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Local SEO For WordPress: How To Optimize Your Website (And Citations) To Rank Higher In Google Maps & Local Search Results

Ready to rank higher in Google Maps and local search results?

We’ll follow Google’s local search ranking factors which Moz reports every 2 years. I broke these down into factors on and off your WordPress site. Citations (online directories like Yelp, Superpages, and Axciom) are about 11% of local SEO, so it wouldn’t be fair to leave these out.

This guide assumes you’re using the Yoast SEO Plugin. If you don’t have Yoast, I suggest installing it then configuring my recommended Yoast settings. It also assumes you have a physical address in your targeted city which is not mandatory, but is the #1 factor in Maps.

 

1. Local Search Ranking Factors

Here are Google’s 2018 local ranking factors. The main factors are Google My Business, citations (directories), reviews, geo-targeted pages, mobile optimization, and of course – links.

2018 Local Search Ranking Factors

Top 50 factors for local pack and localized organic…

Top 50 Local SEO Factors

Google your primary local keywords and see which results you want to target…

Local-Search-Results

 

2. Localized Keywords

Google Autocomplete
I have a separate tutorial on choosing Yoast focus keywords + green light optimization but I’ll go over this briefly. Go to google.com and use the underscore character _ anywhere in the phrase to have Google fill-in-the-blank and learn keywords people are searching in your city…

Google-Autocomplete-Fill-In-The-Blank-1

To find even more keywords, try using different variations of the keyword, like plurals

Google-Autocomplete-Plural-Keywords

Use different word ordering to get even more ideas…

Word Ordering Keywords

Target Specific Services – if “Chicago Wedding Photographer” is your primary keyword, try also targeting Indian and Gay Wedding Photographer. Same thing with web design… you can target both Chicago Web Design and Chicago WordPress Design which both show up in Autocomplete. For dentists, you may have Chicago Dentist, Chicago Dental Implants, Chicago Emergency Dentist, etc. Relying on 1 single keyword for ALL your traffic is never a good idea. You need to research Google Autocomplete for all your services, then create a page for each.

Moz Keyword Explorer
Next, use Moz Keyword Explorer to make sure you’re not missing keywords. This is similar to Google Keyword Planner only it’s completely free (you don’t have to sign up for AdWords), plus you can group related keywords so you’re not browsing through the exact same ones.

Moz Keyword Explorer

Once it runs, click keyword suggestions –> see all suggestions. You should see a nice list of keywords and the volume (monthly searches). Note phrases you DIDN’T find in Autocomplete.

Moz Keyword Suggestions

Estimating Local Keyword Competition
More Autocomplete results + broad phrases = more competitive…
Broad-Local-Keyword-Competition

Less Autocomplete results + specific phrases = less competitive…
Specific-Local-Keyword-Competition

You can also use the MozBar Chrome Extension to Google any keyword and learn it’s competition. The higher the PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority), the higher the competition and the more effort needed to rank for it. Try to stay within your own DA range.

Mozbar Keyword Competition

 

3. Blog Post Keywords

Blog posts usually attract the most links to your site (a huge ranking factor) since people naturally link to USEFUL content (not promotional service pages) which benefit the rankings of your entire WordPress site. Just like we researched keywords for pages, find as many informational, non-promotional blog keywords as you can, then write a post for each topic.

Local SEO Keywords
Local SEO Keywords

 

4. Geo-Targeted Pages

Create a page for each keyword – target your primary keyword on your homepage, then create a separate page for Chicago Indian Wedding Photographer and other specific services. Average Cost Of Wedding Photographer In Chicago would be a good article on your blog.

Optimize content with Yoast – you can get green lights all you want, but designing a nice (ideally lengthy) page with awesome photos, testimonials, video and other useful content – is the heart of content optimization. Yoast only detects exact keyword matches so if you use “Wedding Photographer in Chicago” instead of “Chicago Wedding Photographer” in your content… that counts as a keyword. So even if that specific light isn’t green (eg. keyword density), you can ignore it as long as a variation is present. Synonyms are actually encouraged.

Yoast Content Analysis

Presence of NAP – each location page should have your business name, address, and phone somewhere on the page. If you only have 1 location you can add this in a footer widget or your copyright area at the very bottom of your website (like I do) so it’s present on every page. For multiple locations you’ll usually want to add it somewhere in the actual content body.

Short Permalinks  – use short permalinks with your keyword in it.

Keyword Density – include your keyword in the first couple sentences and a few times in your content body (naturally). Sprinkle LSI keywords (synonyms) in your content instead of using the same keyword over and over. These can be secondary keywords you want to rank for.

Alt Text – label your images before uploading them to WordPress since the visual editor automatically uses the image file name as the alt text. This should simply describe the image – don’t stuff keywords. Images in widgets and page builders may not do this so check the HTML:

<img src=”/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/chicago-wedding-photographer.jpg” alt=”Chicago Wedding Photographer” width=”680” height=”380” />

Internal / External Links – Google follows links on your page to learn what your content is about. The important thing is linking to useful content your visitors will actually find helpful (like a blog tutorial). Interlinking blog articles/pages is also a natural way to build links to your own website but outbound links are good too since it’s kind of like citing sources to Google. Finally, always use descriptive link text (called anchor text)… never use words like “click here.”

SEO Title – use a modifier to spice up your headline so more people click on your link in search results… “Award Winning Chicago Wedding Photographer – Tom Dupuis” is a good example. Also make sure your SEO title has a decent length (the bars in Yoast should be green).

Meta Description – the main purpose of the meta description to entice people to click on your link. This and the SEO title are the first thing people see in search results so spend time writing these. It should include your Yoast focus keyword, plus a secondary keyword if you have one.

Post Long Content – Google measures “average time on page” which is why videos and other engaging content is key. Long, organized content generally ranks higher than short content.

Social Media Optimization – this ensures your page will display a properly formatted image when shared on Facebook and Twitter. Click the “share” link in Yoast and upload custom images where it tells you to. If you don’t see the tabs, check your Yoast social settings to enable Facebook and Twitter meta data. Yes, this means you need to design 2 separate images for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px). I leave the other fields blank which let you write a custom headline and description when it’s shared on Facebook/Twitter.

yoast-social-media-optimization

Rich Snippets – make your snippets stand out in search results by adding rich snippets to your content. You can do this with events, reviews, recipes, articles, products, organizations, restaurants, and videos. I use the premium WP Rich Snippets plugin which supports all rich snippet types except for events (use All In One Schema.org) and videos (use Schema plugin. However if you’re doing any other type of rich snippets, WP Rich Snippets looks way better and has more options, plus they have awesome add-ons. Here’s my WP Rich Snippets review which is definitely worth the money if you have content on your site that can be marked up.

Rich Snippets

Example Geo-Targeted Landing Page…

Localized Landing Page

 

5. Google My Business

Optimizing Your Google My Business Page

*Google is increasingly taking into consideration activate business owners who: post on Google Posts, respond to reviews, keep special hours updated, answer questions, make it convenient for customers to take direct actions on GMB using business URLs.

Google My Business Logo

  • Create a GMB Page (no duplicates – check Moz Local)
  • Agencies can register here
  • Verify ownership
  • Fill out everything
  • Fill out all attributes
  • List your menu/services
  • Set hours and special hours
  • Answer questions
  • Get a 360 tour if it makes sense
  • Enter your address or service area
  • List all relevant categories, primary listed first
  • Use local business URLs (eg. appointments, reservations, bookings)
  • If using local business URL using third-party services, fill out this form
  • Add reservations/bookings with Google’s approved third-party vendors
  • The previous steps can get you showing up in reservations by Google
  • Add photos + videos (logo, cover image, storefront, team, inside store, etc)
  • Write a description (do not stuff keywords/links as it’s not part of algorithm)
  • Get a custom URL
  • Start using Google Posts
  • Respond to reviews, good and bad
  • Make it easy for customers to leave reviews (with a custom link)
  • Allow customers to message you – keep that response rate up!
  • Flag inappropriate reviews if it’s a legitimate reason (see policies)
  • Get your products seen using the product editor + product catalog
  • Hotels can add class ratings and amenities
  • Move reviews to different listings if necessary
  • Follow Google My Business guidelines

 

6. Moz Local

Since citations are 11% of local SEO, this step will help you create and fix your top 15 citations. Just like you did with Google My Business you will make sure profiles are 100% complete, duplicates are deleted, and ensure consistent information is present. Run your website + zip code through Moz Local and look under “choose the most accurate listing.” Go through each one and see their recommendations. Yes, you will need each profile’s login info.

Moz Local Profiles

Correct Incomplete, Inconsistent, Duplicate Citations
Once you click your listing you will see incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate tabs. Go through each one and fix all items. Incomplete profiles are often fixed by uploading more photos or adding categories. Inconsistencies can be as easy as correcting the www website version or using “st” instead of “street” in the address. Duplicates are fixed by deleting them. Moz Local includes links to your profiles which makes it easy to fix, delete, and report profiles.

Sometimes you will only have 1-2 categories (eg. photographer + wedding photographer) so it’s not always possible to get your profiles 100% complete. Just do everything you can.

