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The Complete Guide to SEO for 2022

The Complete Guide to SEO for 2022

Guide to SEO

If your business has an online presence, you need to be on top of your SEO game – and that means keeping up with the algorithms and regularly adjusting your strategy with the ultimate goal of driving traffic to your website and providing value to your visitors.

As we all know, search engines are an ever-changing landscape, so if you are still using an SEO strategy you swear worked amazingly well in 2019… think again.

What is SEO and why is it important?

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is the process of improving your website and its content so that it ranks higher in search engine results. A website with great SEO will attract more organic traffic because people who are searching for specific terms related to your products or services will find it more easily. Naturally, this means more potential customers and more business for your company. Good SEO is the online equivalent of opening an icecream stand next to a playground, or a clothing boutique on a busy shopping street – in other words, putting your business right where people can see it.

Where do I start?

Before you do anything else, think about what keywords people who are looking for a company like yours might use to search for your content, goods or services.

Once you have a list, your goal is to create content around those keywords and edit the content you already have to include them organically.

How can I improve my SEO ranking in 2022?

Let’s take a look at the most important factors that will determine how high you will rank in searches.

1: Relevance

Without a doubt, relevance is the single most important aspect of your SEO strategy. In order to be relevant, you need to pair each piece of content you publish to a search query (or several). In other words, you need to create content that answers people’s questions about a topic.

Of course, the quality of your content is also extremely important. It is highly unlikely that a search engine will recommend a poorly written article to its users by putting it on its first page.

You can also increase your relevance by covering topics from different angles. For example, if you are a personal trainer, you can write about home workouts, meal plans, toning products, or training schedules – all topics aimed at people who are interested in becoming fitter and healthier.

2: Authority

Search engines will rank you higher if they consider you an authority on a keyword. This is mostly measured by backlinks, or inbound links, which direct users from other websites to yours. The number and quality of these links tells search engines how trustworthy of a source you are.

So, link building is great, but pay close attention to which sites you collaborate with: if they are spammy or otherwise untrustworthy, their backlinks will do more harm than good.

3: Mobile-responsive

In 2022 everyone is always on the go, and more and more users are visiting websites from their mobile devices. Make sure your website is mobile responsive, and all functional features and design elements are working correctly on smartphones.

4: Outbound links

Including outbound links (links that point to other websites from yours) in your content will not only improve your SEO but enhance user experience by allowing your visitors to easily access more information about a topic or provide context for what you published.

SEO in 2022

5: Images

Using images to illustrate your written content is a great way to make your website reader-friendly but that’s not all it can do for your company. With these simple tweaks, your images can become an invaluable SEO tool:

Make sure the format is right: use JPEGs rather than PNGs.

Resize your images so they don’t slow down your website as that could also negatively affect your search engine ranking.

Use alt tags (to describe the image) and meta descriptions (to describe the website) to help search engine crawlers find and index your site.

Rename the image files on your computer: make sure the new file names contain the keywords you want to rank for.

6: Keywords in headings

Not only will headings with keywords in them make it easier for your visitors to skim the content and find exactly what they are looking for, they will also let search engines know that your website has the answers to people’s questions – also known as the search terms they use when they look for content like yours.

7: Engaging content

Making your content relevant and easy to find is just half of the job. You also want to make people stay and actually read what you published. Search engines know much more about us than we think; for example, they know exactly how users behave on a website: how long they stay, what they click on, how far down they scroll, where they go when they leave. And based on these statistics, the algorithms determine which websites to move up or down their rankings in order to provide their users with the best quality search results.

Now that you know all this, you might feel excited to start implementing these tips and improving your search engine ranking. But if you are ready to take your SEO seriously, you need to be aware of one thing: good SEO takes time. You may not see results for the first 6-12 months, and if that happens we only have one piece of advice for you: resist the temptation to speed up the process, and never use black hat SEO techniques designed to manipulate search engines into thinking your website provides more value to users than it really does. These include unrelated keywords, hidden text and keyword stuffing, among others.

White hat SEO techniques, such as the ones we listed above, are the most reliable and cost-effective way to improve your search engine ranking and drive traffic to your website and customers to your business.

