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In this weeks #searchdrop, we delve in the results of the recent May update and explore why big brands and social networks have done so well. We also expand on a selection of local SEO tips for improving your exposure to your local market and reconsider link building.

Tips and tactics to improve your local SEO

Local SEO is an ever evolving channel for all businesses and not keeping on top of it leaves your business open to losing out to competitors. Here are the top 5 tips to help you improve your performance locally.

Improve and ‘localise’ your page title and meta descriptions

Page titles are not only a key signal for SEO optimisation, they’re your ‘sign’ in the search results to attract users to click. To this end you need to ensure your location is included in your meta data and blog posts, when they’re designed to help local users. Adding your location will not only help you rank for users in that area, it will also help users make a decision as to whether you’re the right business for them. A key consideration with any meta data is length. Page titles should be around 60-70 characters and meta descriptions no more than 150 – although 120 is ideal given how they’re displayed on mobile.

Optimise your Google My Business

A large percentage (57% in some studies) don’t verify and take control of their Google My Business listing. This is a big issue for any business looking to perform locally, particularly when you consider that nearly all local searches result in some form of Google Maps listing or ‘Map Pack’. Verify your listing and fill it with content such as images, opening times, reviews from happy customers (or unhappy customers you follow up with). All this information will not only help you rank in the ‘Map Pack’, but will also help customers make an informed decision on your business.

Create local content and build inbound links (particularly local ones)

As with any SEO campaign, links are vital for improving performance and rankings. This is no different for local SEO and should be put centre stage when building your strategy. Consider local relationships you have with other businesses and try to leverage those. Create hyper local content relevant to your industry and share it with local publications such as the local newspaper. These are just two examples of outreaching on a local level. It’s worth noting however that there is an extra consideration with local link building, and that’s locality. You’re much more likely to rank for a piece of content in the area your business is based or has a connection to e.g. an office, reviews from customers in the area. So consider this when creating your content and build content up naturally as your business grows. Instead of targeting the bigger broad phrases, consider what’s important or unique to your local area.

Add your business to online directories

It’s worth noting that there are a whole host of ‘SEO’ directories that should be avoided. That said, there are still a lot of directories that will add value through authority and citation of your business name, address and phone number. Each industry is different and for some there maybe niche industry specific directories you should get your business on. For a more general approach to improve site authority, you can use the Local Business Directory list from Bright Local here.

The key elements of search engine optimisation are all at play in local SEO, so coupling the above with good site hygiene and support for your local community means you’ll perform well. See more on the above tips here.

Google May 2020 Update is confirmed to be 'over'

Google’s May the 4th core update in classic algorithm update form gave the industry the usual fright, with many agencies and consultants scrabbling to understand what and who’d be affected. This update, more so perhaps than others in the past, has really highlighted something that’d been apparent in a lot of different search results for a while now.

Big Brands Win the SERPS

The May core update has seen a number of SEO’s highlighting the influx of big brand sites like Amazon, Pinterest and Etsy making the majority of results in the SERPs. This has subsequently had the industry in uproar about the perceived ‘unfairness’ of the update.

A response to Covid-19?

Given Google’s sensitivity to user needs it’s important to say that this update is probably a direct reaction to the change in the way users are currently using the web. With many businesses closed (at least those without online offerings), the needs of the user have changed and so to the algorithms approach.

Should we expect another update?

In short yes, but when this will be is difficult to say. It could even be different for each country. As we find ourselves coming out of our various states of lockdown, users needs will shift once again and businesses will re-open giving users more ‘choice’, particularly away from the big players.

To this end it’s recommended you try to understand how your users are currently living and what their needs are. SEO hasn’t changed. Being ‘useful’ ‘informative’ and ‘helpful’ are all still required, regardless of whether your customers are able to reach your business at the moment.

To see more analysis and examples of found by other SEO’s see the original post here.

Consider a broader approach to link building in 2020

Link building has traditionally been the most difficult (and expensive) part of any good SEO campaign. The creation of content alone, not to mention the time taken to research and outreach to potential publications can make the journey to a high quality link feel near impossible.

There are however some good ways of enhancing your backlink profile with ‘relative’ ease. The below are some examples grouped by site type.

eCommerce Sites

Consider coupon/voucher sites and forums are good ways to target customer who are looking to buy our are interested in your industry/products. Ensure your site has a voucher or discounts page that explains the best ways to get money off or explains you don’t do discounts and why. Forums are a little tougher to engage with ‘naturally’. You don’t want to log into the forum and start firing links out to your site. Enter conversations naturally and add value where you can. Eventually you can tailor some site content to the conversations in the forum and build natural links.

Lead Gen sites: News, Blogs and organisations

This approach doesn’t differentiate from more traditional link building and that’s really because it works. Broadly speaking, when a site has a mention on a publication it correlates with higher performance both in terms of rankings, due to the new link and referral traffic. That’s why building relationships with PR teams in publications and creating useful and interesting content is important.

Local Sites: non-profits

Non-profits can be put into a similar place as educations and government links – very valuable. Non-profits however have the benefit of being much more open to partnership and support from your business. So whether it’s sponsorship of your local dog’s home or something more ‘physical’ such as a sponsored walk, getting your business involved is a good way of gaining these links.

It’s important to note that there is some cross over on the above. For example, eCommerce sites can very clearly benefit from coverage on a news site, so no one route is correct.

For more analysis on this, see the original story here.