First, what is local SEO?
Local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy that helps you rank higher for local search results on Google. Local search results come from searches like "best lawyer near me" or "best bagels in Detroit." A business with a physical location or one that serves a specific area can benefit from the local SEO strategy.
Why are title tags important?
A title tag is a new visitor's first interaction with your business when they find it on Google - it's part of their journey of finding you. It needs to convey positive and accurate information. Title tags also help Google and other search engines understand what your page's content is about, so again, they need to be accurate.
Keep in mind; title tags are part of the visitor's experience. It's the first impression. I suggest you take a step back and map a visitor's journey and experience before they get to your website. The perspective that comes from mapping a user's journey will provide insights into how strongly the details of your site resonate with your visitors and what can be improved.
How to optimize your title tags for local SEO
Add the location you serve to the title. Add the city or state where you operate. The location can be separated by dividers or integrated into the title's keywords. Regardless of how you do it, you want your business's location in the title so Google, and anyone who sees the title tag, can quickly understand where you do business.
A title tag formula
I find it easy to think of title tags as a sequence of importance. You'll want the essential keywords first, location second, and brand name at the end.
- Put the most important keyword first. According to Moz's research, "keywords closer to the beginning of your title tag may have more impact on search rankings." You'll need to think about the most important keyword to your website visitors and what's relevant to your page's content. This keyword can be the product or service you offer, a value proposition, or a key feature.
- Your location. Again, this can be your city, state, or neighborhood if you're in a larger city.
- Put your brand stuff at the end. Place your brand name or company at the end of the title. Having this in your title tag is important but not as important as the primary keyword you're trying to rank for and your location. Additionally, the local SEO strategy is to rank for local, off-brand searches. For example, "personal injury lawyer near me." It's easy to rank for on-brand searches (someone searching for your name directly), so there is no need to focus heavily on the brand stuff.
Title tag examples
Here's an example of title tags for a personal injury lawyer:
Homepage title tag:
Top-Rated Seattle Personal Injury Lawyers | John Smith & Co.
In this example, the location is tied in with the essential keywords with the fictitious brand name at the end.
Services page title tag:
Personal Injury Lawyer Services | Seattle | John Smith & Co.
Here, the location is divided and placed in between the essential keywords and the brand name.
As I'm sure you've gathered, optimizing title tags for local SEO isn't complicated. It comes down to sticking to a formula, making your titles clean, and looking at them from the website visitor's eyes.
Title tag tips
If you're looking for additional tips on title tags, here are some quick ones:
- Avoid all caps. Uppercase titles are harder to read and scan. Don't make it difficult for people to read your information.
- Don't stuff keywords. Keyword stuffing will harm your rankings. Google talks more about it here with examples.
- Give every page a unique title. Giving each page a unique title will help Google understand that your content is unique and valuable to users. It will also help your click-through rates (CTR).
- Keep titles under 60 characters. You can add more than 60 characters to your title; however, going past 60 will get you the ellipsis "..." and potentially cut off important information.
- Look at your competitors. Observe and analyze what your competitors write for their title tags. I'm not saying to copy them, but figuring out which keywords might be helping them can help you determine how to improve yours.