3. Complete SEO Guide – Local SEO

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Next4. Complete SEO Guide – Tools for SEO


Note: If you are looking for a more comprehensive guide on Local SEO then check out our partner website BubbleLocal SEO.

Local Search Engine Optimization is very similar to normal SEO, in fact, you would do everything described in the SEO guide before going on to local SEO, both On-Site and Off-Site SEO. The difference with local SEO and normal SEO is that you are targeting local search results. For example, if you run a Web Design Agency in Bournemouth, the search results for a person searching for “Web Design” located in Bournemouth would be different from the results a person sees who is located in London, or outside the country. These are Local results, intended by Google to provide the searcher a business based locally for their search term. You can test this out with a tool at http://isearchfrom.com/ that allows you to perform Google search from different locations.

In this section we will break down the most important Local SEO indicators used by search engines, expected time-frame to attain local SERP ranking and how to gain a good local ranking.

How long does it take to rank in Local Search?

This is the question often asked by clients, and it’s a difficult question to answer as we have no control over what search engines do, but we can at best estimate. There are a few factors that could affect this estimate.

Age of Website

A brand new business with a brand new website has to start from scratch and it takes 6-10 weeks alone just for Google to index a brand new site, so it will take a little longer. The positive is that it would not have negative SEO attached to it or have been penalised by Google. Typically if it’s a brand new website in a fairly competitive industry, you can be looking at 9-12 months to get the desired results, which is usually Page 1 ranking for the main keywords.

Competitiveness of the industry/keywords

Competiveness of the keywords also matter a lot, as an example, a brand new website in an easy industry could take 3-6 months to get good local rankings instead of 9-12 months.

Existing Website

Existing Websites are easier to perform SEO on, you don’t have to wait for Google to index the pages but you do have some work to do depending on the quality of the SEO done so far. If it has been a poor SEO job or even worse, penalisation from Google, it could take over a year to fix everything. If it’s fairly average SEO work then results can be seen within 3 months for a website in an easy industry and 6 months for a more competitive industry.

How to rank Locally?

There are 4 main factors for ranking locally, in addition to normal SEO requirements (onsite optimised and offsite SEO). These are local citations by way of directory listings, inbound links, on-site optimisation and Reviews and Ratings. Local SEO results are largely based on online reputation of the business against their local competition and these 3 factors help increase that reputation.

Directory Listings (Local Citations)

Quite simply, the more local citations you have, the more credible your business appears to Google and search engines. Aim for about 50 local citations in directories within your country. Search engines look for NAP + W information. This stands for Name, Address, Phone Number and Website Address. There is also category which helps Google determine your competition. Make sure that the information is consistent, inconsistent information can cause your business to lose credibility and consistency could be as simple as “Manley Road” vs “Manley Rd.”, make sure whichever you go with, its consistent.

Below are 30 of my favourite directories for local citations in the UK. If you are looking for built-for-you local citations, you should check our Marketers Center.

(Note that Google, Yahoo and Bing Local are a MUST and not optional)

Google+ Local Scoot Hotfrog Independent
Yahoo! Local ThomsonLocal 118118 Yalwa
Bing Local TouchLocal Freeindex Wampit
Facebook Manta 192 City Visitor
Yell Foursquare Cyclex UK UK Small Business Directory
Yelp The Sun Brownbook MisterWhat
Foursquare iDorset Yalwa LinkedIn

Reviews and Ratings

Reviews are very important not just from an SEO perspective, but also for brand and business reputation. Google Plus displays your ratings and review, so does Yell and many others, and this can influence users whether they decide to visit your website or not.

The importance of reviews and ratings to search engine rankings is still up for debate, however it will definitely affect that click-through-ratio of your site in the search results which is an SEO factor.

