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14 Top Reasons Why Google Isn’t Indexing Your Site

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14 Top Reasons Why Google Isn’t Indexing Your Site


Google won’t index your site? You’re not alone. There are many potential issues that may prevent Google from indexing web pages, and this article covers 14 of them.

Whether you want to know what to do if your site is not mobile-friendly or you’re facing complex indexing issues, we’ve got the information that you need.

Learn how to fix these common problems so that Google can start indexing your pages again.

1. You Don’t Have A Domain Name

The first reason why Google won’t index your site is that you don’t have a domain name. This could be because you’re using the wrong URL for the content, or it’s not set up correctly on WordPress.

If this is happening to you, there are some easy fixes.

Check whether or not your web address starts with “https://XXX.XXX…” which means that someone might be typing in an IP address instead of a domain name and getting redirected to your website.

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Also, your IP address redirection may not be configured correctly.

One way to fix this issue is by adding 301 redirects from WWW versions of pages back onto their respective domains. If people get directed here when they try searching for something like [yoursitehere], we want them to land on your physical domain name.

It’s important to ensure that you have a domain name. This is non-negotiable if you want to rank and be competitive on Google.

2. Your Site Is Not Mobile-Friendly

A mobile-friendly website is critical to getting your site indexed by Google since it introduced Mobile-First indexing.

No matter how great the content on your website is, if it’s not optimized for viewing on a smartphone or tablet, you’re going to lose rankings and traffic.

Mobile optimization doesn’t have to be difficult – simply adding responsive design principles like fluid grids and CSS Media Queries can go a long way towards making sure that users will find what they need without experiencing any navigation problems.

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The first thing I recommend doing with this issue is running your site through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool.

If you don’t get a “passed reading,” you have some work to do to make your site mobile-friendly.

3. You’re Using A Coding Language In A Way That’s Too Complex for Google

Google won’t index your site if you’re using a coding language in a complex way. It doesn’t matter what the language is – it could be old or even updated, like JavaScript – as long as the settings are incorrect and cause crawling and indexing issues.

If this is a problem for you, I recommend running through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool to see how mobile-friendly your site really is (and make any fixes that might need to be made).

If your website isn’t passable on their standards yet, they offer plenty of resources with guidelines about all manner of design quirks that can come up while designing a responsive webpage.

4. Your Site Loads Slowly

Slow-loading sites make Google less likely to want them featured in the top results of their index. If your site takes a long time to load, it may be due to many different factors.

It could even be that you have too much content on the page for a user’s browser to handle or if you’re using an old-fashioned server with limited resources.

Solutions:

  • Use Google Page Speed Insights – This is one of my favorite tools I’ve found in recent years and helps me identify what sections of the website need urgent attention when improving its speed. The tool analyzes your webpage against five performance best practices (that are crucial for having faster loading sites), such as minimizing connections, reducing payload size, leveraging browser caching, etc., and will give you suggestions about how you can improve each aspect of your site.
  • Use a tool like webpagetest.org – This tool will let you know if your website is loading at a fast enough pace. It will also allow you to see, in detail, the specific elements on your site that are causing you issues. Their waterfall can help you identify significant page speed issues before they cause serious problems.
  • Use Google’s Page Speed insights again – See where you can make improvements to load times on the site. For example, it might be worth exploring a new hosting plan with more resources (pure dedicated servers are far better than shared ones) or using a CDN service that will serve static content from its cache in multiple locations around the world.
See also  Google On Redirect Pull Backs & Signal Consolidation

Ideally, make sure your page speed numbers hit 70 or more. As close to 100 as possible is ideal.

If you have any questions whatsoever regarding page speed, you may want to check out SEJ’s ebook on Core Web Vitals.

5. Your Site Has Minimal Well-Written Content

Well-written content is critical for succeeding on Google. If you have minimal content that doesn’t at least meet your competition’s levels, then you may have significant issues even breaking the top 50.

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In our experience, content that’s less than 1,000 words does not do as well as content that is more than 1,000 words.

Are we a content writing company? No, we are not. Is word count a ranking factor? Also no.

But, when you’re judging what to do in the context of the competition, making sure your content is well-written is key to success.

