• Don't be too broad in your keyword ranking strategy -- the broader the term, the more competitive it is.
  • If your NAP is inconsistent then you'll be building citations in vain. It will appear as if each citation belongs to a different company.
  • These optimization tips will become exponentially more effective if you have a Google My Business page.

Do you want more traffic going to your website?

Of course you do! The only problem is, you either don’t know how to get it or it’s too expensive to hire someone to help.

You might have built your website thinking if you build it, they will come, but that’s just not the case.

Here are three simple ways I was able to improve my online rankings and get more traffic to my site. You don’t need to be a Web developer to employ these tactics. All you need to know are the basics of optimization, which I’m going to teach you here:

Use local search terms

If you don’t take anything else away from this post, at least take this. When you try to get ranked for keywords, think local.

What do I mean?

I mean: Don’t be too broad in your keyword ranking strategy. For example, you don’t want to try to rank for “real estate.” Most likely, you don’t even want to try to rank for “residential real estate.” Your best bet is to try to rank for “residential real estate agent in Santa Monica” or “San Diego,” etc.


Because the broader the term, the more competitive it is. I don’t know about you, but I can’t compete with Zillow, Trulia or realtor.com for broad real estate terms. And there are reasons for that.

For one, they have an incredible number of backlinks from authoritative sites. Yet, I have noticed that the more specific I get, the better I can compete — and in some cases, I’ve ranked even better.

What’s the process?

First, make sure you use the local term in your title and meta descriptions. The text that shows up in the tab at the top of the page is your title tag. It’s best that you try to keep your title tag under 55 characters as a rule of thumb. Likewise, you should try to keep your meta description under 160 characters.

A local-optimized title tag is still one of the heaviest influences on ranking. Your meta description doesn’t affect your rank, but it acts as a sales pitch, so optimize that as well.

If you have a WordPress site, you can use a plugin such as SEO by Yoast to make this process super easy.

Second, write your content for a local audience. Again, don’t be too broad. If you’re writing a webpage about homes for sale in Santa Monica, speak about trends in Santa Monica. Write about local attractions and other selling points of that area. Don’t write about Southern California in general.

Third, optimize your photos with local search terms. If you have a photo of yourself, make sure your alt-tag says “Sally Realtor, Santa Monica, California.” If you include pictures of homes, make sure you put the address and ZIP code of the photo in the alt-tag.

Believe it or not, these three simple “onsite-optimization” tips can help your rankings big time.

Next, we’ll discuss a couple of “offsite-optimization” tips.

Build local citations and general citations

Building citations is one of the more important elements of a local SEO strategy. Citations are “mentions” of your business on another website. Sites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, City Search, Yahoo and so on, are some of the most common for creating listings.

GongTo / Shutterstock.com

GongTo / Shutterstock.com

Before you start building citations, it is vital that you get your NAP in line.

What’s an NAP? NAP stands for:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number

If your NAP is inconsistent, then you’ll be building citations in vain. It will appear as if each citation belongs to a different company. This will defeat the purpose of getting as many “mentions” of your business as possible.

I would recommend writing your NAP on a Word document. You can also use a spreadsheet such as the one found at whitespark.ca. That way, each time you build a new citation you can just copy and paste, and all your information will be the same.

You can also use this document to keep track of the username and password you choose for each citation source. If you need to change your address or phone number, you won’t be stuck wondering how to get in.

When you’re ready to start building citations for your business, you can use this easy tool from Moz. You can also Google “list of citation sites” to help get you going.

Create and optimize a Google My Business Page

The two optimization tips stated above will become exponentially more effective if you have a Google My Business page.

When you create a Google My Business page, your business becomes eligible to be shown in Google’s local results. These results show up before organic results, which puts you even closer to the top of the page. The goal is to get your business to ranking in the top three listings.

To create a Google My Business page, follow these steps:

  •  Follow this link, then click on “Get on Google”
  • Type in the name of your business and click search
  • If none of the results match your business, click “None of these match, add your business” at the bottom
  • Fill in your information using the NAP you created
  • Make sure you have the Google verification card sent to your business address
  • Click continue
  • You’ll now be on your Google My Business Dashboard
  • Click the red “Edit” button and fill out everything in as much detail as possible
  • Add more Categories if possible
  • Add a long description of your business
  • Within your description, make sure to add links to various pages of your website
  • Add lots of pictures

Getting better rankings on Google and other search engines isn’t impossible.

If you implement these simple optimization techniques I’ve explained, and write some great content, you are well on your way.

If you have any questions about these techniques, leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer you.

Michael Johnson is the founder of Crown Listings. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Email Michael Johnson.

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