There’s no shortage of advice on the web of how you can improve your search rankings. Some of it is dubious; some of it is actually valuable. If you’re new to SEO, it can be hard to tell the difference. What’s more important than simply ranking high for as many queries as possible, is ranking well in comparison to local competitors.
Particularly in large cities and their suburbs, it can be tough to increase your visibility in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) when competitor websites that have been around longer are also in the race to the top. Sometimes you follow all the latest SEO advice and you still find that a website which clearly hasn’t had any search engine optimization work is displaying above you. This can be frustrating for any business owner. Still, there are many efforts you can take to catch up and eventually surpass your competition.
Get an edge in the local results by optimizing your Google my Business listing. Make sure your contact information and hours are correct and up-to-date, reviews can be seen, and clear, engaging images are shown. Naturally use keywords in your description as well.
Your competitors are bound to have some advantages that you just can’t easily beat. For example, a long-established website first launched in 1996 may rank higher than yours for a vast number of queries even if the content is not up to standard. Still, by filling in the gaps and offering what the other site doesn’t (up-to-date information, an exciting blog, streamlined navigation), you’ll likely yield better results than your competitors. Remember, rankings don’t always equate to more success – if you get more conversions and motivated customers, you have the upper hand.
Search engines love fresh content, so don’t expect to neglect your site and have it surpass your competitors. Keep adding high-quality fresh content to the site and watch its performance increase.
Want to keep customers interested? Make sure your site is easy to use on all devices including phones, desktop computers, and tablets. Your website should be responsive, mobile-friendly, and have good site speed. Studies have shown that even minor delays in load time can vastly reduce conversions, so a smooth and swift user experience is essential.
If your navigation is convoluted, confusing, or too big, your bounce rate could increase, impacting your rankings. If your navigation is overloaded, pare it down. Research site architecture to make sure your pages are arranged in a cohesive system of main-level and sub-pages that’s easy to use.
Search for long-tail keyword ideas based on common queries in your area. By finding out the questions local users are asking and the search phrases they are entering, you can write content that provides the answers they need. You can find long-tail keywords through various keyword planners or by using Google Autocomplete.
Focus on your overall web presence, rather than purely on your on-site SEO. Building a reputation for your brand on social media, YouTube, and the websites of local partners will elevate your business and help increase its overall visibility.
If you’re having trouble ranking organically, it’s not a bad idea to consider running paid ad campaigns. This is particularly useful if you need immediate conversions; while SEO is a long-term endeavor, PPC can garner results right off the bat.
Schema markup is structured data that is added to HTML to enhance how your pages are displayed in the SERPs. You’ve probably seen the rich snippets that show star reviews, top pages, or the number of calories on a recipe. While there’s no outright evidence that schema improves your ranking, it definitely makes a page stand out amongst the competition in the results and there are clear indicators that search engines are beginning to value schema markup.
Even if you see your competition using black or gray hat tactics (trying to ‘game’ the system) to improve their ranking – and it’s working – this doesn’t mean you should resort to the same techniques. It’s frustrating to see people getting ahead through illegitimate means, but the risks are just not worth the potential rewards.
Building local client relationships, focusing on offline marketing, and remembering to promote yourself locally in the real world can do wonders for your ranking. If locals know and trust your business, they’ll search for your company online, helping you rank for brand and name keywords.
You can resort to classic marketing methods to tighten your focus and deliver targeted content. The more you know about your target demographic, the more of an edge you have over your competition. A razor-sharp marketing plan dedicated to the right audience will accomplish far more than a generalized approach.
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