The content on your site needs to be good and informative. It needs to answer questions, provide information, or have a point of view that’s different enough from other sites in the same niche as yours.

If it doesn’t meet those standards, Google will likely find another site with better quality content that does.

If you’re wondering why your website isn’t ranking highly in Google search results for some keywords despite following through SEO best practices like adding relevant keywords throughout the text (Hint: Your Content), then one culprit may be thin pages where there really should be more than just 100 words per page!

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Thin pages can cause indexing issues because they don’t contain much unique content and don’t meet minimum quality levels compared to your competition.

6. Your Site Isn’t User-friendly And Engaging To Visitors

Having a user-friendly and engaging site is crucial to good SEO. Google will rank your site higher in search results if it’s easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for and navigate around the website without feeling frustrated or aggravated.

Google doesn’t want users spending too much time on a page that either takes forever to load, has confusing navigation, or is just plain hard to use because there are too many distractions (like ads above the fold).

If you only have one product listed per category instead of several, then this could be why your content isn’t ranking well with Google! It’s important not only to target keywords within each post but also to make sure that all related posts link back to other relevant articles/pages on the topic.

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Do people like sharing your blog? Are readers being wowed by your content? If not, then this could be why Google has stopped indexing your site.

If someone links directly to one specific product page instead of using relative keywords like “buy,” “purchase” etc., then there might be something wrong with the way other pages link back to that particular product.

Make sure all products listed on category pages also exist within each respective sub-category so users can easily make purchases without having to navigate complex linking hierarchies.

7. You Have A Redirect Loop

Redirect loops are another common problem that prevents indexing. These are typically caused by a common typo and can be fixed with the following steps:

Find the page that is causing the redirect loop. If you are using WordPress, find HTML source of one of your posts on this page or in an .htaccess file and look for “Redirect 301” to see which page it’s trying to direct traffic from. It’s also worth it to repair any 302 redirects and make sure they are set to 301.

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Use “find” in Windows Explorer (or Command + F if Mac) to search through all files containing “redirect” until you locate where the problem lies.

Fix any typos so there isn’t a duplicate URL address pointing back at itself then use redirection code like below:

Status codes such as 404s don’t always show up in Google Search Console. Using an external crawler like Screaming Frog, you can find the status codes for 404s and other errors.

If all looks good, use Google Search Console on-site to crawl the site again and resubmit it to indexing. Wait a week or so before checking back in with Google Search Console if there are any new warnings popping up that need attention.

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Google doesn’t have time to update their indexes every day, but they do try every few hours which means sometimes your content may not show up right away even though you know it’s been updated. Be patient! It should be indexed soon enough.

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8. You’re Using Plugins That Block Googlebot from Crawling Your Site

One example of such a plugin is a robots.txt plugin. If you set your robots.txt file through this plugin to noindex your site, Googlebot will not be able to crawl it.

Set up a robots.txt file and do the following:

When you create this, set it as public so that crawlers can access it without restrictions.

Make sure your robots.txt file does not have the following lines:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

The forward slash means that the robots.txt file is blocking all pages from the root folder of the site. You want to make sure that your robots.txt file looks more like this:

User-agent: *
Disallow:

With the disallow line being blank, this is telling crawlers that they can all crawl and index every page on your site without restriction (assuming you don’t have specific pages marked as being noindexed.

9. Your Site Uses JavaScript To Render Content

Using JavaScript by itself is not always a complex issue that causes indexing problems. There isn’t one single rule that says JS is the only thing that causes problems. You have to look at the individual site and diagnose issues to determine if this is a problem.

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Where JS comes into play as an issue is when the JS prevents crawling by doing shady things – techniques that may be akin to cloaking.

If you have rendered HTML vs. raw HTML, and you have a link in the raw HTML that isn’t in the rendered HTML, Google may not crawl or index that link. Defining your rendered HTML vs. raw HTML issues is crucial because of these types of mistakes.

If you’re into hiding your JS and CSS files, don’t do it. Google has mentioned that they want to see all of your JS and CSS files when they crawl.

Google wants you to keep all JS and CSS crawlable. If you have any of those files blocked, you may want to unblock them and allow for full crawling to give Google the view of your site that they need.

