The Importance of HTML Tags: How to Increase Local SEO Results
If you want your ideal customer in your location to find you in search results, you need to make sure that your website is optimized as much as possible for that location. This is where the importance of HTML tags comes into play.
Almost every local business has geographical locations that they are specifically targeting. For example, if your service area includes Cedar Rapids, IA you don’t want people 4 hours away in Omaha, NE calling you up.
Before you can understand how to optimize your site for local SEO, it's important to understand what HTML tags are, how to write an optimized HTML tag, and what it will mean for your local SEO results.
Try my FREE Local SEO Meta Tag Generator to help you write the best Local SEO tags and descriptions!
What are HTML Tags?
When Google looks at a website, it reads the same way we do – top to bottom, left to right. Also, in the same way that readers skim the content as their reading a page, Google will skim the code for specific tags where it knows to find information about the site.
Additionally, Google doesn't see flashy design, attractive images, and great color combinations. Google is a machine that only sees code.
For example, I created this fake lawn care business site so we can see what the head HTML tags look like and how to optimize them for ranking locally. These aren't the only HTML tags that Google is looking for, but this is where most of them are located in the code.
In the screenshot above, you'll notice an entire section of SEO tags at the very top of the source code. Remember, Google reads your source code from top to bottom, left to right. Therefore, this is prime real estate for telling Google everything they need to know about your local business (including your location). This is why the HTML tags are so important!
Note: It's important to know that not all website platforms and builders will have the tags at the very top like this. They may be a little further down the code, but should always appear in the <head> section of the code.
Since this is the first thing Google will be reading when they crawl the site, we definitely want to make it worthwhile. The longer it takes Google to figure out what your site is about and what location your are targeting, the worse your chances are of ranking well and quickly.
Example HTML Tags for SEO
When optimizing your site for local SEO, you want to make sure that you are including your location-based keywords in every HTML tag possible. How can you do this if you don't know what all the tags are?
Here is a list of HTML tags that you should be optimizing for SEO and some examples of what you would put in those tags.
Of course, there are other HTML tags in the source code that you should use, especially for sharing on social media, these are the most important tags that should be optimized for the best local seo results!
I will use the "Cedar Rapids lawn care" example site to show how I would optimize each of the HTML tags.
This is the title that appears on Google Search
Cedar Rapids Lawn Care | Lawn Mowing, Fertilization, Weed Control | Kristin's Lawn Care Service Cedar Rapids, Iowa
<meta name="description" content="...">
This is the description that appears on Google Search
If you're looking for a lawn care service in Cedar Rapids, you've come to the right place. We offer lawn mowing, fertilization, and weed control services for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area.
<h1> and <h2>
Header tags separate your content into sections. There should be one h1 on each page and multiple h2s containing keywords.
Kristin's Lawn Care Service in Cedar Rapids, IA
<img src="example.jpg" alt="...">
Since Google can't see images, the alt tag adds text to your image
cedar rapids iowa lawn care, lawn mowing, fertilization, and weed control
<meta name="robots" content="...">
The robots tag tells Google what to do with your page.
** There should be no robots tag if you want Google to read your content and use it for search results. If your robots tag says "noindex" or "nofollow", Google will ignore your website.
No keywords tag? That's right, the keywords tag used to be a great place to stuff a whole bunch of keywords that you want Google to rank you for. However, as of at least September 2009, Google does not use this tag as a ranking metric. Why?
Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag. ~ Google Developers Blog
Side Note: You might be wondering how many keywords you should include in your HTML tags for SEO. Most SEO tools will say you should not have any more than 60 characters in the title tag and 160 characters in the meta description. This is the viewable number of characters that you'll see on the Google search result. This doesn't mean you can't use more characters and keywords on the actual tags. You should just keep the most important to the being of the tag so that they will not get cut off on the Google search result.
Practical HTML Tag Local SEO Optimization Examples
Here are some practical ways that you can go through your website and optimize the HTML tags for local SEO. It's important to remember that Google isn't looking at only your home page. Every single page on your website has the opportunity to rank and you should take advantage of the SEO tags on each page to incorporate your keywords.
Here the HTML tags that I updated on my example site home page for local SEO.
Title tag. This is the first tag the Google should see on each page. This is perhaps one of the most important on-page SEO elements that you need to do. You should include your location in the title at least once. Remember that Google reads left to right, so you should always place your location at the beginning of the title.
<title>Cedar Rapids Lawn Care | Lawn Mowing, Fertilization, Weed Control | Kristin's Lawn Care Service Cedar Rapids, Iowa</title>
Meta description. The same thing applies for you description as the title. You should incorporate your keywords and location, but instead writing in sentence format. Remember, this is what your potential site visitors will read in search results.
<meta name="description" content="If you're looking for a lawn care service in Cedar Rapids, you've come to the right place. We offer lawn mowing, fertilization, and weed control services for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area."/>
Heading tags. At the top of every page of your site should be an h1 tag including your keywords and location. There should only be one h1 tag per page. Think of heading tags being ranked from 1-6 with number 1 being of most importance. Generally, I like to make all other headings and h2 and if I need another heading between h2's I will add an h3. I typically don't recommend using h4, h5, and h6 because they are unnecessary.
<h1>Kristin's Lawn Care Service in Cedar Rapids, IA</h1>
Alt tags. Every image on your website should have an alt tag (except for images that are only being used as a background image as these will typically be ignored by Google anyway). However, if you have images that are displaying your services or products, you definitely want to add location-based keyword rich text to these images. Since Google doesn't see images, this is a great way to describe the image in a way that Google will understand. I like to tell people that alt tags are a great place to hid keywords that aren't visible to the site visitor. Caveat: there isn't a limit to how many words you can use, but don't abuse it. Google is pretty smart and can tell when the system is being abused - they'll just take this away like they did to the keyword meta tag, as explained earlier.
alt="cedar rapids iowa lawn care, lawn mowing, fertilization, and weed control"
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