Moz Loca

 

7. Whitespark

To conquer those #2, #5, and #14 ranking factors in Google Maps (citation consistency, quantity, and quality), we need to build even more citations. The more competitive your keywords are (eg. Chicago Wedding Photographer) the more citations you should build.

local-seo-citation-ranking-factors
citations-by-city

Whitespark has lists of top citations by city, country, and category, or use their citation building service for $4-5 per citation which saves a LOT of time. Google ‘Whitespark Canada‘ and you’ll see they have over 120 reviews with a 4.9 star rating. I’ve invested over $2,000 in their citation building service and have jumped from #8 to #3 in Google Maps. Read my Whitespark citation building review to learn the process, but you basically fill out an intake then wait 2-3 weeks for them to send a report of the new citation URLs and 1 universal login.

Free citations can cause spam emails and sometimes spammy phone calls. They improve rankings, but it’s a tradeoff. Here’s a response I got from Darren Shaw, owner of Whitespark:

 

8. Mobile Responsiveness

The best way to check for mobile errors is to setup Google Search Console and use the mobile usability section. This checks for ALL errors on your WordPress site (instead of just 1 page) which is only what Google’s mobile testing tool does. Even if you’re using a responsive WordPress theme you can still have mobile errors! So it’s definitely a good idea to check.

google-mobile-usability-errors

 

9. Mobile Speed Optimization

Most businesses doing local SEO have a good amount of mobile visitors (you can check in Google Analytics under Audience –> Mobile –> Overview). If you haven’t read my W3 Total Cache tutorial which shows you how to configure the performance tabs, Cloudflare, and MaxCDN, I would start with that. Then you can optimize images and make other optimizations from my WordPress speed guide. This helps you fix items in your GTmetrix report (the speed testing tool I recommend using) and improves page load times for both desktop and mobile.

To make your WordPress site load faster specifically on mobile, you can use AMP pages (accelerated mobile pages) using the AMP plugin and Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP. You can read Yoast’s AMP tutorial but this will basically add an “AMP” sign to your mobile search results…

amp-pages

Hosting
I use SiteGround and have 200ms response times with 100% GTmetrix scores and .4s Pingdom load times. Do a hosting check, run your own tests, or click through my pages to see how fast they load. They were rated the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls and are worlds better than EIG (Bluehost, HostGator), Godaddy, and bad hosts who pack too many people on the same server. They’re recommended by WordPress, do free migrations, and I use their semi-dedicated plan.

Switching To SiteGround

SiteGround Load Time Migration

Bluehost to SiteGround GTmetrix

HostGator To SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix

SiteGround Google PageSpeed Insights

100 Perfect Score On SiteGround

SiteGround Genesis

Speed Delivered By SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix Report

Reduced Load Times With SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Times

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

Switched To SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround Rocket Imagify Combo

Joomla GTmetrix On SiteGround

SiteGround PageSpeed Insights

SiteGround On Joomla

SiteGround Reduced Load Times

SiteGround Speedy Hosting

New Pingdom Results On SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Time

SiteGround Response Time Improvement

2019 Hosting Poll

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

WordPress-Host-Poll-Aug-2018

Shared-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosting-Poll

Go-To-Hosting-Company

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

Managed-Hosting-Poll

WooCommerce-Hosting-FB-Poll

2016-Web-Hosting-Poll

Best-WordPress-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-2019-Poll

WP Friendly Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2018 Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Poll Sept 2018.png

Managed-WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosts-Poll-1

Hosting-Poll-For-Speed

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-June-1

SiteGround-Recommendation

2014-Managed-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Hosting-Poll-Feb-2019

Hosting-Recommendations-Poll

Bluehost vs SiteGround

WordPress Web Host Poll

 

10. Reviews

You’ve heard this before so I’m not going to state the obvious. But you should know that Google My Business is usually the best place to get reviews since these appear directly in search results, and you need about 5 of them for the review stars to start showing up…

Google Reviews For SEO

Avoiding The Yelp Review Filter – Yelp reviews can get filtered even if they’re legitimate. You can avoid this by doing a Google search of “business name Yelp” and sending them that link. If you send them the direct link to your Yelp profile, Yelp will know and could filter it. Ideally you would ask existing Yelpers since they are more likely to get their review posted (another factor is if their profile is filled out and Facebook is connected). You should friend your reviewers too.

 

11. Local Link Building

You know links are super important for your rankings, and it doesn’t have to be a pain in the ass. But yes, you WILL need to reach out to people to get these links. Here are some tips…

  • Ask partners to link to you
  • Ask sponsors to link to you
  • Ask suppliers to link to you
  • Get published by local newspapers
  • Get included in list articles (eg. best pizza in Chicago)
  • Make sure these articles include a link to your site
  • Find business directories and organizations who promote green businesses
  • Turn your business relationships into links, that’s what it’s all about

 

12. Targeting Multiple Locations

Create Multiple Location Pages On Your Site – sometimes you should create 1 page per city (if only 1 keyword is being search in that city), or multiple pages per city (if multiple keywords are being searched). It depends on how many keywords people search and whether you need content about different services (miami dentist vs. miami dental implants is a separate page).

Add Location-Specific Content To These Pages – your Chicago page might have photos of your Chicago office. Or testimonials from your Chicago customers. Or a Google Map showcasing your Chicago location. Avoid creating ‘search and replace’ pages (identical pages only you simply change the city name) since these are duplicate content and will not rank.

If you want to check out a great example of localized landing pages, check out Seda Dental.

local-landing-pages-multiple-locations

Create Citations For Each Location – each location should have it’s own Google My Business page, Yelp, Facebook, and other citation profiles you can use Moz Local and Whitespark to create (see steps 4, 5, and 6). Whitespark’s citation building service will save you a LOT of time. If you do this yourself, list the specific location page (website.com/locations/chicago) when listing your website. Photos and business information should be unique to that location.

 

13. Measure Keyword Rankings

Google Search Console’s Search Analytics – see keywords (queries) you rank for. This ONLY measures Google’s organic rankings, not Google Maps or other search engines. So if Google Maps appear when you search your keywords, you need to measure those too (see below). You can still get very helpful data in Search Analytics using filters: click-through rates, impressions, top pages, devices used, countries, and compare your rankings to the last 28 previous days.

google-search-console-search-analytics-queries

Whitespark Local Rank Tracker – track rankings in Google Maps, Bing pack, Google organic, Bing organic, etc. Sort by city names across multiple locations. User-friendly design and starts at $20/month for measuring up to 100 local keywords. Easiest way to measure local keywords.

whitespark-local-rank-tracker

 

14. Bonus Tips

Google Search Console – I mentioned this a couple times in this WordPress local SEO guide, but you really should take advantage of this tool. My video and Google Search Console tutorial show you how to set it up, submit your Yoast XML sitemap to Google, fix crawl errors (broken URLs), and quite a few other site optimizations. You can use it to test AMP pages, rich snippets, and find indexing, mobile, and security issues. Once signed you will need to wait around 1 week for the data to populate. But definitely revisit it and take advantage of it’s features.

Mobile Click-To-Call Button – if you’re running a website where many people call you (eg. a pizza business), adding a mobile click-to-call plugin can improve conversions but is also a ranking factor if you look at “Behavior/Mobile Signals” in Google’s local ranking factors.

Security – run your site through Sucuri security checker and the security section of Google Search Console to make sure you have no errors. Either way the best 2 things you can do is change the generic “Admin” username in the your WordPress login, then install WordFence.

Sucuri Security Scan

Social Media – just make sure you’re active on social media, it’s 2.8% of local SEO.

 

Time To Get To Work

Hopefully this WordPress local SEO guide gives you some ideas! Just remember it’s not all about optimizing your WordPress site – there are many off-page factors that are just as important like Google My Business, citations, and reviews. Start cranking some of this out and within a couple months hopefully your organic searches go up (let me know in the comments)!

SEO Google Analytics

Need help? Drop me a line. Looking to hire someone who actually knows what they’re doing? Check out my WordPress SEO consulting services. I love when people read my tutorials so if you have a question about regarding WordPress and local SEO, I’m glad clarify your questions.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Google's local search ranking factors?

Moz reports Google's local search ranking factors every 2 years. They emphasize geo-targeted pages, directories (citations), links, and reviews.

How do you optimize websites for local SEO?

Research local keywords using tools like Google Autocomplete, create geo-targeted content around those keywords, make your mobile site load fast, get relevant links, and show NAP on localized pages.

What is NAP and why is it important?

NAP stands for business name, address, and phone number. This should be consistent throughout your website and citations. Google uses NAP consistency as a ranking factor.

Where should I build more directories (citations)?

Moz Local analyzes 15 top citations and shows you which ones are incomplete, inconsistent, or duplicates. Whitespark also has lists of top citations for different industries and locations. Google My Busienss, Yelp, and Facebook are some of the most important, but you should built more using Moz Local or Whitespark.

How do I optimize my GMB Page?

