Jan 5, 2012
Going Local with SEO | Dominate Your Region
Defining Geographic-based SEO
Geographic based SEO is the method of targeting website content towards very specific geographic regions.
Explanation of Local SEO
Are you optimizing your website for a specific country, state, or city? This is called geographical targeting. For example, if you design logos locally for people in New York City, it is best for you to target “Logo Designers New York City” instead of the general “Logo Designers” keword as this will help you reduce time and increase your sales in that specific region.
This concept revolves around creating content that is not seen by search engines as spam which is a challenge for some. It is important to do this correctly so that your site doesn’t get banned from Google’s index or otherwise penalized by their search algorithms.
Local SEO Techniques
Geographic SEO is accomplished using several different techniques:
- Using Geographic Keywords in the URL
This can best be accomplished by using a geographic area in your domain and structuring your URL in a directory format. Ideally, you want the broadest category of the directory first (e.g. the state), followed by narrower geographic areas (e.g. counties or cities).
An added benefit of using local SEO techniques in the URL itself is that not only will Google rank your site better for those keyword searches, but your click through ratio will be better when your site does show up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
- Using Geographic Keywords in the Page Title
Page titles are the most important SEO ingredients, and it is no different when it comes to geographic search engine optimization. Your page title is like the title on a recipe card. If you labeled all your recipes “Recipe,” you wouldn’t be able to find “Brownies.” This is parallel to what many website owners do by mistake: not titling their page with unique and relevant page titles.
- Using Geographic Keywords in the Heading and Meta Tags
The meta title, heading, and other meta tags should all contain the phrase you are targeting for geographic optimization. The description tag is not so important for ranking, but can be very important for click-through. The description tag is what Google uses in the “snippet” it places in the SERPs. If it contains your geographically targeted keywords, it will be in bold, and more likely to stand out on the page as a relevant search result worth clicking on.
- Writing Unique Content for the Geographic Area
This is perhaps the area where most webmasters who try geographic optimization stumble. The content must be unique enough not to be considered “spam” by Google. In other words, simply throwing up 30,000 city-named landing pages for the whole country with identical content will not get you ranked well. You must do your best to provide unique content, as targeted as possible to the geographic region you are wanting to focus on.
Local SEO Tips
In order to help with the increase in search engine results geographically, here are some very important geographical SEO tips:
- Use keywords that include the geographical name but that are not too generic.
- If your domain name is co.uk, it’s more likely you will be ranked better in the UK.
- Include your geographical name within the keywords you thread throughout your webpages. Search engines will notice this and perceive your website as targeting that specific area.
- Keep your address as a header or footer in your website. Search engine spiders can read this.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools which gives you the choice to determine your geographic location.
- Look for local listings within search engines.
- Place incoming links on local and relevant websites.