Are you new to local searching? No idea where to begin. Here are some tips to start your local SEO campaign.

If you looked into SEO strategies, then you know they change over time. When dealing with local SEO, it is more important than ever to have on site and off site strategies to help your business get found. With the competition heating up you need to be at the top of the rankings.

Here are 5 SEO tips that will help improve your business this year:

1. Title and Description are Important

These descriptions including the meta description are HTML and will reflect the content that is posted on the webpage. They are similar to mini ads and should promote the site. The descriptions are very short and need to get right to the main point.

Google increased the main search width to 66 px. This will allow the tag to be between 50 and 60 characters and the descriptions can be up to 200 characters. Be sure to double check the titles, so they are not getting cut short. If you do not know how your tags and titles will look, you can use a program such as SEOmofo or an SEO Plugin for WordPress.

Writing titles and descriptions can be challenging. They need to stand out and need to be attention-getting. Extra words can ruin the entire thing. If the ellipses (…) appear it gives your site an unprofessional look and title will have less of an impact.

Every character is going to count. Here are some tips for writing them:

  • Do not waste space on page names
  • When looking for local customers be sure to include the name of your business and city you are located in. The customers need to be able to find your location.
  • Focus on the targeted keywords and place them near the beginning of the tags.
  • You only have one chance to have a person click your link. Do not waste space.

    An example of a title and description on Google.

2. Directories and Citations

Google has shown that four out of five people use a search engine for local searches. Many businesses are missing out on this opportunity. They do not know how significant their online presence is.

It is essential to have the business listed correctly on sites such as Yelp, Merchant Circle, Citysearch, and similar sites. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or the newspaper to see if you can have your business listed on there. You can also search directories for your city. Some newspapers will even have a page where you can still list your business right on their page.

Be sure to include the name of your business, the address, and the phone number. This data is fundamental. If something is misspelled, Google will not be able to verify your business. They may post the wrong information or leave your site out of the search results.

3. Google My Business

Google My Business is a directory, but it is very important. Local businesses must claim their company on this page. It is free and will show up in the search results. It will take some work, and some business owners do not want to put in the extra time. It is well worth it.

To claim your business go to the Google My Business page at google.com/business. You will need to go through a verification process, and a postcard with a pin will be sent to the business location. The pin will need to be entered online to verify the

business.

Google wants to make sure your business is legitimate, and you are the owner. Only the owner can claim their business. If you are working with a marketing agency, you will be able to permit them to manage the page. You will still have control over your page even if things do not work out with that agency.

You then need to optimize your page by describing your business, hours, type of business, payments accepted, and related information. Be sure to upload pictures, logos, and some of the products or services that you offer.

Make sure that your listing is complete. If you do not have a location where clients can visit, then you can hide the address.

Veteran SEO expert, Hattie Hudson, from www.coronationim.com/winnipeg-seo/, also reminded us that Bing has a similar page called the Bing Places for Business. The process is similar, and it is worth posting on this page as well. If you need more advice on Google MyBusiness or Bing Places, I strongly advise you to look at Coronation IM locations page concerning this issue. It is extremely helpful.

4. Reviews Matter

Online reviews from customers are critical. A recent survey found that 84 percent of people will trust an online review such as a personal recommendation. Seven out of ten will leave a review if they are asked.

There are several ways you can track and manage the reviews for your business:

  • Reputation Loop
  • Get Five Stars
  • Trust Pilot
  • Vendasta

There are social media platforms including Tiny Tour that will allow you to monitor your business and get alerts. When a review is left, you will be notified. You need to respond to the review especially if it is negative. High quality reviews will also increase your ranking.

5. Use local structured data

Structured data markup is also called schema markup can be added to the code on your website. That will provide additional information about the business. It will sell the products and services that you offer and related data.

Around 31 percent of websites are using this service, and they only use the basic features. You can stand out among your competitors if you use this service.

Google wants to use structured data because it helps determine the content of your site. Google will offer Structured Data Testing so you can see if everything is correct.

Google Data Highlighter will help with coding. For this feature to work your site has to be set up with the Google Search Console.

This is just the necessary information when it comes to using local SEO. These five tips will help you get ahead of the competition and will help you get your business noticed.