Defined by Wikipedia as the process of affecting the ability of a website in a search engine results page (SERP) in an unpaid, or organic results. It is the exactly the same premise as National SEO, but on a local level.
Local SEO is more than just optimization of your pages for SERP rankings. Their are multiple factors that affect how your business is marketed locally. Fortunately, here at hour23design, we know Local SEO.
More than just Google
Local SEO can be affected by more ways than just optimizing your website. Offline marketing campaigns that include you business information affect traffic to your website. Yelp reviews, billboards, business cards all contribute to driving visitors to your website for more information. The top factors that contribute to Local SEO re:
- Google My Business
- Offline marketing
- NAP accuracy
- Title Information
- Social Accounts
- Reviews, reviews, reviews!
Google - My Business
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, specifically Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can help customers find you and tell them about your business.
Every business with a physical location is eligible for a Google My Business account. Even businesses without a brick and mortar store can be eligible, but you will need to verify your ownership. Once verified, you can use the “service areas” option to describe your business.
How to set up Google My Business
- Sign in to Google My Business
- Sign into your Google account or create one.
- I would recommend creating a “business only” Google account. It will help to keep your personal information separate.
- Enter your business address. If you do not have a business address you can use the service area option instead.
- Select a specific business category. Make sure to use the options provided or Google will yell at you.
- Enter a phone number or a website URL and click Finish.
- Now select to verify your business by mailing a postcard to your physical address, home or business.
- Once you receive your card, visit Google My Business. Sign in and click Verify My Business. Follow the instructions and congratulations your business is verified!
Traffic to your site is the penultimate factor affecting SERP. The more traffic generated signals to the Search Engines that you provide quality content or services.
For example, if you type the word sports into the search box, which site is referred first? Its ESPN. What isn’t seen is the little icon with the word “Ad” in it. That means that ESPN’s SERP ranking is 100% organic for the term sports. Imagine if your business had that much keyword authority. It’s all about traffic. As in the example above, ESPN ranks higher for the term “sports” than www.sports.com.. Fortunately for ESPN, their television channel is their offline marketing.
There are multiple ways to generate traffic to your website and offline marketing is one of them. In all of your offline campaigns, make sure you include your website URL..
Speaking of offline marketing…. if you are local and need print media, contact A1 Signs. Do you see what I did there? I just provided a backlink to a site I designed and host..
I apologize for the misleading acronym in the title. No, accurate napping is not an effective marketing strategy. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number.
You want your message to be consistent and up to date across all platforms (website, offline, social). Yext.com offers an excellent service to help you manage your businesses online presence from one platform.
Here is a free toll to check your business now.
Although not as important as the other factors mentioned, having your location in your title tag will not decrease your Local SEO.
Your title tag, in general, is still the number one factor in on-site SEO. Having your physical location or service area included tells Google exactly where you are. This is an extremely effective strategy for the classic “near me” searches
A backlink is a link one website gets from another website. Backlinks make a huge impact on a website’s prominence in search engine results. This is why they are considered very useful for improving a website’s SEO ranking.
Backlinks should be natural, this means that a website must not use artificial ways to create backlinks for their own websites. The quality of links is far more important than the quantity.
But how can backlinking improve Local SEO?
The use of industry relative backlinks can directly effect your local SEO efforts. Ask you existing contacts and or suppliers about adding a link on their site to your’s.
Linking to local associations is also an effective strategy. Your local business association, chamber of commerce and government pages are also excellent sources of backlinks.
Industry organizations are yet another easy source of links to your website. Are you a member of your local or regional business organizations? Make sure your info is on their webpage and that a link is provided.
Vendors can also be a good source of incoming links. Who do you purchase your goods from? As a plumbing company, which manufacturer’s parts do you use? Ask them if they can post a link to your website on their page.
Have you donated money or goods to a charity? Do they have a website that will let you backlink from?
These are just a few of the ways to obtain organic backlinks for Local SEO.
I would be remised if I didn’t mention the companies that offer backlinking as a service. Stay away from these. Most of them are subscription based services. Therefore, once you sign up you can’t really quit without being flagged by Google.
In an nutshell, here are the take home messages for incoming links.
- They are critical for establishing credibility with Search Engines.
- Inbound links, regardless of Google, will bring you more customers.
- Seek out links from groups in which you already have an offline relationship.
A great source of backlinking information can be found here. Brian Dean is arguably the world’s renowned voice on SEO and backlinks.
Social profiles offer some of the easiest inbound links and citations you can acquire, and it makes sense to utilize all relevant fields that major social media platforms offer you.
Google has a difficult time getting into what’s happening on social platforms. So social media activity isn’t going to help with your local search results. Even if you’re wildly popular on social media.
One way, however, is if your social profile is frequently linked to by other websites as a result of your popularity. The link you’ve added from your profile to your own website then passes additional authority to your website.
Your primary goal in using social media should be for customer engagement and loyalty, not SERP rankings.
If you’ve ever search for a restaurant you understand the importance of reviews. If you’ve ever purchased something on Amazon, you understand the importance of reviews.
In regards to Local SEO, oftentimes Yelp reviews will rank at or near the top of the SERP. Once a user sees this review website, they are inclined to click because all of the local options are in one place.Then they navigate to a company’s website based on their reviews.
A couple takeaways regarding online review sources.
- The volume and content of reviews are two of the most important Local SEO ranking factors.
- Google reviews are important, but Facebook and Yelp are important regardless of your business category or location.
- Review acquisition services are a great way to automate your review process and make it sustainable. They can help you get out in front of complaints before they spread across the Internet.
- Extend the power of reviews by posting them on your site as testimonials, with permission from the reviewer.
In summary, there are multiple options for generating organic Local SEO. But, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve noticed a trend. Every topic ultimately boils down to generating incoming links to your site. Yes, that’s correct. Backlinking is probably one of the most important criteria that Google uses in their algorithm.
So, get out there, publish some content that people want. Make sure Google knows you have a business with accurate contact information. Use your offline campaigns to generate incoming traffic to your website. Provide location data in your page titles. Get your social account directing people to your website. Encourage customers to leave a review of your service or product. And last but certainly not least, get some backlinks!!!
If you would like more information on Local SEO or need a website hosting service or design, contact me today!