Local Search Engine Optimisation
What Is SEO?
Local SEO makes your business easy to find by local searchers. When we all used Yellow Pages finding a local business was simple; with the internet it is much harder because so many websites don’t perform as well as they could in Google (83% of searches in the UK use Google) and opportunities are being missed every day.
Both on-site and off-site optimisation have a part to play in selling the website to the user and the search engines.
Who Needs It?
Every website needs optimisation if it hopes to be found in the search engines. Indexing of websites depends on the information the search engine finds on the page, the links to the site and the links within the site, the reviews that appear on the Google Business and whether the site is ‘trusted’, amongst other things. All this can be broken down into on site and off site elements.
Website Designers and SEO
Very few website designers take SEO into account when they are building your site, which means it is unlikely to be found by the people you want to reach. SEO needs to be built into a website and owners should be helped to understand how websites work effectively.
It’s important to keep in mind that the website is to attract new customers and the homepage – the page visitors arrive on – should be selling your product. Keep your qualifications and experience to an ‘About’ page. Make the first page work hard at selling your product or service, how it will benefit the customer.
Keywords, Images and Headings
Headings are the most important words on your website, the words that will be used by people searching for businesses like yours. The more prominence you give these words the better. Search engines consider headings on the page very important so your keyword/s should be used in your main heading, using headings like “All About Us” is a wasted opportunity; users will understand it from the context on the page, but the search engines won’t. The bots which visit your site to try and understand it only look at the code, not the pictures which help human visitors make sense of a page.
Search bots don’t see images, just the information that is associated with them. If your web designer isn’t giving every image a good description using the correct keywords, and an alternative text description for people who have images disabled then they are invisible to the search engines and won’t help your ranking.
These are the ultra-large images that appear on websites, sometimes occupying virtually the whole page and are very popular with designers. If they are used then it must be as a background image so that keyword rich text can be used on top of it and must have a good description and alternate text. Additionally, more highly relevant text should be placed on the page and a good page title and description used.
Title and Description Metatags
These are boring to do but vital to the webpage. These appear in the search results and should be written to tempt visitors to your website. For both metatags make sure that they accurately reflect the content of the page, otherwise they will be disregarded. In the case of the description metatag Google chooses a snippet of text from the page if there is no tag or if it is poor, which may not reflect the page in the way you prefer.
The meta title should be 50 – 60 characters long and the meta description no more than 160. Anything longer and it could end in the middle of a word. This letter count tool is a great help in getting it right.
The meta title should be regarded as a brief description of the page and the meta description expands on that to really pull the visitor in. A handy trick is to put a phone number in the meta description which can get a potential customer on the phone without even going to the website.
There is a keyword metatag but that it largely ignored by the search engines as they prefer to choose from scanning the page what is important.