Inbound Links

Just as in normal SEO work, the quality and quantity of sites linking to your site is a big factor for determining your SERP ranking. We covered some backlink tactics in the Off-Site SEO section and they remain largely the same. The main difference being that with local SEO, you can leverage links from local businesses such as targeting local colleges, establishments for partnerships, offer discounts to get links.

Website Optimised

The requirements for on-site optimisation for local SEO remains the same. Some additional requirements such as a schema structure for business address helps, you can create one here http://schema-creator.org/. Ensure good quality content, keywords targeted in title, heading and content, images optimised, website loads fast and geo-targeting set correctly in Google Webmaster Tools. I also find it’s important to have the same ccTLD as your location if targeting local customers, as all things being equal, the ccTLD will have more success for local rankings.



Up Next4. Complete SEO Guide – Tools for SEO

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[email protected] August 21, 2015 0 Comments

1. Complete SEO Guide – On-Site SEO

Just starting the Complete SEO Guide? Start here!
Next: 2. Complete SEO Guide – Off-site SEO


First let’s understand how search engines view your website. Quite simply, they send robots that “crawls” the web and sites likes yours. When these pages are crawled, they are “indexed” on a very large database and are graded on over 200 factors. An algorithm is used to give the page a score and ranking against all the other pages based on the user query and keywords searched.

On-Site SEO comprises of all the SEO work that is done within your website. This is something you have complete control over and not relying on external websites or directories linking to your website. This will include content on Keywords, Content Structure, Site Structure, Domain etc.

Many SEO guides will guide you to “build for users, not for search engines”, which is half true. Of course, we want to build for our users because that is primarily what the website is for, and Google tries its best to rank websites on how useful they are for users. However, you may find that if you ignore the search engine aspect of things and build solely for the users, the search engine robots may not recognize how great your website to its users are, therefore not attain the rank you deserve. Consult with professional SEO for an onpage audit, our partners at PDX SEO can help.

The Perfect on-site SEO will have the following:

  • Great content that provides value to users – which in turn makes it easy to market and attain backlinks from other sites, reduces bounce rates of visitors (visitors visiting then quickly leaving your site).
  • Great User Experience –A website design should be easy and intuitive for a user to browse. Site should load quickly, multi-browser compatible and visually attractive.
  • Crawlable/can be accessed by bots – Use rel=canonical to focus on one main address, URL structure should be consistent, use robots.txt and a sitemap, use 301’s for permanent redirects and a code 503 for temporarily down pages.
  • Keyword targeted – The target keyword for the page should be on page name, title, H1 tag, content, URL and images and image alt attributes, internal and external links, meta description, meta keywords.


Domain Name and Hosting

Although domain name does not have as strong influence over rankings as it did in the past, it is still a factor. You may not have control over this as it may be a brand name such as Graftene but if you do, it’s important to get it right.

Exact Match Domain

Try to get the exact match domain, for example, www.southamptonplumbers.co.uk if you are a plumber in Southampton. However the bonus of having an exact match domain comes with a price, make sure your website is not in violation of Google’s EMD Update (http://searchengineland.com/google-emd-update-research-and-thoughts-137340). In short, make sure that if you will adopt an exact match domain, you have a high quality website with high quality backlinks and don’t spam your website with keywords which would be over-optimisation. Google thinks you are trying to manipulate them and they don’t like that!

Keywords in Domain

Get the target keyword within your domain, it helps with the CTR (click through ratio) and it’s still a ranking factor.

Country TLD Extension

If you are targeting local customers and want to attract local business, go with the country domain such as www.yourwebsite.co.uk for ranking in Google.co.uk. If you want to target globally or want to be more flexible and generic, you can use .com which can rank in google.co.uk or google.fr. The opposite would not be true however, www.youwebsite.co.uk would have difficulty ranking in google.fr.

Hosting Location

You should try to host your website in the same country you are targeting, if you are targeting google.co.uk customers, pick a host that is based in UK.

