Local SEO Guide for WordPress

WordPress (WP) is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on the planet, but this isn’t the only reason why MDPM uses it for their clients. MDPM uses WordPress for its flexibility. Very few, if any, other CMS match the customizability WP allows. Here’s another fun statistic: BuiltWith.com mentions WP as being 50% of the internet. They also mention that 40% of the top 100k websites are built on WP. Local SEO isn’t optional if you’re a local business. It’s mandatory. 

WordPress. Why?

Flexibility. Plugins. Customization. A blogger, a dentist, and a Fortune 500 CEO can use WP to fit their needs with a website. The myriad of themes allows for near unlimited starting points, while you can use a near blank slate and code your own site, too.

The learning curve on how to use WordPress is far shorter than any other CMS. It’s a quick study, and once you’ve got the basics down, the only limits are how far you’re willing to push WP to fit your needs. On the other side of things, WP is so popular its a near guarantee you can find someone who knows how to use it better than you do. The community around WP is wonderful, responsive, and creative.

And for a final point, and certainly not the least valuable one, WP is a solid SEO platform out of the box. It offers so much that is right about SEO without modifying or fighting it, that it’s no wonder why it’s a front runner in the CMS race. The ease of use combined with the SEO foundation means your work to optimize won’t be as much of a hassle as you thought.

SEO and WordPress

Compared to the other popular CMS on the web, WordPress is the easiest to use from an SEO perspective right out of the wrapping. In most cases, your business will use a preset theme, but it will evolve that theme into what you’re looking to achieve with your website and your online presence.

You’ll most likely add plugins and widgets. New pages will be added, and you’ll post on your blog feed regularly. You will be layering content on your site, in a hierarchal fashion, nonetheless. The focus here is to make search engines aware of which content to index and which content not to.

Taxonomy And WordPress

If you want to sound clever, use the the word taxonomy. It sounds impressive, when really it’s a synonym for categorizing. It’s not complex, but it does help organize your content.

Consider vehicles as an example. There are terms (groupings) that denote which type of car mentioned:

  • Vehicle > SUV
  • Vehicle > Sedan
  • Vehicle > Coupe

WordPress offers default taxonomies which are called categories: Category, Link Category, Post Format, and Post Tag.

Hierarchy is important when organizing your content. Only category is hierarchal in WP, which means it can have groupings and sub groupings. Although only category allows for hierarchy, you can create custom categories that support grouping and sub grouping.

  • Vehicle > SUV > Chevrolet > Suburban
  • Category > Sub Category > Sub Sub Category

It’s important to understand taxonomies if you will be using themes and not custom coding your own site. Understanding taxonomies and hierarchy will also help when developing your own website and online marketing strategy.

Local Business Website and WordPress Optimization

Now that you have an idea of how taxonomy functions, let’s examine how to actually optimize a local business website. There will be some assumptions made during this process to ensure you read a real world example. It also means you should be able to take something away from this post and implement it yourself to make your website better.

SEO Plugins

For most of MDPM’s clients, they use All-In-One SEO for page titles, meta descriptions, and other index/no index options. Another great plugin is the WordpPress SEO Plugin by Yoast, which accomplishes the same goal when it comes to optimization.

Either one of these plugins provides the ability to optimize your site down to each and every page published. It also makes it easy to update, change, and alter how search engines interact with each page. There’s so much each of these plugins can offer to help you optimize your site, it’s too much to add in this post. Expect a future post on each of these plugins.

WordPress Dashboard > Settings > General

Follow the path above from your WP dashboard to find the general settings in your website. Why are you looking at the general information about your site? This is where it all begins when optimizing  your WP website.

The first step is ensuring the URL of your website matches the suggested URL selected in Google’s Search Console. Why is this important? You are beginning the alignment of your URLs, subdomains (if applicable), and website hierarchy. Without this alignment, you may see some unpredictable results in your analytics.

As an example, review the URLs below. They all point to the same website, yes?

  • http://www.mdpmdentalmarketing.com
  • http://mdpmdentalmarketing.com
  • http://www.mdpmdentalmarketing.com/
  • http://mdpmdentalmarketing.com/
  • https://www.mdpmdentalmarketing.com
  • https://mdpmdentalmarketing.com

These six URLs may point to the correct website, but they represent four different pages, which means your traffic, depending on which version of the URL they find/decide to use, determines which page is getting all the credit for being online. And you still have more variations of your root domain dependent on how you set up your website. It’s imperative that you align your root domain first, before adding/organizing the pages on your site. If not, you will be depleting your power to show up higher and more often in search results for terms you’re optimizing for with your content.

