SEO is one of the most effective ways you can improve your online presence in order to generate leads and conversions from your website - whether that be receiving more CV uploads from candidates, or phone and email enquiries from potential clients.
Local SEO is all about optimising your website so that it ranks better for local audiences and in Google (and Bing) Maps listings, and it is doubly important for recruitment agencies, as job hunting is primarily location-based. This means that most people tend to look for jobs online within their local area - even if they don’t explicitly include a location in their search term.
If you can master local SEO, you’ll be able to give your business the competitive edge, help it stand out from the crowd, and, ultimately, generate more revenue.
In this blog, we’ll walk you through the key components to consider if you want to optimise your website to improve its ranking for local search terms.
#1. Tell Google where you are
This might sound simple, but letting Google know where you are, or where your office(s) is located, is the building block to a successful local SEO campaign.
But what does this mean in practical terms? Your first port of call should be to add the Schema markup for a local business to your website. Schema is a means of adding structured data to the code on your website so that search engines can better understand the different pieces of your business’s information, such as your address, your opening hours, your phone number and even your job listings.
You should also set up a Google My Business (GMB) listing, providing Google with all the relevant local information about each office so that you can appear in the Maps listings.
#2. N.A.P. (Name, Address, Phone Number)
Consistency is important to Google. There are a lot of businesses with similar names in the same locale, so for Google to be certain that all mentions of your business - in GMB, local associations, directories, such as Yelp, etc. - relate to you, the brand name, the address and the phone number all need to be consistent.
So, for example, I-COM cannot go by I-COM Marketing on Yelp and I-COM Web Development in Google My Business and then just I-COM in our listing with Onrec. It’s just I-COM. Everywhere. You need to ensure it’s the same for your business.
Along the same lines, you have to use the same phone number that’s on your website that you use when you list your business elsewhere on the web. And if you’ve ever moved offices and not bothered to change old listings, now is the time to do it.
#3. Independent Third-Party Reviews
Third-party reviews are hugely important for local SEO, perhaps more so than for businesses that aren’t based in a specific location. Google shows local results even if the search query doesn’t include a specific location, and reviews can help point Google to the nearest, most relevant and most positively reviewed results.
Third-party review sites range from the general - TripAdvisor, TrustPilot and Reviews.co.uk - to the more niche or industry-specific sites such as Glassdoor and indeed.
Due to this, it’s important to encourage happy clients and customers to leave a positive review after a successful experience with your company. It is equally important to keep an eye out for any negative reviews and address them accordingly (find out more about what to do in this instance here).
Are you keeping an eye on your meta titles and descriptions? A super simple way to optimise for local search rankings is to include your location - or the location you’re trying to target - in your meta title.
So your listing in search engines should look a little something like:
By including the location in your page titles, this explicitly tells Google what the page is about and under what search terms you want the page to appear for. Writing a compelling meta description will help to lure users in - don’t forget to include a call to action such as ‘Find out more’ or ‘Speak to us today’ to encourage users to visit the website.
#5. Links, links and more links
If you’re not already familiar with the concept of link building, then the time has come! Seeking out and securing backlinks - links on other websites that point directly back to your website - is a crucial element of local SEO.
Link building is a huge topic worthy of a blog - if not a series of blogs - in its own right, but to get you started, here are a few simple ideas. (Please note: these are intended to enhance your visibility in local search engines specifically - there are lots of other more general link-building techniques out there!)
- Citations - A local citation is the online mention of the name, address, and phone number for a local business. To find these, search for and contact local business directories, localised groups and forums, local online publications and review-orientated sites, such as Facebook and Yelp. The key is keeping it local!
- Directories - Spend time searching for and getting listed on relevant, good quality sites. These could include local business groups and organisations, and professional associations. Be aware that some directories may charge for you to list your website or require you to become a member.
- Guest posts - Once you’ve exhausted your options for citations and directories, another option is to reach out to bloggers who focus on a specific area, and offer your expertise in the shape of a guest blog. While this can be more time consuming, a secured article provides good PR and a great link.
- Sponsorship - Finally, if you have some budget to spend, sponsoring a local industry award or arranging a corporate partnership with a local charity can provide an excellent link.
If you can work through this list, you will have successfully curated an excellent link profile for yourself that is fully optimised for local search. The handy side effect of all this hard work is that Google will see that you are considered an ‘expert’ in your field - having so many other sites vouch for you with a link - and look even more favourably upon your site in its ranking.
The fashion for keyword stuffing is, fortunately, a thing of the past. Google has become increasingly wise to the tricks some companies and copywriters have played over the years at forcing in key search terms at every available opportunity (an example of ‘black hat’ SEO). These days, Google looks for good quality, useful and relevant content from sites that demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (more on EAT later).
However, this is not to suggest that keywords should be overlooked as part of local SEO. You need to make sure that the copy on your pages matches the search terms that your ideal users will be looking for. To do so, make sure you include locations alongside job descriptions, as well as information as to where your office(s) is located and what regions you cover.
The trick is not to go overboard, and keep the copy on your page useful, relevant and of good quality. This is the predominant factor of Google’s 2018 algorithm update - EAT.
#7. Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (EAT)
In the summer of 2018, Google launched an update that would dramatically affect how its algorithms rank web pages: EAT. The search engine now requires websites to demonstrate their expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness in order to avoid dropping down the rankings. While this particularly affected ‘Your money or your life’ companies - such as financial, legal or medical services - it is now good practice to ensure all sites are sticking to the new rules.
For recruitment agencies, this means that it is important to have copy on the website that emphasises its EAT - this could include adding awards, accreditations, FAQs and an ‘About Us’ page. Copy on your site should, as mentioned earlier, be of good quality - meaning blogs, articles or resources should be useful, relevant, interesting, up-to-date and unique.
Local SEO is just the start of a digital marketing strategy for recruitment agencies - nevertheless, it is an essential building block to successfully appearing in front of candidates and clients. Without it, your competitors will gain the upper hand and scoop up all of the talent and potential business that you know your agency is better equipped to handle.
If you’d like to find out how we can help you optimise your site for local search, or find out how we complement our SEO services with a fully-integrated content marketing strategy, get in touch by calling 0161 390 0125 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.