Fill out everything including including NAP, categories, descriptions, photos, categories, attributes, hours, menu, services, etc. Verify your page and answer customer questions + respond to reviews. Get a custom URL and post updates on your GMB page.

See Also:
How I Optimized My WordPress Site To Load In .2s (100% GTmetrix/Pingdom Scores)

Cheers,
Tom

About Tom Dupuis

Tom Dupuis 2017Tom Dupuis writes WordPress speed and SEO tutorials out of his apartment in Denver, Colorado. In his spare time, he plays Rocket League and watches murder documentaries. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about him.

Sours: https://onlinemediamasters.com/wordpress-local-seo/

The Latest SEO Updates from Moz – 14th May 2019

Relevance is back with a selection of links to ultra-helpful SEO articles! This week’s Moz Top 10 focuses on technical SEO strategy and will be helpful even if you’re a beginner to the techie side of online marketing. In addition to all things tech, catch up on everything from the sneaky tactics e-commerce companies employ to little-known aspects of Google local guides and listings.

Everything from local search to technology SEO strategy

1. Attract New Customers Using This E-Commerce Tactic

It doesn’t matter what processes, funnels and buyer journeys marketers create – the smallest leak in that funnel will lose them revenue. Usually, the problem boils down to being too aggressive in implementing their strategy with the wrong products at the wrong time. Fortunately, Unbounce has an easy fix and it boils down to these two words: social commerce. Read the article to find out how you can leverage social commerce by adding it to the top of your funnel.

2. The 12-Minute Guide to Technical SEO

Get technical with Rand Fishkin’s recent Whiteboard Friday, which covers crawlability, internal link structure, subfolders and more. This quick watch is an essential primer on technical SEO strategy and part of is part of a longer one-hour video on SEO. Rand guides you through various aspects of technical SEO strategy, including the uniqueness of every page, crawler accessibility, page optimisation and permanent redirects.

3. Google Chrome Shortcuts That Will Save You Time

Do you ever feel like you’ve fallen down an endless hole of SEO that is taking up much of your day? Fortunately, help is at hand! Glen Allsopp has outlined invaluable shortcuts that could save you hours of time and they’re all based on Google Chrome bookmarks. Find common site issue with just one click, open multiple Chrome tabs with a single search, quickly check for duplicate content, get paid speed insights and so much more with this detailed guide to bookmarklets.

4. Learn The Evolving Role of Links in Ranking

If you’ve ever wondered how Google uses links, this summary of a Webmaster Hangout with John Mueller might prove enlightening. Did you know that links can play less of a role in rankings depending on factors such as user intent and other contexts? Check out the article to discover interesting facts about how links are used for ranking and how it might be more productive to focus on content.

Poles linked together with purple light

5. Technical SEO Guide to Managing Pagination

This comprehensive tutorial for webmasters needing to optimise and manage website pagination will help with technical SEO strategy. It’s an essential read for news publishers, e-commerce site owners, and those managing blogs and forums where content is divided across multiple pages, rather than loaded on one page. Google has recently stopped using link element support, meaning that traditional on-page SEO optimisation techniques to manage pagination are more important than ever.

6.Realistic Strategies For Raising Your Domain Authority (DA)

Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on SERPs. Higher scores demonstrate a greater ability to rank and depend on a number of factors such as linking root domains and the number of inbound links from quality websites. Domain Authority is ranked from 1-100 and all brands want their DA to be as high as possible. But what does that entail? Read the blog post from Moz to find out!

7. 12 Million Outreach Emails. Some Very Interesting Results

What makes a successful outreach email? Is it the subject line, follow-up sequences, or perhaps it’s personalisation? Backlinko teamed up with Pitchbox to analyse 12 million outreach emails and the findings will prove very helpful. Take a look at valuable statistics on the best days to email, response rates, the length of subject lines, and much more to improve your own email marketing strategy.

Mail boxes lined up in front of trees

8. The Google Characteristics of America’s Top-Ranked Restaurants

Restaurants are in desperate need of good local SEO, but how ready is your marketing team to handle these specialised clients? This case study of 4,950 data points collected from America’s “best” eateries can help prep your agency to work with restaurant clients. Taking account of price, restaurant type, reviews and other factors that the restaurant sector dishes up, you should get some helpful insight into your niche.

9. What You Need To Know About Google Local Guides & Editing Listings

If you’re wondering how editing listings work on Google maps, take a look at these insider tips by Joy Hawkins. From fake listings and malicious edits to suspensions and spam, this article puts to rest some of the most common myths about local Google SEO listings on maps and guides.   

10. Google Supports Highlighting Positive Customer Testimonials & Reviews

Google has announced that you can now highlight and post automatically suggested reviews as customer testimonials within Google My Business. When people leave 4 and 5-star reviews of your business, Google will automatically suggest you use them as testimonials. It’s a great way of displaying positive reviews.

Sours: https://relevance.digital/blog/moz-top-ten-technical-seo-strategy/
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The Most Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO Ever: 2022 Edition

The Most Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO Ever: 2022 Edition

Welcome to our 16 chapter, 14,014 word guide to Local SEO, fresh for 2022. We believe this is the most comprehensive Local SEO guide on the ‘net.

Please read through at your leisure, or download the PDF version of this guide here.


Table of Contents:

  • Introduction to Local SEO
  • Google My Business Setup and Optimisation
  • Bing Places Setup and Optimisation
  • Keyword Research for Local SEO
  • On-Page SEO Best Practices for Local SEO
  • How to Create Schema Tags & Place It On Your Website
  • The Definitive List of Local SEO Ranking Factors
  • Local Citations
  • Optimising To Rank In Local Map Pack Results
  • Building Credibility and Reviews
  • Backlink Building Strategies for Local SEO
  • Google Analytics and Google Search Console Setup
  • How to Run a Local SEO Audit On Your Website
  • How To Audit Your Competitor’s SEO
  • How To Track The Progress Of Your Local SEO Campaign
  • Bringing It All Together

 


introduction-to-the-complete-local-seo-guide

Chapter 1: Introduction to Local SEO

If you are a local business that wants to get noticed in search engines and generate more customers, you have to understand Local SEO.

Without a Local SEO plan in place your business will not be able to take advantage of the local online demand for your products or services.

In this free e-book, we will discuss everything you need to know to start an effective Local SEO campaign for your business.

Topics include; “What are the best practices for Local SEO?”, “Google My Business optimisation”, “Local SEO Keyword Research”, and other advanced tactics that will help your business get more exposure, traffic, and customers.

But for now, let’s start with the basics.


What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is a branch of SEO that specifically deals with search engine optimisation for local businesses.

Undertaking an effective Local SEO campaign will allow your business to appear on Page 1 of Google’s search engine results pages, both in the “Map Pack” and the “Organic Listings”.

map-pack-and-organic-google-listing-diagram
SEO, as a whole, covers all types of businesses, blogs, and websites.

Back in the 1990s when SEO used to be simple, there wasn’t much difference between SEO and Local SEO. However, today there are several nuances that specifically and exclusively affect Local SEO.

Local SEO specifically helps you optimise your business for people searching from a nearby location.

For instance, if I search for “pizza restaurants in Bromley”, Google shows me the following results.

pizza-restaurants-in-bromley-google-listing-diagram
The question is – if you have a pizza restaurant in Bromley, does Google display your business in its results?

If not, can you imagine the amount of traffic and potential customers you might be losing because your local business isn’t listed on Google when nearby customers search for your product or service?

This is why Local SEO is so important.

What’s more, the importance of Local SEO will only continue to rise in near future. That’s because of the expected continued rise in mobile device usage.


Mobile Usage

Mobile users tend to search for nearby business on the go, because, most probably, they are looking to get an instant solution so they can get to the nearest business place and buy what they want.

According to a recent study, approximately 56% on the go mobile searches have local intent.

If search engines display your business information and website, you will benefit from all that local buying intent.

Those local listings will not only get higher click-through rate (CTR) but they are also likely to get more customers for your business.


Local SEO vs. Traditional Marketing

Local SEO can seem a bit technical to some people.

The important thing, however, is that Local SEO is almost always cheaper and more effective than traditional marketing.

And what’s more, Local SEO really is not too technical either.

In traditional marketing, you run adverts in local newspapers, distribute flyers, get yourself in local magazines. All those are very costly methods.

Furthermore, you have no control over the distribution channels or who they reach and, hence, you cannot measure their performance
particularly well.

And if you do not know well a particular marketing channel is performing, you cannot optimise your budget. You cannot cut back spending money on offline channels because you don’t know which ones are generating customers and leads for you, and which ones are not.

On the other hand, you can track everything with a Local SEO campaign.

It certainly requires a lesser amount of investment to set up and continues to yield great returns once you get to the top of Google too.

More importantly, you can track exactly how much traffic, leads, and customers you are getting via Local SEO and organic search traffic.

By now, hopefully, you are convinced that you need to learn more about Local SEO and its finer details. In the following chapters of this e-book, you will learn exactly how to get started with Local SEO
and the techniques required to optimise your website, which will eventually help you move up the rankings and get more sales.

Ready?