Not sure where to begin?

How do I optimise my website for local SEO?

How do I optimise my website for local SEO?

Website local SEO

As mentioned in my previous articles; local SEO is important for ALL businesses which means ALL websites should be optimised for local SEO.

The below tips should be employed as part of a larger local SEO strategy, by following this and other blogs in the series you’ll be well on your way to an effective local SEO plan.

Read more of the series:

Part 1: What is local SEO?

Part 2: Why is Google My Business important?

Basic Website Local SEO

The first stage of optimising your website for local SEO is to try including your town/city or region covered keywords throughout your website in:

  • Your URL
  • Page Titles
  • Meta Description
  • H1 and H2

This will help search engines begin to understand particular pages on your website and your website as a whole are relevant to the location you’re targeting.

Once you’ve updated your website to reflect this follow the below tips to enhance your websites local SEO and maximise your website’s presence.

Website local SEO tip 1: Refrain From Keyword Stuffing

The main search engines, like Google, hate keyword stuffing and so do your website visitors. In the early days of SEO, the keyword was very popular for attracting search engines, however, as the technology has evolved and got smarter so have the consumers. It can be very tempting to still do this, but avoid using ‘black hat’ SEO. It will only have a negative effect on your search engine rankings.

Kathy explains – ‘Black Hat’ SEO refers to a set of practices that are used to increases a website or web page’s rank in search engines through means that violate the search engines’ terms of service.

Website local SEO tip 2: Make Sure Your Address is on your website

You may think this is a small detail which will have little impact, however, it is one of the criteria search engines use to identify your website as being relevant for certain locations.

You may know this as ‘NAP’ – Name, Address & Phone Number. Its very important you make sure its displayed consistently wherever you use it. For example, Google to identify these two addresses as different:

RST, Address1, Address2, Devon, Postcode

RST, Address1, Address2, N.Devon, Postcode

You can actually end up creating competition for yourself by having these details different in different places. Always make sure wherever your NAP details are, they are all the same.

Check your social networks, local online directories, association and chamber pages and make any requests to update the details where it doesn’t match what you primarily use.

You can also add visual cues to your NAP details in your main navigation bar or header of the website, depending on where on your page your visitors usually go often to help them easily view the details.

Website local SEO tip 3: Make Your Service Areas Clear (If Applicable)

Make it as easy as possible for your website visitors to view the name of their town, county, or state, this will increases the chances they will consider using your services.

You may use standalone service area pages for certain branches of your company. If this is the case, make sure each page is optimised for that particular location with area-specific keywords like post code, town name and local landmarks.

If you’re not certain where is best to start, go to a page which describes your service area; add information about how the company serves that area, any reviews you have from customers in that location, embed an interactive map of your location or simply add a list of the names of the towns or counties you cover.

Website local SEO tip 4: Optimise Specialised Pages for Certain Locations

If you’ve read my other blogs you’ll know by now the basics of SEO, so I won’t explain that here, however, I will once again emphasise the importance of creating landing pages for local service areas.

Think of these local landing pages as mini homepages, they should provide visitors with all the details they would need to make a decision whether or not your company is for them. You also need to make sure the keywords are optimised to the local area as previously mentioned.

Once you’ve completed this, search for your page and make sure the SERPs give an accurate and realistic preview of what visitors will find from your service and company for that particular area.

It’s key to remember Google ranks pages, not domains. This is important for local landing pages, as having multiple pages for different locations on the same domain will not cause you any search engine penalties.

Kathy explains – SERPs = Search Engine Results Page

Website local SEO tip 5: Leverage Business Blogging

Blogging is a brilliant way to help increase your local search rankings. You can easily include location-based keywords in the posts whilst reporting on local events, business interests or local government policies. You could even add location keywords to your tags and categories to increase location relevance.

Just make sure you are writing the article for your readers; an article that is geo-targeted but either irrelevant to your business or just confusing to read can be more harmful to your website.

Website local SEO tip 6: Focus on Local Link Building

This isn’t necessarily something you’ll do on your website, but its important win helping your website rank locally.

