Key Points For Local SEO… And A White Paper
Today there are over 10 billion unique searches done each month collectively over Google, Yahoo and the other engines in the United States alone. The need for local optimization is greater than ever, and growing exponentially every year.
As more users move into the mobile space, local information is becoming more important and relevant. Pulling up information about the location you are in, where you can find certain shops, finding local delivery and general local businesses is far more common of a task than ever before.
50%+ of Mobile queries have local intent.
We believe local SEO is absolutely key to any physical shop’s marketing, often as important as having your open sign lit up. We have refined the best practices of a local SEO campaign down to the simplest core principles that have the greatest effect over your local presence. At the end of this post you will also find a Whitepaper that we have written to be a more thorough explanation of the points below, download this PDF to get a further drilldown of local SEO tactics.
So let’s get started.
Optimize your major listings
The “major listings” are the ones that you want to really focus your efforts on, they will have the highest return of influence, traffic and organic position. They are also the easiest to acquire and set up and typically have the most information that you can fill out.
Major listings are also the most influential to Google’s (and Bing / Yahoo’s) local ranking algorithms. If information is synced properly and well established across all of these listings the chance that your listings will show up organically highly increases.
These local listings are:
Google – Google+ Local is the most important listing you can have for any local business. The most heavily influential in organic visits and most used for mobile searches.
Yelp – Debatably the second most important listing you can have. When Apple switched from using Google Maps on their iOS to using their own “Apple Maps” they started pulling local review and venue information directly from Yelp, making it the anchor-point of local searches on the most used mobile platform in the world.
Bing – Bing makes up about 30% of the search market share whereas Google makes up the controlling 70%, this makes Bing still important but significantly less relevant. Regardless this is an important listing that should be well established.
Yahoo – Yahoo and Bing run on the same organic search index, yet their local listings are separate from one another. Yahoo, even though far less relevant as a search engine now still has quite a large local index, and local listings should definitely be taken advantage of on this service.
Foursquare – The check-in social network that has a large amount of integration with Facebook and Twitter makes this an important local listing to bolster a physical location’s social influence and awareness. There are over 20 million users on Foursquare, and over 1 million business listings. Foursquare has been known to have better mapping functionality in foreign countries and suburban areas due to their ease of verification and massive venue information.
Citysearch – Citysearch is one of our “secondary main listings” that doesn’t quite count for as much as say Google, Yahoo and Bing however still counts as a good strong NAP listing with it’s own unique functionality.
Hotfrog – Local listings on this service are free and should be set up just as the NAP listings above.
Yellowpages – Yellowpages offers two types of listings, a free local listing that has limited functionality and visibility and full on paid listings that are majorly enhanced with a full range of functionality and enhanced exposure to their local network.
Superpages – Yellowpage is made by Superpages, so having a superpage listing ensures that you will show up under both networks. Having these listings is very powerful as this is a very large local network with high trust-indicators for Google’s as well as other engine’s ranking factors.
Make sure that all NAP information is synced perfectly and listings are claimed and optimized (meaning filled out 100%).
All information should appear as it does on the website in every other point on the web. This means, address, phone number, business name, website etc. Anytime there is a kink in the chain it looks untrustworthy to the engines and can negatively impact how that listing ranks and how the associated business’s website ranks.
If a business has a local number present on the website but uses a toll free or 1-800 number on their local listing, this will also heavily influence the listing in a negative way.
Information that should always be filled out:
Categories – as many as possible and relevant.
Hours of operation
Reviews – user generated, but should be paid attention to with close detail.
Optimize Your Website
To optimize your local presence you need to start with your website, then branch out from there. Website to listings, then to social, then into link building across the places in the web that you don’t have direct control over, all while pointing back to your local listings and website.
First, try to include your city or regional keywords in:
- Your URL
- Page Titles
- Meta Description
- H1 and H2 tags
- Throughout your site content
Next, include all of your main local information in your site-wide footer:
- Address (as it will read for every local listing)
- Local phone number (make sure to use your local phone number and not a 1-800 or toll free number)
- Link to either your Google Local listing or the landing page you set up for that location.
Finally, create unique content for your local businesses:
- Landing pages for business locations, cities and businesses served
- Blog about local promotions, events, businesses etc.
Reviews make up nearly 40% of Google’s local ranking algorithm.
Reviews are extremely important to ranking within the local search engines, but their worth does not stop there. Social proof is one of the most immense indicators of worth towards local reviews. If a business has 15 positive reviews it is far more likely to get business and click-throughs to their site than a business who has 2 reviews, one of which is negative.
For a locally focused business, the reviews on your local listings are essentially your business testimonials. Ones that everyone will see when they search for you through an organic landscape.
In a survey conducted between 15th January – 1st March 2012 of over 2500 participants, 72% of consumers said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.
As well as this it’s been proven that the more local reviews you have the higher click-through rate your listing will have over your competitors.All of this makes pushing local reviews a high priority must.
Local Link Building
Local link building is basically the practice of building links from sites that have local focus in your area such as local blogs, directories, businesses etc. Local link building could either be building links to your local landing pages on your website or on your local listings such as Google, Yelp and Yahoo.
Where to find local link building opportunities:
– Twitter lists
– Facebook Groups
– Google+ Communities
– LinkedIn Groups
– Organizations (Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, etc.)
– Local blogs
– Local magazines with an online presence
– Local directories
– Local citations
– Local, related stores with an online presence
– Local communities with an online presence
All of these opportunities can be explored for linking possibilities and should be thoroughly researched.
Local SEO Whitepaper
As promised I have attached a downloadable PDF below with all of the information above plus a great deal more, drilling down into each individual subject.
The Whitepaper shows you
– Specifically how you should optimally fill out each major listing
– A more in-depth explanation of each major listing
– Guides for optimizing your website, landing pages etc.
– How to accumulate more positive reviews, how to monitor them and how to go about following up on negative reviews to turn them into positive reviews
– How to blog for SEO
– How to do more effective link building for SEO
– How to optimize secondary citations
And far more.