April 15th, 2015
Search Engine Optimization
Powering at least 18.9% of all websites, including the vast majority of those that use a content management system, the free and open-source WordPress platform is indisputably the industry leader. Being a highly versatile and user-friendly tool, almost anyone can use WordPress for blogs and other websites, even if they know nothing about the inner workings of HTML and Web design in general. For small, local businesses with strict budgetary constraints, WordPress presents the perfect solution, rather than having to pay for a professional Web designer.
Getting a website up and running for your local business is only the first part of the battle, however. You’ll also need to adopt various digital marketing strategies in order to increase your reach, and this includes getting plenty of exposure in the search engine results. With more people turning to the Internet every day, particularly from their mobile devices, to look for local businesses, it should be obvious why you need to rank highly in local search results, and this is where local SEO (search engine optimization) comes in.
Local SEO is simpler than SEO for companies with a national or global reach, largely since local businesses have less competition to contend with. However, many of the same or similar ranking factors apply. It is also important to remember that, as the search engines continue to evolve, ranking factors change somewhat as do the practices used to take advantage of them. In 2015 and beyond, the following ranking factors hold the most weight in local searches:
There are, of course, many other ranking factors that apply to any form of SEO, such as content quality, domain authority, and website security.
Even all by itself, WordPress is a perfectly adequate platform for SEO, but through the use of plugins, your website can enjoy even more potential. There are literally thousands of plugins available for the platform, and the vast majority of them are available for free through the plugin repository accessible from the administrator dashboard. Installing and activating plugins is usually a simple, one-click process, and you can have as many as you want.
WordPress plugins come in many different forms. There are plugins designed to help you customize your website, add more functionality to it, improve its security, or help facilitate better on-site SEO. Through the use of plugins, WordPress presents the potential to become a highly versatile solution that almost any business can tailor to perfectly suit its requirements.
By using plugins, the WordPress platform is suitable for just about every type of website imaginable, ranging from major news websites, to personal blogs, to local business websites, to fully fledged ecommerce stores. As a local business considering using WordPress for your CMS of choice, you’ll want to pay close attention to plugins that help to improve your exposure in local search results. The following three plugins are among the most useful for any local business:
The Local SEO Plugin by Yoast is the local business-orientated equivalent to WordPress SEO by Yoast, the latter being among the most popular of all plugins available for the platform. Unfortunately, the plugin is not free, but it is an invaluable tool for local businesses to make sure that they rank better in Google’s local search results. Also available is the Yoast Complete package, which includes a number of other SEO-related features for optimizing news feeds, videos, online commerce and more.
The Local SEO plugin largely focuses on improving your contact page, which is the most important element of any local business website with regards to SEO. It makes it easier to embed Google Maps along with your business address as well as insert addresses, opening times and store locators with the proper formatting and HTML markup required for optimal exposure in the search results.
A free plugin design to boost your local search rankings, Local Business SEO is a lightweight and user-friendly solution designed to provide the search engines with important information pertaining to your business. This information includes your business name, physical address, opening hours, and contact information, all correctly formatted with the necessary markup for optimal performance. You’ll also be able to specify your business type to help ensure that your business shows up in relevant search results in Google and other search engines.
Local Search SEO Contact Page offers an easy way to provide the schema markup necessary for properly formatted business information. It also provides a range of other useful features, including a QR code generator, Google Maps integration, geo-tagging coordinates, and social media sharing buttons. Designed to be a complete package to meet your local SEO requirements, this plugin is also available for free.
While the above plugins are specifically tailored towards local businesses, you will likely find other plugins to be beneficial to your business website as well. The following are various plugins that can benefit just about any WordPress site:
On a final note, be sure to take the time to choose your plugins carefully, and don’t attempt to install too many, since doing so may slow down your website. The above suggestions cover only a handful of plugins, and since every business has different goals and requirements, you may want to experiment a bit until you find the perfect solutions.
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