Local SEO is the often overlooked stepchild in the SEO process. Maybe local SEO does not have the glitter that on-site SEO has. If you are a local business, then Local SEO may be the most effective tactic to drive traffic to your website, your store or office.
While SEO is a complex formula that is best left to companies like us, Local SEO is a series of easy steps that anyone can implement. The primary factor for success is attention to detail and consistency of information.
The four elements in this process are:
2) Google My Business
3) Local Citations
The success of elements 2-4 is predicated on the consistency the first element, NAP. Yes, NAP is an abbreviation, and we aren’t advising you to go to sleep when SEO makes your head spin. NAP stands for your business name, address, and phone number and these three details influence Google in its ranking process. Google’s objective is always to put the most relevant pages at the top of search results because they want to give users a positive experience, so they will keep coming back. By seeing your NAP all over the internet, Google will think your information is useful to searching customers which should improve your SERP (I’m never sure if readers know the phrase meaning search engine results placement.) Simply put, the more your NAP appears across the internet, the higher your SERP will be.
NAP appears primarily in citation websites like a business directory and local search directories like YELP and Google My Business. Total consistency is critical. The search engines see John Smith as a different person from John C. Smith.
2) Google My Business
Listing your business with Google is the first step to success with Local SEO. But if you don’t have your consistent NAP formula in place you’ll blow it. That’s why we put NAP as number 1.
Once you have your listing in place with consistent business information add photos and other details. Lots of photos and details will optimize your listing. Pay special attention to choosing the appropriate business category. The wrong choice will have a negative impact on your ranking. If you aren’t sure in which category your business belongs, try searching for competitors and see what they’ve chosen!
Next on the to-do list for Local SEO is building your citations. Citations are sometimes confused with a link building. The difference is citations don’t always provide links to your website. Whereas the objective of traditional link building is to garner incoming links from relevant websites. Link building is part of Off-site SEO and should be part of every business marketing. Learn more about Link Building here. Citation value is in the appearance of your business information on many websites creating Local SEO.
However, like link building, the authority, and quality of the citation count. You want citations on trusted websites with credibility. A lot of advertising on a citation site should be a red flag. Let’s face it; they expect to profit from the space they are giving away. If you are not sure is a site is worthwhile, use the Backlink Analyzer on Majestic SEO.
To discover the citations you already have visit Moz. At the same time, you can check on duplications and inconsistencies that might be harming your local SEO efforts. While on Moz you can explore their services for creating citations for you. They also monitor them for accuracy and consistency as long as you are paying for the service. Yext is another big player in the field of creating and managing citations. This cost can be considerable so with a little effort and focus it can be a DIY initiative.
Not sure where to start or how to choose where to place your business listing? It’s common sense to start with professional directories that relate to your business but expand that list by seeing where your competition is listed and put your business listing on those citation websites. Not only will you be building your Local SEO, but you will also be diluting your competitors SEO.
Following is a clever formula for quickly discovering your competitor’s citations. Since our business is SEO, we wanted to see what citation sites our SEO competition used. To investigate Atlantic Website Design, we googled this search operator:
“AtlanticWebsiteDesign” -site:https://AtlanticWebsiteDesign.com. Now copy that exactly, quotes and all, and you’ll see how it works. Just replace the company name and website domain name to search your competition.
It’s common knowledge that reviews have a direct impact on a website’s search results page placement. As we said at the beginning, Google’s priority is providing the most relevant and best services in the area when users type a particular niche or industry. If you have many and mostly positive reviews, you will place better in search results because the reviews are a badge of authority. Moz research suggests reviews contribute over 8% to a website’s local rankings.
Google reviews are especially important because the number you have effects your website placement in their business listings which appear on a search page just under the paid listing. Consider offering customers an incentive to review your business. Even make it easy by giving them a link. A nice ‘thank you’ email is a good place to extend your offer with directions about how to do it.
An even bigger benefit than providing good SEO reviews impact buyer decisions. Keeping track of your reviews is just as important as getting them. If a bad review appears, respond to it immediately and try to mitigate the impact intelligently. A bad review will eventually move lower as new reviews push it down the page.
Once you have many Google reviews, start asking for reviews on other local citation sites like Yelp. Buyers are just as influenced by Yelp reviews and they have the added benefit of being used by Apple maps which are the default mapping app on iOS systems. An independent (non-Google) research report showed roughly 58 percent of overall search query volume is on mobile devices. Think how many of those are iPhones and iPads.
Citation building doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Once you have the list of websites where you want to place your business knock out a few a week, and soon you will see improvement in your Local SEO.
If you don’t have the staff for this initiative and don’t want to tackle citation building yourself, there are paid services that can do it for you. These services can be costly so talk to us about a competitively priced alternative we offer. Call us at 954.257.7066.
If you have been working on Local SEO with no benefits in sight, we can provide an audit of your local listings and make recommendations that will generate results.
Do you want more ideas for local internet marketing? Just download our ebook with 50 great local marketing ideas.