A complete guide to local SEO

Introduction

Whether you run a large business here in Cardiff, or a small business, most businesses would benefit from being ranked high on the first page of Google.

For some businesses it’s now become their sole way for that business to advertise it’s services or it’s products.

Yet with that said, getting a business onto the first page of Google has become much harder, in terms of implementing organic and local SEO and that’s simply because the amount of competition has greatly increased.

So, for example, where a plumbing business may have managed to get onto the first page of Google say a number of years back, now most small businesses will face fierce competition.

This is why it’s so important that if your business is implementing local SEO, or you hire an agency that the work is done right (White Hat).

 

And what do we mean by done right?

Well, we mean the business or the agency must follow white hat SEO methods, plus also the business must follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

If the business was to flout Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, that’s to say for example the business built low-quality backlinks, then the business is more than likely to incur a penalty.

A penalty can mean that the business is removed from Google, or the business may see a significant drop in terms of where the company ranks.

 

So what’s the solution?

Well, the solution is simple, only hire a high-quality agency and only implement local seo if you fully understand how to implement white hat seo.

This whole article is dedicated to ways that you can improve your businesses local seo, and we will only ever recommend white hat methods.

So, without further ado, here’s a few ways you could improve your businesses seo. 

Onsite SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be broadly split into two main categories, they are onsite and offsite seo.

An example of offsite seo would be building backlinks, and an example of onsite seo would be to add meta titles and meta descriptions to a website.

For a business to be ranked on the first page of Google, often an agency will need to improve both onsite and offsite ranking factors.

With Google’s algorithm taking into account over 200 different ranking factors, from backlinks right through to meta titles, it’s important that you know from the start that not all ranking factors are worth the same.

This means that some are more important than others, for example, a high-quality backlink is worth a lot more than adding alt text to one page on your company’s website.

So, what you or your agency must do is work out which factors are the most important, and then you might want to start with these first, that is you must have a marketing plan, as otherwise the amount of work needed could be overwhelming.

First things first we would most definitely recommend that you concentrate on getting the onsite seo optimised first.

For example, there’s no point in building high-quality backlinks unless the pages that the links are being sent to are optimised.

That’s to say if backlinks are sent to a page that has one line of text, then that backlink may well be wasted.

What is needed is for your agency or your business to improve the onsite seo, so this means writing meta titles, meta descriptions, adding internal backlinks and also adding content marketing.

Then the digital marketing agency may then start to build backlinks. 

 

Meta titles and meta descriptions

Meta titles and meta descriptions are important, as if they are not written your businesses CTR (Click Through Rate) may suffer.

So, for example lets say that your business sells paint online, now a painter and decorator will be looking for a brand of paint, and also a shade of paint that they wish to purchase.

Now, if your marketing agency does manage to get the business onto the first page of Google, you still have to compete with all the other businesses that are selling paint online.

For example, in the organic rankings there will be 10 businesses, so if a business was to standout, it should optimise its meta titles and meta descriptions.

For those that do not know what meta titles and meta descriptions are, they are simply a title and normally around 2 lines of text that describe what that page is about.

So, for example, for the online paint shop a meta title and meta description may read as follows:

Meta title: We are stockists of this brand of paint, we can deliver the very next day

Meta description: Here at “name of company” we stock this brand of paint, we also offer free next day delivery on orders of over £50.00 in the U.K.

Now, if someone was looking for that brand of paint, plus they seen that the business is offering free delivery, then this may help to improve the businesses CTR.

This is why the marketing agency should take the time to add a meta title and a meta description to every page on the website.

If the business sells thousands of products, then this may take a great deal of time, yet we believe its worth writing a meta title and a meta description for every page on your website.

When adding a meta title and a meta description this should be done in a white hat way.

 

H1-H6

Let’s say that your writing a rather long article, something like this article here, then you may wish to use H1 through to H6 titles.

For example, if you were writing a review on various electric cars, you may use the H1 through to H6 titles to mention each different car manufacturer, plus there’s also some SEO benefits that can be gained from this, that’s if it’s done right.

That’s because Googlebot will read the H1 through to H6 titles, it will know that your talking about various electric cars, and therefore you have helped Googlebot when it is crawling and indexing that page to understand what the page is about, because you have used H1 through to H6 tags to highlight the various car brands.

