How to optimize a site for local SEO

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Optimizing a website for local or international market is definitely an important thing that an SEO has to accomplish in order to compete online. This is the best way to help your website rank in search and drive organic visitors to your website that can lead to leads, subscriber or customers.

Although the importance of local SEO for local businesses is very crucial, there are still some important factors that SEOs are missing when optimizing a website for local audience. Since having a complete optimized website for local search gives huge opportunities for local businesses, implementing the methods below might be able to help in the long run.

Acquire TLD extension

The best and important factor to begin with that you must acquire for your online business is to purchase a domain extension reflecting to your target country such as etc. By having that kind of online name can help search engines know that you are specifically targeting local audience and not international.

Also, TLDs are already powerful to rank for their target countries compare to targeting the same country as it does not seem to be targeting local audience. So having website with Top Level Domain extension is really necessary.

Submit to local business listings

Aside from having TLD extension, it is also important that you build your exposure in local business directories of your target country. In this way, you expand your online presence that can be seen by your target audience. So if you are targeting a country like new zealand, i would not recommend building links to business directories with TLDs of and not to or for several reason:

  • You will only look like a spammer, building links from other business directories.
  • You can’t relevant drive your target audience from other countries as they are not as the same location with yours. 
  • Your business's online credibility will decrease if Google detects your manipulative tactics to inbound links.
  • You will likely be penalized for building international links whereas your target audience is local only.

Build local links only

Another important thing to keep in mind is when you are doing SEO for local clients, ONLY acquire links from websites of your target country to pass authority and drive your target audience mainly build relationship to people that you can communicate with.

Basically, you can build local links through common link building methods but you have to leverage the tactic for your own benefits without having to manipulate your link profile, such as:
  • Comment marketing - Use your real name and provide additional information with unique and positive response in your comments.
  • Guest blogging - Produce high quality written content for the benefits of your audience without using exact match keyword as anchor texts
  • Broken linkbuilding - Finding 404 pages or dead links normally on resource pages and offer link replacement for dead links
  • Resource pages finding - Looking for resource pages on other websites in your industry and the same country and request of a link inclusion for additional exposure of your website

For complete list of SEO techniques, visit this blog post of Brian Dean.

Create appealing page titles and page descriptions

To ensure that you will generate potential leads and drive traffic to your pages from organic traffic, creating appealing and unique title and description to all your pages is really a must. Since attracting your audience through your Meta data is really imperative, making it actionable, informative and unique with your keywords applied the right and natural way can help you compete in SERP.

Tips in creating page title and page descriptions

  • Write a compelling advertisement copy
  • Avoid duplicate Meta data
  • Use only 15-160 characters to ensure that your meta data will all appear in search.

If you can create compelling and attractive meta data, this will help you gain more CTR in search and drive organic traffic to your website.

Implement breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs help visitors track their previous pages they visited. This can help you improve their user experience throughout your website and give them an easier way of navigation on your website.

Best practices:
  • Do Not Use Breadcrumbs as a Page Heading
  • Categorize Pages Clearly
  • Use Breadcrumbs at the Top of a Page
  • Use Breadcrumbs Consistently

Setup authorship markup

Another important on page SEO that can help your website increase its organic visit is to implement authorship markup. This markup can help you make your position in serp much appealing by having your picture appear next to your meta data.

Why is this important?
  • People are bias on their clicks - They tend to click more often on results with authorship markup 
  • It helps your organic position become much more appealing.
  • Having authorship markup shows your audience your ownership of your content in SERP

Final word

Having your website set up locally for your audience can help you easily be discovered easily. Also, search engines will find your website easy to identify, crawl, index and most importantly rank for your target key phrases. But keep in mind that ranking for your target keywords should not be your priority, although this is the most important factor you must achieve for your business. Focusing on providing quality and informative content is the best way to achieve all your online marketing goals such as traffic, authority, popularity, exposure and more.

Joseph Gojo Cruz is the author of RankingElite, a Philippine-based Online Marketing blog. Joseph has been working in SEO industry for over 3 years from website audit, link and content development, social media and search engine optimization. Connect with Joseph on Google+Twitter, and Facebook. Joseph is also a contributor on SEJ and Ahrefs.