Sometimes, users include specific locations while searching Google for products or services. This helps them narrow down search results and locate only those businesses that are easy for them to reach. In this case, Google gives preference to businesses that are located closest to the consumer’s area of interest.
Local SEO involves a few of the techniques that are used for regular SEO, but it has aspects unique to itself, which are the topic of today’s discussion.
How to Improve Local Ranking
It is commonly known that directory listings are the backbone of Google ranking factors. This is true, to a point. All the other rules of SEO are also applicable to local SEO, such as gaining high quality links, building high-quality, relevant and up-to-date content, as well as improving social signals. For local SEO, however, all this must be done with the business’s geo-location in mind.
Local businesses are characteristically small, which means local SEO gives them a chance to rank highly where they normally wouldn’t, lacking the resources to compete with huge businesses that have limitless marketing budgets. Therefore, if you haven’t invested in local SEO yet, now is the time to start!
Here are a few tips to help you along:
1. Google Places
Establish your presence and location on Google by setting up your Google Places account as a start. Use current contact information including name, phone number and address, in a consistent manner. Choose your business category wisely, as this affects your ranking (depending on the level of competition for that category). Use service- or product-based and location-based keywords in your title.
2. Google+ Local Business
Part of Google Places was merged with G+ Local, so set up your profile to allow customers with Google+ accounts to leave you reviews, which will be displayed on your Google Places listing within SERPs. Your G+ Local page also provides information that enables potential clients to locate you on Google Maps with ease.
3. Other Directories
While Google is the most important directory, there are others that are useful for local SEO such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare etc. Use these platforms to describe your business uniquely, including captivating images and your contact information (NAP), but placed consistently. For instance, do not use ‘St.’ (abbreviation) in one location and ‘Street’ (the full term), in another.
Apart from directory listings, use best practices in web design and development to ensure your site is accessible, has great content, loads fast, is optimized for mobile search and has a large number of high-quality links from related high-authority sites.
In addition, it’s important to have as many sites mentioning your business NAP information in its exact order (called local citations), as possible. The number of citations that your business has directly influences your ranking in local Google SERPs.
Important Points to Remember while Setting Up Local Listings
Google allows you to associate your business with one primary category and up to nine secondary ones. The primary category is the most important, and has a huge impact on local SEO. Ensure your business is not associated with the wrong categories, as this may drive the wrong traffic to your site, and decrease your chances of ranking highly in search results too.
It’s not about filling the numbers - remember, you’re safer just selecting two relevant categories than choosing two relevant and two non-relevant categories. Ensure that only the most relevant categories are associated with your business listing.
2. NAP Consistency
This is one of the most important principles for local SEO. Ensure that your contact information on Google My Business and other directories is exactly the same as the details on your site. While setting up your listing in other directories, and for all your local citations, use your business Name, Address, Phone number (NAP) in the exact order as the one on your site.
This is not only logical, but crucial. If Google sees discrepancies in your contact information in different places, this will negatively affect your local ranking.
With attention to the right details, you can reap lots of benefits from local SEO – so don’t neglect this option. Take advantage of being local, and compete with bigger businesses on your own turf.
Jason Walberg is Marketing Director at Power To Be Found, a Phoenix based Digital Marketing Agency. He is responsible for coordinating and implementing SEO & SMO strategies for clients. He is goal oriented, possesses exceptional attention to detail, and has outstanding interpersonal skills. He received his Master’s in Education Technology from Pepperdine University after getting his undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga.
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