Let’s continue to the next chapter.


google-my-business-setup-and-optimisation

Chapter 2: Google My Business Setup and Optimisation

In today’s digital marketing landscape, Google My Business (formerly known as Google Places) is now the starting point of Local SEO.

Google My Business is incredibly important for Local SEO. Without it you won’t be appearing on local map listings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) which Google displays for the vast majority of local search queries

Thankfully, setting up your Google My Business page isn’t very difficult or complicated.

Just follow these steps to get your Google My Business page activated and set-up.

Step No.1:
Visit www.google.com/business to get started.

Step No.2:
Click on the “Start Now” button.

Step No.3:
You will be redirected to a Google Maps page where you can search for your business. Locate your business, and you will be asked to verify that it is yours. If you can’t find your business, no sweat, simply click the “None of these match – Add your business” button.

You’ll then see a screen like this:

google-my-business-set-up
Step No. 4:
You will be asked to complete the information for your business.

Make a note of the business name, address and phone number you use. (You’ll need to keep this business information consistent across the web on the citations you will be building later on with this guide.)

Step No. 5:
Confirm your business address with Google through the verification process. This involves Google sending you a letter in the post with a secret pin.

verify-google-my-business
Step No. 6:
Upload additional information to your business profile including images and opening hours.

Your goal should be add all the necessary information and leave nothing out.

Finally, make sure that you complete the verification process once the secret pin is sent by post to your address. This will allow you to fully claim the business listing and access more advanced features that unverified users cannot. It is of vast importance that your Google My Business page is verified. Now, lets discuss how we can optimise your Google My Business page to its full potential.


Google My Business Optimisation

Here are a few tips to optimise your Google My Business listing:

  • Again, make sure that you add all the necessary information required for your Google My Business listing. It is possible to start without having your profile 100% completed, but it is
    not recommended. You should always aim to complete your profile 100%
  • Pick a compelling profile picture or logo that is likely to get clicked. Ideally, the image should interesting and directly related
    to the type of business you specialise in.
  • When you upload your image make sure the file is named with your keyword in mind, e.g. “Keyword-1.-area-XYZ.jpg”
  • Add multiple images to your Google My Business listing. Once again, make sure to name each file with your target keywords in
    mind.
  • Proper categorisation is critical to Local SEO success. It’s important to note that you should categorise your business for what it does.
  • For example, if you have an Italian restaurant specialising in food from Southern Italy, make sure you select the right categories — which would be “Southern Italian Restaurant”.
  • Google recommends selecting the fewest number of categories. Keep that in mind, but do not hesitate in selecting multiple categories if your business really falls into more than
    one business type.
  • Write down the exact format you have used to for your Business Name, Business Address and Business Phone Number. You’ll need this later, and it is VERY important you keep this information the consistent for the other steps in this e-book.

 


 

bing-places-setup-optimisation

Chapter 3: Bing Places for Business Optimisation

When we talk about SEO or Local SEO, most businesses limit it to Google. Google is, without any doubt, the largest search engine in the world.

More than 50% of your website traffic will probably come from Google. However, it does not mean that you should completely ignore the rest of the other search engines.

After all, you need to maximise all online traffic sources, right?

And the fact that not many businesses think like this gives you an opportunity to get higher in the other search engine listings, e.g., Bing.

Bing is the second biggest search engine and is responsible for approximately 20% share of the world’s online searches. If you truly want to optimise your Local SEO and get the most amount of traffic possible, it is important that you not only look at Google, but also optimise your search engine listing for Bing Places for Business.

In this chapter of our e-book, we discuss how you can setup Bing Places for your local business.

Step No. 1:
Visit Bing Places and click on ‘Get Started’.

bing-places-for-businesses-set-up
Step No. 2:
Repeat the same process as you did with Google My Business. You can either type in the name of your business or its location to get started. In case your business doesn’t appear in the search result, you can click the ‘Add New Business’ button.

bing-places-for-businesses-set-up-select-address
Step No. 3:
For this third step, you are going to need a Microsoft account. So if you don’t have one, create a new Microsoft account. After that, login and you can start adding the necessary business details.

Step No. 4:
After you have submitted all the necessary business details, you will have to verify that you are the rightful owner for the business. The verification process is very similar to Google My Business. Just add your address and you will receive a verification pin in the post in a week or so.

Step No. 5:
After the verification process is complete, you can start managing your business listing.

And, well, that’s it.

By now, you have a Google My Business listing as well as the Bing Places listing. This enhances your business’s appearance in local search results, which brings more exposure, traffic, and potential customers to your website.

Once that’s out of the way, we can now dive into more detailed and advanced tactics regarding Local SEO. And that begins with the next chapter of the book, keyword research for Local SEO.


 

keyword-research-for-local-seo

Chapter 4: Keyword Research for Local SEO

As a savvy business owner, you know how important keyword research is and always has been for SEO.

You see, when people search for anything online, they search for it via ‘keywords’. For instance, if someone is looking to buy men’s running shoes, they might use keywords like:

  • Buy men’s running shoes
  • Buy men’s running shoes online
  • Order men’s running shoes now

These are some of the keywords that represent the buyer’s intent.

Your goal — if you want to be good at SEO — is to appear on the top of the search engine results pages for the keywords that are important for your business.

So whenever a potential customer searches for your main keywords, they find you and, hopefully, click on the result, land on your website and buy your product or service.

There are many keyword research tips that SEO experts use on a daily basis. In this chapter we are going to specifically discuss keyword research tips that local businesses should use to get ranked higher in the local SERPs (search engine results pages).

Let’s begin.


Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is, by far, one of the best and most effective keyword research tools out there.

If you are looking to find the best keywords for your business, you just have to make use of the Google Keyword Planner. Also, it’s free so it really does make sense to try it to find some good keyword ideas.

The tool shows you exactly how many people are searching for “keywords” related to your business.

What is more, the tool also breaks down the search volume for each keyword by the month of the year, so you can see if there is any seasonal variation in the demand in your industry.

Here is how you can use the Google Keyword Planner to come up with some good keyword ideas for your local business.

Start by logging into your Google AdWords account and open the Google Keyword Planner tool. Select ‘Search for new keyword and ad group ideas’.

Next, brainstorm a few important keywords that are most relevant to the type of business you are in.

For example, if you are a florist, keywords like ‘florist’, ‘flower shop’, ‘buy flowers’, ‘floral arrangement’, etc., would be most appropriate and relevant.

Insert these keywords in the Google Keyword Planner, remove any default country targeting, specify the exact geographical location you want to target with your business, and click ‘Get Ideas’.

google-keyword-planner-tool
On the next page click ‘Keyword Ideas’, and you will be presented a long list of good related keywords to start from. You can use these keywords as inspiration. You can also use these keywords to dig up some more relevant keywords that you might have missed the first time.

Moreover, you can use these keyword ideas with in conjunction with some of the other techniques that we are going to discuss in the following sections of this chapter.

google-keyword-planner-tool-search-volume-data


Competitor Analysis

I highly recommend “stealing” keywords and keyword ideas from your competitors. And no, it is not unethical.

In fact, almost every intelligent business does it.

Who knows, some other local business might be stealing keywords ideas from your website! It is just how the online marketing and SEO world works, and it is actually healthy that way.

It is not too uncommon to run out of ideas when you are brainstorming for different keywords, but that’s the advantage of competitor analysis. You do not have to think of every single keyword idea by yourself. That’s because you can leverage your competitors research.

How?

Here is how.

Go to the Google Keyword Planner tool and paste one of your competitor’s landing page URL in here.

competitor-keyword-analysis
Based on that page’s content, Google’s Keyword Planner tool will come up with keywords that it thinks are most relevant.

You can use these keyword ideas as “seed keywords” to brainstorm and research more keywords.

Also, if you feel like you are running out of keywords again, you can repeat the same process with another one of your direct competitors.

Furthermore, if you have the budget for it, you can even buy a more premium tool (Google Keyword Planner is just a free tool – and it is usually enough for most businesses) such as Ahrefs, Moz, SEMRush, or SpyFu.

All these are excellent tools that give you valuable insight and analysis of what your competitors are doing and how successful they have been at doing that.


Local Keywords

When you are optimising a local business website it is highly recommended to increase the number of keywords you are targeting with “local keywords”.

It is a simple technique that simply adds the name of your local area with the most important keywords that describe your business.

For example, if we continue with our florist example, some local keywords could be:

  • London florist
  • Florist shop in London
  • Florist shop near London
  • London Florist
  • London Florist shop
  • Floral delivery London
  • Best florist London
  • Best florist shop in London

These local keywords will have lower search volume, yet the intent of the search engine user searching for these keywords is very precise.

Which brings us on to our next point.


Long-Tail Keywords

When it comes to “head keywords” vs. “long-tail keywords”, long-tail keywords always win.

Furthermore, when it comes to Local SEO, long-tail keywords become all the more important.

Why?

Simply because long-tail keywords best reflect the user-intent. And you really want to be appear for keywords that reflect buying user intent.

For instance, which of these two keywords do you
think reflect buying intent?

searcher-intent-diagram
Long-tail keywords always have more buying intent.

