Shawn Manaher

7 Essential Elements of Local SEO

local-seo-strategySearch is becoming more focused on user intent.  When people look for local businesses, Google tailors search results to display companies that are in a searcher’s local geographic area.  If your site isn’t optimized for local search though, you might be missing out on traffic.  Below are 7 areas you should be focusing on when it comes to local SEO.

Citations

marketing-ideas-for-small-businessThese are defined as mentions of your business name on some other website.  Business listings, mentions on business-related websites, directories and other similar web properties are common examples.  Note that there does not have to be a link to the business’s website for it to qualify as a citation.

Research has shown that businesses with more citations tend to rank higher than those with fewer (or none).  Citations can be especially important for businesses that don’t have a website or a strong web presence in general.  Having your business listed on many citation websites also increases the chance that there will be some type of result in search for the brand name.

Citations can be made manually by claiming and/or creating profiles.  They can also be made by using one of the popular services available for creating local citations.

directoryLocal Industry Relevant Directories

Many directories are spammy but there are still useful ones out there.  They are an easy source of inbound links to a website and they also provide a small amount of exposure for business.  Directories used to be one of the best ways to find good websites but over time search engines have assumed that role.

It’s not always easy to tell if a web directory is a good or bad place to submit your site so here are a few ways to tell.

  • PageRank:  Does the directory have any PageRank at all and if so is it at least a 3?
  • Search for the directory by brand name.  Does it show up on the first page of Google with sitelinks?  If not you might want to steer clear.
  • Is it freshly updated?  Look for dates on pages of when it was last updated.
  • Any negative information online?  Search for the directory with keywords like name of directory and reviews.  No information isn’t necessarily good news but if there is negative info out there you will surely find it.

schemaLocal Business Schema

Schema is HTML markup that helps search engines understand content and its relationships to other things.  Webmasters can markup all kinds of content with schema including addresses, phone numbers, website URLs, logos, images, geographic coordinates and other data related to a business.

Schema won’t help a site rank higher in search but it will influence the way a website displays data.  This can help enhance click-through rates for your site in search.  You can learn more about schema at Schema.org.  If you aren’t familiar with HTML programming, you can always use Google’s Data Highlighter tool.

LinksLocal Links

Links are still an incredibly influential part of visibility in search.  Links from local sources are good for your local SEO initiatives.  Get the low-hanging fruit first which includes:

  • Chamber of Commerce websites
  • BBB branch offices
  • Business networking or referral organizations
  • Business associations

Once you have these links, you can expand by getting links from other local businesses with whom you network.  If you belong to a referral group start there.  Think of it like a sales process.  Develop a value proposition as to why it would be important to have a link to your site on theirs.

local-reviewsReviews

Reviews are one of the most influential local SEO tasks that you can perform.  They create user generated content for your site (which may include keywords that you’re trying to rank for) and they help your prospects see how great you are.

Reviews also help enhance your listing results in search pages.  People are more likely to see and click on results that have reviews (and positive ones) along with their links.

Location Specific Pages

Google serves relevant local results to users and it’s even better when you have a page that is highly relevant to the location.  All of the above tactics should be performed on location specific pages.  The copy of these pages should contain a target phrase for the business along with a location specific keyword.

Matt Cutts pointed out in a blog post back in 2010 the importance of highlighting specific locations for a business by creating separate pages.  Even if you only have one location, create a page that lets people (and search engines) know the business is relevant to that specific location.

InfographicsMobile Friendly Design

Search engines want to provide a good experience to their users.  They do this by serving web pages that users will like.  This means sites that are easy to navigate on a variety of devices.  Mobile device usage already dwarfs that of traditional desktop usage.

For local businesses, people are often searching while out and about on mobile phones and tablets.  If your site is hard to view on a mobile device, visitors are less likely to stay there for the information they need.  Get a mobile-responsive theme if you have a site that is also a content management system.  If you don’t have a website like this, look into having a mobile version added on.

What tactics do you use to rank well for local keyword phrases?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.



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