If you know a thing or two about local SEO, well you will know that things regularly change.
That’s to say perhaps Google’s algorithm will change so that websites with low-quality backlinks will be demoted.
Or perhaps the algorithm will change so that businesses that have really good business reviews, that are written on their Google My Business account will see their website go up the ranks.
As a well-known SEO agency we thought it would be a good idea to write a guide on how you can improve your businesses seo in 2020.
However, before we do start, we must say that all seo work that you implement must be white hat.
Okay, so first things first, the onsite SEO, this is where our digital marketing agency normally starts work.
And this is no different whether you run a solicitor’s practice or say a local bakery, a good place to start improving your businesses seo is to start with the businesses onsite seo.
However, before you do start, we would strongly recommend that get a good grasp of white hat seo rules. Alternatively, you may wish to hire a marketing agency who should be able to tell you the rules and perhaps write you out a marketing strategy.
However, here’s another piece of advice, not all marketing agencies offer quality white hat advice, so you do have to pick which marketing company you choose wisely.
Meta titles and meta descriptions
A good place to start is to write meta titles, and meta descriptions for every page and every blog post.
Now you may think well that sounds really difficult to do write? Well, that’s wrong, and that reason for that is because if you have a WordPress website, well there’s a lot of really good plugins such as SEO Yoast.
With Yoast you can add meta titles, meta descriptions very easily. The reason adding meta titles and meta descriptions because so easy is once you’ve logged into your WordPress Dashboard, and you’ve scrolled to the bottom of a page or blog post, you will see your SEO Yoast plugin, and you then just add your meta title and meta description.
Don’t know what content marketing is? Well, you must, you must also know how to write content marketing in a white hat way.
So, for example, lets say that you run a solicitors practice, your marketing agency should understand the areas of law that your solicitors practice offers advice for, and then write very good blog posts.
The content marketing must be high-quality, and what do we mean by high-quality? Well, that’s simple, you must understand the questions that your customers often have, and then offer really good advice.
So, for example, let’s say that you run a bakery, and you specialise in making wedding cakes, and you often have questions such as, how many tiers can a customer have on their cake, and also what type of fillings do you offer?
So, you may choose to write a blog post about wedding cakes, and how many tiers your bakery can build. And then you may wish to supplement this with pictures of the cakes you have already made.
And you as the business owner may well be thinking, well all this will take a great deal of advice, plus I am giving away free advice, so where’s the benefit?
Well, the benefit is that content marketing is an important part of local SEO, and without it your business may not get ranked on the first page.
Also, its worth keeping this in mind, one seo agency may well state that your business will receive content marketing, but here’s the thing, the work must be top quality.
Top quality content marketing can help you business to improve its seo, poor quality content marketing that’s been written by a low-quality seo company, well, that could mean that your business triggers a Google Panda penalty, which means that your business could be removed off Google.
So, our best advice is always in invest in white hat work, and always hire a good quality seo company.
Is the websites design up to scratch?
You may wish to hire the best online marketing agency in the whole world, but if your company’s website is not well designed, for example the main menu is difficult to use, well your SEO will suffer.
So often a website designer and an SEO consultant or agency often have to work closely together.
Sometimes this will involve split testing, which some marketing agencies call A/B testing, all this means is that some companies will try a number of different website design changes, such as changing the main menu, or changing the homepages design, until the company reaches a point where it starts to increase its sales.
So often a website design company will often work closely with the seo agency.
Is your anchor text on your website over optimised? So let’s say for example that you well cement mixers, and that’s your best selling product on your website, so you then write “cement mixers” on every anchor text on your website-good idea?
No, most definitely not, the anchor text should be written so it provides to the reader a good idea of where the link points to.
So for example, lets say your business sells candles, and a link within the blog post will take the reader to the product section that sells beeswax candles, we would recommend that the anchor text states “beeswax candles that we sell”.
This way when GoogleBot, which is used by Google to update its algorithm reads the anchor text, it will know straightaway that the link is about beeswax candles.
All anchor text must therefore be written in a white hat way.
You may well be wondering what are internal backlinks? Well, let’s say you are looking to purchase a new winter jacket, well that page may have to the side other clothing items that people buy when they purchase a winter jacket, such as a winter coat.
For example, the page may have a link that says “gloves” or “scarfs” for example, these are examples of an internal backlink.
And why are they important when it comes to SEO? Well, that’s an easy one to answer, that’s because internal backlinks make it much easier for a page to be crawled and indexed by GoogleBot.
So this simply means GoogleBot can spot the internal backlink, read the anchor text, and then follow the backlink so that the work can be indexed.
This also means that Google’s algorithm can then calculate the SEO importance of the page, for example the page may have a lot of good quality backlinks, which may help to improve the pages SEO and the websites SEO.
So having internal backlinks are important, as it allows GoogleBot to index the work.
