First, what does SEO even stand for? SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. We consider SEO an art! It’s the work of optimizing a website so that Google ranks it better in search engine results. SEO can be performed on a local, national, or international level, but the main process we’ll cover here is local SEO. The main difference between local SEO and national SEO is that you’ll optimize your website for the cities, towns, and states you service.
How SEO Got Started
SEO began in the 1990s with Yahoo. Google launched Google Search in 1998 and quickly became a leader in the space. At that time, people performing SEO flocked to Google and learned quickly how to manipulate the algorithm so that their websites would rank better than others. Black hat SEO was birthed! Google quickly caught on and started enhancing its guidelines to battle the unethical tactics designed to trick the system.
Over time, Google’s algorithm got smarter and was updated more frequently. But the core foundation of local SEO is still the same. There are three things that make the biggest difference and if you don’t have these three things, you won’t win!
Most Important Parts of SEO
- Site structure and foundation (clean code and enhanced load speed)
- Well written content
- Links from other sites pointing to your website, known as “backlinks”
What Are Local Search Results?
Let’s break down the different sections of a Google local search result. Below are images that break down four popular sections of a search result.
1 & 2: Local Service Ads or Adwords
To appear in the paid ad sections like Local Service Ads or Adwords, you have to set up an account and pay them for performance.
3: Map Pack
To appear in the Google Business Profile section – “map pack” or “3 pack” – go to https://www.google.com/business/ and set up a Google Business Profile. It will quickly walk you through the process of setting it up. We recommend filling it out completely with as many photos as possible. This section has its own algorithm and there are many ranking factors including your company’s name and title as well as your website optimization and proximity to the area you’re trying to rank (typically 3 – 5 miles around your business).
4: Organic Search Results
The organic search results have many ranking factors and this algorithm updates regularly, sometimes even hourly. As you can see, 70% of searchers click in this organic section. Your goal is to rank at the number one spot but not everyone can get there, depending on the competition in your area.
How Does Google Choose Who Ranks #1?
The short version is that it varies. Google has stated that they want to deliver an excellent user experience on numerous occasions. If you want to rank well on Google, you should create informative content that searchers will value. Calling back to the beginning of the article, ranking well on Google starts with a great foundation (clean code/speed/site structure), excellent content, and quality backlinks. Keep these at the forefront of your SEO strategies, and you will rank well.
What questions should I ask a local SEO agency when trying to hire?
There are some critical questions you should ask before hiring someone to manage your website and online presence.
- Do I own the content you create for my local SEO?
- Can you do local SEO on my current website?
- What is included in my local SEO package?
- What is not included in my local SEO package?
- What KPIs will you be providing to show if we’re successful or not?
- Will you be offering on site SEO and off site SEO?
- Do you clean up citations?
- How often will you be adding content to my website?