10. You Did Not Add All Domain Properties To Google Search Console

If you have more than one variation of your domain, especially in a situation where you have migrated from http:// to https://, you must have all of your domain variations added and verified in Google Search Console.

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It’s important to make sure that you’re not missing any of your domain variations when adding them to GSC.

Add them to GSC, and make sure that you verify your ownership of all domain properties to ensure that you are tracking the right ones.

For new sites that are just starting out, this is likely to not be an issue.

11. Your Meta Tags Are Set To Noindex, Nofollow

Sometimes, through sheer bad luck, meta tags are set to noindex, nofollow. For example, your site may have a link or page that was indexed by Google’s crawler and then deleted before the change to noindex, nofollow was set up correctly in your website’s backend.

As a result, that page may not have been re-indexed and if you’re using a plugin to block Google from crawling your site then that page may never be indexed again.

The solution is simple: change any meta tags with the words noindex,nofollow on them so they read index,follow instead.

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If you have thousands of pages like this, however, you may have an uphill battle ahead of you. This is one of those times where you must grit your teeth and move forward with the grind.

In the end, your site’s performance will thank you.

12. You’re Not Using A Sitemap

You need to use a sitemap!

A sitemap is a list of all the pages on your site, and it’s also one way for Google to find out what content you have. This tool will help ensure that every page gets crawled and indexed by Google Search Console.

See also  Google Issues Warning For 2 Billion Chrome Users

If you don’t have a sitemap, Google is flying blind unless all of your pages are currently indexed and receiving traffic.

It’s important to note, however, that HTML Sitemaps are deprecated in Google Search Console. The preferred format for sitemaps nowadays are XML Sitemaps.

You want to use your sitemap to tell Google what the important pages of your site are, and you want to submit it regularly for crawling and indexing.

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13. You’ve Been Penalized By Google In The Past And Haven’t Cleaned Up Your Act Yet

Google has repeatedly stated that penalties can follow you.

If you’ve had a penalty before and have not cleaned up your act, then Google won’t index your site.

The answer to this question is pretty straightforward: if it’s penalized by Google, they may not be able to do anything about it because penalties follow you around like an uninvited friend who drags their feet on the carpet as they walk through each room of your house.

If you’re wondering why would you still exclude some information from your website since you’re already in trouble with search engines?

The thing is that even though there are ways out of being penalized, many people don’t know how or can no longer make those changes for whatever reason (maybe they sold their company). Some also think that just removing pages and slapping the old content onto a new site will work just as well (it doesn’t).

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If you are penalized, the safest route is cleaning up your act from before entirely. You must have all-new content, and re-build the domain from the ground up, or do a complete content overhaul. Google explains that they expect you to take just as long getting out of a penalty as it did for you to get into one.

14. Your Technical SEO Is Terrible

Make no mistake: purchasing technical SEO from Fiverr.com is like purchasing a Lamborghini from a dollar store: you’re likely to get a counterfeit item rather than the real thing.

Doing technical SEO correctly is worth it: Google and your users will love you.

Let’s take a look at some common problems and solutions, and where technical SEO can help you.

Problem: Your site is not hitting Core Web Vitals numbers

Solution: Technical SEO will help you identify the issues with your Core Web Vitals and provide you with a path to correcting these issues. Don’t just put your faith in a strategic audit – this won’t always help you in these areas. You need a full technical SEO audit to unearth some of these issues, because they can range from the downright simple to the incredibly complex.

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Problem: Your site is has crawling and indexing issues

Solution: They can be incredibly complex and requires a seasoned technical SEO in order to uncover them and repair them. You must identify them if you’re finding that you are having zero traction or not getting any performance from your site.

Also, make sure that you haven’t accidentally ticked the “discourage search engines from indexing your website” box in WordPress.

Problem: Your site’s robots.txt file is somehow inadvertently blocking crawlers from critical files

Solution: Again, Technical SEO is here to rescue you from the abyss. Some sites are in so deep that you may not see a way out other than deleting the site and starting over. The nuclear option is not always the best option. This is where an experienced technical SEO professional is worth their weight in gold.

Identifying Website Indexing Issues Are A Challenge, But Well Worth Solving

Content, technical SEO, and links are all important to maintaining your site’s performance trajectory. But if your site has indexing issues, the other SEO elements will only get you so far.