Not sure what else is involved in aligning your website? Check out this list below:

  • Protocol: Http or https
  • Subdomain: “www” or not
  • Root Domain: .com, .net, .org, etc
  • Internal links: Only link to the domain you’ve chosen
  • Sitemap: Use XML and ensure your navigation is consistent
  • Canonical: Make sure the correct URL is getting all the credit
  • Site Slash: Your choice, but keep it consistent
  • Google Search Console: Set your preference

WordPress Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks

What are permalinks? The URLs of pages on your website, simply put. For a teeth whitening page, you may see a URL structure like this:

http://yourwebsite.com/services/cosmetic-dentistry/teeth-whitening.

And for a blog post:

http://yourwebsite.com/blog/this-is-a-blog-title

Setting your permalinks through the WordPress settings section allows for any future pages to be auto configured into the correct format as you add them.

We suggest using the “Post Name” setting to include the title of post and page in the URL, which adds ease-of-use to the user and search engines.

Titles And Meta Descriptions: Use your SEO Plugin

This portion of the post addresses how to setup your default Title and Meta information within the plugin you’ve decided to use. Whether you chose All-In-One or WordPress SEO by Yoast, below is a general format you can use to optimize each pages title and description for the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

  • Pages: Service + City, State
  • Posts: Keyword + City, State

Examples:

  • Page: Dental Implants in Southlake, Tx
  • Post: 3 Steps to Pick the Right Dentist in Southlake, Tx

Each plugin has a designated area to fill out the title and meta information for the pages and posts of the site. However, for each individual page or post, you can customize the title and meta information at the bottom of the page. This is extremely helpful if you’re doing A/B testing, or need to change only one page.

Also, consider the following when customizing your title and meta information:

  • Determine the separator for information. This can be a hyphen, dash, or colon.
  • Remember to check your homepage title and meta information, since it can be overwritten by WordPress, even if you use the plugin to set it.
  • Ensure your page, post, and media title are individually configured, so that your service and keywords are being properly shown to users and search engines.

In general, any non client facing page should be selected as “no index.” Use your judgement on this one since all situations are different.

Check Your Sitemap

Navigate to your sitemap and ensure the links listed go to the proper pages. The sitemap is a tool search engines use to crawl your site so let’s make it as easy as possible for crawlers and users to find your content.

Depending on your sitemap use, you may find yours at: yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml.

The Main Local SEO Focus with WordPress: Basics

Local SEO is about the service area of your business. It tends to stay within a small radius of your brick and mortar location. This brings us to the first main focus: where you’re located. The second focus is the services you offer. More than likely you want your clients to purchase the service you provide, so combine that with your location and you’re off to a great start at optimizing.

The first step is to create a page that shows your location. If you have multiple locations, you will need multiple pages. Then, you will want to create a services page for each location that lists all the products/services that location offers. And last, you will need to create a single page for each service/product you offer (these do not have to be location specific). Link the location based services page to the items listed on it (which should be your individual service/product pages).

  • Service Page: House Cleaning in Fort Worth, Tx
  • Specific Services: Carpet Cleaning, Bathroom Bleach, Kitchen Scrub

House Cleaning in Fort Worth, Tx should be linked to Carpet Cleaning, Bathroom Bleach, and Kitchen Scrub.

This process clearly denotes to search engines and users the services, and location of those services. Which means your users have an easier time at discerning which service they can hire or not. The goal is to be as clear as possible to search engines and users as to what is offered and where it is offered. Any ambiguity is going to have a negative effect, even if you can’t see it right away.

Beyond Basics: Local SEO for WordPress

So far you’ve eliminated some of the basic mistakes individuals make when optimizing their site for local. Now, you will see how some of the more complicated parts of this local SEO game come into play for your business.

Ever heard of Schema Markup? It’s a simple concept, but it’s somewhat complicated in its implementation. But don’t let that scare you off. It’s a huge benefit to your user. Here’s some starter ideas on what to use from Schema.org:

Schema Markup 101:

  • NAP – name, address, phone number on all pages of your site (usually the header, sometimes the footer)
  • Business Hours – add these to header or footer, too.
  • Other Contact – Email address, fax number, etc., can be marked with schema, too. It’s all beneficial if it’s legit and usable by the user.
  • Ratings – if you’ve acquired ratings with Google, you can mark those ratings with schema and add them to your site.

Why Schema Markup?

Although schema isn’t officially a ranking signal, it offers an opportunity to show more of your business in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). More information about your business like NAP, Ratings, and Business Hours does add to the decision of who your potential user is going to choose to do business with.

The End?

There’s never an end to SEO. It’s an ever advancing and dynamic effort. It’s why we recommend hiring someone to help you with your online presence. Especially with local SEO where you could be missing out on potential clients that simply don’t know you exist.

Not sure how or where to start your local SEO optimization? Do you want to optimize for local search, but don’t have the time? MDPM can help you! Give us a call: (972) 781-8861 or send an email: info@mdpmconsulting.com