What’s new in 2021 for SEO and local businesses? You may be surprised to learn that the basic fundamentals—such as technical SEO, link building, and on-page optimization—are still working well for Google SEO. For today’s blog, I’ve consulted with our SEO team from the Polianna digital marketing agency to explain more about these and a few other SEO strategies that you might use to optimize your local business in Google Search.

Remember that your goal in optimizing your website for SEO is to make the Google algorithm “happy”—that is, to understand and accommodate the search engine’s internal logic so you can enable your site to rank high in organic search results.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is a term for improving your website’s technical aspects so that it will rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).  A few of these aspects include:

  • Speed – Search engines prefer speed, so they rank faster sites higher in organic search returns. A prime focus of technical SEO is improving your site’s speed.
  • Links – Any broken links will negatively affect your technical SEO. Be sure to check your links regularly.
  • Duplicate Content – If your website has duplicate content across several pages—for example, if you create multiple city pages with the same content that only switch out the city names—the Google algorithm deducts points. Be sure to make each page’s content unique.
  • Secure – A secure site with “https” leading its URL will rank much higher than an unsecured site (http). Be sure to have an SSL Certificate that will encrypt and protect any data that passes between your web server and your clients.
  • User Experience (UX) – UX SEO is the process of enhancing the way your customers experience your website from a technical standpoint. UX includes site architecture and navigation, readability, page loading time, interactive features, and more. Be sure to research and follow UX SEO best practices.

These are just a few examples of what technical SEO encompasses. If you find that technical SEO may be affecting your search engine ranking, hiring expertise on technical SEO (and especially on User Experience SEO) is a must. You will find many SEO tools and plug-ins to use to help fix these issues yourself, but hiring a technical SEO specialist can make a world of difference in your site’s traffic.

On-Page Optimization

Entrepreneur checking startup's SEO on Google search
Entrepreneur checking startup’s SEO on Google search

On-page optimization (also known as on-page SEO) refers to all the things you can optimize directly within the website to improve its search engine ranking.

In addition to placing keywords in the title, headings, and body of your page content, don’t forget the metadata, including the meta title and meta description for each page. Also, be sure to include keywords in your image files names and ALT attributes, as well as the anchor text keywords that link to your new pages. This data will affect how high you rank in Google SEO for local businesses.

Link Building

Link building, also known as off-page SEO, involves creating internal links through targeted anchor text, as well as building external backlinks from outside sites to link back to your website. To do the latter, your page must establish credibility and domain authority (so that other, authoritative pages will want to link to it). Backlinking not only helps with search engine ranking but also with credibility and referrals.

For your local business, you could ask customers or other companies that you work with to link to you on their website. Create compelling and unique content that other local businesses will want to share. Writing guest blog posts and testimonials that backlink to your site in another strategy.

Also, be sure to include internal links within your own website. For example, you could link a service page into a blog page, which helps optimize both the blog and the linked page.

Local Schema Markup

Schema markup refers to a data-structuring tool that webmasters use to make their sites easier for search engine crawlers to identify and crawl. A “schema” refers to a single collection of data properties presented inside a web page in such a way that search engine crawlers can more efficiently process and therefore rank the site’s content.

Local schema markups can structure local information about your business to present in an SEO-optimized way to search crawlers, thereby improving your local SEO and helping local prospects find your business. Read more about the properties that go into local schema markup.

NAP Consistency

Entrepreneur updating startup NAP online
Entrepreneur updating startup NAP online

NAP consistency is the accuracy of a business’s name, address, and phone number listed on all business listings, local directories, social media platforms, and websites. NAP consistency, important for organic traffic results, is a ranking factor for local businesses. If your company has different NAPs listed in varying places, your Google Search ranking will suffer.

The best way to ensure NAP consistency across the board is to make the information consistent across platforms: your website, social media profiles, and business listings. If you notice NAP inconsistencies on a platform you can’t control, such as your local Chamber of Commerce website, reach out to the business owner to have it updated.

Optimizing Google My Business

The first thing to do to optimize your Google My Business profile is to claim it so that you’ll have control over the information. Be sure to complete your GMB profile in full to rank higher on Google Search. Other ways to optimize your GMB listing include:

  • Collecting and responding to reviews
  • Creating and publishing posts to your GMB profile
  • Publishing wholly accurate and consistent contact information
  • Answering questions

A well-optimized Google My Business will have every piece of information that you can include and be entirely consistent with the website and social media profiles.

Call in the Pros for Effective SEO

There are many ways that you can increase your Google ranking for your local business. These are just a few of the best ways to start optimizing for SEO. If you’re looking to grow your local business and optimize your website for SEO, visit us at Polianna Search Engine Optimization online or call us at (703) 475-6907 to schedule a consultation.  I look forward to talking with you.

Have any more tipis for optimizing your business’ SEO on Google? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.