Note: There is a debate on the importance of country TLD (Top level domain) as many downplay its significance. In fact, both in Bing (http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster) and Google Webmaster Tools (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/) you can geo-target the location you want to target so even if you choose .com tld you can tell the search engines to target google.co.uk. I however believe that country TLD helps and is a factor, however small. You can read more on this topic here: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/google-optimization-help/geo-targeting-techniques-in-google-for-seo/

Domain Age

This is also a factor, older domains with no bad history are considered more trustworthy. However, you have no control over this, other than perhaps not buying a blacklisted domain.


Keyword Research

Keyword research could be a guide in itself. However for the purpose of this guide, use google keyword planner (https://adwords.google.co.uk/KeywordPlanner) to get a basic idea of the performance of keywords. You want to balance out the difficulty of the competition for the keyword vs how much volume of searches there are for that keyword. So an ideal keyword would be one that doesn’t have much competition, yet gets searched often per month. Google Keyword Planner is fairly straightforward to use, you set your business, target keyword, and target location, get ideas and Google will generate a list of keyword ideas for you. These keywords will also contain interesting stats such as how much it has been searched per month and how difficult the competition is for that particular keyword.

Moz keyword-difficulty tool (https://moz.com/researchtools/keyword-difficulty) is also a useful tool to use for keyword research but unfortunately it’s not free. Of course keyword research is far more complex but that should help you get started.


Page-Level Optimisation


Each page should target 2-3 keywords that you are looking to get ranked for, and the keywords should be relevant to the page content. Those keywords would of course be decided from your keyword research. We no longer spam keywords all over the page as did the old SEO practice, however it is still important to get those keywords in the page to let the Search Engines know what the page is primarily about. Here are the basics and good keyword targeting practice:

Page Titles

Not only are page titles crucial for improving your site’s CTR (click through ratio) as it’s the title users see in the search engine results but this element also has strong influence over your ranking as it determines the page relevancy vs the users search query.

  • Use target keyword preferably at start of title
  • Limit to 70 characters
  • Use “|” symbol to divide phrases

Page Descriptions

Changed in the meta-description and this is the description users will see on your website’s search engine ranking. Doesn’t directly affect SEO but can have a big impact on your click through ratio.

  • Use targeted keywords
  • Accurately describe the page


Headings let the user know what the content is about, it’s good practice to split the headings into sections (H1, H2, H3) and be careful not to over optimise.

  • Include Keyword in H1 and ideally H2.


Write the content for your users, the content should be relevant and look natural, not spammed with keywords for the purpose of manipulating search engines. Get a good balance on this, you want the users to easily navigate your site and be intuitive but you also want to get the keywords in there. This should happen naturally, for example if you do Web Design in Bournemouth, then it should be easy to mention “Web Design in Bournemouth” in your content without looking forced.

  • Include the keywords at least once in the copy.
  • It would be preferable to separate the content with header tags (H2, H3).
  • Good content is easier to market and share to acquire backlinks.


If you see an image of a dog, you know it’s a dog, but search engine crawlers don’t. You can use Alt Tag and Title tag for the image to let users and crawlers know.

  • Use a Title tag on images.
  • Use Alt tag on images and ideally have the keyword on at least 1 Alt attribute tag.

<IMG src=”filename.gif” alt=” alt-text here”>

  • Optimise the images, reduce file size to increase site load speed.


  • Use dash (-) to separate words in URL structure.
  • Have the keyword within the URL if it’s relevant.
  • Write URL as static readable text, exclude URL parameters.
  • Keep URL structure consistent, for example: If you want to keep the trailing slash ie graftene.com/ then keep it consistent throughout the site, graftene.com/About-us/.

Duplicate Content

Avoid duplicate content, some CMS may generate different versions of the page and could be classified as duplicate content. You can use Siteliner tool (http://www.siteliner.com/) to identify duplicate content.

Outbound Links

Feel free to link out to another website from within your content if you feel this will help the user. This can also help increase the site trust rating if it’s linking out to a high authority website.