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Be sure to tick off all the boxes and make sure you really are getting your site out there in the most correct manner.

And don’t forget to optimize every page of your website for relevant keywords! Making sure your technical SEO is up to par is worth it as well because the better Google can crawl, index, and rank your site, the better your results will be.

Google (and your website’s traffic) will thank you.

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YouTube CEO Defends Removal Of Dislike Counts

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YouTube CEO Defends Removal Of Dislike Counts


YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki defends the removal of dislike counts on videos in her annual letter outlining the company’s priorities for the year.

Many may be disappointed to hear that revisiting the decision to remove dislikes is not in YouTube’s plans for the year, as Wojcicki stands firm in her belief that it’s best for the platform going forward.

This is quite a contrast from how a YouTube co-founder feels about the decision, saying it was a bad move.

Wojcicki repeats much of what we’ve heard before from YouTube spokespeople, saying dislikes were removed because they were sometimes a reflection of viewers’ opinion of the channel and not the video itself.

“We heard from many of you about the removal of public dislike counts on YouTube, and I know this decision was controversial. Some of you mentioned dislikes helped you decide what videos to watch.

However, people dislike videos for many reasons, including some that have nothing to do with the video, which means it’s not always an accurate way to select videos to watch.

That’s why dislikes were never shown on the home page, search results, or Up Next screens where users were most likely to choose a video.”

Further, Wojcicki repeats the standard company verbiage that it was best to remove dislikes sitewide due to select channels being targets of “dislike attacks.”

“We also saw the dislike count harming parts of our ecosystem through dislike attacks as people actively worked to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos.”

Removing dislikes allegedly has no impact on viewership, Wojcicki says.

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However, that doesn’t take into account the impact to user experience.

She continues:

“So we experimented with removing the dislike count across millions of videos over many months. Every way we looked at it, we did not see a meaningful difference in viewership, regardless of whether or not there was a public dislike count. And importantly, it reduced dislike attacks.”

The dislike button remains on the site and channels can find their dislike counts in YouTube Studio.

Dislikes will continue to be factored into YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, impacting the videos that are suggested to users on the home page.

Other Highlights From YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s Annual Letter

In Wojcicki’s letter we learn:

  • YouTube Shorts has reached 5 trillion all time views.
  • The number of channels making more than $10,000 a year is up 40% year over year.
  • YouTube Channel Memberships and paid digital goods were purchased or renewed more than 110 million times in 2021.

YouTube’s key priorities for the year include YouTube Shorts, helping creators make more money, and improving the shopping experience.

YouTube Shorts

In the coming months YouTube will expand on Shorts by introducing more ways to remix content.

YouTube will continue to allow creators to make money on Shorts through the Shorts Fund, which is now available in more than 100 countries.

The Shorts fund isn’t exclusive to creators in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). Over 40% of creators who received payment from the Shorts fund last year weren’t in the YPP.

This year, YouTube will test new ways for Shorts creators to build branded content through BrandConnect, a program that matches creators with brands.

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Content Monetization

Wojcicki highlights the following recent updates to content monetization, which will continue to be priorities this year:

  • Pre-publish checks: Allows creators to find out if there’s a problem with copyright or ad-suitability before hitting publish.
  • Updates to advertiser-friendly guidelines: Allows additional content to be monetized.
  • More details about policy violations: The company is hiring more people to provide creators with specifics about policy violations, like timestamps of where a violation occurred.

YouTube Shopping

YouTube will continue to work on a product tagging pilot program that gives viewers the chance to browse, learn about, and shop products featured in videos.

The company is in the early phases of testing how shopping can be integrated with Shorts.

Also in testing is a livestream shopping in the US, South Korea, and Brazil.

This year, YouTube will bring shopping to more creators and brands by partnering with commerce platforms like Shopify.

Source: YouTube Official Blog


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Why Does Google Not Recognize My Competitor’s Links As Manipulated?

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Why Does Google Not Recognize My Competitor's Links As Manipulated?


This week’s Ask An SEO question comes from Arvin from Vancouver, Canada, who wrote:

“One of our competitors has gotten tons of backlinks from unrelated posts including forums like that of apache.org (and many other .edu sites, too). Even after updates like Penguin, why are they considered relevant backlinks by Google?”

