Website owners are often concerned about the possibility of ranking too low for local keywords and hence, the need for geo-targeting optimization strategies. But SEO geo-targeting surprisingly acts the opposite on your website’s ranking, effectively increasing it.
As you know, Google works on constantly adjusted algorithms to provide the best user experience possible based on what the user is searching for and where. In Google’s mind, for example, if a person in Austin searches for “a restaurant”, then it makes sense that they’re probably looking for restaurants in Austin. For this reason, the person will be provided with a list of URLs pertaining to that location.
Geo-targeting in SEO is crucial: visitors will be more inclined to contact you (because they will see that their location is included in the site contents), and Google will show your SEO location pages over generic ones. Everyone working on targeted SEO understands the importance of optimizing their target customer’s Google experience by using geo-targeting because it will increase their business’ customer base and revenue.
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What Is SEO Geo-Targeting?
Optimizing your website and marketing initiatives to specific locations such as cities, states, or even countries can be one of the most effective ways to boost your online visibility.
SEO geo-targeting is a method used to rank higher for local business listings. It’s about targeting a specific area for more website traffic and conversion. This can enhance your marketing strategy by creating more relevant content and focusing on local keywords.
According to a survey conducted in the United States in November 2021, 21% of respondents searched for a local business on a daily basis, while 35% said they used the Internet for this purpose several times a week, and only 1% didn’t search at all for a local business online. This proves that there is a large tendency to localize search results, which we should take advantage of!
When did Geo-Targeting in SEO Become Important?
Not surprisingly, Google has always used geo-targeting in search results, but it became an important aspect to consider for websites in September 2016, when Google released an update named “Possum”. The main goal of “Possum” was to penalize local directories that used spammy tactics like fake locations or telephone numbers to rank on top of Google.
Possum caused Google to change its geo-targeting algorithm, increasing reliance on geographical location-related signals over IP identification. After this update, Google began inspecting every single website to judge whether it was a local business. The search engine stopped showing spammy local results and prioritized local ones. This led companies to rank higher.
Tips for Successful SEO Geo-Targeting
Help Google understand your location
SEO geo-targeting is vital for helping Google to understand your location and categorize your site’s content according to it. For this reason, if you have a local-based business and target people living there, you should use the Google Search Console option to set your website’s location.
Keep in mind that if your business is based in Toronto and you want to target Canadian traffic but haven’t chosen Canada as an option, chances are you will drive only Chinese traffic. Luckily, Google allows you to select the country where your website is hosted and displayed. In addition, this tool will enable you to verify the coding and internationalized domain name (IDN) settings on your website.
Registering a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is another way of implementing geo-targeting, with all domains ending with a two-letter country code, e.g. ‘.us’ for the United States, or utilizing geographic-based subdirectories or pages. At the same time, using the Hreflang tag can assign a language and location to a web page, respectively. This is used to send the right content to users from different markets.
SEO specialists know how challenging it is to rank high at the top of giant search engines. To increase your chances of success in such a competitive local environment, first and foremost, you should understand search intent, then find keywords with location, and focus on those with high search volume and low competition. With geo-targeted keywords, your business can be found in the local search results instead of getting lost in the endless lines of global searches.
Since these keywords are more targeted and specific, you should choose them carefully. There are various keyword tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, SE Ranking, etc., which can help you determine how competitive your keywords are and how many search results each receives per month.
When searching relevant location-based keywords, make sure they mention the country or city, for example, ‘best tattoo shop in New York’, or ‘New York tattoo shops’, etc. Keywords and phrases that include the name of your town or area will provide search engines such as Google and Bing with valuable local data that they can use to determine how your site is ranked. Unlike a global keyword, a location-specific keyword helps with SEO targeting the specific geographic location and immediately grabs the viewer’s attention.
A lot of factors play into this complex procedure. You have to look at the local keyword density and seriously consider your local site structure, place citations and links properly, create your Google Business Profile, and even spend some time checking whether your business shows up in the Knowledge Panel.
Build Local Links
Understanding the backlink profile of your competitors will allow you to know how they managed to achieve their rankings and give you an idea of how you should build your own data-driven link-building strategy. To get this data, just enter your competitor’s domain name in the Backlink Checker by SE Ranking and examine its profile from every angle in one click.