Site-level Optimisation

These are the important SEO factors you can optimise across your site in order to improve your SERP ranking. In short, make sure your website is user friendly with good navigation system, good indexable content, fast loading, have a sitemap, crawlable by robots and consistent URL structure.

Site Speed

Websites that load faster is better for user experience and conversion rates. It’s also an important ranking factor. Make sure your website is up to speed by optimising the code, images and media. You can use tools like Google pagespeed (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/) to help you with this process.

Internal Links

Setup the links and navigation within your website to be intuitive and easy to navigate. A user should not have to go through 4 pages to get to a page. Navigating a website shouldn’t be like trying to solve hard riddles. It is important to not link to broken links/pages. Internal linking also helps with the site trust flow.

Schema / Rich Snippet Markup

This may not directly contribute to SEO but would help by increasing conversion rates. Read more at https://developers.google.com/structured-data/ and create schema at http://schema-creator.org/

User Engagement

User engagement is measured by many factors, Google uses this as a measure of user experience and it’s a contributing factor towards the website SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking. Ensure good user engagement with the basics, good site speed, intuitive navigation and useful content. Some measuring sticks for quality user engagement are:

  • Bounce Rates – Bounce rates are when users visit your website and quickly leave. There could be a number of reasons for the users leaving quickly, site too slow, not informative, or poor UX. Whatever the reason, Google sees a high bounce rate as poor user experience and would therefore result is a lower SERP ranking. A low bounce rate on the other hand is a positive.
  • Direct Traffic – It’s a positive indicator if a site receives more direct traffic.
  • High click through rate – A better click through rate on the SERP is a positive indicator.
  • Returning visitors – A good amount of returning visitors is a positive indicator.

Domain Trust

A website with a good domain trust ranks higher on the SERP rankings and can get away with more without being penalised. Here is what you can do to increase domain trust:

  • Link out to High Authority Websites – Linking out won’t hurt your SEO, it can help in fact if the website you are linking to is relevant.
  • Have a Privacy Policy / Terms Page – Boring pages that Google pays attention to.
  • Keep bounce rate low – Improve relevancy of content, meta description and UX design of site to lower bounce rate.
  • Keep domain WHOIS public – Public whois are more trusted than private.
  • Get some trusted backlinks – Links from .edu or .gov or .ac.uk helps.

Mobile Optimised

Make sure your website is mobile responsive. Used the tools below to check.


Canonicalisation refers to pages that can be loaded from multiple URLs (web address). For example the web pages below are all identical:

  • http://www.example.com/
  • http://www.example.com/index.html
  • http:/example.com/

For SEO purposes we don’t want this to occur because the search engines may treat these pages separately and therefore separate the overall popularity of the page, instead we want to combine these into one. 10 backlinks going to http://example.com and 10 to http://www.example.com could be determined as 20 backlinks to the canon URL instead. There are a few ways to fix this issue but the 2 most common are:

<link href=”http://www.example.com/canonical-page/” rel=”canonical” />

More on canonical https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/139066?hl=en


A common mistake in redirecting is creating an infinite loop http://www.example.com and http://www.example.com/index.html. An explanation on the fix here: https://moz.com/blog/apache-redirect-an-index-file-to-your-domain-without-looping


Most sitemap comes in XML format (Extensible Markup Language). You will see it as sitemap.xml on the main website directory. The file basically tells search engines your website structure and the pages on it. This can help the search engines index the right pages on your website.

Visit Sitemaps.org for more info or build them at XML-Sitemaps.com.


Robots.txt file instructs search engine crawlers how to crawl the website. You can for example disallow robots from crawling a certain page if you do not want the search engines to index it. Create a robots.txt file from (http://tools.seobook.com/robots-txt/generator/), just insert into notepad and name robots.txt – save on the main directory of your website.

