online-seo

Local SEO isn’t just for businesses servicing a specific locale. While it is essential for these businesses, any business with a specific location can utilize local SEO strategies to help their overall online presence and increase visibility within Google and other search engines.

Get started today with these local SEO strategies.

Organic SEO

In July 2014 Google released the Pigeon Update to their search algorithm. As part of this update, local search results became closely tied to Google’s traditional ranking signals. Thus shifting the importance of not only focusing on Local but emphasizing the need for local businesses to get their organic act together.

In order to make a charge up into Google’s local pack, you will want to begin by taking a look at how well positioned you are with regards to the organic ranking signals. We can break these signals down to on-site and off-site ranking factors.

The on-site factors include proper keyword usage on-site, on-site navigation and overall internal linking. While the off-site is all about them (those) or (your) links. Google’s emphasis on quality links over quantity has become an important part of any SEO strategy.

In addition to authoritative links, you will want to target local links. These could include the business next door, local newspapers or really any local link that will help Google understand your proximity to the local search query.

Local On-site Optimization

The local on-site optimizations will pick up where your organic on-site efforts left off. Basically your organic on-site optimizations will be focused on proper keyword usage, while the local optimizations center around your business. This includes the following:

  • NAP (Name – Address – Phone Number): The name, address, and phone number of your business must be consistent and crawlable on your site. NAP placement should be included throughout the site, often in the footer.
  • Local Keywords (City, State): You will want to include the city (or cities) your business services in your content as well as within your Titles, Meta data, and Headline tags where possible.
  • Site Structure: The navigation of your site should be a logical map of your site. Making it simple for a search engine or visitor to navigate throughout the site. Your URLs should include city and state markers when possible.

Consistency and visibility are the name of the game when it comes to your local on-site optimizations.  You want to make sure your potential customers and search engines aren’t confused about your business and its location.

Google My Business

Google’s ultimate business listing is… Google My Business. Not surprisingly Google will use its Google My Business pages to help determine the consistency of your business information. If you don’t already have a verified listing, you will want to get started over at the Google My Business page.

Once you’ve verified your list, you will want to discover if there are any additional profiles for your business. If so, you will want to verify these listings and then remove them from Google My Business. You only need one page to help build a consistent online presence for your business.

When your business profile has been verified, you will want to follow Google’s guidelines for representing your business on Google. This includes the following said Guidelines:

Business Name: “Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers.

Any additional information, when relevant, can be included in other sections of your business information (e.g., “Address”, “Categories”). Adding unnecessary information to your name (e.g., “Google Inc. – Mountain View Corporate Headquarters” instead of “Google”) by including marketing taglines, store codes, special characters, hours or closed/open status, phone numbers, website URLs, service/product information, location/address or directions, or containment information (e.g. “Chase ATM in Duane Reade”) is not permitted.”

Business Address: “Use a precise, accurate address to describe your business location. PO Boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.”

Website & Phone: “Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, and provide one website that represents your individual business location.

  • Use a local phone number instead of central, call center helpline number whenever possible.
  • Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or “refer” users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business, including pages created on social media sites.”

Business hours: “Provide your regular customer-facing hours of operation. If applicable, you may use your current seasonal hours as your regular hours. You may also specify special hours for particular days, like holidays or special events.”

Citations

Local directories have taken over the yellow page directories many of us used to find on our doorsteps at random times during the year (At least it always felt random to me.) Google uses these listings to help determine your business’s local relevance and in some cases authority. In the online marketing world these listings are referred to as citations.

Much like your Google My Business listing, the information on these citations needs to be consistent. This includes the NAP, Business Hours, and Website. Just like Google My Business you are going to want to get listed, claim, and optimize your profiles.

At Big Leap we like to use Whitespark to help our clients build their citations. They have created a great resource to help you identify the most important citations in the United States, Canada, UK and Australia.

As you work on building your citations you will want to check each site before you begin creating a listing, many of these directories may already have your business listed and all you need to do is claim and verify the listing.  You may also discover multiple listings, and just like Google My Business, you will want to work on deleting duplicate listings.

Reviews

While on a trip to St. George, Utah my brother introduced my wife and I to a delicious Mexican restaurant, Irmitas Casita. He told us he found it while looking for restaurants with good reviews and these guys deserved the good reviews!

Reviews matter, just look at BrightLocal’s latest Local Consumer Review Survey:

  • 92% of consumers read online reviews
  • 68% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 84% of consumers say a review must be written within 3-6 months to be relevant

Positive, recent reviews will go long way to helping your business convert from these searches.

While many of these sites, like Yelp, frown on businesses asking customers for reviews, you can make them aware of your businesses presence on these sites. Include links on your website to your profiles and include stickers at your business locations.

Google on the other hand isn’t as concerned with encouraging customers to leave reviews. So feel free to encourage customers to visit Google and leave a review. But don’t forget to respond to reviews, especially negative reviews.

When it comes to negative reviews don’t ignore them. Address the customer’s concerns in general terms and try to take the conversation offline to help resolve any outstanding issues.

Conclusion

Making local SEO a part of your marketing initiatives is essential in the digital age.  Consumers will continue to search for your services with all of their devices and when they do you will want to show up in the search results. By starting with these local SEO strategies you will ensure that you aren’t left behind your competition.

Jake Webster
SEO Specialist
Jake is a SEO Specialist at Big Leap, where he uses his online marketing knowledge to help our clients achieve their goals. He also has a pretty fine looking beard.