Moreover, you need to focus on getting TLD links if you seek to push up your business ranking specifically for location-based searches. Focusing on relevant sites, getting quality backlinks, writing guest posts that people would like to read, and including geo-targeted keywords in those posts will give you many chances to win! In short, SEO geo-targeting should be an indispensable part of your SEO strategy concurrently as you build backlinks.
In addition, try to build a network of local business connections that will eventually lead back to your website and, ideally, all the way to the homepage. The larger your network grows, the larger you can make your SEO footprint locally. You can also do this by participating in local webinars, charities, and events within the area where your target audience lives. Contribution and presence at these events can boost your reputation and credibility and build a link to your website from these sources.
Unfortunately, a handful of marketers don’t emphasize email marketing and social media marketing enough, even though it plays a crucial role in promoting a brand locally. Being active on social media and using emails is a great way to make local people aware of your presence and what you do.
Furthermore, it would be helpful to add your company details to each major local directory website such as Yelp, Yahoo Local, etc. They give you the power to attract visitors in the local area who are searching for the product or service you provide.
Google Business Profile
Google implemented a feature that allows verified locations to display their business profiles in Google Maps, providing more information about their services and locations. The feature is called Google Business Profile. It allows you to verify your business as a local entity, upload photos, and respond publicly or privately to reviews, taking control of your review reputation. Moreover, Google’s business listing puts your phone number and other local information at the top of the search results so people can contact you in just one click.
Use Structured Data
Getting your business to show up in Google’s Knowledge Panel is about more than just having the name of your business appear in at least one of the Business listings on Google. It’s about using structured data that Google can understand and process for the Knowledge Panel. Google’s Knowledge Panel shows your business address, phone number, and website directly from the SERP, which boosts your SEO rankings for local search results and helps your business to get greater visibility.
Many local businesses don’t take on-page location SEO seriously because they believe it’s not an optimal strategy. But in reality, it can help your business rank much higher on the search engine result page. So, this is a great way to increase the overall traffic of people searching for specific products or services within your location and boost revenue. Let’s look at how we can achieve this.
Focus your content on local news
Generally, you want to provide the best content related to your business, but people search for more specific and localized terms. Consumers will still want local information, even if the business is a national brand. For this reason, businesses that focus their domain on local or industry news are seen as more relevant by searches and search engines.
When someone is searching for local information, you are more likely to rank higher if your blog is focused on local search queries. Moreover, promoting local industry gatherings, employees, and educational content can help you with a personal brand, as people will recognize that you are an expert in your field. Therefore, your opinions must be valuable and trustworthy.
Optimize your URL, headers, meta description, and content
Geo-targeting involves optimizing your content with proper usage of keywords, including long tail ones. This also entails geo-tagging your website and optimizing site maps, title tags, headers, and meta descriptions of your website to rank well in the search engines for a particular location. You should start with the basics, like adding city or state names to your title tags and meta descriptions. Having targeted keywords in your header can also make the difference between your business being found or not by local people.
Keep your NAP consistent all over the Internet
Don’t forget about the importance of ensuring that NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) appears 100% of the time in the same format. If you’re not using consistent NAP info, then your business can be at risk since it might be penalized by Google Maps. A consistent NAP across your website, Google+ page, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social profiles helps search engines understand what your local business is. It’s also important to comply with Google My Business guidelines. A missing detail in your NAP could result in the entire listing being deindexed.
Pay attention to internal links
Finally, taking a site’s geo-targeting capabilities to the next level is impossible without touching on internal links. Internal links are not just regular links connecting pages of your website, but they also provide a way to connect different content in the same language. Page architecture and internal linking play a considerable role in attracting target users as well as getting search engines to index your website correctly. One of the most important steps is to have your internal links focused on the geographic location of your business.
As we have learned, people usually prefer products and services from their local areas. And that is where SEO geo-targeting can come in handy! You naturally find yourself trying to reach a specific audience when promoting a business. The more specific you get, the greater chance of generating conversions.
When done correctly, SEO geo-targeting can be an effective way to reach your specific audience by creating more relevant content and focusing on local-specific keywords. So, why don’t you follow the tips mentioned above, e.g., building your local link strategy or optimizing your off-page and on-page SEO for geo-targeting, and take advantage of the opportunity to increase your conversion and, in turn, profit?
James is the head of marketing at Tamoco