Now if the article was a block of say 5,000 words, and you did not use any titles, then it might be a bit harder for Googlebot and Google’s algorithm to know exactly what the 5,000 words are about.

Sure, there will be a lot of mentions about electric cars, and how long it takes to charge each vehicle and what the range is of each electric car is, so Google will have a good idea about what the content marketing is about, but it just makes sense to use H1 to H6 titles, just to make it that bit clearer that the main purpose of the article is to review electric cars.

 

Internal backlinks

Okay, so you’ve written say 8,000 words about different cars, but you notice that there’s some overlap with other content marketing that you have written before, so for example, you have talked before about the fastest charging electric cars, so you may wish to add anchor text and also an internal link to that page.

And does this help to improve your company’s SEO?

Well, yes it could, that’s because it could help Googlebot to crawl and index your company’s website better.

We say that because Googlebot uses links to crawl and index a website, so if you add more links then this can help your website to be crawled and indexed. However, when adding internal backlinks and anchor text to your website, your company must follow white hat SEO methods.

 

NAP

It’s really important that if your business here in Cardiff wants to improve its local SEO, that your business adds NAP information to your company’s website.

We would recommend adding NAP information to the footer of the website, plus for the NAP information to be added to the contact us page, the NAP information should then be highlighted using Schema mark-up, plus also the NAP information must be added to the website so that it can be indexed.

 

You might be thinking, what do we mean by writing the NAP information so that it can be indexed?

Well, sometimes a web designer will add the NAP information to the website, and the NAP information is added on the contact us page, but the NAP information is added to a picture, such as a map of where the business is based.

We would instead recommend that the NAP information is written in plain text, this is so it can be indexed.

 

Schema mark-up

We would recommend using Schema to highlight the businesses NAP information, this will make it easier for the company’s NAP information to be indexed.

Your marketing agency should be able to add schema to your company’s website.

 

Local phone number

Here at our digital marketing agency we always recommend that a business uses a local phone number.

For example, if you are looking to improve your businesses local SEO here in Cardiff, South Wales, then we would recommend that your business uses an 029 21 or an 029 20 phone number.

Some businesses, for example a plumber may use a mobile phone number, however if you can we would recommend that you use a local phone number.

The local phone number should then be written into your company’s NAP information, so this should be written on your company’s website and also onto any business citations.

It’s also really important that all of the business’s citations match, that’s to say you should use the same phone number, for example you should the same phone number on your company’s website, as you do on your businesses citations.

If you do change your company’s phone number, then you should update all of your businesses citations, to make sure that all of your businesses NAP information matches.

Your marketing agency may then build more business citations, which will mention your company’s name, business address and also your businesses phone number, this is to improve your company’s seo, but the work must be white hat.

You may also wish to add the company’s phone number to the footer of the website as well.

 

Can the site be indexed?

One of the first things that your agency must do is to make sure that the website can be indexed, this means can Googlebot crawl and index the website?

They should make sure that the “no-index” tabs are not left on, as this could stop your website from being indexed. If the website cannot be indexed, then the website will not appear in Google’s results.

The SEO company should therefore make sure that there’s nothing stopping your website from being indexed, as this would mean that the website cannot be indexed.

Content marketing

One of the most important parts of the SEO process is to add high-quality content marketing to your business’s website.

And what do we mean by high-quality content marketing?

Well, let’s say for example that your business sells tennis rackets, your business should offer high-quality information about tennis rackets on your website.

For example, you may add regular articles reviewing tennis rackets, plus your website may offer helpful advice within the product description for each tennis racket that you sell.

You may also have an FAQ, and in that FAQ your customers may find a lot of helpful advice when they are purchasing a tennis racket.

 

So what does your digital marketing agency have to think about when writing content marketing for your business?

So the agency should think about for example which questions does your business get frequently asked about tennis rackets?

That’s to say, you may get asked, for someone who’s learning to play tennis, which would be a good racket to use?

Your business can therefore offer advice, plus you can regularly add blog posts- for example offering a review on new tennis rackets, your website may then obtain more visitors, and if the work is of good quality then this may improve your businesses SEO.