It is slightly time-consuming, but there are many local link bounding opportunities and it can have a very positive effect on your website’s rankings if you gain the right links.

  • Social Media – the use of popular social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest can help you gain link backs from influencers, companies are relevant to your business or from recommendations from your customers. Using LinkedIn as a network can also help you find likeminded people who will be willing to link to your website.
  • Local Blogs and Websites – Most towns these days will have a number of great local websites and blogs which will be willing to link to local businesses. Links to these types of websites establish search engine trust your company is part of this location. To find such sites search for:
    • Your town/city/county plus ‘Blog’ or ‘News’
    • Your postcode plus ‘Blog’ or ‘News’
  • Local Directories – These websites are normally relatively easy to find and can be free to sign up to, enabling you to get a free link back fast. To find them search:
    • Your town/city/county plus ‘Directory’
    • Your postcode plus ‘Blog’ or ‘Directory’
  • Associations and Organisations: Are you already a member of the local Chamber of Commerce or any other local organisations? Local organisations like these will generally be willing to link back to your website and again will help search engines trust your website is from a local company. Think of all local groups you’re apart of and have them link back to you.

There are many more link building opportunities, this, however, is a get way to start your local link building strategy.

Final tip: Remember, as always, content is king.

The saying really is true. Continuously adding relevant content to your website will help attract search engines and establish you as a local authority and expert on your area of business.

Read more of the series:

Part 1: What is local SEO?

Part 2: Why is Google My Business important?

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Why is Google My Business important?

Why is Google My Business important?

Why is Google My Business Important?

This is another blog on my local SEO series explaining how to get your business ranking for local searches on Google. 

You can read more here What is local SEO  & How do I optimise my website for local SEO?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free service provided by Google enabling company owners to verify their business location and enter basic information about their company. This is then shown in Google search and on their maps. This allows business owners to engage and be found by existing and potential new customers in their local area. GMB is also known as Google Places and Google Business.

Summary of Google My Business

Simply put, Google My Business (GMB) is an essential part of local SEO.

GMB offers business owners metrics on their companies visibility and engagement levels that other products don’t provide, including Google Analytics. There’s also the easy to use companion apps, available on both Google Play and the App Store, making it easy to manage and monitor your business listing.

Is my business eligible for Google My Business?

Any business which has a physical location is eligible for Google My Business and can set-up a listing for their location. Plus, businesses with 2 or more locations can have separate GMB listings for each of their sites.

If your business doesn’t have a physical location or you work from home and visit customers so don’t want people to know your personal location, but your service covers customers in a particular area, you’re classed as a ‘Service Area Business’. For example, if you’re a window cleaner or dog walker. You’re still eligible for a GMB listing, although you’ll want to mark ‘Yes’ when completing your GMB listing and asked if you deliver goods and services to customers at their location.

The exemptions to being able to have a Google My Business listing is when for example, you’re an eCommerce company based in London, you would not be able to have a listing in Bristol without another physical location in Bristol; only your London site could have a listing. Just because you have customers in another location, you can’t have another GMB listing without the physical location.

How do I verify my location on Google My Business?

To enable Google to determine you are a legitimate business and protect its users you are required to verify your business through a couple of different options.

First of all, you need to claim your business. The simplest way to do this is to search Google with your business name. If you see a Google My Business panel pop up on the right-hand side of the screen, it’ll include a phrase, ‘Own this business?’. Before clicking the button make sure you’re signed into your business Google account or not signed in so you can create a Google account for your business. Do not use your personal Google account to claim a business; this is a tip rather than a requirement, but it’s easier to share access to the business listing with other employees or agencies when it’s a business account rather than personal.

If your business does not come up to claim to go to https://www.google.com/business/ and follow the easy step by step guide to claiming your business.

Once you complete the basic information Google My Business requires it’ll verify your listing to confirm your telephone number and address are correct. You’ll receive a phone call from Google with a pin number you’ll need to enter on your screen. If GMB has not identified a business with your telephone number and address before it’ll send you a postcard within 7 days. Just follow the instructions on your postcard and your business will be verified and visible through Google My Business.

