It may be easy to believe that normal SEO activity will give you the results you want, no matter the business, but this is simply not true. Local SEO is very different to on-page SEO and requires particular attention to ensure that your locations get the right exposure in the SERPs.
Local SEO can be applied to any business that has one or more bricks and mortar addresses. This isn’t just exclusive to shops, restaurants and florists but can also include the offices of solicitors, marketing agencies and a host of other types of companies; all that is required is a physical location.
So how does this Local SEO thing work? Here are four things to get you started on your way to Local success:
1. Local Citations
Citations are online references to your business information, including the name, address and phone number, and if possible, your website URL. Getting this information placed on local websites that are relevant to your business as well as in respected directories, such as Yelp, will help Google connect the dots with your business, the information provided and your website.
These citations work in a similar way to traditional link building, the more quality links built on relevant websites the more authoritative it makes your own website. Similarly, the more quality citations achieved, the more this will help your local SEO efforts however, unlike traditional link building, it does not always matter if a backlink is included as long as the websites are publishing your business information in a consistent way they will be picked up by search engines.
Aim only for the authoritative directories, those that have a lot of advertising or a poor trust flow shouldn’t be used. You can use Majestic’s backlink analyser to find out the website’s trust flow and determine the quality, but generally you can tell by looking at them.
Moz Local is fantastic for seeing what citations on directories you already have, it pulls up any inconsistencies which could affect your efforts as well as any duplicate entries. Moz also offer a list of citations that can be worked through to ensure you’re appearing on as many directories as possible.
No, this doesn’t mean have a little sleep between tasks. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone number, with these details consistency is key as they are used by Google to decide where to rank a business in their local search results. If your business’ NAP is mentioned frequently on many websites it makes sense to Google that your business deserves a higher ranking than those that rarely appear; and, as mentioned above, unlike traditional link building, your NAP does not need to be linked to your website in order to count in the eyes of Google, therefore all mentions of the consistent information will count towards your ranking.
It would benefit a business to discover where their competitors have their citations/NAP in order to get your business ontp those websites as well, lessening their signal strength and increasing yours.
SEO Mark has a handy way of cutting down the monotony of this task with a clever Google search operator:
“Competitor’s Business Name” AND “Competitor’s Postcode” -site:http://www.competitorswebsite.co.uk
As an example, to find out where this site is listed, you would search Google for this:
“SEOmark” AND “B91 2DL” -site:http://www.seomark.co.uk
Once you have the list of websites that your competitors have managed to get their information on, choose the best from the list and take time entering your company’s information on them, it cannot be stressed enough that the details should be entered in exactly the same format they appear everywhere else.
It is recommended that businesses use schema.org to ensure search engines display your NAP correctly. It is a good idea to have your NAP on every page of your website, so positioning in the footer may be a good idea. Here is the code, provided by Search Engine Land, required when marking up with Schema.org data mark up:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/LocalBusiness”>
<p itemprop=”name”>COMPANY NAME</p>
<p itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<p itemprop=”streetAddress”>ADDRESS LINE 1</p>
<p itemprop=”telephone”>PHONE NUMBER</p>
<meta itemprop=”latitude” content=”LATITUDE” />
<meta itemprop=”longitude” content=”LONGITUDE” />
Replace the bold text with your company’s information.
3. Google My Business
Google My Business is the Holy Grail for Local SEO. If your local listings are incorrect on Google all other efforts will be a waste of time. The first step to making sure your Google My Business is the best it can be is by making sure you actually have one, you can find out how and actually start the process by visiting this page.
Once you are set up on there it is all about optimisation, optimisation and optimisation. Make sure that your listing includes your business name, correct address, relevant categories, high-resolution images, phone number, opening times and any other information you believe would benefit potential consumers.
It is vital that all this information matches all other information about this location across the web. For example, your business name should appear exactly as it does on your website. Consistency is the key to succeeding at local SEO.
Categories are something that people take lightly but, in a 2015 survey by Moz, the number one negative ranking factor was in fact incorrect business category.
Below is an example of how categories should and should not be entered into Google My Business.
If you are struggling to think of a primary category for your company, search for your competitors on Google and see what they have put in their information card on the right hand side of the results page.
Reviews are important for local SEO as studies have proven that they have a direct impact on the local search results and rankings. The Moz 2015 survey identified the influence of eight thematic clusters of ranking factors across local results, from this they assigned a percentage of influence, and reviews accounted for 8.4% of the influence in local ranking factors. This makes them an essential part of your local SEO activity.
Start with Google reviews, these should be considered the most important. It may be worth incentivising customers to leave a review, be sure to monitor social media and emails to make sure that those that have had a negative experience are flagged and are not asked for a Google review. Negative reviews, if genuine, are there for the life of your listing so actively avoiding them where you can will benefit your rankings.
If you have regular customers/clients these would be the best place to start, offer a discount on their next visit or a free gift if they leave a review.
Once you have started to build a good collection of Google reviews you can start building reviews on other trusted websites, such as Yelp, reviews from this website are used by Apple maps.
If you have started working towards your Local SEO these are the places to concentrate on initially, if however, you have given it a go and feel it isn’t benefitting your business a thorough local SEO audit may be required. If this is the case contact Receptional who can get your local listings back on the right track.