Once you’ve ensured that your business shows up in local search results, prospects will visit your website to see if your products and services are right for them. This is a make-or-break moment: If your website is cumbersome to navigate or doesn’t show well on a mobile device, it’s unlikely that those prospects will ever become customers. In this post we’ll discuss how to optimize your website for local search and consumer usability.
Four Factors in Website Optimization
There are four main factors to consider in making your website local search friendly: content, organization, user experience and technical issues.
- Certainly your site content should interest visitors, but before it can do that it must capture the attention of search engines. First, identify the keywords and phrases that consumers use when they search for a service you offer or for products you sell.
- A simple way to do this is to do a generic Google search for your type of business. As you type in your query, Google will anticipate what you’re looking for based on the millions of similar searches people have conducted. Those phrases will display in a drop down list just below the search box. These are the words that prospects use when they are looking for what you provide.
- Once you have a list of frequently used keywords, be sure that they are included in the articles on your site. Don’t go crazy, but do insert keywords into the sub-headings, titles and tags of your content. This signals search engines that your site has what consumers are looking for.
- People don’t read websites so much as scan them, so put your most important content up front, right on your home page.
- Add links from your home page to relevant content that is on the site’s inner pages.
- If your business has more than one location, create a separate page for each, especially if the locations are in different zip codes.
3) User Experience
- Half of all the search queries made from mobile devices are for local products and services (Moz) and 50% of mobile shoppers use their devices while on their way to a store (Deloitte Digital). This means that, once optimized, your website will show up on screens of various shapes and sizes. You’ll want to employ adaptive site design to ensure that your site looks as good to a smartphone user as it does to someone on a desktop.
- Don’t crowd a lot of copy on a page. Leave white space so viewers can clearly distinguish the important points from those that are details.
- Include the name of your business, its phone number and address in the header and footer of every page on your site. Make it easy for prospects to find you.
4) Technical Issues
- Sign up for a free Google Analytics account so you can monitor which pages and content pieces on your site perform best. Compare traffic over time and use the results to fine tune content topics. You can also identify other sites that are referring traffic to your site, including social media pages. This information can help you focus your promotional efforts on the most productive listing sites and social platforms.
- Be sure that all of the pages on your site are indexed and that search engines crawl each page frequently. This is achieved by checking each page for coding errors and other glitches that interfere with search algorithms. Try this: In a Google search box, type site:[your domain name] Check the list of results to ensure that every page (or at least most pages if you have a huge site) appears. If some pages are missing, check to ensure that your keywords are represented on that page and that there are no coding problems.
- Use the Google Page Speed tool to check how fast (or slow!) your site loads on a mobile device. Faster loading times often mean more business.
Now I’ll admit that this technical stuff can be daunting for a lay person, not to mention time consuming. And I can hear you right now saying something like, “But I’ve got a business to run!” Here’s the thing, though: In 2014, appearing in local search IS running your business. It’s part of what it takes to succeed in our digital world.
You need not do all of this yourself. That’s what businesses like mine are for. If you want to maximize your digital marketing but realize that it’s not your strong suit, give us a call. We’ll work with you to come up with a plan that produces results.