However, with that said the work must be white hat, that’s to say your business should offer helpful advice when your writing content marketing.

Below we are going to write some helpful pointers, that you should think about when writing content marketing for your business.

 

Well written

The work should always be well-written, plus the work should also meet the following criteria:

·        Be useful to your customers

·        Not written just to try and improve your businesses seo

·        Must be written in accordance with white hat methods

 

Now, you may well be thinking, well, what do we mean by “not written just to try and improve a businesses seo”– as you might be thinking, well, surely that’s the whole point of adding a blog post to a website-that’s to improve where the business ranks?

Well, leading online marketing agencies will not just write say a 2,000 word blog post with the sole aim of trying to improve where the business ranks, that’s because the leading white hat agencies will know that a single piece of content marketing will not make a significant improvement to where a business ranks.

However, what can make a significant improvement is if the business regularly publishes work which the businesses customers find useful, and something that they wish to spend a bit of time reading about.

So for example, lets say that your business sells organic food, that’s to say people can subscribe with your company and organic food is then delivered in a box to your door say once a week.

Now, people who are willing to pay that bit more for organic food will obviously care about protecting nature, and also the health benefits that come with eating good quality food.

So, if the company were to write a regular blog post about for example how their organic food company encourages bees to enter the fields where the vegetables are grown, or how the business grows some of its organic food, then the customers of this business are likely to be interested and may spend say 10 minutes on average each time they visit the company’s website, reading about how the company grows organic food.

 

So, how would the businesses SEO benefit from this work, well, if the work was good quality, the business could benefit in the following ways:

·        The work is interesting to the businesses customers, so the website may have a very low bounce rate

·        The work is interesting to a lot of people who are interested in organic food, so the business may obtain a high number of high-quality backlinks

·        The time on site figure, which is the average time a customer spends on your website, this figure can be found in Google Analytics may well be very high

·        Google’s RankBrain may notice that the time on site figure is high, the bounce rate is low and this is good for seo, as you want the bounce rate to be low

·        Then Google’s algorthim may notice that your business has a high number of backlinks from websites that talk about organic food, so your rankings may increase

 

So you see how a good digital marketing agency, like ours, will write work which your customers will want to read, so we are helping your customers, plus by doing this you are helping to improve the businesses seo.

This is as opposed to an SEO agency that uses low-quality seo methods, such as writing content marketing which doesn’t offer useful information- that’s to say it’s just written to try and keep mentioning variants of “organic food” over and over again, which is obviously a low quality way of trying to improve the company’s seo, and because its low-quality its likely to cause a penalty.

Incorporate onsite SEO

When a business adds a new piece of content marketing to a website, for example a blog post which states how the company grows organic carrots, the company should also add the following onsite seo in a white hat way:

·        Meta titles

·        Meta descriptions

·        Alt text

·        Anchor text

·        Internal backlinks

·        H1- H6 tags

·        A title

·        The word count should be above 1000 words, and be written in a white hat way

·        The work must be high quality

·        Well-written

So, we most definitely would not recommend say writing 400 words in a rush, with the sole aim of trying to improve your seo, and that’s because the work is unlikely to be considered useful to your customers, instead time should be taken to write a article which your company’s customers will find useful and answers a question that your company gets asked frequently.

 

Build white hat backlinks

We would only recommend that a business builds high-quality backlinks, we say this because if the business was to purchase links, or obtain low-quality backlinks, then this could cause a Google Penalty.

For example, the business could incur an algorithmic or a manual penalty.

A lot of businesses in Cardiff and also across the U.K and the world obtained link penalties, for building low-quality backlinks.

This means that the business may have incurred an algorithmic or a manual penalty which meant that it the business may have seen its rankings drop.

Some other businesses may have received a link penalty, such as the Google Penguin penalty, and those businesses may have been de-indexed.

A lot of businesses also falsely believe that once the business incurs an algorithmic or a manual penalty that the business can bounce back quickly, however what is often the case it that it can take many months, and sometimes, for some businesses it can take many years for the business to recover from a link penalty.

This means that a business that may have been ranked on the first page of Google, after a link penalty, such as a Google Penguin penalty, the business may drop down the ranks, and may not recover for a very long time.

The marketing agency may disavow the company’s backlinks, but still it may take a long time for the business to recover.

