Local search engine optimization (SEO) targets people on organic and map search results, that are searching for a term within a geographical region. For businesses that serve customers within a specific geographic boundary, local SEO must be part of their marketing strategy.
Local SEO and Organic SEO: Targeting Two Different Listings
Local SEO and organic SEO target two different audiences. Local SEO focuses on promoting websites to people who are searching for a product or service within a specific geographical area, often a city or town. Organic SEO, which often simply goes by “SEO,” promotes websites in searches that do not have a geographical modifier. Local results may appear in Google’s sponsored listings (PPC), map listings or organic results. Keep in mind that Google is smart, so if you are searching for a term they think has value as a local result, they can choose to display their local results, or a mix of local and general, based on where you are located.
To show up on Google’s local and map search results, you need to have a local-profile (listing) on Google (AKA Google My Business).
While all the factors that influence organic SEO (e.g. on-page optimization, backlinks, social signals, etc.) also influence local SEO, there are several additional factors that have a large impact on local SEO.
Citations are crucial in local SEO because they link your company with a specific location. Citations mention a company along with its name, address and phone number (aka NAP). Ideally, citations will contain this information in the same format as your company’s listing on Google because consistency is important.
Some key places to create a citation are (this is only a partial list):
- Search engines: Google, Yahoo! and Bing
- Social media platforms: Facebook, FourSquare and LinkedIn
- Business directories: YellowPages.com, Yellowbook, Whitepages and others
- Review sites: Yelp!, CitySearch, and others
But manually creating a profile and a listing on each site is extremely time consuming, so the easiest way to garner citations quickly is to use platform like Yext, or MozLocal, that has an API with many of these local business directories and data aggregators.
Reviews are also important, as they show search engines that real people in your area are using your company’s product or service. Both the quantity and quality of reviews is important, as well as the platforms they are posted on. Reviews on sites like Yelp are good, but Google seems to prefer reviews on it own platform Google Places.
Businesses should not be afraid to ask customers for reviews. In fact, many customers will gladly share their opinion with others. A request for a review can be included in a follow-up email that is sent after a purchase, in a direct mailing or directly given at the time of purchase. There are a few tools that can help you with that like Grade.us and GetFiveStars. These type of tools will let you include easy to implement funnels on your site or into emails.
Locally Optimized Landing Page
If you have only one location then most likely is that you already have enough pages optimized for your city name. But in case you don’t, or in case you have multiple locations, then you must have at least one designated page for each location, and preferably a whole sub-section with multiple pages for each location.
An optimized page for a location will include:
- Your main service keyword + the city name in title tag
- Your main service keyword + the city name in the main title of the page (H1)
- Your main service keyword + the content of the page
- Local business markup
- At least a few hundreds of words on the page with some images
- An embedded google map of your local listing
- Backlinks from other local websites in your city
To learn more about the specifics of local SEO ranking factors, you should also review Moz’s report for 2017. Every year they update this report too.
- Learn about On Page SEO best practices
- Learn more about the benefits of using Google Analyitcs
- Learn how to get more leads with Google AdWords
- Plan your content marketing to improve organic search results
- Use social media to increase traffic to your site
- Use Call tracking to measure call-centric campaigns