It’s 2018, and there’s more online competition, and better competition, all the time. So how do you differentiate your brand and local search position in an online sea of others? Let’s look at one Santa Barbara logo design and digital agency’s four local search tactics you can implement this year.

Santa Barbara logo design and digital agency’s four local search tactics you can implement this year 

First off, what is local SEO? In a nutshell, local SEO boils down to competing for top of page placement in local search. There are three spots you’ll want placement in — and today paid search ads and directories scoop up much of this position. Therefore, your local search strategy will have to be strategic and ongoing for you to get there.

What are the measures your brand can take to capture some of the search position for your area? With Google’s favor of local search in the last few years, implementing local SEO strategies that either your market competitors aren’t implementing or aren’t implementing well or enough can help get ahead this year and beyond.

1. Make your website secure

This year if your brand’s website isn’t secure, which means it loads on https and shows a green ‘secure’ lock in the top left corner, you’re missing out on a piece of the pie. At the beginning of last year, Google began rolling out beta ‘insecure’ warnings on more commerce-based websites and in quarter four 2017 rolled those warnings across more websites. While a ‘this website is not secure’ warning may not scare off all site visitors, with today’s increasing push for cybersecurity and the protection of personal information, it should scare off a percentage of them —and that’s in a time where qualified website traffic is more important than ever.

In addition to the perceived value for browsers on a secure website, Google has eluded to some search benefit and ranking boost from operating on a secure url. When in doubt, just take a look at Google, Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the traffic giants, and making the argument to move to a secure url should be an easy one.

2. Check your url structure

Your url structure (that’s what shows in your browser after your domain, so, is important to your search strategy. Your url not only contains the data the search engines see, but it also contains the data your site browsers see. A ‘friendly’ url structure should be short, descriptive, and make sense for your brand.

If you’re website uses WordPress, you’ll want to check the permalink structure and adjust to the best structure such as ‘post name.’ Hint: not anything containing page IDs, months, years or long sequences of numbers. Not only does this make your url easier to read and share but it allows data such as keywords to be used in your url — important for not just search but for local search as well. Any time you change the permalink structure, you’ll want to redirect the old url structure to the new one. This is especially important for websites with lots of content or older websites that may have been using static or html-based code.

3. Write great content

There are basically two types of content you can write for your website or blog: long-form content and short-form content — there’s also super long-form content. While short content tends to be easier to write, and a quicker read for your browsers, long-form content tends to include more detail. This means more inbound and outbound links, more subheadings and more writing and editing time overall. How do you know what your readers want to read about, and what the search engines will find relevant enough to help you rank on?

Here are a few tips to break the writer’s block and start thinking along the lines of writing great content. A. know your market. B. know your brand strategy and keywords. C. know the technical factors involved in writing great content. There are some tools that can help you research keywords with good search traffic but knowing your market will take a little time. While there are also tools to help with this process, you can always hire an agency to help you do the legwork, develop your brand position and also your brand identity such as your Santa Barbara logo design, website design and development and content strategy.

People tend to search in the form of questions, so question-and-answer posts make great quality content. You can find popular questions for your brand that need answering, and even asking your customers what questions they might have, or even how they found you, and browsing user forums for your industry can be helpful in providing this insight.

4. Use Google Posts

To use Google’s new Google Posts to help you perform in local search, you’ll need to claim and verify your Google My Business listing. Once you have this step done, you’ll want to check and optimize your business category. You’ll want to select a category that fits your brand. Keep in mind, people don’t search generically; they search granularly. Once this step is done, make sure your listing is up-to-date, including using your new secure url from step 1, updating your business hours and holiday hours, and adding some quality interior and exterior photos.

Once you have those steps down, you should be ready to try out Google Posts. Google Posts don’t replace the content you’ve created in step 3; rather, they add to it. Google Posts are like micro posts. They include a picture, a description, and a landing page that links the user to the full content. This might be an event, a blog post, a product or service, or even a special your brand is promoting. Once you’re ready to create a Google Post, you’ll log in to your Google My Business and look for the new ‘posts’ section on the left. Similar to how writing great content on your website works, writing a great Google Post should follow similar technical guidelines.

Try and incorporate a good readability score, relevant keywords, and necessary information to help your user take the next step from your post. That may be attending your event, reading the rest of your article, or learning more about a product or service on your website. Since Google Posts are essentially micro content, they don’t last forever. Google removes them after 7 days, or after the date of the event if your post is about an event. This helps keep the content timely for users and keeps you ready to write more. While Google Posts, like anything with local search and local marketing, aren’t the one step that will help your local search placement, indicators suggest they do provide a slight ranking boost, particularly if users are engaging with your content.

Which search tactics are you planning to implement in 2018? Which other local search strategies have you found provide your brands a boost in rankings. Let us know in the comments!

About the Author: Christina Brown has over 20 years experience in digital marketing, including SEO, SEM, branding, content marketing and other integrated digital strategies that create differentiation and provide results. Christina is the founder and creative director of Savy Agency, a Bend and Santa Barbara logo design and digital agency that helps brands and businesses differentiate and succeed online. Savy Agency is a top Google Partner and has won best Santa Barbara logo design and marketing agency for two years running.