So, this is why our marketing agency, here in Cardiff only recommends that you hire a white hat SEO agency that can build high-quality backlinks.

 

Backlinks

So it’s at this point that some business owners may well be thinking, well, what are backlinks, and why are they so important to SEO?

Well, there’s a rather long answer that’s needed to answer that, but here we go.

Googlebot uses backlinks to crawl and index each website, it does this by following backlinks, now some backlinks will improve your company’s seo, well some others could be deemed as low-quality backlinks, which will result in a penalty.

Now, if you have a lot of good quality do-follow and no-follow backlinks leading to your site, so lets say that you run a business and you sell men’s clothing, and many fashion magazines mention your clothing website, and they offer a do-follow backlink, as long as the backlink comes from a high-quality website, then this can help to improve your businesses seo.

If you are unsure whether a link is high-quality or not, you should ask a white hat agency.

 

How can they help to improve your businesses SEO?

Most company’s that are ranked on the first page of Google, especially the businesses in Cardiff that are ranked at the top, will normally have a number of good quality backlinks.

This is why if a business wants to rank at the top of the first page of Google, or anywhere on the first page normally the business will need to a white hat agency to build backlinks for the business.

However, its often not just a matter of obtaining a few good quality backlinks, what’s often needed is many good quality backlinks.

This is why if your business operates in a highly competitive business sector, then you may hire an SEO agency to build backlinks every month. However, all backlinks must be white hat.

How many backlinks does my company need?

This is a question that many agencies get asked, that’s to say businesses often recognise that the most important SEO ranking factor are backlinks, so often a business wants to know how many the company will need to build.

However, with organic seo, and local seo there’s no end point, we say that because as soon a business obtains stronger seo, so that might be through say high-quality backlinks, that business will then be the company that’s ranked the highest.

And as there will always be other company’s that also want to get ranked on the first page, and want their business to obtain more sales, the business will normally face competition all of the time.

So, often the only solution is for a business to partner with a white hat, and high-quality agency, and for work to be implemented every month.

Sometimes a business with larger resources in terms of money, will hire a team of SEO consultant’s that don’t work for an agency but work inhouse.

That’s to say SEO needs constant work, if a business gets relaxed, this is often when the business will be overtaken by another company.

Also, often if a business that has a much higher marketing budget, one which the other businesses cannot afford, then sometimes this is when a new business will cut through and reach the top, that’s simply because they will be able to afford more time from an SEO agency, so if more time is spent on building high-quality backlinks, and these links are built in a white hat way, and in accordance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, then this can often improve where a business ranks.

However, the links must be built in a white hat way. 

 

What is Google My Business and how could it help to improve my local SEO?

For a company here in Cardiff to improve its local seo, and for the business to appear within the Google My Business results, the business will need to obtain a Google My Business account.

It’s very easy to do- however your company, or indeed your marketing agency will need to spend quite a bit of time filling in the company details.

So many businesses here in Cardiff do not fully complete their Google My Business account, that’s to say they may not add a link to their company website, this we think is a missed opportunity.

We think that your business should spend quite a bit of time making sure that the Google My Business account is filled out with as much detail as possible.

What is essential is that your company adds your company’s NAP information, that is your company’s name, address and phone number.

We would also recommend that your business in Cardiff also writes a detailed business description.

If your company has not got the time to create a Google My Business account, then we would recommend that you let your agency do this for you.

Also, we would strongly recommend adding your company’s opening hours, because when a customer wants to check if your business is open, often it would be the Google My Business profile that they will check to see if your company in Cardiff is open.

The NAP information that you add to your company’s Google My Business profile, should match the NAP information that’s mentioned on your company’s website.

 

Why should we spend a bit of time making sure that our Google My Business profile is complete?

It’s really important that your marketing agency spends the time to fully complete your Google my business profile.

If you want your business to appear in the Google my business results then your agency, or your business will need to complete a Google my business profile.

This is relatively quick to complete, and your business or your agency should add as much detail as possible.

 

Add a backlink

You should add a backlink to the profile, which leads to the home page of the website.

Some businesses will link to another page, such as the about us page of their website.

However we always recommend adding a backlink to the homepage of your website.