What does Schema mean? Well, quite simply put it’s a form of structured language, and this simply means that Google’s algorithm can better understand the information.
So, let’s give you an example, lets say that you run a business here in Cardiff, lets say you run a hairdressers within Cardiff Bay.
Now, on your website you may have thousands of words of text, so how would GoogleBot and Google’s algorithm know where your business is based, and what your businesses phone number is?
Well, this is why SEO companies, like Adore will use Schema to make sure that the NAP information is marked using Schema, this way the businesses NAP (Name of the business, its address and phone number) are all marked-up using Schema.
This may sound really basic, but its one of the most important areas that some businesses and SEO companies forget, that is does your business have a page for each main service that it offers?
So, let’s give you an example, let’s say you own a garage, and you sell classic cars, yet you don’t just sell classic cars, no you also specialise in car restoration, and also car repairs for classic cars.
But has your website designer made a page for each service that you offer, that’s to say one for classic cars, one for car restoration and one for classic car repairs?
Well, your business could be missing out, that’s to say an SEO company may get the business on the first page for say “classic car dealerships in + name of city” but what if someone has a classic car, and is looking for a local garage to repair the car?
So your website designer and your SEO company should make sure that every service that your business offers has its own page.
Has your business got a blog?
Well it should, however with that said, some businesses hire a local SEO business, which will write the blog posts for the business.
However, you should only partner with a good quality SEO agency, if the work is not white hat, then this won’t improve your SEO, in matter of fact it could mean that your business receives a penalty, which means that the business may drop down the ranks.
This is why businesses should only partner with a white hat company.
Your business should then have blog posts added, the blog posts should have a meta title, meta description, alt text, internal backlinks.
All of the SEO work should be white hat, if you are unsure what white hat means then you should consult with an SEO agency.
If the work is not white hat, then your business could incur an algorithmic or manual penalty. For example, lets say your business hires the wrong seo company, this means low-quality backlinks could be built, which could mean that your business incurs a Google Penguin penalty
It’s really important that NAP details are added to your website, if you do not know what NAP means, then NAP simply stands for name of your business, your businesses address, or phone number.
We always recommend that this information is added within the footer of your website, then on the contact page, and also use Schema to mark-up this information.
The reason that we always recommend using Schema is because Schema can be easily read by GoogleBot.
And as this blog post is about how to improve your businesses local SEO, its really important that your business has its NAP information written on your website so that GoogleBot can read this information.
Is there a mobile version of your website? If you do not have a mobile version, then we would strongly recommend that you speak to a website designer, this is so a mobile version of your website can be built.
You may want a AMP version of your website, AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages, this simply means that a mobile version of your website can be loaded quicker.
You may wish therefore to have a mobile version of your website created by a website designer.
Has your business got a Google My Business account?
Often a business will forget to obtain a Google My Business account, however its really simple to do, and this could really help to improve your businesses local SEO.
Our SEO agency recommends that once you have a Google My Business account, you should add the following information:
· Opening hours
· Address of your business
· Phone number of your business
· Website address
· A description of your business
What is Google My Business?
Let’s say that you are looking for a local builder here within Cardiff, South Wales.
So you type “local builders”- now often what you will see are PPC (Pay Per Click) ads, right at the top of Google, then you will normally have local businesses next to a map, for your business to be shown here, your business will need a Google My Business account.
Yet our digital marketing agency would recommend that you spend some time setting up your Google My Business account, that’s to say make sure you write a good company description, and fill in as much detail as you can.
Our SEO agency recommends that you add as much detail as possible because having a Google My Business account can help to improve your businesses local SEO.
For example, a marketing agency may recommend that business citations are created, that a Google My Business account is set-up and that your businesses onsite seo is also improved.
Most marketing agencies, ours included will often offer a fixed monthly price to improve your businesses local seo and also organic seo as well.
Why are Google My Business reviews important?
Once you have set-up your Google My Business account, and made sure that your business or the marketing agency have verified the account, then your business can start to obtain business reviews that are left by customers on your Google My Business account.
Now, our marketing agency, and marketing agencies that offer good quality advice will always recommend this, that is never write fake business reviews.
Fake business reviews can often mean that your account is removed. Google’s algorithm is very good at detecting low-quality seo, so do not write fake business reviews.
Is your NAP information correct?
Make sure that your businesses NAP information is correct, for example some businesses change the NAP information on the contact us page, but not the footer.
Also, sometimes a business will update its website but not all of its business citations, this can cause SEO problems.
The reason it can cause problems is that your website may state you are located at your new address, yet your business citations may state you are still at your old address.
This can confuse your customers, but also it may confuse GoogleBot, which can mean that your website is moved down the ranks, and a website that has better quality SEO is moved up.
