7 local SEO best practices for WordPress websites

WordPress is one of the most flexible open source content management systems (CMS) in the world.

Its rich functionality, low barrier to entry and unbeatable price (it is no better than free, right?) all led to its meteoric rise as the web’s most popular CMS.

So it’s no surprise that WordPress has been uploaded more than 32.6 million times or feeds 40% of all websites.

WordPress is SEO friendly too, to the point where even non-techies can easily implement simple optimization techniques. This is great news for small, local businesses that may not have the budget to improve SEO, but still want to rank higher on local search.

In this article, I’ll show you seven simple SEO improvements you can make to boost your WordPress site’s local search rankings.

1. Optimize your content

Your content offerings are the most important assets of your website. Having a great site structure, super-fast load times, and tons of security measures won’t help if your content isn’t up to par.

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So, before you can think about optimizing your content, you need to start with something your audience finds useful.

To do this, you need to understand your audience’s weak spots and know how your products solve their problems.

Once you get the hang of that, you can turn your solutions into all kinds of compelling content, from videos to blog posts to infographics, that will keep them coming back for more.

Once you’ve got great content, the next step can seem a bit daunting: On-Page Optimization. Fortunately, we can use some basic tools like the Yoast SEO plugin.

While normally you would need to consider up to 20 different SEO factors for each landing page, Yoast SEO makes your job easier by giving each page a color-coded score that will help you track your on-page optimization and indicate areas for improvement.

Yoast SEO also highlights some important factors on the page such as word count and keyword occurrences.

2. Check your link profile

We know of recent studies that links are still the most important ranking signal when it comes to localized organic rankings.

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The number of domains linked to your site, the quality of your backlinks, and the optimization of your link anchor text are all highly correlated with your local ranking.

Good organic link building takes time to cultivate, but here are a few simple steps you can get started with:

Focus on quality over quantity

The number of domains, IP addresses, and C blocks linked to your site is important, but a high quality backlink from an industry leader in your niche is worth far more than dozens of irrelevant and low quality links. Use link tracking software to find and eliminate low quality links.

Find and fix broken links

Use a plugin such as Broken Link Checker to identify and fix broken links. This plugin checks posts, pages and even comments for broken links.

Optimize anchor text

Optimize some of your anchor text for local search by including your city name. Just be careful not to over-optimize (e.g. changing all of your anchor text, too many exact matches, etc.).

There is no ideal percentage for location-optimized anchors, so perform a competitor analysis to determine what is generally accepted in your niche.

Identify potential link building opportunities

Use a competitive analysis tool to find potential link building opportunities, such as relevant sites in your industry that link to your competition but not you.

3. Speed ​​up your website

The turtle can beat the hare in children’s fairy tales, but you can’t say the same in the SEO world.

Site speed remains one of Google’s most important “technical” ranking factors, and if you want to beat your competition in local search, you need to make sure your site is as fast as possible.

Possible techniques include:

Compression of large images

Large image files are the biggest offender when it comes to slow websites. Use a plugin like WP Smush to compress and optimize your images.

Clean up your WordPress theme

Get rid of obsolete page elements (eg, unnecessary database calls, functions, JavaScript, etc.). And be sure to remove the old themes – hackers can use them to infiltrate your site.

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Reduce server load with a caching plugin

Caching plugins create stateful HTML versions of dynamic pages that dramatically reduce server load times. There are a number of options to consider, including free options like WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache, and paid options like WP Rocket.

Don’t get too crazy about plugins

You can find a plugin for virtually any function, but try to stick with the essential plugins that provide real value to your site. Too many plugins will slow down your site.

You can also make your life easier by investing in website auditing software. Quality products will analyze your on-page speed factors for you and suggest ways to speed up your site.

4. Optimize for mobile

Many of your potential customers are looking for local businesses via mobile. This, coupled with the fact that Google indexes mobile sites preferably over their desktop counterparts, means mobile optimization is more important than ever.

The best thing you can do to improve your mobile site is to focus on page speed and image compression, but here are a few more tips and tricks:

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Use a responsive theme

At the very least, you need to make sure that your WordPress theme is responsive and adapts to your content on all mobile devices.

Design specifically for mobile visitors

Use the wp_is_mobile () function to discover different devices at the server level and create personalized experiences for your mobile visitors.

Launch a mobile application

According to an eMarketer study, 88% of mobile media time is spent on apps. Mobile users love apps that give them a comprehensive way to interact with their favorite brands.

Create accelerated mobile pages

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) are blazingly fast pages designed specifically for mobiles. WordPress comes with a default AMP plug-in you can use to create AMP Pages listed at the top of SERPs when users search from mobile devices.

5. Integrate Google My Business into your WordPress site

Google My Business brings together a number of key factors related to local rankings. Signals like physical proximity, user reviews, and business descriptions and categories will all impact your ranking in the SERPs.

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Once you’ve claimed your GMB page, be sure to add your WordPress site to your profile, along with other key information, such as hours of operation and a description of your business.

Then look for plugins and widgets that will allow you to transfer key ranking signals like photos, business card, and customer reviews from your GMB page to your website.

You also need to install a plugin that allows you to add your GMB review to your WordPress site, such as the Google Places Reviews plugin. These will help increase consumer confidence in your business!

You can also consider putting a tough business card on your website through a plugin or widget. Google Maps Builder is one example that will help your customers find you.

6. Add structured data to your pages

Have you ever wondered why some local business listings seem so rich – including reviews, star ratings, and solid descriptions – while others fall flat?

The difference is in structured data.

By using plugins such as Schema, you can provide Google with additional information about your business.

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This will give your customers more details when they find you in the SERPs, including useful information such as hours of operation, price range, and physical location.

Note that while descriptions don’t inherently improve your web rankings, including more information encourages higher click-through rates – and a CTR. can impact on ranking on Google and other search engines.

7. Include location keywords in your URLs

Generally speaking, the URL structure plays a minor role in your page’s ability to rank.

When it comes to local search, however, including location keywords in your URL can help improve the user experience.

This is especially true if you have multiple landing pages targeting different locations and you want to assure your customers that they are in the right place.

Previous versions of WordPress didn’t give you much flexibility when it comes to your URLs. They were all ‘horrible permalinks’, which looked like this:

http://myomain.com/?p=1354.

However, the latest versions of WordPress use “nice permalinks” by default, which include the date and name of your posts. They might look like this:

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http://myomain.com/2016/02/28/sample-post/.

You can adjust your URL parameters in your WordPress admin panel by going to Settings> Permalinks. From here you can click Custom structure to add a location to your landing page URLs.

Conclusion

Want to take your SEO game even further?

You can make even more improvements to your WordPress site beyond what I have suggested here by manually creating robots.txt files, generating XML sitemaps, optimizing your site structure, etc.

7 local SEO best practices for WordPress websites


Image credits: Paulo bobita

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About Geraldine Higgins

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