Does Local SEO need to be a geographical dilemma?
Local search is rapidly growing in importance for businesses of all kinds; include a place name in your search query on Google, and it can be difficult to even reach an e-commerce site without going via Google Maps or a Google My Business page. However, there’s always been a conflict between good copywriting and geographically focused SEO, as while web users might prefer to search for, say, ‘Patisserie Bakery Cardiff’, there’s no good grammatical way to include that in any sentence, let alone your headline and opening paragraph. But does it even matter anymore?
Search engines are certainly evolving. Advancements in speech recognition and machine learning has dawned a new focus on voice search and queries are slowly becoming more and more conversational but how do you write good local copy for your website in this new conversational age?
Well first ask yourself, do you even need the exact phrase to appear on the page? Google is getting better at recognising the pattern of a sentence, and a search for ‘Patisserie Bakery Cardiff’ returns plenty of results that don’t feature that exact search query in their text. In fact, as Dr Pete pointed out in his Searchlove 2016 talk, “tactical keyword research in a RankBrain world”, many SERPs are now using this notion of concepts. Over 57% of all SERP results did not include the keyword variant being queried.
That’s great news for marketers as it allows us to focus on producing copy that people will actually give a crap about. It’s effective to weave in prose that legitimately ties your product to your place. Using region-specific research or local statistics, for example – and mentioning the place names and landmarks prominently gives search engines more insight into what concept you are trying to craft. Going one step further and including relevant schema.org markup or JSON-LD to your page to give search engines further hints towards the locality of your business. This is a whistle-stop tour of a few points and I’m in no position to lecture anyone on how to write the world’s greatest copy, but this article was never meant to be anything more than a warning and a challenge to old school SEO thinking.
Many “best practice gurus” take the view that you should simply keyword whatever phrases people are searching for, regardless of how grammatically correct they are (or even whether they’re spelt correctly) but please, if you take nothing else from this article, remember this:
Respect your readers
Google’s major algorithm updates continually stress the need for well-written web copy that’s aimed at a human audience, not simply there to attract the search crawler’s interest. Treat your website, its content and your readers with respect, and remember why your content is there in the first place. It’s not for the bots…
[This post is a work in progress – I’ve previously written about my iterative approach to content if you like that sort of thing]