Let me begin by saying, Arvin, that we are a sports-loving family.

I currently have four kids on seven teams.

I love the lessons that sports teach my kids.

And one of the big lessons I work to instill in my kids is never to blame the referees for a loss.

I’ve never seen any sporting event where, if one of the teams did something better, the referee’s call would never factor into the outcome.

This lesson translates well to SEO.

If you know how to play the SEO game, what your competitor – or even Google and Bing – does should never be your main concern.

Focusing on your competitor’s SEO instead of improving your own is a frustrating waste of time.

But, as an SEO, it is important to understand the factors that are affecting the rankings of each keyword.

Like Anyone Could Ever Know

Unless you work at Google, you can never be certain about why one site is ranking over another.

We can speculate.

We can run sophisticated mathematical models to try to understand the algorithm.

But the bottom line is we can’t ever know for sure.

In fact, I’m not even sure the folks that work at Google could unequivocally tell you why one site ranks over another.

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The algorithm is so complex that no one person could ever decipher it completely.

How Do You Know The Links Are Relevant?

There is no way to know if the links that your competitor has built are being counted by Google.

Google knows a lot more than our tools tell us it knows.

None of the many backlink analysis tools available on the market today can tell you if Google is counting a link or isn’t.

These tools use data gleaned from their own analysis to determine if a link is relevant or if it is toxic.

Your competitor could be spinning their wheels and wasting a ton of money buying links that do absolutely nothing for their SEO.

Meanwhile, one piece of content or simple link from a strategic site could be boosting the site’s rankings.

Concentrate On Your Competitor’s Strengths

When you look at the “bad” things your competitors are doing, you may miss a tactic that could put you over the top for that keyword you just can’t get to rank.

Instead of looking at all the things you think they are getting away with, look at what they are doing that is legitimate that you aren’t doing.

Frequently, when a prospect comes to me screaming about the travesty of an “inferior” company is ranking above them, the real reason for the ranking usually has nothing to do with the perceived injustice.

But usually when we find the real reason – or at least what I think is the real reason – we uncover a technique that this prospect should double down on.

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It could be that your competitor has more robust content around a specific subject.

It could be that your competitor is utilizing technical SEO techniques better than you are.

It could be a thousand things.

Bottom line – when doing competitive analysis, concentrate on discovering things your competitors are doing better than you are.

Look for techniques you can modify for your own use rather than concentrating on how your client is cheating.

Especially if you don’t plan to cheat yourself.

And I recommend you don’t.

More resources: 


Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!

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5 Key On-Page Optimizations For Local SEO

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5 Key On-Page Optimizations For Local SEO


When most people think of local SEO, they tend to default to their Google Business Profile, local citations, and backlinks.

When trying to capture those “near me” results, these are definitely beneficial.

However on-page optimization also plays a significant factor in the signals that are sent to the search engines to influence your local rankings.

On-page SEO helps you rank higher in organic results and in MapPack results, as well.

Here are five on-page optimization tips to help boost your local visibility in search.

1. Make Sure Your NAP Is Consistent

NAP is an acronym for Name, Address, and Phone Number.

These three simple pieces of information can make or break your local SEO strategy.

Make sure you have these bits of information displayed prominently on your site. A footer is a great place to house your NAP since it will appear on every page.

Linking it to your Google Map is even better.

You can also display your NAP on service area pages and on your contact page in the body.

Consistency matters. It’s important that this key business information is the same anywhere potential customers find you online – and anywhere Google may be using it for comparison to ensure its accuracy.

This helps crawlers and bots to connect the dots between your Google Business Profile, website, and other local citations through the web.

Don’t get lost in minute details such as abbreviations over spelling out street names. It doesn’t really matter as long as you choose one and stick with it.

2. Spruce Up Your On-page Content

Your site content is an opportunity to show both your customers and the search engines that you are the authority in your area for the service you provide.

Include specific details such as landmarks and street names, in addition to the services you provide in this area. Make it clear why the customer would need your service in that specific area.

The more you sound like you belong there, the better the user experience for your customer.

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Think as your customer thinks.

If you were looking for your service near you, what terms would you use?

