Is Optimizing a Website Important for Local SEO?
Absolutely. As mentioned in the Intro to Local Search article, I’ve personally witnessed tests where a profile page on a 3rd party website moved up dozens of listings that were previously on the client’s main URL.
So why bother optimizing your website for higher ranking local maps listings when you could just use a 3rd party website profile page? I’m fairly certain Aaron Irizarry will agree with me on this one. The reason you want to use your own website for Local SEO is so that you can control the user experience.
Tested, a typical profile page converts at rate of less than 2%, where your own website can optimized to convert as high as you’re willing to optimize it to convert at. If you can afford to use tools like Liveball, you might even get to a 50% conversion rate (I’ve seen it). So don’t be lazy and trust a 3rd party to do something your website should be able to do on it’s own. Forget PageRank™, you’ll earn it over time if you follow all of the Local SEO and Organic SEO tutorials on this website.
The Juicy Optimization Tips for Local SEO
Here’s the stuff that will undoubtedly piss off the local SEO agencies out there. Sorry guys, I’ve got to do the right thing, I hope you understand.
- Page load time is 3 seconds or less (test yours)
- Brand name is prominent, especially in the homepage title and content
- Service and geography are prominent (Chiropractor in Orlando, FL)
- Business address and phone are prominent on the website
- Business address and phone are displayed verbatim to “official” registered address
- Links to social media profiles are available
- Service areas are included in the global theme of website
- Credentials are listed and linked to when available
- Site contains no broken links (check yours)
- Duplicate titles and descriptions are eliminated (use Google WMT to check)
- Videos, commercials and other media are available (reduces bounce rate)
- Microcoded hCard data added to website verbatim to “official” record
- Link to a KML file of location available
- Hours of operation, payment methods and congruent data to Maps are displayed
- Same video and images on maps/directory profile are available on website
Of course other SEO best practices should also considered if you’d like your site to improve in natural/organic listings.
Other SEO Items to Consider
- Lots of unique, juicy text and visual content available
- Top content linked to from the homepage
- HTML (or other extension) sitemap exists
- XML sitemap available to webcrawlers (identified in robots.txt)
- robots.txt used to guide crawlers to content and away from code
- Static, keyword-rich URLs as opposed to dynamic URLs (?=532kj5kjk)
- Canonicalized URLs used when needed
- Non-www version of domain 301 redirects to www version
- Homepage always linked to without /index.*
- Subdirectory depth 3 or less categories deep (unless site is really large)
- Custom 404 exists if someone hits a bad page
- ALT attributes are used over images
- Excessive duplicate content is replaced with hand-typed verbiage
- Title tag principles are used
Test Your Optimization Work
These tools don’t have many of the tips above, but will give you some helpful insight (a starting point) if you’re doing your own optimization:
- Hubspot Website Grader (don’t give out your email unless you want solicitation)
- Darxx SEO Tool
- Qualidator Site Analyzer
- Google, Yahoo! and Bing Webmaster Tools
Did I Miss Anything?
Please share your suggestions, ideas, and thoughts in the comments below.