These days, quite a number of companies are getting serious about developing a local web footprint.
The idea is that businesses exist in communities, and that they should market directly to their communities, online as well as in a bricks and mortar space. Here are some of the trends we’ve seen in 2015, and more that we can expect to continue with local SEO in 2016 and beyond.
Using Local Identifiers: Putting Yourself on the Map
One of the major trends in local SEO and web design is the addition of local branding and contact information to not just the contact page, but to as many pages as possible. To understand how this works, think about a big corporate website where you can’t find any local phone numbers, addresses or leadership names. You may have just a simple contact form, or a global phone number located in some other country. It makes you feel like no one can reach the company, that it only exists in a vague Internet nether-world.
Local identifying is the opposite of that. Companies work hard to get a local phone number and address on every single page, or on the majority of pages, with specialized object designs. They try to promote visibility of local information across the web site, so that whether people are at the desktop or on a smartphone, they can figure out exactly where the business is and how to reach it.
Local Tagging and SEO Factors
Businesses are also putting much more geo-specific information into titles, headers, URLs, and content. A lot of times, this will consist of a city or region descriptor, but it can also include other labels for nearby towns or parts of a metro area.
In some ways, geo-specific tagging has taken the place of dubious methods like keyword stuffing, where marketers really tried to get a barrage of random keywords into pages based on what they got from Google analytics or some other source. Local SEO factoring is keyword-intensive and labor-intensive, but it’s not unethical or intrusive, unless it affects the quality of the content on the page, or it’s done excessively throughout the site.
Companies are also taking a local approach to link building. They’re allowing local people to guest post or co-author a post. They’re citing local businesses when they include hyperlinks in a page.
All of this takes the local business principle further. In a way, by constructing these tighter relationships, companies are reinventing the age-old “Main Street” business idea in a digital space. In the old days, you had physical stores next to each other in a commercial district, and customers accessed them collectively (they walked from one to another). In a new local SEO environment, you have businesses that are, again, tied to one another directly, and more accessible in those specific ways.
All of these trends are likely for local SEO in 2016. Companies want to build from where they are in the community, and take the local approach first.
At WebSubstance, we’ve developed a strong reputation as a firm that helps client companies to do local SEO and apply these principles to their sites. Throughout the Northern Virginia community, we’ve helped to create that Main Street environment with targeted localized SEO programs, content marketing, and ongoing maintenance that, all together, makes a corporate web site shine, and ties it into the communities that it serves.