Let’s start this conversation by discussing a mistake that many companies make. If you’re a national or international company, you might be tempted to avoid local search engine optimization because you wish to reach a wider audience. This is, in fact, a mistake because:
- Ranking on local search does not preclude you from ranking on national and international search queries.
- Becoming a local authority and ranking well on search terms regionally can help you grow your authority and exposure, and get you ranked nationally and internationally.
In other words, every company should be incorporating local search engine optimization efforts into its overall SEO strategy.
Optimizing for local SEO doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily optimizing for a “city + a keyword.” The location of the search user will personalize the search results for their location. If they’ve enabled the ability for the browser to locate them, those search results will be better localized. And if they’re utilizing a mobile browser that’s enabled for location, the results will be even more relevant to the geographic region.
Here’s a search for Chimney Sweep and the user is not logged into the search engine – but it still displays regional results because of the search user’s location:
Local search optimization is necessary to both be found on geographically relevant terms as well as be found for non-geographic terms locally. This is why every company should take the time to ensure they’re optimized for local search.
First, is WordPress optimized for search?
Before we begin, you’ll want to refer to this post because it offers a baseline explanation for all WordPress search optimization. We’re going to provide settings utilizing some of the plugins and WordPress features that were applied in that article:
- Mobile – your theme is a responsive mobile theme.
- Jetpack – the Jetpack plugin is installed and configured to publish to your social channels.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast is installed and configured.
Time to optimize for local search
The first decision you might want to make is whether you’re a single location or multi-location business and how to handle the region or regions you wish to be found for – state or province, county, city, zip, or even neighborhood. Again, don’t worry about going too narrow for now; you can always expand your reach as you gain rankings and build authority.
As discussed earlier in this series, search engine algorithms and crawlers continue to advance in their ability to identify terms on a page. As this evolution continues, recognition of citations on pages like author names, product names, addresses and phone numbers are all distinct elements that the search engines can pick up on – and then no longer need to be in anchor text. As a result, providing your address and phone number in a title tag, body of a page, or even a footer can get your site content aligned between the location you’re at and the topic you’re speaking about.
This doesn’t just happen on your own site, it also happens on external sites that are writing about you. So, while you’re looking to rank regionally, you’ll want to use elements like a physical address, city, state or province, postal code, regional sites, event names, and phone numbers to align your content to your region. And, with or without a backlink on an external site, your domain or page may increase in authority or ranking when you’re cited in an article on another site that has great local search authority.
Next up, we’ll walk you through the differences in optimizing your site depending on whether your business has single or multiple locations.