On January 28th we were joined by 4 expert panelists to discuss the best practices for local onsite optimization.
In the current InsideLocal series, we have already looked closely at the Pigeon update, local search ranking factors, Google+ Local & general troubleshooting issues – but now we turned our attention towards onsite factors, which are equally as important to get right for local search. In this webinar we were lucky enough to be joined by 4 local SEO experts who gave us some key takeaways in the low-down on local onsite optimization.
Watch Webinar Recording
Our Expert Panelists
Mary is a partner at Local U & has been teaching Local Search since 2006. Recognized as an industry expert, Mary frequently speaks at conferences like Search Marketing Expo and Online Marketing Summit. With an entrepreneurial background, Mary always strives to approach Local Search from a small business owner’s perspective. Mary currently blogs at Marybowling.com & is also the Co-Founder of Ignitor Digital. Follow Mary on Twitter & G+.
Matthew ran Small Business Online Coach before completing a merger to now become COO at Powered by Search. As an entrepreneur, growth hacker, and self-confessed internet marketing addict, Matthew has a proven record of implementing local search marketing strategies for small businesses. Follow Matthew on Twitter & G+.
Mike is heavily involved with Local Search Marketing & spends the majority of his time learning and speaking about how consumers use the internet to find local businesses. As the President of Nifty Marketing, a local search marketing company in Idaho, Mike also takes part in the annual Local Search Ranking Factors study. Follow Mike on Twitter & G+.
Gyi Tsakalakis founded AttorneySync to help lawyers and business owners earn valuable attention online. He regularly writes about all things SEO & spends his time helping law firms and other businesses improve their core metrics online. In addition to this Gyi is also the founder of EPL Digital where he assists other businesses with online marketing. Follow Gyi on Twitter & G+.
About this Webinar
- Key onsite SEO problems for multi-location businesses
- Duplicate content issues for local businesses
- How Pigeon update affects onsite strategy
- The impact of behavioural factors
- The importance of structured markup
- Best practice for mobile optimization
- And MUCH more!
- Wednesday 28 January 2015
- 70 mins
Where do onsite tasks sit on priority list?
Mike Ramsey kicked off the webinar debate by suggesting that no amount of link building, citation work or anything else, will translate to very much if things are not functioning very well on the website. “I look at it as the foundation of what needs to be done in local, it’s definitely the base layer”. It’s clear that onsite optimization should be one of the first steps.
Mary Bowling said that as long as your site is not scuppered by bad linking or poor site structure, working on your page titles, meta descriptions & H-tags can have fairly quick gains – “Sometimes that is enough to have them the start ranking initially or a little bit better.”
How much time do you spend on onsite tasks?
The time required to spend on onsite optimization tasks ultimately depends on the site & on the problems at hand says Gyi Tsakalakis, before adding that in particular, testing rather than fixing can take a long time. “In some cases we’ve seen it can take months to untangle some of the onpage stuff”.
What KPIs do you measure?
Matthew Hunt said that he and his team essentially starts with an audit, with approximately 130 items to go through. This helps to identify what’s broken on the website.
Mary Bowling advised that we should really stick to focusing on conversions, and what we can consider to be a conversion. Then it’s about how we can use all the “mini conversions” to move people through the sales funnel.
“Landing pages, rankings, traffic, but mostly – conversion!” – Mary Bowling on KPI’s
How has Pigeon affected onsite optimization?
Mike Ramsey confirmed that one change from Pigeon is dealing with local proximity, stating that it’s not enough to just have content around a city, you have to dive down into the neighbourhood levels; “It’s no longer a bonus, it’s just what you have to do to do well – particularly for Service Area Businesses”.
On the subject of those who were most affected by the Pigeon Update, Mike suspects that it was those who were only interested in NAP / Pack rankings. These people now have to focus on building more content around their cities / neighbourhoods.
Matthew Hunt said that for Service Area Businesses (SAB’s), really localized content is important; “focus on your websites, and city content as well, not just neighbourhood content”.