Would you include your local metro, city, or even neighborhood?

The answers to these questions will help you determine the type of content you need and which keywords to include in this content.

These keywords will help you target both combination searches [dentist in Chicago] and GPS-based searches [dentist] while sitting in Chicago.

This is where the “near me” searches come into play.

Google matches the location of the user (using IP or geolocation) with sites that service the area near the user to provide these search results.

You can optimize these keywords on overall service pages or on targeted pages created specifically for the service and the targeted service area.

Using the dentist example, let’s say you offer teeth whitening services throughout the Chicago and Southern Wisconsin areas.

In addition to your main teeth whitening page, you may have individual pages for teeth whitening in Chicago, Evanston, Milwaukee, and Racine.

Each of those pages should be hyper-targeted and optimized for that specific location.

Don’t be shy here; this may be the landing page for many of those location-based searches.

Really tell your customer why they should trust you enough to click on either the next page or your CTA.

Don’t forget to do your research.

Customers who live in an area will know the common jargon and things that are native to the area.

If you come in with half-baked information, they won’t trust that you are authentic and truly care about their local area.

3. Optimize Header Tags

We know that header tags are important when it comes to SEO.

If you haven’t explored this subject yet, be sure to check out this resource on best practices in using header tags.

By creating local-based service pages, you have just created additional real estate to create highly targeted header tags including local-based keywords + your services.

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Having great header tags gives both the visitors to your site and the crawlers a basic idea of the overall structure of the page and what to expect as they read through the content.

Be careful not to just stuff keywords into the header tags as this will be unnatural to both your visitors and the crawlers.

Keep it relevant.

4. Internal Linking

Use the power of internal linking throughout the site to educate both your customer and the search engines that you are available to serve customers in that local area.

As you are adding city names to your on-page content, you can use them as an anchor link to the service area pages.

You can also get a bit creative and create widgets, lists, and blocks that house multiple links to your service areas on top-level pages for a bit of SEO boosts.

This could be in the form of a “metro areas we service” block that includes the name of the metro, an image of the area, and a short excerpt.

The text would then link to the location page.

Screenshot of AFSRepair.com by author, January 2022.

5. Local Business Schema

Schema markup can help give the search engines a better understanding of your site.

The local business schema type includes important and relevant information such as addresses, reviews, hours of operation, social media accounts, service area geo-shapes, and departments in your code that may not necessarily live in your on-page content.

This tells the bots and crawlers all about who you are, what you do, where you do it, and why others trust you without cramming it all on a page.

This also gives you a bit more control of the information you are putting out there instead of relying on the search engines to figure out different resources around the internet.

How Will I Know If This Is Working?

Once you have everything optimized and ready to go, you will want to know if this is really having an impact on your local SEO strategy.

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There are many tools out there however we will take a quick look at a few.

Local Search Results Tools

There is nothing like looking at the SERPs directly unless you can look at the SERPs in a simulated environment that mimics the local area that you are targeting.

That is exactly what you can do with local search result tools like Local Falcon, Merkle, and BrightLocal.

With these tools, you even have the option to view Google Maps, select options such as desktop and mobile, and get as granular as the zip code level.

Local falcon GIF showing GMB resultsScreenshot from Local Falcon, January 2022

Geo-Grid Local Ranking Tools

Geo-grid local ranking tools like Local Falcon and Local Viking are a bit more visual and monitor the map results within a selected area.

These tools are great because you can actually schedule periodic scans that will capture a snapshot of your results and keep a history of how well your site has performed locally on the maps throughout time.

Since these scans are also keyword-based, it’s also an effective way to monitor optimizations within your content and title tags.

Google Business Profile Analytics

There’s nothing like getting information directly from the horse’s mouth.

When making optimizations, if successful, you should see a boost in your Google Business Profile metrics, whether those are click-throughs to your site, calls, or requests for driving directions.

As your visibility increases, you should naturally see an increase in traffic.

Remember when optimizing for on-page local SEO, keep it simple and relevant to your business.

Once customers see that you are providing what they are looking for in the location that they desire, the rest is natural.

It is your job to make sure that you are providing them with the right information.

Even with the rapid changes within the local SEO space, a solid on-page strategy is a winner for both you and your customers.

More resources:


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