On Site Optimisation for Local Search
Choosing a Domain Name
Choosing the right domain name can make a lot of difference to your website’s visibility. If you have a bricks and mortar business then the business name is an obvious choice. For services without a main street presence consider a domain name including your location; springfield-plumbers.co.uk is preferable to jsmith-plumbers.co.uk because the location in the domain name gives you a head start in search.
Google Trends is a great way to find what people are searching for – look at this search for “Florists” and the search terms used. If you already have a domain name that uses your brand name make sure there is plenty on the page to indicate your location to the search engines.
Domain Registration and Hosting
Always try to register your country’s top level domain (ccTLD), so .co.uk for British companies. For the search engines it is a location signal, for users it is a known and trusted extension. The last few years have seen a huge expansion in new domain extensions, including events (.christmas) and places (.london) but .co.uk remains the best choice for local businesses.
The search engines regard the country where your website is hosted as another location signal. There are plenty of cheap hosting deals on offer from US companies but it is worth paying more for three reasons:
- The website will be delivered more quickly if it is hosted in the UK
- Any hosting problems can be fixed more quickly in your own time zone
- The location signal boosts your site’s trust factor and therefore ranking
- UK hosting is still cheap and any interruption in service is very frustrating
Why You Need a Responsive Website
In May, 2015, Google reported there were more searches on mobiles than desktops. A responsive website renders according to the screen size, making it easy to read on a widescreen or a smartphone.
Google ranks mobile friendly sites better in searches from a phone – when that accounts for 52% of search you could be losing half your potential search business. Bing has plans to follow Google.
Mobile Friendly Test
Check now to see if your website is mobile friendly and see how local-sites.co.uk performed:
Can Your Website be Trusted?
The search engines look for signals that you are who you say you are and some of these are:
- NAP – Business name, address, phone (preferably landline) and email address
- Domain registered in the country where you appear to be based and associated with your country, plus your website hosted in the same country
- Your contact details on every page of your site
- Links on the site to your social media content
- User testimonials – Google puts a high value on quality User Generated Content (UGC) and customer feedback opportunities
- Links to your site from other trusted websites
Original, Quality Content
Never copy from another site, write your own content and aim to make it useful. Duplicate content is penalised heavily and your site may never recover if it is labeled as poor quality.
Make sure your grammar and spelling are good. Poor English is a negative sign to the search engines and visitors alike. If you haven’t taken the trouble to check your website for errors how much pride do you put into your work?
People who visit your website are the same people who phone you. You know the kind of questions they ask, so answer them on the site as far as you can. If you don’t feel comfortable writing then find someone who will do it for you.
Pictures or videos of your work are useful – ask clients if you can photograph work you have done for them, you will be surprised at how generous people can be when they are pleased with the results.
Think about blogging, say a post every week, fortnight or month. You are far more knowledgable than your customers and what seems obvious to you is new and helpful to them. People will keep returning if you keep the site fresh.
Search engines notice sites being updated and will reward you with improved website rankings.
Websites are made up of code, and it is this that the search engines read when they are assessing your website, not what humans see. Optimising this code is very important for it to be correctly read by the search engines.
Understanding and optimising the code is vital so do find a webmaster who knows what they are doing. DIY websites don’t allow you to get into that code and make the site effective. They are fine if it is just to share between friends, but a business is too important to rely on click and drop websites, they need to be professional.