Although they may have lower search volume, they do have a much higher conversion rate — especially when compared to head keywords.

Pro Tip: If you notice, “local keywords” help you get more long-tail keywords. These two are, kind of, related to each other for local businesses. Make sure you use both these techniques to get more relevant keywords

For local businesses, it is highly recommended that you go after these long-tail keywords that get you not only traffic, but also paying customers.

Apart from “local keywords”, you can also use the “keyword modifier” technique to get more long-tail keywords that would help you get better, more targeted traffic.

We discuss the “keyword modifier” technique in the next section.


Keyword Modifiers

For local businesses, there are often a few keyword modifiers that can help you explore more keyword ideas. Moreover, you can also these keyword modifiers to get more long tail keywords to target too.

There are two different types of keyword modifiers that you should consider exploring.

First, use common adjectives that people often use when they are searching for local businesses or product/services.

For instance, “best pizza near Bath” or “cheap jewellery”.

Second, use keywords that are branched out because of a specific nature of the business and its products or services.

For instance, if you are a florist, your services would be usually required for funerals, weddings, Christmas, etc. So some of the keyword modifiers would be:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Wedding flowers
  • Wedding flower bouquets
  • Christmas Wreaths
  • Christmas flowers
  • Valentines day flowers

 


Google Trends

Before you finalise your list of keywords, it is good to use Google Trends and see if the interest in those keywords is rising or falling.

Most local business owners do not pay any attention to Google Trends when they are selecting keywords to target.

However, by doing so you ensure that you are only targeting keyword ideas that are going to benefit you in the near-future. It saves a lot of headache and resources down the line.

The idea here is very simple.

Visit Google Trends and insert your shortlisted keywords that you intend to target. The most important part here is to select the local regions and areas your business is going to target.

This way, you can see the interest of your potential customers in keywords over time. And you can also see the regional interest for those keywords.

One keyword may not be working in a particular region, but for another region it might be more profitable. You can only know that if you use Google Trends
and see the exact trends over time.


on-page-seo-best-practices

Chapter 5: On-Page SEO: Best Practices for Local SEO

As there is with every type or marketing or advertising strategy, there are proven, time tested best practices that when implemented correctly will help you immensely with your Local SEO campaign.

Follow these best practices, and you will be able to get higher in the local search engine rankings.

Let’s see what these local on-page SEO best practices are:


0. Keyword Research

Keyword research has been listed as “Number 0” because it is a prerequisite to performing best practice on-page SEO.

Although we have discussed keyword research in the previous chapter, it is important enough to mention it once again. It is, after all, a very important practice to complete your keyword research before you proceed any further.

Keyword research is crucial because it gives youan insight of what your potential customers and target audience are searching for — especially in your specific geographical region. Now, once you know what keywords your potential customers aresearching for, it’s time to integrate those keywords on your website.

[Side note: Also, going forward, this keyword research will help you dictate the type of content you will be creating for your website and social media.]

For example, if you are a garden design company and find out through your research that people are searching for “Japanese garden design ideas”, “modern garden design ideas”, “small garden design ideas” you know it will be a good idea to create content that matches those keywords.

It will not only get you up in the search engine results pages (SERPs), but it will also help you land more targeted customers.

The bottom line is that without proper keyword research, you just cannot nail local on-page SEO – or any type of SEO for that matter.

And as you will see in the upcoming sections, you also use this keyword research in optimising the meta data of your website. It’s super important!


1. Title Tags

The title tag is one of the most important aspects of the on-page search engine optimisation process.

The title tag is the text that appears in the search engine results pages as the title of your listing. It is also the text that appears at the top of your browser when you visit a webpage.

title-tag-optimisation
Search engines place a lot of importance on what keywords they find in a title tag. It gives the robots an idea of the context to a webpage’s content.

In short, title tags — and the keywords that we use in the title tag — help search engines understand what a webpage, website, or business is actually about.

Here are a few best practices for crafting perfect title tags:

  • Keep them under 55 characters so the search engines don’t truncate your titles
  • Make sure your business’s name is perfectly visible in the title tag
  • Don’t forget to add your best, primary keyword in the title tag that not only has a high search volume, but that also perfectly defines what your business is and does.
  • I would recommend using your keyword as close to the front of your title tag as possible

Here is an example of a good title tag for a local business.

good-example-of-title-tag


3. Meta Description

As with the title tag of the webpage, the meta description is another important aspect that search engine crawlers browse.

Consider your webpage’s meta description as a text snippet that not only contains valuable keywords for your business, but as a mini advert that also helps readers click on your search engine listing over your competitors.

Pro Tip: A high click-through rate (CTR) in the SERPs may lead to improved search engine rankings.

Anyway, a meta description should have at least three qualities:

  • It must contain important keywords that are relevant for your business and have high search volume.
  • Each webpage should have a unique meta description (the same applies with the title tag). Make sure that you include the main keyword that you want to optimise that specific webpagefor. Each page on your website should be optimised for different keywords.
  • Apart from the search engines, human readers also see the meta description in Google’s search engine result pages so make sure that the description you write is so compelling and enticing that it encourages users to click your link over your competition.

I will, once again, use the above example. This time, focus on the meta description. See how well it is written. It not only encourages readers to click on it, but it also contains so many important keywords.

good-example-of-title-tag
If you are using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, Square Space or Wix the title tag and meta description are super easy to update.


4. Image Optimisation

You see, images take time to load and can slow up a webpage. Search engines don’t like to rank slower websites at the top of the search engine
results pages (SERPs). The loading speed of your website is now an official Google ranking factor.

So, the trick is to optimise your images so they don’t take as much time to load. Resize your images so the file is size is as low as possible without effecting
the quality of the image.

Apart from that, there is another way you can use images to optimise your website for SEO.

You may not know this, but search engines cannot read or understand images. They can only interpret text. So when you upload images on your website, search engines have to no idea what they are of.

That’s the reason why search engines like Google want you to insert ‘Alt Text’ code to each image your upload to describe what the image is about. This is your opportunity to insert your primary keywords in relation to specific images.

Also, if a user can’t see an image for some reason, they see that ‘Alt Text’ in place of that image. It improves user-experience and, hence, is very good for the SEO of your website.

Finally, before you upload an image to your website make sure you name it with you keywords in mind.

For example, name your images “Keyword-123-area- XYZ.jpg”. By naming your file Google will further be able to understand its contents.

Pro Tip: Make sure each image on your site has a different file name. Use different keyword variations in your file name.


5. Anchor Text Optimisation

While ‘anchor text optimisation’ may not be completely under your control, it is still something you should know about. And whenever you get an opportunity to customise the anchor text you are getting, you can leverage your knowledge to optimise your website’s SEO.

For those of you that don’t know what “anchor text” is – it basically refers to the text that is used when a website creates a link to another website. For example, “home page” is the anchor text in the following link: home page.

Search engines like to keep an eye on all the anchor texts linking to your webpages, both from internal pages on your own website and external websites. It helps them understand what keywords other website owners usually use to describe your webpage.

For example, if you have a “flower shop in Colchester”, you would be getting backlinks with anchor texts, such as:

  • Flower shop
  • Florist in Colchester
  • Flower shop in Colchester
  • Best flower shop in Colchester
  • Best florist near Colchester
  • Company Name Flower Shop Colchester

You get the idea, right? It is a best practice to diversify the anchor text — so as to target numerous relevant keywords.

You can take control of the anchor text on your own website by carefully selecting the words you use to interlink between your own webpages. You can also control some of the anchor text links to your website from other sites via guest blogging, content syndication, and other content marketing techniques. But that’s a talk for another day.


6. Mobile Responsiveness

If you want to optimise your local business website, this is perhaps the most important part of the process.

Your local business website must be mobile-friendly. Full stop. There is no other way to go about it. Local customers often use mobile devices to search for nearby businesses.

We have already seen the growing impact of mobile devices and smart phones in today’s digital marketing landscape – and it is not going to stop.

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, search engines will not rank you highly in their search engine results pages.

And don’t be fooled with your desktop search engine ranking positions, because mobile rankings are different than desktop ranking positions. Yes that’s right, your website has two different ranking positions on Google, one for desktops and one for
mobiles.

Recently, Google also announced a major mobile update that penalises the websites that aren’t 100% mobile compliant. We saw a major drop in the rankings for websites that were not mobile
responsive. So make sure that your local business website is fully compliant with every mobile device or smartphone out there.


7. Heading tags

Most pages on your website have headings, right?

Did you know search engine robots look at this headings
to help understand the context of a webpage?

You can assign headings different “levels” of importance. On each page on your site you should have one H1 tag, and then where necessary add H2 and H3 tags for subheadings.

The use of keywords in headings is another relevancy factor Google takes into consideration so make sure to use your most important keyword somewhere in your H1 tag.


8. URL Structure

Take a look at this URL for a local carpet cleaning company.

url-best-practices-for-seo
Notice how the most important keywords are used within the URL of the webpage. In the case of this webpage the keywords for this local business are “Carpet cleaning” and “Beckenham”.