Webmaster Tools (Search Console)


Webmaster Tools is an essential for managing your website, from a developers point of view, webmasters and SEO marketers. It gives invaluable data and control over your website and how Google should treat the site.

More on Webmaster Tools here https://blog.kissmetrics.com/beginners-guide-to-google-webmaster-tools/

Note: There is also a Bing Webmaster Tools equivalent and the features are very similar.

Google Analytics


Google Analytics is a free web analytics software from Google. It is essential for online marketing and SEO purposes. Google analytics allows you to track your website’s traffic, getting important information such as:

  • How many people visit my Website?
  • Where are they from?
  • How did they find you?
  • What pages are the most popular?
  • What is the conversion rate?

More on Google Analytics https://moz.com/blog/absolute-beginners-guide-to-google-analytics


Up Next2. Complete SEO Guide – Off-site SEO


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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Everything You need to know!

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be overwhelming. There are so many guides, blog posts, and tutorials out there, so much information to absorb. I subscribe to the 80/20 rule (Pareto principle). That is, 20% of the effort for 80% of the outcome. This guide is intended to teach you everything you need to know about SEO without overwhelming you with the minor details.

I will structure the content of this guide according to the timeline of events that would take place during a Web development / SEO campaign. We will focus entirely on White-Hat techniques and quality SEO so you don’t run the risk of a penalty from Google. Google looks at over 200 factors for ranking your website, a Google top ranking could generate a lot of income for your business, alternatively, you can pay for the rankings with Google Adwords but we will save that for another article.

1. Complete SEO Guide – On-site SEO

2. Complete SEO Guide – Off-site SEO

3. Complete SEO Guide – Local SEO

4. Complete SEO Guide – Tools for SEO

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising web pages for the purpose of getting them to rank higher on Search Engines for specific keywords. Getting to the top is largely down to the reputation of the website online and how relevant the pages are to the keywords searched. Nobody can guarantee a number 1 ranking on Google, there are techniques and guidelines which can be followed to “manipulate” these rankings and that’s what this guide will try to show.

Most of the time, websites get to the top by having a good reputation, whether that reputation came about organically as a result of being a big brand such as Nike, or it could be from clever SEO for a small business. Reputation can be increased by the number of quality web pages that link back to your website, what we refer to as backlinks. The higher quality these web pages are, and the more relevant they are to your site, the more value search engines such as Google will place on it. Be careful with companies who promise a guaranteed no.1 ranking as no one can guarantee this. Having said that, given enough resources, time and money, most companies can get you there or pretty close… most of the time.

In short, basic good practice SEO:

  • Have good quality content, relevant keywords on the page and a good website structure
  • Get other high quality web pages relevant to your site to link back to your page.
  • Update your website with fresh content.

Why Search Engine Optimisation?

All this effort but why? Google has about 65% of the searches, followed by Bing with 17% and Yahoo at 13%. Those are the top 3 search engines and between them, they will drive the most traffic to your website, for free. Depending on your market, the combined search for your business can be anywhere from hundreds to even millions per month. There couldn’t be a bigger marketing platform for your business.

Who should do Search Engine Optimisation?

Having a website online, unless it is a huge brand is a bit like having a shop in the middle of a forest that nobody can find. Anyone looking to get their business, website, content, exposed on the online market should be looking to do some SEO. You can either hire a third party such as an agency or a freelancer, or you can try do it yourself or hire an SEO agency (I recommend this liverpool seo). Hopefully with the help of this guide, you can!


1. Complete SEO Guide – On-site SEO
2. Complete SEO Guide – Off-site SEO
3. Complete SEO Guide – Local SEO
4. Complete SEO Guide – Tools for SEO

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Successful Digital Marketing

The time has finally come. You’ve poured your blood, sweat, and tears into your most recent content piece, and it’s ready to be packaged up and sent to the client to be pushed live. After a few final checks and only…

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[email protected] January 16, 2015 0 Comments