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Title tags and meta descriptions still work

Title tags and meta descriptions are on-site HTML elements which reflect the content of your page, and are shown in SERPs and browser tabs as text.

With Google increasing the width of the SERP to 600px, the length of title tags falls between 40 and 50 characters (best practices) while meta descriptions should be a maximum of 160 characters.

Titles display what your page is about to both visitors and search engine crawlers, while meta descriptions summarize the content of your page. Your title tags and meta descriptions must include the keywords you are trying to rank for, for example, “cheap hotels in Las Vegas” (title tag includes a keyword and locality).

Titles and meta descriptions must be unique, compelling and descriptive, as this can affect click-through rates from search results to your page.

Using the length guidelines above, ensure your title and descriptions are displaying in full on the SERP. Use tools like Yoast’s SEO plugin, SERP preview tool, and SEOmofo to emulate how your title tags and meta description will look in search results.

Keyword Research

Keyword research represents the very foundation of your SEO campaign and when done properly, keywords can drive traffic and rankings for your web pages. Keywords represent terms and phrases people type as search queries to find local businesses.

Keyword research for local SEO involves optimizing your web pages for keywords with geo-modifiers – i.e. place names and locations. For a furniture making business, a generic, non-local keyword might be “furniture makers” but for businesses optimizing for local SEO, an acceptable key phrase would be “furniture makers Stellenbosch” or “furniture makers Stellenbosch Western Cape”.

To optimize your keyword research for local SEO, brainstorm keywords or phrases with a geo-modifier that customers might use when searching for a business like yours. Run generated phrases or words through Google Keyword Planner or Keyword.io to get keyword ideas together with monthly search traffic stats.

Clever keyword research will help to put your website and or blog onto the map. You will enable users to find your services or products that much easier promoting increased traffic from prominent search engines. The key elements when looking for the right keywords is that they need to have the potential to generate a substantial amount traffic, be profitable and keep you one step ahead of your competition.

Keyword research can be time-consuming, but rewarding when done properly.

How To Do Keyword Researching For Your Local SEO

Step 1: Identify your industry and location.

In order for you to rank high in Google local search results, first of all bring your buyer persona into the picture, then think about what are some of the most common phrases or terms that people would use to look for when searching for your business. Write it all down in an Excel spreadsheet as you may want to refer, add, or delete in future.

Step 2: Spy on your competitors.

Well, spying on your competitors may sounds a little unethical to some, but that’s just how the way the business world works! So, below are some of the essential things that you might want to see how your competitors are doing. Analyze it and see how you can make it even better.

Give your web page a boost

Web surfers hate to wait for slow loading web pages. If your web pages don’t load fast enough, many web surfers will go away without taking a look at them.

No matter how great your product is: if your website is not fast enough, web surfers won’t see it. Fast loading web pages are crucial if you want to sell something on the Internet.

There are several things you can do to speed up your site. Of course, you should make sure that your web host provides fast and reliable servers. In addition to hosting your website on a fast server, you can do the following to improve the loading time of your web pages:

Reduce the number of graphics

A large number of graphics on your web pages can considerably slow down your page. For each graphic on your web page, the web browser has to make another connection to your server.

If you cannot reduce the number of graphics on your web page, then try to combine several graphics to a single bigger one. Use the same graphics on your other web pages so that web browsers can load the graphics from the browser cache.

Specify the dimensions of your graphics

Always make sure to include the height and width dimensions of your graphics in your HTML code. This means that every IMG tag should have the WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes specified.

If web browsers don’t have to figure out the dimensions of your graphics, they can already display placeholders and start displaying the text of your web page before loading the graphics from the server.

Make the top of your page interesting

If a web page takes a long time to load, make sure that the top of the page contains something interesting because visitors will see that part first.

Use CSS or divide your tables

Web pages that use a single large layout table take a long time to render in web browsers. If you don’t use CSS (cascading style sheets) to design your web page, break up huge tables into several smaller ones.

Specify the dimensions of your tables

If you specify the WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes for your tables, then web browsers don’t have to load the complete table code to calculate the dimensions of the table.

Double check cell widths

Take a moment to check the individual widths of each table cell. If the total is more than the specified table width, then web browsers will have problems displaying your table.

It’s important to know the download times of your web pages. In general, your home page should load in 20 seconds on a dial-up connection and the top of your page should be displayed within 5-8 seconds.

