map to what you’re actually doing when you’re creating these web pages,” he explained.

“Because when we talk about title elements, for example, you don’t look at the HTML anymore and try to tweak that. But rather you try to find the field in whatever hosting system that you have and think about what you need to put there,”

So that’s something where I think, over time, things will probably shift a bit to cover that area a little bit better.”

His advice was, therefore, to keep things simple and ensure the basics are all in place.

“But it’s something to kind of keep in mind that the SEO starter guides, when you look at them, they might feel like super technical, but actually the work that you do is a lot more like filling in fields, and making sure that the links are there, and things like that,” he advised.

The Fundamentals of Effective Local SEO

For the most part, the basics of local SEO are no different from those of general SEO. As advised by Mr. Mueller, it is more a case of ensuring the basics are in place than getting bogged down with the complexities.

A brief overview of the fundamentals of effective local SEO:

1. Find the Right Keywords

Finding the right keywords for a local SEO strategy means focusing on your locality along with selecting keywords of relevance to your products, services, and business. You also need to make clear exactly where you are. Not to mention, strategically embed local keywords in your comprehensively localised content.

2. Focus on What Makes You Unique

Always remember that SEO is about far more than technicalities alone. It is ultimately what sets you apart from your competitors that will determine the strength of your performance. Focusing on what makes you unique can also make it much easier to produce unique and relevant content of genuine value to your audience.

Not to mention, target niche keywords your competitors may have overlooked.

3. Build Links to Your Site

Links are still a big deal in the eyes of Google, but it is essential to focus on quality over quantity. John Mueller recently spoke of how a single high-authority link to your site is worth infinitely more than a thousand low-quality links.

He also emphasised the importance of strategic internal linking, which can make a huge difference to a website’s SEO performance.

4. Publish Quality Content Regularly

Google always shows preference to websites that go beyond marketing and selling products or services. If you can build your site into an all-round resource concerning a specific niche or topic, you will quickly climb the rankings. Always remember that Google’s job is to point people in the direction of useful, informative, and relevant sites.

Ensure your website ticks all three boxes, and the rest takes care of itself.

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