I recently participated in a webinar entitled “The Most Important Factors Impacting Your Local Search Rankings in 2014”. The webinar was conducted by Lawn and Landscape featuring Landscape Leadership’s, Chris Heiler. The webinar was most helpful and I’d like to share the points that Chris brought out in the webinar. He spoke of 7 things to do in your pages, text and images that will search engine optimization-virtual assistant-offshoot landscape servicessignal search engines on your website.

1. Domain registration: The domain registration needs to be registered 2-3 years out to create credibility with Google. You can go to www.whois.com to see when your registration expires. Adding an extra two or three years to your subscription tells Google that you are in business for the long haul. This adds credibility.
2. Google+ local:  Go to Google+ for business and then search for your business page to verify it. Selecting the right category for your business is important too. Writing in your name, address and phone number and keeping it consistent with all other areas on the web will add credibility as well.
3. Consistency in review sites: Review sites such as Yelp, Google+ Business, Yellow Pages, Citysearch, Angie’s List to name a few. Claim your business page and fill in information about your business including phone numbers and addresses. Keep this consistent throughout each site so that when Google crawls these directories they will compare and find consistency, which Google likes.
4. Local keyword usage: Use local keywords such as your city, county and state. You can do this by listing your service areas on several pages of your website. Work it into your copy as well as the footer (bottom of every page). This gives search engines a location of your business when they crawl your website.
5. Update Page title tags: Use your unique and local keywords such as your city, county and state in the title tags. Keep keywords as close to the beginning of the title as possible for best practices. The title tags should be between 55 and 70 characters max. Use http://www.charactercountonline.com to measure your character count.
6. Add meta-descriptions: Descriptions are important because this provides a hook for your reader to click through to the webpage. Use keywords in your description that are Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 1.55.24 PMunique to each page. The character count should stay around 150 characters on average or you run the risk of it being cut off in the two-line summary. Keep it short and concise.
7. Update URL’s: Use specific terms in your business instead of generic terms like ‘services’. If you offer stonework then use that in the URL. In addition, add local keywords into the URL with hyphens. (i.e. https://virtuallandscapeservices.com/landscape-design-asheville-hendersonville-buncombe/)

A helpful tool to use is a Google widget called Mozbar. This widget reveals page elements (i.e. meta-description and what the URL is for each page) and highlights links and keywords helping you streamline your SEO while you surf the web. Google’s keyword planner tool is another tool in the toolbox to help you find your best keywords for your website. Also in Webmaster tools, make sure you register your website which will provide you with information about your site and how to improve it’s stats with Google. After you are registered and linked you can begin to use the tools under the site dashboard>search appearance to search your website’s appearance making improvements where necessary.

Hopefully these tools will give you a jump-start and ownership in better understanding of how optimization can work on your website.