Optimizing Your Website for Local SEO: A Detailed Guide

Image of Scott Baradell
Scott Baradell
Published: Jan 29, 2024
Last Updated: Jan 30, 2024

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ever-changing game that looks different for many businesses. Small and medium businesses often implement unique SEO strategies, such as localized keywords and metadata, to establish trust in their local communities. 

Find out how SEO marketing can help you stand out in local searches and build an impression in your market.

Why Is Local SEO Important?

Local searches work differently from standard search engine processes. In many cases, users will include their city or region in their search prompt, such as "Restaurants near Austin, TX." However, search engine platforms may also use the person's location to refine their search if they type "Restaurants near me."

Local SEO is essential for many businesses' marketing strategies because it attracts local viewers. Even if you include your business's address on your website, the search engines, such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, may not recognize your location during searches. However, using keywords such as "restaurants in Austin, Texas" and other SEO strategies can significantly improve your content's local relevance. In doing so, you can create an impression and build trust with your target audience. 

Local SEO vs. Organic SEO

While local SEO targets users by location, organic SEO attracts Internet searches worldwide. This SEO strategy is called  "organic" because it comprises your website's natural search engine activity, rather than using advertisements and other influences. As such, it can include people actively looking for your business and others generally interested in your industry or topic.

Organic search traffic is critical because it communicates to "the algorithm" that your content is relevant to people's searches. For example, having a few generalized blog posts, such as tutorials, reviews, and frequently asked questions (FAQs), will keep people visiting your site. Even if users don't immediately continue down the SEO marketing funnel, you can still leave an impression, establish trust, and improve your SEO relevance. As a result, you may appear in similar local searches. 

When to Prioritize Local SEO

Online shops and services undeniably benefit from organic searches. However, smaller businesses with limited locations won't gain much from being at the top of a generalized search. 

So, local businesses should blend organic SEO into their digital marketing strategies while still prioritizing local searches. Including both types of SEO will keep your content as relevant as possible for your local audience. 

How to Optimize Your Websites for Local Searches

Your local SEO focus should cover all aspects of your content creation process to help build your brand. For example, if you're writing a blog, "How To Eat Healthy on a Budget," consider also writing "How To Eat Healthy in Chicago." This separate article will appeal to local users and can lead them directly to your business. 

Follow these local SEO marketing strategies for your website and content. 

Strategize Your Keywords

Keywords are the bones of search engine optimization, helping your content hold up across various search intents. A keyword, or "search term," includes any word or phrase that could be part of a user's search prompt that fits into your content. So, for a bike tutorial, your primary keyword could be, "How to ride a bicycle" or simply "bike riding." 

Most articles should include various types of keywords, including:

  • Primary Keywords: Your primary keyword should encompass your content's central focus while also being something people would reasonably search for. These standards can be difficult to balance, so you should consider using Google Trends and other tools to brainstorm what people have searched for recently. Your primary keyword should be used in your title, intro, conclusion, and at least one major heading for the best impact. 
  • Secondary keywords: Secondary terms typically branch off of the primary keyword to give your piece better SEO relevance. Many secondary keywords use synonyms or similar phrasing to help your content appear in different types of searches. For instance, the primary keyword "healthy eating habits" could inspire "healthy diet," "safer eating habits," and "best healthy food" as secondary terms. 
  • Related Keywords: You should also include keywords and search terms related to specific parts of your content that aren't necessarily the focus. Even if their topics are somewhat tangential, relevant SEO keywords can improve your organic search presence in various ways. For example, the article "How To Ride a Bicycle" may include a section about how to brake on different bikes. Adding "braking on a bicycle," "how to brake on my bike," and "types of bike brakes" easily opens your content to different search intents. 
  • Long-tail Keywords: These longer keywords often target specific search terms, such as questions, statements, or "how to" searches. Long-tail keywords often include primary and secondary keywords to further improve their relevance. Though they typically work better as secondary keywords, some articles use long-tail phrases as primary keywords to answer specific questions. 
  • Locational Keywords: Local keywords are usually variations of primary and secondary keywords that include a city or location name. These keywords make your content more relevant to specific users without impairing your organic SEO. For example, an article with the primary keyword "pet supplies" could add "pet supplies in New York City" and "NYC pet stores" for better local searches. 

Every article and webpage on your site should start with a primary keyword and then branch out for secondary and relevant results. Include your most important keywords in your article's beginning, middle, and end—ideally in the first and last 200 words. This informs search engine algorithms that those words are actually relevant to your article rather than a tangential subtopic. 

However, you should be careful not to include too many keywords to avoid confusing or spamming search engine algorithms. Many content creators have different opinions on the best keyword usage. As a general rule of thumb, you should include your primary keyword at least three times per 1,000 words, though some people recommend up to 20 uses. 

Your best strategy will rely on the number of keywords at your disposal. For instance, if you have a broader topic with over a dozen secondary keywords, you may only need to use your primary keyword a few times. However, if you only have five keywords in total, you may need to repeat each one several times.

Craft High-Quality Meta Descriptions and Titles

Your metadata or "tags" market your content on search engine algorithms, telling users what they need to know before they follow your link. The meta title appears most prominently and should be a condensed version of your original headline. Shortening your title guarantees no words run off the page and gives you room to add your primary keyword, company name, and other relevant details. 

Meta descriptions appear directly under the title and comprise 50 to 160 characters — usually no more than 40 words. These descriptions tell search engines and users what they will find in your article. As such, they should include your primary keyword, at least one other keyword, and a brief summary of your headings. 

Some content creators prefer cleaner descriptions with less obvious keywords and an inviting tone to encourage people to click their links. However, other businesses will benefit from more straightforward descriptions that cover all essential information. Whatever approach you choose, you should keep your meta content enticing and keyword-driven for the best SEO impact. 

Heighten Your Local SEO Marketing With Trust Signals

Your website should highlight local content as you craft your web pages, blog posts, and other data. This will help you naturally balance your local and organic SEO to make your businesses easier to find. Get started with Trust Signals Marketing to learn how to optimize your local search presence. 

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