If you have done SEO for a local-based business, you know that local SEO presents a unique set of challenges compared with a normal non-specific campaign. Local search results are constantly changing and have a lot more signals contributing to overall visibility compared with non-geo-specified searches. Links and on-page factors still play an important role, but your sources are what will change.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll look at a basic outline of what local SEO is all about, and the most important aspects to consider for a business looking into local SEO
What Type of Business Needs Local SEO?
All businesses which derive some or all of their sales/customers from their locality are prime candidates for a local SEO campaign. These include local restaurants, retail outlets, and professional service providers (doctors, dentists, lawyers etc.) among many others. If your business has a physical address and you intend for people to visit your there, you need to have local SEO.
How is Local SEO Different?
While the same elements in a non-geo-specific SEO campaign are also applicable for local SEO, the latter has its own unique elements. First and most important, you must create your local profile on Google and other platforms that promote local businesses. This local listing is what will appear in localized search results.
Second, you must have a citation – i.e. an online place where your company’s NAP profile is used in the same format as your local listing. The format must be the same, which will be explained later. For instance, using St. in one and Street in another is not consistent.
Third, you need as many reviews as possible, most which should be good. Reviews left in your Google Places profile feature very highly on your local ranking factors.
Google My Business
The first step of implementing local SEO is claiming your Google My Business profile. There are tons of resources on how to set it up, but here are the most important tips:
Have a detailed, unique description in the correct format, with appropriate links
Ensure your business in placed in the correct categories
Include a local phone number
Add as many images as you can
Include a business address in a format consistent across your local directory listings and your site
Include times of operation if relevant
Have real customer reviews (to be explained shortly)
Local Business Listing – Local Citations (NAP)
The key to your NAP profile (Name, Address, Phone number) is consistency. Your NAP profile should be there on every page of your site (use your footer for that), and in the exact same format/details as mentioned in other sites (local citations). You should also use the markup from Schema.org on your NAP, as it provides all the information needed by search engines to correctly display your company information.
Local SEO On-Page Factors
On-page local SEO factors are no different from the regular on-page SEO best practices. However, on-page content carries significantly more weight in local SEO, so use your content to get the most value. You can do this by adding your city/region and a relevant keyword where naturally possible in your landing page(s)’ :
title tag and URL
image ALT text attributes
You should also embed a Google Map profile into your business marker on your landing page(s). Ensure your site is mobile friendly and mobile-optimized, which is critical for local SEO, even more than national or international SEO.
Earn Natural Reviews
Reviews are as significant as citations in determining your local search rankings. They may be more important because they can convince potential buyers to make the final decision to buy your products/services. Encourage your customers to publish reviews in local directories like SuperPages, Google+, Yelp, UrbanSpoon and Foursquare among others.
Google+ reviews can be embedded into your site, helping to send more traffic to you site, and encourage visitors to easily leave reviews. If you can, train the staff to remind customers to leave reviews. Be careful with this; you might exasperate customers which could lead to negative reviews. In addition, Google has strict rules against offering incentives in exchange for reviews or having specialized booths to ask for reviews.
Finally, no local business can survive without investing in social media. You don’t need to be in all of them, but social communities are a powerful way to drive traffic and business you-ward. Invest in having a robust social presence in as many as you can effectively manage. For social engagement, visual engagement works best – share images and video content that are interesting, cute, inspiring and have the potential to go viral.
Above all, always ensure your content encourages interaction. Your goal is to keep people talking about you.
With over 12 years of experience, we’ve experienced practically every scenario and explored an extensive range of strategies for online marketing success. Our team of creative, driven and experienced professionals can help you get where you want to be.