How to optimize WordPress for search engines, Part 4

Single vs. multiple locations

In previous parts of our series, we discussed how to fully optimize WordPress for search engines, including internal settings, plugins to configure, and mobile optimization. That preparation will assist you in communicating to the search engines and getting properly indexed for the relevant keywords associated with the content you produce. But what about local search? If you’re a retail location or a local service, getting found on relevant topics across the country isn’t going to help your business as much as if you’re ranking regionally on those terms.

In Part 4 of our series, we’re going to provide information on ensuring search engines know the local searches your site should be indexed properly for.

My business has one location.

If your business is in one central location, you might wish to simply optimize the entire site, every page and post, by customizing your theme’s site-wide header or footer. In Appearance > Themes, you can customize your site name and tagline utilizing your geographic region.

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Home page title and meta description

Now, I can modify SEO > Titles & Metas and modify the Home tab settings to pull the site name and tagline into the home page title and meta description utilizing a substitution string. Setting this with %%sitename%% means that it will pull the text from the Site Name field. This is great so that, in the event you change the name, you don’t have to update it in multiple settings.

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Default titles

If you’d like to apply your business name and location to every page and blog post, you’ll want to modify SEO > Titles & Metas on the Post Types settings pages and add the tagline there as well using %%sitedesc%%.  Keep in mind that Google only displays 55 to 60 characters of the title tag, so you’ll definitely want to keep your location brief if you’re using this method. For support and additional information, refer to Yoast’s knowledge base article.

If you’re not comfortable putting your business name and location in the title of every page, you may instead wish to place it in the footer. Sometimes that’s best if your physical location is a longer term or you wish to also include a phone number.

Footer

Many themes come with a copyright field or a Powered by notice at the base of the page. This is a perfect place to add your full postal address and even a phone number. By adding to the footer, every page on your site will have it, providing a citation on each. If you can’t control this text in a theme (recommended), you can update the code within the theme’s footer.php file. You’ll need to enable editing and then select footer.php from Appearance > Editor. Look for the Powered by link and replace it with your site name and location. In the Twenty Fifteen default theme, you’d replace the Powered by with:

<a href=”<?php bloginfo( ‘url’ ); ?>”><?php bloginfo( ‘name’ ); ?></a> - <?php bloginfo( ‘description’ ); ?></a>

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My business has multiple locations.

When your business has multiple locations – even if they’re in the same city – you’ll want to have a locations page that lists them out in your primary navigation.  You’ll also want to write pages and posts that mention those locations where relevant. If there’s still a specific region all of your businesses are serving, you might wish to include the parent location in the title tags as explained in the single-location solution.

Use caution with directories

Both Google and Bing display results for verified businesses that have registered with their business services. Register with Bing places for business and with Google. Both are free and incredibly important! You can also submit to other directories if you wish – but you will want to consult with a local search expert first. Submitting to the wrong directories can actually damage your ability to get ranked if that site is overrun with bad links.

Now for that content

If you’ve done everything above, the last thing you need to do is write content. We’ve got you covered again with the Search Engine Visibility package, which will help you analyze content and identify keywords and phrases that you hope to rank for. Utilize subheadings, bold and italic throughout your content to help search engines understand what words matter! Check out these posts for content writing tips:

In our final installment in this series we’ll show you how to write well, write often, and promote your content for the best results!

Image by: Photo Credit: cabralgabriel via Compfight cc

Bryant Tutterow
Bryant brings over 18 years of business acumen to DK New Media focused on strategic marketing and e-commerce. He has more than a decade of P&L responsibility, leading in-house marketing organizations at Fortune 500 companies and building three separate marketing departments from the ground up into world-class teams of as many as 14 people. As the Chief Marketing Officer for DK New Media, he provides overall strategic direction for marketing and e-commerce while leading business development of all strategic advisory and measured marketing services.