“Your website is your number 1 asset” – Matthew Hunt
Gyi stated that it was becoming clearer that behavioural factors are having an impact, and stressed the importance of focusing on, “what your visitors are doing, where they’re coming from, how they’re interacting with your pages”.
Gyi also highlighted that in optimizing your conversion, it was important to do so without having an adverse impact on behavioural factors – or visa versa.
Bounce rates & optmization
On bounce rates, Mary commented that local websites can be different to other sites & that you shouldn’t automatically assume that a high bounce rate is a bad thing.
“One of the things you have to bear in mind with a local site is that sometimes people land on a page, get the information they were looking for immediately, and they’re done” – Mary Bowling
Mary stressed the importance of thinking about how you can solve a user’s problems, which in turn helps to keep people on your site.
Optimizing landing pages
Matthew Hunt said that some of the things that make a successful landing page were NAP, CTAs, testimonials & driving directions, and it waas suggested that usertesting.com could be a valuable tool to try out.
Our panelists agreed that Mike Ramsey’s infographic on the anatomy of an optimal local landing page was very relevant, and Mike suggested that we should try to localize everything – including your products, your events, your building, etc.
“Local content is more than just words with one pretty picture on the page” – Mike Ramsey
Mike stated that sometimes just fixing the internal linking is enough to move a lot of pages on a multi-location site up in search results, and after that it’s important to look at “straight-up old fashioned link building”.
”The most important thing is the title tags followed by your internal linking” – Mike Ramsey
Mike added that if you’re a multi-location site, then you should consider consider linking to a parent location page. For example, if use a State page to show cities, and a City page to show local neighbourhoods.
Optimizing your Content
Gyi warned that it is important to be aware that social links can be a distraction if they appear on every page, especially if they look out of place on pages that don’t actually require sharing.
On the subject of who has the responsibility of actually writing content, Mary confirmed that she would give clients guidelines & coaching on content, but ultimately the content creation comes from them.
Mike stressed the importance of having a content calendar & having a content strategy. If you ensure that the plan is followed then it doesn’t necessarily matter who’s creating the content.
On optimizing for mobile, Gy stated that his team tried to make a page design fit mobile first, and then grow from there – but that the information should be the same whatever the device.
“Our focus is to provide users information they need about the business no matter what device they on” – Gyi Tsakalakis
Mary offered some useful advise by suggesting that everyone needs to go through their site and make sure everything works as it should on a mobile phone, stating that it is “the most frustrating thing for users and it’s going to get them to abandon your site”.
Mary also added that you should ensure that your phone number, address & map shows up early on your location pages for mobile. Mike Ramsey continued, suggesting that infographics, videos & blog post images should all be mobile responsive if you want these items to be shared.
On how much time to spend optimizing site conversion, Matthew said, “if the site has traffic, lots – if the site doesn’t have any traffic, none at all”. Our panel then suggested a few tools that were useful for conversion optimization:
Gyi warned that marking up incorrect problems information can obviously cause problems, e.g. incorrect NAP data.
Mike advised that we should adopt schema compared to microformats, adding that with a view towards the future it’s worth noting that Schema has been adopted by not just Google but other search engines as well.
“The bad thing about Schema is it’s giving Google information which they don’t need from you anymore, so they can basically keep people from going to your website.” – Mike Ramsey
We asked our panelists to offer up some hidden gems in terms of onsite optimization tactics.
Gyi Tsakalakis said that it was important to have “hyper-local pages” that talk about subjects a local community is passionate about. Get them commenting, sharing & linking to that hyper-local page – “it’s really, really effective.”
Mary Bowling says that she has been trying to get businesses to go out in the real world and do things to promote their business in the local community; “Join clubs, go to networking events, sponsor things, get your name in the community”. Mary followed-up by suggesting that you should think about doing things the way you would have done them before the internet.
Mike Ramsey suggested that the linking structure of your location pages is probably one of the best things you can do if you’re a big business, and that if you’re a small business, then “the place you can win is actually in your offline reach and your offline brand promotion.”