Search engine robots pay close attention to the URL of a page to help understand what the page’s content is relevant to. Make sure on your local product and services pages that your location and product/service name are included in your URL.


how-to-create-schema-and-place-it-on-your-website

Chapter 6: How to Create Schema and Place It On Your Website

Schema.org has been nothing short of a revolution in how websites appear in the search engine results pages. It has been around for some time now, but unfortunately, local businesses have been very slow in adapting to it and including Schema.org.

According to an article by TechCrunch (albeit from 2012), only 25% of local U.S. businesses have websites and only 10% of them display prices online.

This shows how slow local businesses have been around the web in updating to SEO and web technological updates. Schema markup is another such technology. It allows search engines — like Google, Yahoo! and Bing — to display valuable, important information about a business website. This information may include online reviews, prices, sitelinks, number of hours required to perform a task (recipes), testimonials, or even entire menus in the search engine results pages.

Because of this added information, your search engine listing can pop out a lot more than hundreds of other results in the search engine results pages. Here is an example:

example-of-schema-tags
This extra set of information in the search engine results pages can significantly increase the organic CTR (the click-through rate that the a website gets), which can eventually increase search engine rankings for that website.

Here are the steps you need to follow to place schema markups in your local business:

Side note: In the following example, we use the “Articles” data type as it is easily the most common form of online content that most local businesses use. But based on your specific requirements, you can use the following method to structure any type of content or online data.

structured-data-mark-up-helper
Step No. 1:
Go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper, select a data type (in this case, we are going with ‘Articles’), paste your URL in the box and click ‘Start Tagging’.

Step No. 2:
The next section divides your web page into two segments. The left pane shows your page; the right pane display the data items. Now select the element you want to mark up and select the most appropriate tag for it.

Here is an example of selecting the ‘Name’ tag.

schema-name-tag
Step No. 3:
Continue tagging all the elements and once you have finished, click ‘Create HTML’.

schema-name-tagging
Step No. 4:
Download the HTML file and click ‘Finish’. Upload
the HTML file to your source code.

Step No. 5:
You can also use the Structured Data Testing Tool
to see how your page would look like with the added
Schema markup. Just paste the HTML code and
click preview.

There are a lot of Schema markups available that you can use. One tip is to visit the Organisation of Schemas page to see the list of Schemas; you can select the most common types of schema markup from there.

On the other hand, the All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets plug-in for WordPress also comes highly recommended.

Here is a list of 8 schema markups that local businesses can use:

 


local-seo-ranking-factors

Chapter 7: Local SEO Ranking Factors

You will find that there are several Local SEO ranking factors scattered through this ebook. And as you continue to read you will gain a sound understanding of how search engines rank your website in local search engine results pages (SERPs).

This particular chapter is exclusively dedicated to all such Local SEO
ranking factors.

If you really want to optimise your local business website and get at the top of the SERPs, these are the factors that you need to pay attention to and understand.


1. Proper Category Associations in Google My Business

It is perhaps one of the most important Local SEO ranking factors for local business websites.

Make sure that you pick the right categories for your local business.

Otherwise, you may find it extremely difficult to rank for the right type of business.

In simple words, do not select your business category as “accountant” if you are an “electrician”.

Pretty obvious, right?


2. Consistent Citations

Citations are one of the most important factors in Local SEO.

We have an entire chapter dedicated to citations later on; you will find a lot of useful information there. But to summarise citations as a Local SEO ranking factor:

  • Consistent citations are important. Make sure there are no inconsistencies.
  • Come up with a Business Name, Business Address and Business Phone Number structure (aka NAP) and use it exactly across the web. Do not change it.
    For instance, “Happy Florist Shop” and “Happy Flower Shop” is an example of inconsistency. If you use different business names, addresses and phone numbers when creating citations their SEO value will be diminished.
  • Do not change your NAP unless absolutely necessary. If you have to, make sure you change ALL your previously created citations with the new information.

 


3. Citations From Authoritative Websites

The citations you get should be from authoritative websites.

It is common sense, after all, that having your business listed on high-quality websites is going to help you more in the search engine rankings than being listed on low-quality websites.

Therefore, one of your Local SEO strategies should be to first target as many high quality and authoritative websites as you can. Once you get citations from such websites, you can gradually expand your reach and envelope more and more websites.

It’ll give your local business website a strong citation profile and that will help you in achieving higher search engine rankings.

Chapter #8 of this book specifically deals with citations and where to get them.


4. Domain Authority

“Domain Authority” or “DA” is a metric that predicts how well a website is supposed to perform in search engines as compared to other websites.

There are several factors that effect Domain Authority, but the important point here is that DA is a significant Local SEO ranking factor.

MozBar is an easy to way to check a website’s Domain Authority. If you want to learn more about DA, here is a very good article.


5. Proximity of Address to Centre of Town

Every city or region has a “centroid” — the central area of the city. The proximity of your local business’s address to the centroid can have a large role to play in the Local SEO ranking positions for your business.

But, of course, this is something that you can control or optimise. It would be unrealistic to assume that a business will move its physical location to come closer to the city’s centroid just to improve its search engine rankings. Having said that, it is another Local SEO ranking factor, albeit one that
you can’t realistically control.

Some local businesses do try to get around this by buying “virtual” office space in the city centre they are targeting.


6. Searcher to Business Distance

Many searches for local businesses do not always contain a geographic term. For instance, if someone is searching for “microwave ovens in Chelsea”,
they may not always include the keyword “Chelsea” in their query.

In that scenario, especially on mobile devices, search engines tend to display the nearest local businesses
that match the keywords and business description.

So proximity of your local business with the online searcher is another factor that comes into play.
Unfortunately, this is another Local SEO factor that you can’t control.


7. Quality of Backlinks

At the moment, backlinks are in the top 3 search engine ranking factors for Google. And the rule isn’t very different when it comes to local businesses SEO.

What is a “backlink” a hear you say?

It is simply a link between one website and another. You can use tools Ahrefs or Moz’s Open Site Explorer to analyse your website’s backlink profile.

The bottom line, however, is that the more high -quality backlinks you have from well established and authoritative websites, the better chances your
website has to rank higher in the SERPs.

Chapter 12 of this e-book contains all the details you need to know to build powerful backlinks for local businesses.


8. Town Name in Title Tags, URLs, Heading Tags, Image File Names, Meta Descriptions

As the name of this point suggests, it is important that you include the name of your town in the title tags you have on your website, as well as all the other on-page SEO key areas we mentioned in Chapter 5 in this e-book.

So, those were 8 very important Local SEO ranking factors. How many are you optimised for?

Of course there are many other factors that play their part in determining a website’s search engine ranking position in the results pages. But, more often than not, these are the 8 factors that significantly affect a website’s local ranking position.


 

local-citations

Chapter 8: Local Citations

What Is a Citation?

In Local SEO, citations are referred to as “mentions” of your local business on other websites and web pages. A local citation is anywhere where the business name, address, and phone number are listed together.

In the LocalSEO world, it is commonly known as ‘NAP’.

The important thing to note here is that citations are “mentions” — even if there is no link back to your website.

So if a third-party website mentions your website, it can be referred to as a citation. And it does not matter if that website has created a backlink to your website or not.

A very common example is that of the online yellow pages or other directory websites.

In online directories, businesses details are often listed and mentioned, but links are not always created back to the websites of those businesses.

Those listings or mentions are known as citations


Why Are Citations Important?

In Local SEO, citations are very important.

They are considered a crucial Local SEO search engine ranking factor. The more citations a local business website has across the web, the better positioned that website is to get higher search engine rankings.

In other words, all factors being equal, a website with more citations is going to appear higher in the search engine rankings than a website with fewer citations.

According to a study by David Mihm, citations can make up to 25% of the local SEO factors.

local-ranking-factors-by-moz
Citations are also important because search engines acquire important business-related information from these listings and mentions.

They become all the more crucial for small businesses, such as plumbers and electricians, because a lot of independent business owners don’t have well optimised websites


Sources to Get Citations

Now that you know the importance of getting citations, let’s identify a few possible sources from where you can get them:

Third-Party Websites

Third-party websites such as Yelp, FourSquare, and HotFrog etc. are regularly crawled by search engines (Bing, Google, etc.).

You need to have as many citations as possible in these places so when search engine crawlers crawl these websites, they find your business and its details.

Pro Tip: Send me an email at [email protected] I’ll send you a list of over 150 citation sources.

Local Blogs

Local blogs are also great places to get your business mentioned. You can find many interesting local blogs by running a simple Google search. Use a “[your city] + blog” search query in Google to find relevant blogs in your regional area.

The best thing about using this search string is that the blogs that do appear in the SERPs are likely to have a good reputation in the eyes of search engines. They are likely to be well established and will give you better SEO value.

If you can persuade the website owner, you should try and publish guest posts there to get a good citation and even a backlink to your site.

Local Business Directories

Every local area has a local online business directory. Search engines pay a lot of attention to these local business directories — especially the ones
that are spam-free.

These local business directories should be in your radar to get your business cited.

Industry-Focused Directories

Just as there are local business directories, there are also industry-focused directories that you can leverage to get your local business mentioned.