So, here’s what our marketing agency recommends:
· Your NAP details are consistent on your website and on your business citations
· That you ask your SEO company to make sure that these details are kept up to date, i.e if you change address all NAP details are updated.
Has your phone number changed?
One of the most common problems that we encounter is a business will change its main phone number, but not update its business citations.
We would recommend the following when it comes to phone numbers and local SEO:
· You try and retain your phone number
· You use a local phone number and not a mobile number
· That you make sure your NAP information, name of business, address and phone number is kept up to date across all business citations.
Have you verified your account?
As a business owner you will be busy, so often you may quickly read a blog post like this on how to improve your businesses SEO.
Over a cup of coffee you may write down a few notes, such as you need to set-up a Google My Business account, and you may sign-up to an account, yet often to finish off the registration process you often need to wait for a post card to be sent by Google, this will have a code that will need to be entered to verify your account.
Now often a lot of businesses may forget to do this, so the Google My Business account is then not verified.
So, this is why you must ensure that you do verify your account, or you could ask a SEO agency in Cardiff, like Adore to make sure that your Google My Business account is set-up correctly.
What does offsite SEO mean?
Offsite SEO could refer to backlinks, business citations or just mentions of your business name within say a newspaper website.
Offsite SEO is really important, as most seo companies believe that backlinks are still an important SEO signal.
So for example, as most marketing agencies will tell you, there are over 200 SEO signals, however with that said, not all SEO signals are worth the same, for example our seo company would say that high-quality backlinks are much more important than say a meta description on your website.
So often if you hire an SEO business, that business will need to balance their time between making sure that they strengthen the most important seo signals, yet strengthen as many as they can with the time they have allocated.
It’s also important to keep this in mind, let’s say that you run a business here within Cardiff, lets say for example that you sell car insurance.
Now your business is brand-new, so your marketing agency must start from scratch, yet your main competitors that you want to beat, well they have hired a SEO business for say the last 8 years, so now you will begin to appreciate that in order to beat these businesses, that your company has a lot of catching up to do.
We say this simply because for your business to beat another businesses SEO, your businesses SEO must be deemed stronger by Google’s algorithm.
Now there are over 200 seo signals, yet with that said if another business has been implementing seo for a long time before your business, then there seo will most likely be much stronger.
For example, where your business has 10 backlinks, your direct competitor may have say 10,000 backlinks, so this has to be kept in mind that organic and local seo are a slow process, plus your seo budget must be realistic if you want to overtake your direct competitors, as in some cases they may have invested millions of pounds.
What are backlinks?
So, let’s say that you run a business that lists cars for other car dealers, now your shopping for a brand of car, and you find the car that you want to purchase.
You click the link which will take you to the car dealers’ website, this is called following a backlink.
Now as you can see a backlink is really useful to the customer, as they can then land on the car dealers’ website without having to type the websites address.
Yet from an SEO perspective it’s the link that can help to improve your company’s SEO, that’s because if your business manages to accrue the following types of links, then this could improve your businesses local SEO:
· Built in a white hat way
· From a high-quality website
Often a business that does not understand SEO will sometimes think that the more backlinks the better, however this is most definitely not the approach to take.
Businesses that build low-quality backlinks, sometimes referred to as spam will often incur a penalty.
An example of a link penalty would be a Google Penguin penalty. This is why its so important that your businesses backlinks are built in a white hat way, plus the backlinks must be quality.
So many businesses make the mistake of just adding the words they want to rank for within the anchor text of the link. So, for example, lets say that you run a web design business, well you may write “web design + name of city” into every link, however this is not white hat.
Instead the anchor text must be written so that it helps the reader, that’s to say forget about the SEO and instead write the anchor text so that will help the reader to know where the link is pointing.
Google’s Algorithm is what will decide if the link’s you have built are quality or not, and if the links are not quality, that’s to say not white hat, then your business could incur a penalty.
This is why often a white hat SEO company is needed, as only white hat links should be built.
All backlinks must be quality.
Earn don’t buy
We recommend not purchasing backlinks, we think its always better to earn. So for example, lets say that you run a business here in Cardiff, and you sell bikes, you may wish to write a blog post about electric bikes, or mountain bikes, and this blog post may help people who are unsure on what mountain or electric bike to buy.
If the blog post is really good other websites, such as bike blogs or a bike magazine may link to the work. If the backlinks are really good quality then this may improve your seo.
What are business citations?
Earlier on within this article we mentioned that NAP (Name of your business, your business address and your company phone number) is important information when its comes to improving your seo.
This means that your business should have NAP information on your website, and on business citations.
Employ an SEO business
You may wish to hire an SEO company, often a business that wants to improve its local SEO will hire a local SEO agency.
The reason for this is that organic seo and local SEO are not a one-off process, often a business will need to work with a marketing agency for many years.
If you run a business here within Cardiff, and you want to invest in local SEO, then why not call us?