SEO in Chicago: Tips for Dominating Windy City Search Engines

Aaron Peterson

SEO in Chicago: Tips for Dominating Windy City Search Engines

In the Windy City, there are thousands of businesses competing to top the search engine in their respective categories. With all of the competition, how can a Chicago business stand out?

SEO practices are ever-evolving, but once you’ve learned the basics, it sets you on the path toward building a high-ranking site. Site optimization and performance are key to dominating Google and other search engines. Simple SEO Group has some tips to share on the things you can do to boost your visibility.

The Basics of SEO

SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and it’s the practice of building your website using the elements that search engines look for in a well-built site. If you’re not taking the basic steps, you’re going to struggle to rank well. 

URL Structure

How your URL is set up is essential. URLs used to start with HTTP, but those days are gone. In 2023, website owners were told to switch to HTTPS, a more secure protocol, and some businesses didn’t take that step. If you still have HTTP and haven’t switched over, anyone who goes to visit your site will get a warning about your site being unsafe. You don’t want that.

Keywords, Meta Title, and Meta Descriptions

When you use Google or another search engine to run a search, you’re typing in a keyword. For example, you want to find restaurants near Chicago O’Hare. Type in “restaurants near Chicago O’Hare” to get a list of results.

The results appear and you have pages of results. The bold, larger print at the top of a listing is your meta title. Below that is a summary of what’s within that website, which is the meta description.

When building a website, you want a title and description that stand out. They need to be clear, concise, and detailed. Make sure your keyword appears in both of them. This means you need to have your keywords in mind. Your business name and type of business are important keywords, but variations of the business type also help. 

Suppose you own a toy store, so “Chicago toy store” and “toy store in the Windy City” are good starting points. But, what do you do better than others? Do you sell model trains and no one else does? “Model trains in Chicago” is another important keyword to add to your list. Nuances like that help you stand out and rank higher.


People have short attention spans. A wall of text is going to bore them. Add images to break up text and draw the eye. Under each photo, use a descriptor that helps build the story of what they’re about to learn. 

As you add photos, make sure you have permission to use them. Also, make sure they’re labeled correctly with image tags. When a search engine is crawling a site to index a website’s page and rank it, it uses image tags in its calculations, too.

Make sure your images make sense, are available for commercial usage, and don’t alienate anyone in your audience. If you have green items against a white background, someone with red/green color blindness may not see them.

ADA Compliance

Even websites should be ADA-compliant if they want to stand out. Your site should offer means for someone hard of hearing to reach captioning on a video. Another person visiting your site has a vision impairment, the ability to have text-to-speech that reads out printed materials is helpful.

Inbound and Outbound Links

Finally, you need to have inbound (within your site) and outbound (outside of your site) links that tie into the services or items you sell or offer. You’re having a sale on a specific product. Link that product to a review of that item someone did on a major publication. That’s an outbound link. 

For an inbound link, look for articles or blog posts that tie into the topic. If you’re selling a new sauce, link to a blog on how the ingredients are sourced. If it’s a service, link to an article on the training your workers complete during an apprenticeship.  

High-Quality Writing

The writing for your website needs to be user-friendly. One of the tips that leading search engines recommend is to keep it brief. Avoid repetition, and write like you’re talking to a friend. Avoid formal talk as much as possible. 

Also, search engines look for evergreen materials as much as possible. If the value of your article or blog is the same in five years as it is today, you’ve created an evergreen article. It’s not always possible to do this, but do it as much as you can.

Don’t Go Live Without a Final Check

No one is perfect but proofread everything to check for small errors. If you have a team of writers, have an editor who is double-checking punctuation, spelling, etc. Once an editor or whoever loads a page to WordPress or a content management system, have it checked again. Scan it with services like Yoast, Grammarly, etc. to check for minute errors. 

Load a test of the page to check for broken links. If there are issues, fix them before the page goes live.

Are You Visible to Everyone?

One of the biggest mistakes we see is that businesses save money and bypass having a website. They only have a Facebook page. You might rank well, but it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get the reach you hope for.

If you’re relying on Facebook being the only way for potential clients and customers to find you, you’re alienating a lot of people. Plus, you’re not always going to rank as well as you want. Between 2017 and 2019, Facebook lost about 15 million users. The company stopped reporting user numbers in 2023 and opted instead to focus on metrics like ad impressions.

After the latest Google algorithm change, many non-Facebook users started seeing Facebook results in other languages. Instead of a business’s American Facebook page, they’re getting a Spanish or Turkish version. It’s not in the right language, so they skip it.

Imagine you’re a customer looking for takeout on a Friday night. You know there is a new restaurant in Chicago, but you want to view their menu before you make a final decision. But, that new restaurant only has a Facebook page with photos of the menu, and it’s all private.

With no way to view it, you’re frustrated and feel that the restaurant doesn’t care about all customers equally. You move on to a competitor. That new restaurant lost a potential sale that night, and possibly for good.

Remember that social media can help you connect to social media users, but it’s not going to help you with everyone. The best way to dominate Windy City search engines is by having a strong website that partners with your social media accounts. 

How Do You Ensure Your Website Stands Out?

You’ve built a website and have done what you can with SEO. You have social media accounts set up. How do you make sure it stands out?

Keep checking your rankings regularly. Pay attention to Google’s analytics and reports to see if the crawlers are catching things you need to fix, such as broken links. Use Looker Studio to build customized reports to stay on top of performance. 

Building a website isn’t enough. You must continually monitor, adjust, and monitor some more. Make sure you’re adding fresh content to increase the usage of keywords and meta tags that keep your website at the top. It’s a lot of work. Since 2008, Chicago-based Simple SEO Group has been a leader in the best SEO practices and SEO marketing. Reach us online to learn how we can help.