Welcome to part 3 of the Local SEO Guide. It’s time to take a look at your existing website and make sure it’s in the best shape possible for your coming efforts at getting ranked.

Remember, a study by Chitika Online Advertising showed that businesses found in the first page search results of Google get 19X greater brand exposure.

This is free exposure. It’s also highly targeted to people looking for your services or products.

A big part of your success in getting to the first page results is how well you make your website appear to the search engines. This is called SEO optimization or website optimization.

What Needs to be Optimized on Your Website to Get First Page Results in Search?

First, let’s not pretend this is all easy to do.

For a “techie” that does websites all day long, it should be easy. But for the typical business owner who doesn’t design or code websites, some is easy, some is difficult, and some is seemingly impossible.

Here’s a list of web items that should meet certain standards to be optimized:

  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • URLs
  • On page content
  • Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
  • Web page code
  • Schema.org code
  • Open graph code

For many business owners, the above list is gibberish. With a little explanation, you can verify these items yourself. But for much of this code, it will take hours of learning and trying to even get close to getting it all correct.

Meta Description Optimization

Like the title tag, the meta description appears in your web page HTML in a bracketed code.

Your meta description looks like this: <meta name=”description” content=”Your description of what your content is about.” />

What you provide is the part after “content=.” This should be one or two brief sentences describing what your web page is about.

Google has made it clear they do not rank pages based on the meta description. But the clearer the description, and the more curiosity it creates about the keyword phrase, the more people will click on it and go to your web page when they find it in the search results.

There isn’t a true maximum character count for the length of the meta description. But, keeping it to 155 characters or fewer will make sure it all appears in the search results. Sometimes more is shown, and sometimes Google or Bing ignores it and selects a snippet of what is on the web page content.

To get searchers to click on your entry, make the description actionable. Be specific. Web viewers click on specifics. Vague, flowery ideas and metaphors simply won’t get clicked.

The meta description should match the idea of your content. Use the keyword phrase you’re focusing on in the description.

Also, include a call-to-action in the description when possible. You can even put your business phone number in the description.

HTML Title tag image
Search Engine title tag and meta description image

Optimizing URLs

The URL is your web page address. For example: https://thinkbigandgrowmedia.com/local-seo-guide-part-2 is a URL. URL stands for “uniform resource locator.”

When creating the URL, it should be as short as possible. It’s not necessary to have the full title as the web address. But, for users and search engine purposes, it’s desirable to use the main keyword phrase in the URL.

Don’t use what techies call “stop words” in the URL. These are words like a, the, an, but, this, that, you, your, he, she, it, etc. These types of words are the most common words in English. There’s no definitive list of what should be considered a stop word.

Remember, like with the meta description, Google doesn’t rank based on the keyword phrase being in the URL. But for users to trust the intent of the web address, it’s a good practice to include the keyword phrase.

Optimizing Your On Page Content

To make your on-page content friendly to search engines and web viewers, you must make it say what web searchers look for.

The bottom line is make the content on each web page offer useful information about what the searcher seeks. To get ranked for a particular keyword phrase, your page must be the best at providing a searcher what they searched for.

Despite what many tell you, there’s no optimum number of times to use your main keyword phrase on your web page. Because Google can tell intent of a page from its context, it’s best to use the main keyword phrase up front, and use other forms of the phrase throughout the content.

Keep the keyword phrase use natural sounding. Don’t force it to get some perceived percent of your word count.

It’s also a myth that there’s a perfect content word count. There isn’t. But the current rule-of-thumb is around 800 to 1,000 words.

Remember, if you clearly deliver what a searcher seeks in 300 words, then the 300 word article has a better chance of ranking on page 1 than the 1,000 words that just ramble.

For web use, keep your sentences short and your paragraphs short. This makes them easier to read and scan on the web. Your goal for user-friendly content is to write at about a 6th to 8th-grade level. Doing this keeps readers on your page longer.

Google measures how long each viewer stays on your page. The longer, the better.

Your content should link to other authorities because this gives what you write more authority. Don’t be afraid to link to other pages. Don’t use your competitor. Use other sources like Wikipedia, research places, or blogs not making offers to your potential buyers.

Use of Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)

In your HTML code, several types of header codes exist.

When creating web content, you should use them to make your content easier to read for users. Doing so also makes it easier for Google and search engines to analyze your content correctly.

The H1 tag should be used once. It’s for the title of your article or page. This can be different from your title tag. It’s not required to have your main keyword phrase, but its good practice to do so to make it clear to users they found what they searched for.

Further sub-headings should use the H2 tag. Sub-titles within sub-headings should then use the H3 tag. Then he H4 tag and so on.

Optimizing Your Web Page Code

This is where you will most likely need help. Web users and Google like fast pages. The code on your page is what either makes it fast or makes it slow.

But, you can’t ignore this because it’s difficult. Getting your web pages to load quickly on desktop, tablets and mobile phones is vital to your business web pages getting ranked. It must work properly on all types of web platforms.

Google has a free tool to test your mobile friendliness. Use it. It takes about a minute. Then if you don’t know what to do with the problems shown, your webmaster should. If you need further help, feel free to contact us with the form below.

Web users don’t want to wait for web pages to load. They won’t wait much longer than 3 seconds.

Google provides a tool called PageSpeed Insights. Go here to test any page you wish.

You will get a lot of information here. For most not having any HTML or web code experience, little of what it tells you will make sense. In fact, it stands a huge chance of making you irritated because you won’t know how to fix what it says needs to be fixed.

Regardless of your irritation level, you need to get as much of this fixed as possible. Ultimately you want to score at least in the average range for the speed test. Of course, higher is better.

If you don’t have someone to help you with this, please use the form at the bottom of the page, and we’ll be happy to get your site up-to-speed, so to speak.

Use of Schema.org Code and OpenGraph Code

If you’ve never heard of these codes, that’s OK. You have now, and you should be using them.

Schema was created collaboratively by Google, Bing (Microsoft), Yahoo, and Yandex to offer a standard code for identifying the purpose of web pages. Using it in your web code helps the search engines accurately identify what your web page is about.

Open Graph protocol is to help your web pages work within social media. For example, Facebook uses Open Graph protocol to make sure web pages act the same as any web object in Facebook. Twitter uses Open Graph as well.

WordPress provides plugins that can do schema and open graph coding for you. Drupal has an open graph module. Drupal also has a schema module. If you use Joomla, they have an open graph extension and a schema extension.

If you need help to get these set up, feel free to contact us with the form below.

How to Test Your SEO Optimization

You can find many tools on the web to test your SEO optimization. However, most use the tools to get your email to market services to you.

The one I like best is the website SEO score checker at Small SEO Tools. The reason is, it’s free, it works great, and no one is trying to market to you. There’s lots of ads on the page, but you don’t need to click them or leave your email.

Just enter the URL of any of your web pages in the little window and hit enter. Wait for the results. Then get it fixed.

website seo score checker image

For those seeking a strategy to get ranked in the 1st page results in Google, our pay per results local SEO is for you. We do the optimization for you, and you don’t pay any ongoing fees until we get your 1st of 10 keyword phrases ranked on page 1.

For more information, click the button below. There’s no obligation or fee to find out more. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by clicking the button now…