What’s the basic business information needed for Google My Business?

It’s as simple as business name, address and telephone number.

There’s no need to overthink it when it comes to your GMB listing, these are the details required for GMB to help with your local SEO.

These three details; name, address and telephone number, are also known as ‘NAP’. They’re you’re businesses simple thumbprint online and create a digital trail online which helps give customers and Google trust that your business is authentic. Always make sure these details are accurate and the same where ever they’re listed online. If Google doesn’t believe your details, they’ll lose trust in your business and stop sending customers in your direction.

To help build Google’s trust, make sure the address you submit is the same address shown on your website, even if you consider yourself a ‘Service Area Business’. Do not use a PO Box address or similar, make sure its a physical address only.

Always double check where Google places the pin for your address on its maps. Google tends to be pretty accurate, but you can adjust the pin to make sure it’s perfect.

Don’t be tempted to use a tracking phone number to segment those customers you get from google. This can be detrimental to your GMB success, it’ll not trust this is an authentic detail as it won’t be able to match it to phone numbers on your website, etc.

Also, do not keyword stuff your business name. It might seem like a quick trick to get in front of your target audience, but Google sees it as spammy and monitors for this regularly.

Make sure you choose an accurate category for your business, this is the best way to ‘optimise’ your company in Google My Business. Have a good think how you best describe your company and then start typing it into Google. Google has established a very extensive list of company categories over the years, resulting in them providing you with a narrowed down list after you start typing the first few characters of your keyword. You should be able to find a relevant category fairly quickly.

You can choose multiple categories for your business. Although Google recommends as few as possible, as long as you keep them specific to your business, choose as many categories you can find which are relevant & specific to your business. Google may remove a few during its automated authorisation review, this won’t harm your listing. The more relevant categories you have the more searches you’ll appear in.

Which page should I direct them too on my website?

When trying to decide whether to send them to your homepage or if for instance, you have multiple physical locations you could send them to a landing page for that specific location, consider the potential customer. Which page will give them a simpler journey on your website and give them the best information they’ll be after?
The above information enables you to verify your business and get it live on Google My Business, but I recommend you continue to fill in the other options to help maximise your exposure.

Photos and Images:

With visually social platforms such as Instagram & Pinterest rapidly growing in popularity, its easy to understand why photos are very important on your GMB listing, yet its still one of the most under-utilised assets. It’s particularly important on GMB’s mobile offerings, like Google Maps as images are one of the first representations the potential customer sees.
Take time to review Google My Businesses image size requirements and optimise your photos for their listings. Customers can also add photos, so consider running a competition for guests to add photos of your store or product in the best possible way.

Hours:

Google’s functionality for opening hours is very flexible making it easy for you to make them accurate. It’s extremely important you keep your opening hours up to date as they’ll be one of the first details customers will see across all GMB platforms.
You can show standard opening hours, including splitting days into multiple times, ideal if you close in the afternoon but are open in the morning and evening. You can also show specific opening hours for any special events you run or if you close over holidays, etc.
Although you can’t control it, its worth noting Google provides its users with a guide on the busy-ness of your business in real-time via location tracking on users of Androids and iOS Google Maps.

What can I find out from Google My Business Insights?

The Google My Business Insights package provides you with the essential information Google has gathered about your listing, giving you an idea of how Google users are viewing and engaging with your listing.

The basic information you receive includes, how many times your GMB listing appeared in standard Google search vs Google Maps, the number of times users clicked through to your website, requested driving instructions and used the call now option.

There’s also a breakdown of how many customers found you listing through direct searches (searching your business specifically), verses discovery searches (searching businesses like yours in the same category or area). Google hasn’t necessarily made it clear how they determine this, however, it’s a good guide to decide how well your local SEO is working.

Top tip – record the data in a spreadsheet so you can monitor growth. The discovery vs direct searches insights for an example is a snapshot of what’s happening. Recording the data offline helps you monitor this over time.

