Our Toronto Business Local SEO Guide
Understanding how local SEO works is critical for business owners in Toronto. Your potential customers are looking for goods and services online and if your business isn’t visible to them they’ll just move onto the next one that is. If you don’t have a solid campaign to attract your target audience, you’re missing opportunities to strengthen your business.
To help get you in front of potential customers, we’ve put together this article discussing local SEO tips for Toronto businesses. Although it doesn’t cover every aspect of local SEO, this information goes a long way to improving your ranking on Google and how well local customers find your business.
The Best Beginning Local SEO Strategies
Today’s customers find what they’re looking for by searching on Google. To decide where your business’ website lands on the results page, Google uses algorithms that analyze your content, links, etc. So, if your business is selling shoes, you want to make sure that when a local resident searches for “Toronto Shoes” your website comes up.
From properly setting up the layout of your content, to categorizing your business, there are a number of ways to ensure you’re ranking at the top of the first page on Google. One of the best ways to position your business as an authority in your industry within a certain area is to highlight the location you operate within.
Including Toronto in the Posts And Pages
Let’s take another look at that store that’s trying to attract customers looking for shoes in Toronto:
Instead of a web address that reads:
You could instead have one like this:
By including the location you want to rank for in the Posts and Pages of your website, Google has an easier time associating your business with the city you operate in.
Another great way to connect your domain to Toronto is by creating pages that relate to the city and linking back to your homepage. A resource page for other components of your industry is another useful strategy that further strengthens your local SEO campaign.
If you decide to make that resource page, make sure that you contact the websites you’ve listed to secure a link back to your page. This link-building strategy is a proven way to climb higher on Google search results.
Using Title Tags for Local Ranking
Another way to highlight your business’ location is to properly use title tags for the pages and posts you want to rank for. There are a number of different ways you can change the title tag on your website, with the easiest being on WordPress through plugins. By using a plugin like Yoast SEO.
Because the title of your webpage is supposed to be an accurate description of the content found on it, Google places a lot of stock in title tags.
These titles appear in different places on the internet, including the tabs on your browser and as anchor text when sharing on social and other websites.
The most important place that title tags are displayed is on the Google search results page, displaying as a large blue link.
While you can add the title tag through your HTML section, WordPress users can go into the settings or use a plugin.
The most important rule to remember when writing title tags is to do it for people, not search engines.
According to Moz, “title tags are one of the most important on-page SEO elements.” The following reference is a guideline they’ve created to help businesses use title tags to their advantage:
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
Let’s go back to our shoe store from earlier to see how their homepage title tag should look if they’re trying to rank for best shoe store in Toronto:
Best Shoe Store Toronto | HappyFeetShoes
This title tag works because it includes the primary keyword, best shoe store, followed by the secondary keyword, Toronto, concluding with the brand name, Happy Feet Shoes. It’s also concise and accurate, both of which Google favors over longer title tags.
Optimizing Content for Toronto
As we’ve explained, knowing the keyword you want to rank for is a big part of any local SEO campaign. If you want your website to come up when people search for the goods and services you offer in Toronto, you have to make sure your content is laid out in such a way that Google understands what the page is about.
One of the easiest ways to structure your content is to look at it logically. For example, let’s say that the home page for Happy Feet Shoes looks like this:
The Best Shoe Store in Toronto: Happy Feet Shoes!
Welcome to Happy Feet Shoes, where we put you feet-first into the best shoes for you. If you aren’t 100% satisfied with the shoes you buy, bring them back within 30 days for a full refund or exchange. We love our products and know that you will too!
Our Selection of Shoes
From work boots to wedding heels, we have the right shoewear for any situation. Take the stress out of Toronto shopping with our 30-day money-back guarantee and shoe rental program. We carry the latest styles at an affordable price!
Products for Working Hard and Playing Harder
Our shoes are perfect for women, men, and children of any age. We have the best footwear for the workday and weekend, providing the highest-quality shoes for any time of the week. We have a wide selection of work boots, high heels, flats, running shoes, and dress shoes.
About Happy Feet Shoes
We first started selling shoes back in 1998, where we began in a Toronto storefront the size of a large closet. As word of our quality and pricing spread, we grew from offering 25 different varieties to over 100. Our store has seen amazing growth thanks to our loyal customers and suppliers!