Industry-Focused Blogs

It is always a great idea to look for local blogs to get your business mentioned. That may get you a citation, a backlink, and potential customers. However, you do not have to be limited to that.

When you are done targeting local blogs, you should also target industry-focused blogs. And since that’s a narrower, more targeted search, you do not have to be limited by regions or local area. Just shortlist a few industry-related blogs and target them to get citations.

Competitors citations

Using a tool like WhiteSpark or Rocket Ranking you can discover what citations your competitors have and go about trying to replicate them.

Tools To Help You Get Citations
You can manually get citations by the methods mentioned above. However, there are also a few tools that simplify and automate the process for you.

Here are some of the most popular local SEO tools that help you get citations:


 

optimising-to-rank-in-the-local-map-pack

Chapter 9: Optimising To Rank In Local Map Pack Results

In 2015 Google made a significant change in the way local businesses appear in the “Local Map Pack”.

pizza-restaurants-in-bromley-google-listing-diagram
Two of the major changes that have affected local businesses are:

  • The Local Map Pack now always appears above all organic results, which gives local businesses an edge over natural, organic results.
  • On the other hand, where there used to be 7 results in the Local Map Pack, now there are only 3. This has added more competition as businesses only have 3 places in the local map to compete for.

Why the change?

Nobody knows. Perhaps Google had sufficient data that users are not clicking past the 3rd map pack result. We do not know the exact reason for sure.

But we all know that Google has a habit of testing different things, and this is one of them. We also know that Google often tests different things and also revert back to the way things were.

So this 3-pack result may or may not be permanent, but this is what it is right now. And if you want your local business to appear in this Local Map Pack, you need to optimise it well enough so it appears
in the top 3 results.

Here are a few tips you need to keep in mind for optimising to rank in local map pack results:


1. NAP Data & Consistency

NAP refers to your business Name, Address, and
Phone number.

You should outline your NAP data for your business at the start of your Local SEO campaign and keep it consistent.

If you are constantly changing your NAP data when adding your business to new directories, search engines will not be able to work out where your business is, what it is called or what its phone number is.

Unless it is absolutely necessary to change anything in your planned NAP data, do not.

Changing your NAP data affects your local citation profile, reviews, and search engine ranking positions. Instead of building and rebuilding your local business’s search engine profile, try to maintain
consistency and do not make any unnecessary changes.


2. Google My Business Account

Although we have discussed in detail the creation and optimisation of a Google My Business account, it is still a very important factor when it comes to surviving in the 3- pack map results.

When you create a Google My Business account, it connects your local business with Google Maps. With a well-optimised profile and website, you give your business a greater chance to appear in the top 3 local map pack results.


3. Online Reviews

Online reviews play an important role in appearing in the top-3 Local Map Pack results.

There are two factors that you need to pay special attention to:

1. The more positive reviews you get, the better it is
for your local business’s search engine rankings.

2. Secondly, it is not just the amount of positive reviews you get. The frequency by which you get online reviews also play an important part.

Consistency is key here, so keep working to get more reviews on a continuous basis.


4. Citations

The citation profile of your local business is another factor that Google considers before ranking it in the top-3 map pack results.

Again, consistency is the key. You need to continuously work round-the-clock to strengthen your local business citation profile. Most directories do not create a link back, so the only way to properly create a citation is by aligning your NAP information.

Chapter #8 of this e-book explains what you need to know about building citations.


5. Backlinks

You know how important backlinks are, right?

It does not matter if you are a local business or not, search engines greatly value backlinks and the “SEO value” they bring with them. If your local business website has a great backlink profile, it is more likely to appear in the top-3 results in the Local Map Pack than with a website that does not have a very strong backlink profile.

Learn more about how to build backlinks later in this guide.


6. Location

Last but not least, location is something that will continue to play a major role here.

If your local business is in East Dulwich, you need to optimise it for that particular area. If someone searches for a relevant keyword in
Charing Cross, your business will probably not appear in the results.

It is because proximity to a local business is something that search engines value a lot. Google are not going to show businesses that are very far from the searchers location; it would be illogical. So optimise for the specific area your business is in.


 

building-credibility
 

Chapter 10: Building Credibility — Local Reviews

When it comes to Local SEO, building credibility with reviews and online testimonials is an extremely important aspect.

We all know that testimonials and social proofing are important in online marketing and business in general, but they are even more crucial in case of local business SEO.

This is because search engines pay a lot of attention to these online reviews.

Last year, Moz conducted a study on local search engine optimisation factors, and they found out that reviews directly impact the search engine rankings of a local business website.

In fact, Moz found out that the total number of reviews, the frequency by which your website gets reviews in the online world, and the diversity of the reviewing websites, all directly impact the search engine rankings of your website and how it generally appears in the SERPs.

Moreover, there are also many other benefits that make getting reviews absolutely important for local business

Here are some major benefits that reviews, testimonials, and online credibility can yield:

  • There is, of course, the major SEO benefit
    that we just discussed.
  • Online reviews directly affect the total
    number of customer conversions you get.
    According to research by Bright Local, 92%
    customers read online reviews before finalising
    a purchase.
  • Good reviews can also lead to viral wordof-
    mouth marketing that, in turn, leads to
    even more exposure, higher credibility, and
    more customers.
  • Well-managed reviews and viral word-of-mouth
    can open opportunities to digital
    PR initiatives.

In this chapter, we discuss different ways you can get more reviews and build credibility for your local business.


1. Just Ask

Just ask your customers to leave reviews. Seriously.

Sometimes, it is just that simple. There are so many businesses that leave wonderful opportunities of getting good reviews for their business from their satisfied, existing customers on the table. The only thing they have to do is to ask their customers to leave a review.

It does not have to be a “good” review. Don’t ask for that. Most customers are likely to give you a good feedback anyway.

Furthermore, the next time you get a customer who compliments you via email or phone, thank them and ask if they would be kind of leave the same compliment in an online review.

You will be amazed to see how many awesome reviews you will be able to collect by just asking.


2. Make It Easy and Simple to Leave Reviews

It’s human psychology.

Unless leaving a review is an easy experience, they won’t actively look for ways to leave one.

This is why it is your responsibility to make it extremely simple and easy for them to leave online reviews for your local business.

Our previously discussed point — of asking them to leave a review — won’t work if they can’t easily figure out a way to do so. Here are a few ideas:

  • You can use in-shop “Find Us On Google/Facebook/Yelp” banners to increase the number of reviews you get.
  • Another way is to put direct links to your review websites in multiple “hot spots” on your website or in your email signature.
  • You can also give these direct review links to your satisfied customers via a thank-you email that you can send after a transaction is completed.

 


3. Provide Incentives

First of all, providing an incentive is definitely not the same as “buying reviews”. Buying your reviews is bad, unethical, and does not add to your online marketing goals. However, providing incentives to get more reviews is sensible and highly recommended.

Even the most satisfied customers sometimes need a push — a little incentive — to leave a review. This is where this technique comes in.

Offer something cool to people who review your business, and that should be a good enough incentive to increase the average number of reviews you get on a monthly basis. However, make sure that the incentive you are offering is for a leaving a review — not for leaving a “good” review.

Leave it to your customers whether they want to leave a positive  review or a negative one. Just focus on providing high-quality products and services to your potential customer base, and most of the reviews you get will be positive ones.

A common technique is to offer a monthly giveaway to a random reviewer. You may want to try it.


4. Thank Your Reviewers

Whenever anybody leaves a review for your local business, don’t forget to thank them.

It is a proven technique to get more reviews and loyal fans, and you see it all the time in action on different social media websites. Notice how popular brands use social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter to thank each reviewer and customer — even the ones who leave negative review.

It not only builds your credibility, but it also makes other customers comfortable to leave reviews for your business.


5. Setting Up Profiles On Multiple Review Websites

Even if you do not believe that your local business is review-driven, it is still a very good idea to set up profiles on multiple review websites.

Research and shortlist all the review websites that are relevant to your local business and then start creating your profiles there. Some of the most popular and commonly used websites are Yelp, TripAdvisor, Reviews.co.uk, etc. Websites like TrustPilot has reviews that also show up on Google, so that’s an extra benefit there.

Anyway, the point is to have online presence on multiple review websites so you can leverage every ounce of potential from there.


The Bottom Line With Online Reviews

The bottom line is that getting online reviews should be one of your primary business goals. If you really want to improve local SEO and enhance your business’s credibility, this has to be an on-going process.

During this process, you will get some negative reviews on the way. It does not matter. For as long as you are keeping most of your customers happy and satisfied, and are genuinely offering a good product that solves their problems, you will mostly good reviews.

Furthermore, remember that it is not always about the good reviews you get. Search engines also take into factor the frequency by which your local business gets reviewed, and that’s an important search engine ranking factor in Local SEO.


 

 

Local SEO Backlink Building Strategies

Chapter 11: Local SEO Backlink Building Strategies

Backlinks are important. We all know that.

Recently, it was reported that backlinks are in the top 3 Google search engine ranking factors — along with content and Rank Brain.