If your web pages are displayed and rendered as quickly as possible, people will have more time to read the actual content of your web pages and eventually they’ll buy something on your page.

Now that people can see your web page content, it’s important to keep them on your site.

Submit your website URL to search engines

You invite search engines to visit your website.

When you submit your website URL to a search engine, you basically ask the search engine spiders to visit your website and to evaluate it. If the search engine spiders cannot find anything useful on your site, they won’t list your website. It doesn’t make sense to submit your website to search engines if you haven’t optimized it before.

Here’s where you can go to have your site added to:

Google: www.google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl
Yahoo: siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/ (you will need to register first)
Bing: www.bing.com/webmaster/SubmitSitePage.aspx

Get yourself a good domain name

Not surprisingly, URLs containing clear keywords generally perform better than those that appear random or are excessively long.

And in addition to getting you higher placement in search results, having its own domain name gives your site added credibility. You’ll want to make sure the name you choose logically pertains to the subject matter of your site, isn’t too long to remember, and isn’t easily misspelled. Use keywords that a crawler will understand, and try to avoid numerals or abbreviations.

Choose keyword-rich titles for your pages

The [TITLE]; element that appears in your page headers is often used by search engines as the text for their link to your Web site. (As an example, the title of www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html/?node=11091801 is “Amazon.com: Musical Instruments.”) When you just use “Home Page,” your company name, or something similarly uninformative, you are missing an opportunity to drive traffic to your site, since search engines weight [TITLE] elements heavily when determining the relevance of a page to a user’s search. Therefore, try to make your titles easy to understand and rich in the keywords that your customers will be searching for.

Add META elements to your site

Make use of description and keyword properties in your headers’ META elements. META name=”description” content=”[a brief description of your site]” is often used by search engines to determine what your site is about. META name=”keywords” content=”[a list of relevant keywords]” is used less frequently by search engines, but can also help boost your site’s relevance in their eyes. In writing a description and choosing keywords, think about how customers will be looking for information on your site, and choose specific terms that will attract traffic. You may want to use research tools like Wordtracker to help you in this. Avoid using the same set of keywords on every page of your site, however–they should be tailored to each page’s specific content.

Content matters.You will also benefit from providing rich content on your site. It is important that you include at least a few paragraphs of copy that is visible to crawlers and full of keywords, which will enable search engines to better classify your pages. Use the keywords you included in your <META> elements, and don’t be afraid to use them many times within your copy. But, of course, what you write should make sense and be easy to digest, as readability is vital. You should also display text on your site as text, not as images, which crawlers cannot read. Use <ALT> tags for pictures you do use, so that crawlers can get some information out of them, and incorporate HTML navigation wherever it is possible, even if this means adding redundant navigation at the bottom of your pages.

Leverage links

Web sites that are linked to from lots of other sites are often deemed more popular and get a higher ranking in search results. However, more important than the number of links is the quality of those links. Contact owners of other Web sites that score highly for key phrases related to your content, and ask them if they will provide a link back to your site. Make sure, too, that the content on your own site is properly linked together. Crawlers will often start with your home page and then follow links from there to other areas of your site. Therefore, if you fail to provide working links to all your pages, some of your content may end up unindexed.

Register your site

Once you’ve built and optimized your Web site, it’s best to manually register your site with major search engines, like Yahoo!, Google, the Open Directory Project at DMOZ.org, LookSmart, and Ask Jeeves, or have a partner like More Clicks Marketing to do it for you. Registration doesn’t take long, but do be careful to follow the instructions provided by each engine, as they are all a little different. Careless mistakes could keep your site from being indexed properly, or at all.

Avoid pitfalls

Your goal is to increase your search-engine rankings, not to decrease them, but there are some things you can do that will accomplish just that. For example, some search engines don’t index dynamic content on framed pages. If this applies to your site, therefore, think about ways to modify it so that it can be more easily indexed, or create alternate, crawler-friendly versions of your pages. Also, keep in mind that many search engines are familiar with common spamming techniques, like hidden text and irrelevant meta-data, and will take appropriate action when pages using them are detected in their indexes.

Be patient

Above all, remember to be patient! There’s no magic bullet for getting the top spot in search engine indexes. If you’ve spent a lot of time optimizing your Web site and you still aren’t seeing results, it may not make sense spending more time tweaking it so it will surface higher. There are other ways for you to drive traffic to your site on which your time would be better spent.

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