What a year 2014 was in the world of Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)! From Google Panda to Hummingbird (with Pigeon in between), the SEO world has been scrambling to adjust to the algorithm changes while working hard to maintain their search engine page ranking (SERP). It seems that there is a glut of information – some from more reliable sources than others – about how to “do Local SEO”. In addition, some of the tried-and-true techniques touted by experts in 2014 are no longer relevant and, in fact, no longer work. To get your Local SEO “New Year” off to a successful start, here are 4 major changes you need to practice when designing and implementing your Local SEO strategy in 2015:
1. Links are all-important (even more so than content) in having the search engine crawlers find and rank your website. Content – the high quality, relevant kind – is essential. Well-written, valuable content can be used in guest blogs that link back to your website, offers to generate leads, as well as on your webpages. Several quality links (links useful to the searcher) trump tons of irrelevant links when it comes to page ranking in 2015.
2. The goal of a Local SEO strategy is to always rank at the top of the page. There is another misconception that being at the top (or at least in the top 3) of the search page is always going to promise new business. Even though a higher page ranking is still prized, user behavior seems to be demonstrating that appended search results (including preview snippets) receive much higher click through rates than those without. Focus on searcher usability and website usefulness rather than higher page ranking alone.
3. Meta descriptions are fundamental to page ranking. Meta descriptions are definitely important, but not in the exact way you might think. Back in 2009, Google made it clear that meta descriptions would have no effect regarding search rankings. Drafting your meta description to provide an informative and relevant message will ultimately attract users to your page.
4. Keyword optimization is Priority #1 for improving Local SEO. Keywords need to fill your page content and must be an exact match every time. Overusing keywords to improve page ranking is no longer a viable Local SEO technique. Google is more interested in matching the intent behind a user’s search query, not in matching the search terms to exact keywords. Keyword optimization is effective, but only where the keyword use is relevant to the content on your page – especially when the insertion of exact-match keywords makes the content clumsy to write and read. Your content – including your keyword use – should focus on the user’s experience, not SERP.
Local SEO continues to be a crucial part of every company’s inbound marketing campaign. More than ever, Local SEO is all about the user experience, with a renewed focus upon high quality, relevant content and easy website navigation. Of course, page ranking still matters, but it’s becoming affected more and more by the relationship between the content of a website and the specific search query generated by the user. Practice your organic SEO strategy with these 4 ideas in mind so that you’ll be best prepared for the inevitable changes to Google’s algorithm in the year ahead!