I’m having problems setting up my Google My Business listing, help!
If you’re having a troubleshooting issue setting up your GMB listing its most likely to be because of a duplicate listing for the same business. If you find a duplicate it’s now fairly easy to close them. If you believe this could be the issue, go to https://www.google.com/maps then search your business name. If in the listing Google provides there are multiple listings for your business, select the option which you’d like to close and click ‘Suggest an edit’. You’ll then need to select ‘Place is permanently closed or never existed’ and then choose the option ‘duplicate’.

Google tend to respond to these reports within a week, but if it goes on longer ask fellow workers, friends, etc to report it in the same manner too and Google will consider it a higher priority to remove. If the problem still continues contact GMB via @googlemybiz on Twitter.

What do I do next on Google My Business?

Firstly, continue to keep your business information up to date, whether that’s updating any adjustment in opening hours or changes to a telephone number. It’s extremely important for your local SEO this information is kept up to date.

Use the GMB Posts option to give Google users the opportunity to see any new products you launch, company updates or events. GMB Messaging is also a great resource as it gives a simple way for Google users to communicate with you quickly and securely.

Encourage customers, especially those who are fans of your business, to leave a review via your Google My Business listing. The more positive reviews you receive the more trustworthy Google users will feel your brand is. Plus always respond, not just to any negative reviews you have, but to the positive ones too so potential customers can see you’re actively using the platform and care about your customers.

What should I remember from this article?

Make sure you are always representing your Name, Address, and Phone exactly as they appear to customers in the real world and on your website. Take time to consider the correct categories for your business and select as many categories you feel are relevant and accurate.

Make the most of being able to upload fantastic photos of your business and encourage good customers to load there.
Keep an eye on the Discovery metric as a guide to the success of your local SEO.
Begin using GMB’s additional features like Posts & Messaging.

Encourage customers to leave reviews.

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What is local SEO

What is local SEO

What is local SEO?

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is about optimising your website to help it rank better for your targeted local audience. Of course, your website is your shop window to a potentially a global audience, however, if your target audience is located within a certain proximity of your businesses shop or office you’ll need to use local SEO to target them correctly.

Even if you’re not the goal isn’t to actively get visitors in your building, if you are targeting an audience that is located in the same geographical area you are based in, optimising your website for local is essential.

How do I do local SEO?

This can be achieved by optimising your website for your county, city or town, whichever is appropriate to the target audience. Basically, you need to optimise your website so people can easily identify where you’re located and so can the search engine bots.

The basics:

  • A physical address – if you have a proper address within the county/city you’re trying to target make sure its visible on your website and reference its location where possible. For example, include your address on your ‘Contact Us’ and ‘About Us’ pages as well as in your footer.
  • Keywords – research keywords appropriate for your local audience. If you were a florist in Oxford, your keywords could be as simple as ‘Oxford Florist’, expanding out to specific locations within that city or your specialism to target better.
  • Content – whether you have a physical location in your target area or not, optimise your websites content to reference your targeted location. For instance, on your ‘Homepage’ reference the place you’re located in your introduction.

Remember also local SEO isn’t just about search engines. Online there is a lot of options to optimise your website, but it works best when you also have a good offline strategy like encouraging word-of-mouth and traditional print brochures which all help towards local SEO. Make sure to include all your online profiles within your offline communications to encourage people to follow you on platforms like Facebook and your e-news. This can help increase your following on social as well as increased your website traffic. Google will love this increase in local traffic to your website.

Local SEO – In-depth

Over the following months, I’ll be writing a series of blogs on how to maximise your Local SEO, keep an eye out on my Facebook channel for the next in the series.

We’ll be covering the following:

  • Why is Google My Business important?
  • How do I optimise my website for local search?
  • What are inbound links and how do I get them?
  • Why do I need local reviews?
  • How does my social media help local SEO?

It might seem a lot to consider for local SEO, though once you get it right it’ll have a huge positive impact on your business.

Local SEO therefor is a mixture of tactics to make your location easily identifiable to your local target audience and help increase your rankings on search engines.

Have fun optimising your marketing plan and get in contact if you’d like us to help. SEO is my specialism and I enjoy getting your website in front of your local audience.

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