Does your business rely heavily on local customers? If so, search traffic may have changed for your website on July 24th, 2014, the day that Google released their Pigeon algorithm and in turn, changed how your website shows up in local search results. Local SEO may seem indomitable to the uninitiated, but if you follow these easy steps, you can dominate the local SERPs.
The most important steps for success in local SEO are setting up a Google My Business account, NAP citations, and reviews (as well as a few others)
Setting up Google My Business (GMB) is a breeze, and we have an entire blog post which will show you how to setup your Google My Business account. Once you’ve setup your GMB account, you should setup and verify your business through Bing and Yahoo; leaving any search engine out of the mix is giving away potential customers to your competitors. Additionally, you should ALWAYS follow the guidelines set by Google and other search engines.
Local NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) citation consistency is imperative. Every page on your website should show your NAP, and if it does not, GO FIX IT!
Ensure that all your NAP information is consistent across your entire website for an effective local SEO presence. A more technical way to create local citations across your website is to use Schema.org. Here’s a very detailed article on how to properly implement Schema Markup for your own website. On-site NAP is great, but what is even better is also having your NAP in local directories and websites. Google crawls the web periodically, and their algorithm is very good at finding patterns. If you can make it easier for Google’s crawlers to detect a pattern in terms of popularity of your NAP in a certain location, you may be able to show up in the Snack Pack (first few results in a location-specific Google Maps search).
Reviews are an easy way to gain the trust of a potential customer. Many people will be swayed to either do business with you or go to a competitor by a simple overview of your reviews.
Do NOT fake reviews, as anyone with a brain can read a review and analyze it to determine that it was created by a friend or someone on Fiverr. Make sure you have more reviews than your competitor, and not just on Google; you will need reviews on Yelp and other places as Google Maps and Apple Maps derive review data from some different sources. Lastly, if you do not have enough reviews, ask customers (who have had a great experience with your products / services) to write a review for you. Don’t be too proud or think it is awkward to ask for a review, as you are missing opportunities for people other than yourself and your staff to write content on your behalf!
Other local SEO signals include:
- Local content on your blog – QUALITY over QUANTITY!
- Build a local social presence. Interact with socially-active locals to get a buzz going about your products / services.
- Make sure your website is MOBILE FRIENDLY. When people are looking for local services, they will more than likely use their smartphone. The easiest way to lose a potential client is for them to land on a website that looks like it was designed in 1999. Modernize your website for the 21st century.
- Place worthwhile content ON YOUR HOMEPAGE.
- Avoid default text (such as warranties and other copy / pasted content)
- Proper meta description and title tag optimization. DO NOT SPAM KEYWORDS!
Moz did a LOT of work earlier this year by conducting a survey with some of the top minds in local SEO, where they asked “what were the most important signals?” The graph that follows shows the distribution between these various signals and shows that you really should not focus on one, two, or three categories, as you are leaving half a pie on the table to get old and moldy. Take advantage of every slice of the Local SEO pie to garner success for your business in the local market! Lastly, check out this awesome slideshow by Greg Gifford that inspired my article on Local SEO.
Local Search Ranking Factors (2015)
Image Source: Moz
Please leave any questions or comments below, or you can find me on Twitter: @Tripp_Hamilton
Great article. I’m still confused on the Google local 3 pack. We have certain companies in our industry that are out – ranking other highly touted companies (many reviews, more NAP, an actual website). As a matter of fact, their G local profile is bone dry, with no website attached to it. I’ve lost hope for Google local.
Local SEO has a few aspects which are still a mystery to many as to why Google picks some sites over others in the local 3-pack. I have seen some weight in domain age being a correlating factor, but it is a small percentage at best when it comes to the “Local SEO Pie”. Here’s some other content to review that may help you decipher the local SEO puzzle: http://searchengineland.com/local-seo-rank-local-business-218906.