In the example above, you can see that we have our content organized in a very logical way. Not only do we target the keyword Best Shoe Store in Toronto, but we’re also using header tags in an appropriate way:
H1 – The Best Shoe Store in Toronto: Happy Feet Shoes!
H2 – Our Selection of Shoes
H3 – Products for Working Hard and Playing Harder
H2 – About Happy Feet Shoes
By organizing your business’ website in a way that’s user-friendly you’re also optimizing each page for Google’s crawlers to index your site. Following this structure, while hitting your target keywords, is a huge part of improving your ranking on search engine result pages.
Use Local Listings for Toronto
Another critical step that too many businesses forget about is local listings. By making sure your business is present on websites like Yellowpages, Yelp, Bing, etc., you’re going a long way to having Google identify your store with the area you operate in. You can find a larger list at Bright Local.
When you’re creating these listings for your business you should also make sure it has the following information:
- Hours of Operation
- Business Address
- Website Link
- Contact Information
- Company Description
By properly filling out local listing directories, you’re making it easier for search engines to find you and place your business. One important key to completing these listings is making sure the information is 100% correct because even small errors can have a drastic impact on your ranking position.
Encourage Local Reviews
There are few things as powerful as the endorsement from a satisfied customer. Whether your business had the product they were looking for, or you went above and beyond their expectations, having a positive customer review improves your reputation and ranking on Google.
You should encourage local customers to leave reviews on your social pages and Yelp. By having testimonials from real people, you’re building an authority for your website that Google will take into account when listing your site in its search results.
An important part of getting customer reviews is making it easy for them. By using a WordPress plugin, or having a web developer create an easy option to do so, more people are likely to leave comments and feedback on your business. You should try and leave a section on your homepage and social media channels for those reviews.
Configuring your Business’ Website
Let’s face it, how people interact with websites today is a lot different than it used to be. Whether jumping online through smartphones or browsing the internet on laptops, you need to be prepared to offer a website that looks good on any sized screen.
In fact, mobile responsiveness is a huge part of Google’s ranking algorithm and an important consideration to make when designing your website.
Not only does your website have to be responsive for your customer to navigate on, but it also needs to be fast. Another critical factor for Google, the slower your website loads the worse your ranking will be. Not only does a slow website drop in rankings, but people are more likely to turn around and head for your competition.
Optimizing your website for speed is less difficult than it sounds, especially if you’re using software like WordPress. There are thousands of themes available for download, most of which are configured for speed and responsiveness.
Some other ways to improve the speed of your website include compressing images and removing excess plugins and widgets.
If you’re not sure if the images on your website need to be compressed, you can download them and run them through the appropriate software. Some great places to compress / optimize your images include:
Getting Involved in Toronto Community
Not every action needs to be online for you to strengthen your local SEO. By getting involved in your community and local events, you’re increasing your presence in the area you operate in.
The more visible you are to your area and the people living in it, the more likely people are to search your business out. One of the biggest benefits of connecting with your local community online is that you’re going to naturally rank higher for the area.
Everything from blog posts talking about local events to links heading to your community pages helps Google identify your business as belonging to a specific area. If you can get links from local events and pages, that’s even better as it helps with your Geolocation.
Being Active on Social Media
While the connection between social media and rankings isn’t as defined as with other factors, it’s still important for your local SEO campaign that you’re active on these channels. Not only does having the proper business details filled out in your profile pages improve your ranking, but it also helps customers learn more about your goods and services.
As we mentioned previously, customer reviews are an important part of Local SEO and there’s no easier place to do so than on social media. From Facebook ratings to Google reviews, there are a lot of ways to encourage customers to leave their comments and feedback, improving your ranking on Google and increasing your authority.
Also, being active on social media is a great way to spend time where your potential customers are, while connecting closer to the Toronto area and events in the community.
Other Local SEO Steps for Toronto Businesses
This is by no means a complete list of actions you can take to improve your Toronto business’ local SEO strategy. However, by following the tips we’ve laid out for you, you’re in a better position to take more advanced actions to further climb in those Google rankings.
Some of the other steps you can take to strengthen your local SEO include:
- Creating a Google NAP Pack
- Increasing your Link Profile
- Properly Categorizing your Business
The success of businesses relies on more than offering a high-quality product at a competitive price. You need to get your goods and services in front of potential customers by being visible where they’re searching.
The life of your business depends on your ability to rank well on Google, and by following these tips you’re well on your way to improving your bottom line and growing your business.