 

Make sure your businesses name is correctly written and do not add the name of city or town to the businesses name

If you are looking to improve your businesses local SEO, and let’s say for example you run a construction business here in Cardiff, you may think it be a good idea to put your company name, plus the name of the city at the end of the businesses name?

However, we do not believe that this would improve your local SEO, when adding this to your businesses name and to your Google my business profile.

Instead is far better just to use your business name, and not to add the town or the city to the end of your businesses name.

Some businesses make the mistake of adding the name of a city or a town too much on their website, which can mean that the businesses website becomes over optimised.

Your marketing agency or your business should follow white hat SEO methods.

 

Add opening hours

We would recommend adding opening hours to your Google my business profile, and if your businesses opening hours do change then we recommend updating your Google my business profile.

If you change your opening hours, and your business says it is open, and a customer visits your store when it is closed, then this could cause a negative review to be left.

This is why we always recommend that you keep your my business profile up-to-date.

 

Add a business description

We would strongly recommend adding a business description your Google my business profile.

We would not recommend copying and pasting a business description from your website, instead we highly recommend that you write unique business description.

 

Make sure the NAP information is correct

We strongly recommend that you add NAP information to your website. NAP simply means name of your business, address of your business, and phone number.

We recommend that you add this NAP information to your website on the contact page and also on the footer of the website.

We would recommend that this is written in plain text, in a way that Googlebot can easily index your businesses NAP information.

For example if you run a business in Cardiff, you should make sure that the address, company name and phone number can be indexed if you are unsure how to do this it is worth asking your marketing agency.

It is absolutely crucial that Google’s algorithm can read your businesses NAP information, as this is crucial to improving your business is local SEO

Technical SEO

It is also important that your marketing agency works on improving your businesses technical SEO, for example your companies website should be fast, especially when loading onto smartphones, as otherwise this could cause your business to have a high bounce rate.

It’s also important that your marketing agency adds schema, as well as making sure that your website can be indexed.

Design

The design of your website is really important, for example if your website does not work easily, for example someone cannot find the product that they want easily, then this can mean that your website incurs a high bounce rate.

Often a business here in Cardiff, will need to work with both a web designer and also an SEO agency to ensure that the businesses web design is improved in terms of helping to lower the bounce rate.

 

Duplicated content marketing

It’s essential that your marketing agency works on removing duplicated content marketing from your website.

For example, you may have hired a web design company, they may have copied and pasted product descriptions from the manufacturers website.

We would highly recommend that your marketing agency then removes the duplicated content marketing, and instead replaces it with high quality content marketing.

We recommend removing duplicated content marketing, as most digital marketing agencies will agree that if your website has duplicated content marketing, meaning that it has been copied from another website, then this could adversely affect your businesses local SEO.

For example, a website that has loads of duplicated product descriptions, may see its rankings drop.

 

Content thin

Some company websites may be content thin, this sometimes happens when a web designer just add one or two lines of text per page.

Often one or two lines of text per page is not sufficient to improve businesses local SEO

Instead what is often needed is high quality content marketing, and for the on-site SEO to also be improved, so that the businesses search engine optimisation can be improved.

Bounce rate

It’s important that your marketing company works on reducing your businesses bounce rate.

Many businesses here in Cardiff use Google analytics to see what companies bounce rate is. You may then want to use Google analytics and work with your web design and marketing agency to try and reduce your businesses bounce rate.

Mobile friendly

It’s also really important that your website works on smartphones, for example if your business has a main menu which is difficult to use then this may result in your business incurring a high bounce rate.

We would therefore recommend working with your web designer and your marketing business in order to reduce the businesses bounce rate and improve the company’s website.

For example, the main menu may need to be improved, so that your customers can more easily sort items.

For example, if a customer who is looking to buy a pair of shoes, cannot sort the shoes by colour and size, they may leave the website straightaway, contributing to the businesses bounce rate increasing.

We would therefore recommend that your business improves its main menu, then the marketing agency should monitor the bounce rate.

How we can help:

We are a digital marketing agency that’s based within Cardiff, South Wales.

We can offer web design as well as organic SEO and we can also improve your businesses local SEO.

If your business needs to improve its digital marketing, then why not get in contact with our Cardiff based business today?