Hotels, restaurants, hairdressers, beauty spas and plumbers are examples of businesses that benefit from local Internet searches. Local search is extremely important as the proportion (and number) of mobile device (e.g. Android, iPhone, iPad etc.) searches grows rapidly. If people searching for businesses in the local area is a source for your business getting customers then you really should be putting some effort into getting the basic SEO right so that you appear in Bing or Google local searches.
An example of when a local search will be beneficial
Right now I’m writing this blog post from the Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga, South Africa (yes, it is far from my home in Australia). The Oyster Box Hotel is an absolutely beautiful and relaxing hotel just a quick ride from King Shaka International airport (a.k.a. Durban International Airport). Many people, when travelling, wait until they arrive at a city before making a hotel reservation. Local Internet searches in this context are a large source of businesses for the Oyster Box Hotel and other hotels near King Shaka International airport. For hotels it’s obviously hugely advantageous to appear near the top of the local SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
The great thing about SEO for local search is that it is relatively simple if you use WordPress to power your website. No matter if you run a Bed and Breakfast or youth hostel you can easily compete with major hotel chains when it comes to optimizing your website for local search.
What SEO is best for local search results
Getting your local business to appear more prominently when a person uses a location based search (e.g. hotel in Umhlanga) involves the usual SEO best practice. In addition there are various things that should be done to signal to Bing, Google and other search engines that your product or service targets a specific geographic area.
To make your website appear higher up in the search results you may do the following; get reputable local businesses and organizations to link to your website, use a country specific TLD (e.g. .com.au for Australia), setup a Google Places for Business page and Bing Places for Business. There is an extremely influential SEO activity however that few local businesses use; this is adding the necessary schema.org markup to your local business. Most businesses should add LocalBusiness schema to their websites but please be aware that the most narrowly defined schema should be used wherever possible; for example a hotel should use Hotel schema.
What is Schema and how does it help SEO?
Schema is structured data that is added to your website. This code is easily read by Bing, Google and other significant search engines. There are numerous schema defined for various data such as a schema for reviews (and all the client review on your website should be entered using Review Schema for best SEO) and products (products on Amazon.com use this schema so that Search Engines can easily categorise and show the product details such as price and description).
Amazon.com has been mentioned above as showing product scheme for products but many other organizations use schema so that Search Engines better understand the website content; for example, using a hotel demonstration, TripAdvisor use schema for all reviews such as the review of the Oyster Box Hotel.
How to implement Schema in WordPress
Here is the the great news. It’s simple to implement schema on most websites and especially easy on WordPress websites. The first thing to do is decide on the best schema to show. Once this has been decided then add your specific information using the structure provided for your chosen scheme and add the HTML to your website.
Should I replace Microformats with Schema.org?
Schema.org is not reinventing the wheel; there have been various defined data markups defined in the past of which two common examples are RDFa and Microformats. Schema.org is however a data format that is supported by all major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.). For now, Bing and Google are continuing to index the few various structured data standards however Google have documented that they’ll focus on schema.org going forward.
TripAdvisor are using RDFa to markup hotel address data as can be seen via the HTML extract from TripAdvisor for the Oyster Box Hotel
<address> <span class="rate sprite-rating_cl_gry rating_cl_gry"> <img class="sprite-rating_cl_gry_fill rating_cl_gry_fill cl_gry50" src="https://c1.tacdn.com/img2/x.gif" alt="5.0 of 5" content="5.0" title="Hotel class"> </span> </span> <span class="placeTypeText">Hotel</span> <span rel="v:address"> <span class="format_address"><span class="street-address" property="v:street-address">2 Lighthouse Road</span>, <span class="locality"><span property="v:locality">Umhlanga Rocks</span> <span property="v:postal-code">4319</span></span>, <span class="country-name" property="v:country-name">South Africa</span> </span> </span> </address>
Adding structured data using schema.org is critical for good local SEO. Contact us if you need assistance with adding structured data to improve your SEO.