If you haven’t already heard, not too long ago Yoast released a Local SEO plugin for WordPress which works hand-in-hand with his WordPress SEO plugin.
This is relevant to anyone who is optimizing a website for local search with one or several locations. This post is focused on setting up the plugin and it’s options for maximum benefit towards local SEO.
Chances are you’ve heard that Schema.org is an option for website owners and SEOs to mark up data with. The problem with it is that there are a lot of items to specify where a single mistake will invalidate your data. This mistake could potentially cost you rankings and traffic! Yoast’s Local SEO plugin solves this problem by automatically doing the complicated structured markup on your behalf.
What You’ll Need
- A website running on WordPress
- WordPress SEO by Yoast available on WordPress.org – Free Download
- Local SEO Plugin, available for purchase for single, multiple, or unlimited sites
Install and Configure WordPress SEO by Yoast
Configuring this correctly is outside the scope of this article. There are several guides on getting your titles, meta, and indexing options setup correctly. Here is a good guide from Yoast himself – The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites
Be sure to enable XML sitemap functionality, as it will be to your benefit for the configuration of the local SEO add-on.
Install and Configure Local SEO for WordPress Add-on
Once you activate the plugin, you should check out the FAQ on activating your license. At the time of this writing there is a small glitch when activating your license. You may need to enter your license key, save changes, remove it, save changes again, then enter the key back in and save changes one last time. As far as I know Yoast and his talented team are aware and are working on this bug.
At this point you should have the WordPress SEO plugin configured properly with the Local SEO add-on enabled with your purchased license activated.
There are two parts to this guide: a setup for businesses with a single location and a setup for businesses with multiple locations.
Local SEO Plugin Setup for Single Location Businesses
Configuring WordPress Local SEO for a single location is a bit easier than configuring for multiple locations, however, there are some things that you will want to do in order to maximize your local SEO efforts.
Enter your Business N.A.P., Category, and Hours
Fill out all of your information on the Local SEO page of the plugin. Be sure to enter in your information that stays consistent with your standardized N.A.P. (name, address, and phone number) and other local citations. If you don’t know what that means, then you will need to learn more about Local SEO and how data consistency and mentions of your business information is a major ranking factor. Here are some good resources for that:
For the business type section, enter the category that best fits your business. The categories provided are a standard set available on the schema.org website for a local business. Enter the accurate operating hours for your business where a person could expect to do business with your store within that timeframe, and save your settings.
Display Your Business Information with Structured Data
As mentioned above, the benefit to using the Local SEO plugin is that it automatically outputs the complicated schema.org structured markup anywhere you want on your WordPress site. This section will go over a few strategies where you can maximize the plugin and efforts.
Local SEO Widgets
For a single location business, I have found that it is extremely helpful for both users and search engines to have your business information displayed on every single page. With a typical WordPress theme, a widget will do the trick. Find the WP SEO – Show Address widget and add it to a widget section where your theme will display it on every single page. Each theme will be different, but a good place for it would be either the footer or a global sidebar or even both, depending on the content level of your site.
Make sure you check “Show state” (for US businesses) and “Show phone number” so that the plugin outputs the HTML in proper schema markup that matches your N.A.P and local citations. It will be up to you to check “Show opening hours”. This can take up a lot of space so see how it affects the design and UI of your website. Save your settings in the widgets and take a look at the front end of your site. View the source of the element of the widget you just created and you will see proper schema format, specifying your business type, name, address, and phone number, error free. As Google, Yahoo, and Bing crawl your site, they will detect the use of structured data, helping them categorize your website more effectively.
Local SEO Shortcodes and PHP Functions
The widgets are great for displaying a small amount of information quickly and easily in multiple areas of your WordPress site, but they aren’t as effective for single pages. The Local SEO plugin provides shortcodes and PHP functions right out of the box, which give you more flexibility on the specific page level or the WordPress template level.
Since you only have one location, a shortcode will typically get the job done. Hop into the backend of WordPress and head on over to your contact page. There are a few elements that we are going to want to display for users and search engines at a minimum:
- Business (N.A.P) Name, Address, and Phone
- Opening Hours
It would be super ideal for your customers (and therefore, Google) to also have the following information on the contact page:
- Photos of the store front and/or inside
- Written directions from major areas or hot spots of your town or city
- A few sentences on what makes your business unique over the competition
- Links to social media
- A simple contact form to email the store directly
The Local SEO Plugin will be able to handle the Business N.A.P, hours, and map with a few simple shortcodes. The design of the page is up to you. I prefer to have the major business information, (NAP, hours, and map) directly above the fold in two columns, with the NAP and hours in one column and the map in the second column. Here are some sample shortcodes for the following:
Display NAP with Opening Hours
Email: [email protected]
Display Map of Location with Route Planner
Display Opening Hours Only
You can customize the shortcodes with different attributes available in the PDF manual that comes with the purchase of the Local SEO plugin.
Geo XML Sitemap and KML
Assuming you have XML sitemaps enabled in the WordPress SEO plugin, the Local SEO add-on will add your business information into a Geo Sitemap with a link to a KML file that Google will use to better understand the physical coordinates, address, and category of your business. Make sure you submit your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools and other profiles so search engines are aware of it.
Part 2 of this post will be available shortly. This will cover cases for businesses with multiple locations.
Care to share your experience with Yoast’s Local SEO plugin? I hope this guide will help you achieve rankings and additional traffic! Please share your experience and any questions in the comments below!