And backlinks aren’t just important for traditional SEO. They are equally important for local businesses because they improve a local business website’s Domain Authority, credibility, and they directly affect its search engine ranking positions.

However, backlink building strategies for local businesses can be a little different than building backlinks for a website that isn’t a local business.

As a local business you want to generate backlinks that not only help you in your quest for higher local search engine ranking positions, but also increase your exposure, traffic, and customer base locally.

Business owners have often found it difficult to build meaningful and relevant backlinks with ease.

But make no mistake, it is an important search engine ranking factor for your local business website — one that you can’t do without.

So in this chapter, we discuss a few proven ideas using which you can generate high quality backlinks for your local business website.

Here are 8 methods you can start using right away.


1. Sponsor Local Sports Teams

As a local business owner, can you sponsor local sports teams?

It not only enhances your credibility and gives you more exposure, but also generates high-quality local backlinks for your business website.

When you sponsor a local sports team, first of all you get relevant backlinks from the website of that sports team. Then you get mentioned on social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Lastly, you also get covered on local blogs and local news websites, which help you land some very high-quality and relevant backlinks.

sponsor-backlink-idea


2. Host Local Community Events

Whether it is Christmas or St George’s day, there are dozens of opportunities every year when you can host local communities and create events. And that’s another great way to get some exposure and backlinks.

Organise a community gathering event that families and local people can enjoy, and you are more likely to get covered in the local news and get important backlinks and social mentions.


3. Local Meetups

Go to meetup.com and you will find that it is an untapped goldmine of incredible local links.

The idea is to search for local groups that are directly related to your business. If you can’t find such groups, you can branch out to other categories that also link to your business somehow. This is just to ensure that the backlinks — and traffic — you get are directly relevant for your business.

These groups of people are often looking for places to organise their gatherings /meetups. Offer your business location as the gathering point, and you will get a solid backlink — not to mention the traffic,
exposure, social mentions, and potential customers that come with it.


4. Local Resource Pages

local-resource-pages
It is a very simple concept, but it can help you land multiple high-quality backlinks.

The idea is to create a local resource page that others can find helpful. Bonus points if you can create a local resource page that is also directly related to your business.

For instance, if you have a great judgment and taste for a curry, you can create a local resource page that lists and shares all the best curry houses in town.

Here is another example. If you run a hotel you can create a local resource page mentioning all the businesses that your guests would find useful. You can also mention the businesses and places they
should visit.

You get the idea, right?

Because of the fact that people in your area and your customers would find such information useful, you are likely to get a lot of backlinks from local websites as well as from websites that aren’t from your region.

Pro Tip: Once you create these resource pages, reach out to all the businesses you have mentioned. They would actually thank you that you mentioned them and share your local resource page link on their website and social media profiles (it’s free publicity for them, after all!). When they do share, you will free high-quality backlinks. Win-win.


5. Local Awards

Almost every local area or community frequently organises regional competitions and distribute awards. Brainstorm, research, and find the potential competitions and awards your business can get nominated for.

The results are always mentioned online — on websites as well as social media networks. When you win any award, you get a backlink along with some great exposure and social media mentions in your
local area.


6. Interview Local Figures

Every community or local region has some local figures that are popular. To get more local backlinks, you should try to interview some of these local figures and celebrities.

Once such an interview gets published, it almost always gets a lot of backlinks and SEO value.


7. Guest Post on Local Business Websites

Create a list of all the best local business websites that are in your area. Shortlist the ones that are directly or semi-related to your business.

Once you have finalised your list, approach each one of them and offer to write a free guest-post. As you must know, guest-posting is one of the best ways to acquire relevant backlinks.

You can also use this technique with local bloggers. Reach out to them and offer to write a free guest-post in exchange of a backlink.

Pro Tip: Don’t just create a backlink via the author box bloggers get at the end of the post. Instead, try getting at least one contextual backlink. They are considered 5x more powerful


8. Get Listed in Local Business Directories

Almost every town has its own local business directory. That’s a great source to get a relevant backlink to your local business website.

Research and find your city’s local business directory and get your business listed in that. You will get a backlink and free publicity for your business.

get-listed-in-directories


Google Analytics and Search Console Set Up

Chapter 12: Google Analytics and Search Console Set Up

Do you know what the major benefit of online marketing and online business over traditional forms of business and marketing?

In online business, you can track almost anything.

It is an option that offline business owners simply do not have.

Google Analytics is one of those applications that you can use for free and track every activity that happens. You can then use this data and information to rectify your mistakes, improve user-experience on your website, increase conversions, and grow your business.

In this chapter of our e-book, we are going to explain how you can setup Google Analytics. Once we are done with that, we will also setup Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmasters Tools).

You get a lot of valuable information when you combine both these tools.

So let’s begin.

Step No. 1:
First, visit Google Analytics You will see a screen like this. Click “Sign In”. If you do not have an account it will prompt you to create one.

google-analytics
Step No. 2:
Once you are in, you will see this screen that you will have to fill in with the appropriate information.

Just insert the right URL of your website (that’s the most important part).

google-analytics-set-up
Step No. 3:
Once you have done all this, you can click on the ‘Get Tracking ID’ button. You will be then asked to accept Google’s TOS. Click accept to proceed.

Google Analytics terms of service
Step No. 4:
You will then be given a tracking code that you will have to use in your website, so Google Analytics can start tracking the activity there.

The tracking code would look something like this.

google-analytics-tracking-code
Step No. 5:
You will have to paste this code to each page of your website so it can be tracked. If you have don’t the right HTML knowledge for it, consult a web developer to help you – it should be very quick and easy to add.

And that’s it.

It would take approximately 24 hours for your website’s stats to appear in Google Analytics, and then itwould start tracking every activity going forward.

Google Analytics can be confusing (just because there is so much information and stuff in there). If you are getting overwhelmed by its interface, you might want to check the following guides and tutorials to get acquainted with Google Analytics and learn how to use it properly.


How To Setup Google Search Console

By now, you have setup your Google Analytics account. Now it is time to get Google Search Console ready.

Google Search Console (GSC) gives you a wealth of valuable knowledge regarding your website. You can also use GSC to improve the SEO health of your website.

In this section of the e-book, we will see how to setup your website in Search Console. The first step is to always add your website (property) in Google Search Console and verify it. Without doing this, you cannot do anything else.

Step No. 1:
Visit Google Search Console and use your Google account to log in.

Step No. 2:
After logging in, find the red button that says ‘Add Property’. This is where you add your website.

google-search-console-add-property
Step No. 3:
Enter the URL of your website as it is and click the ‘Add Property’ button.

Make sure that you copy the URL of your website exactly as it is. Otherwise, Google Search Console may not get it right.

Step No. 4:

Once you have added your website, it is time to verify it. There are a few different ways to verify your property in Google Search Console. But since we have just created and setup a Google Analytics account, we will use that method.

Click the ‘Verify’ button and select the ‘Google Analytics’ method.

google-search-console-alternative-methods-of-verifing-account
Step No. 5:
As you have just setup the Google Analytics account, simply hit the ‘Verify’ button and that’ll take care of it.

That’s it.

Now you have both Google Analytics and Google Search Console setup.

There is just one more thing that you may have to do it, i.e., combining your GA and GCS account to get the most comprehensive set of information possible.

Although GA and GCS appear to display very similar information, they are fairly different than each other.

If you want to get the maximum amount of information, you will have to use both these products. And to get the most of both these products, you can link them with each other. To do that, visit your Google Search Console account and click the ‘Gear’ icon at the upper right corner of the screen.

There you will see ‘Google Analytics Property’. Click it.

link-google-search-console-to-google-analytics
It will bring all the different Analytics accounts that are associated with your Google account.

Simply choose the one that you want to link with Google Search Console and you are done.

Here are two resource pages that can help you truly understand the power of Google Search Console for your local business website:


How to Run a Local SEO Audit On Your Website

Chapter 13: How to Run a Local SEO Audit On Your Website

Most online businesses fail within the first 12 months

Why?

Mostly because they believe in something and they start doing it without measuring the results they are getting out of it. They don’t track or audit their progress, which ultimately leads to their downfall.

If you want to properly optimise the SEO of your local business website and keep growing and getting stronger in the search engine rankings, you will have to regularly run a Local SEO audit on your website.

How do you do that?

I’ll show you.

It may seem daunting to run a Local SEO audit on your website, but it really isn’t. In this section of the e-book, we share several different ways you can run an effective audit. Follow along and you will have done your first Local SEO audit in know time.

Let’s begin.


1. Keyword Analysis

SEO is mainly about keywords.

This includes the keywords your target audience and potential customers search for – and the keywords your website is optimised for.

The first step is to find out the keywords you are optimising your website for, which of course you should have planned. However, if you haven’t, the simplest way to do it is by using The Google Keyword Planner tool.

Insert the URL of your website and Google will show you the list of keywords it believes you are most relevant for

keyword-planner-seo
You can also use a tool like Ahrefs (premium tool) to know exactly which keywords you are ranking for, and how much traffic those keywords are bringing you.

SEMRush is another tool that can give you valuable information regarding the organic keywords you are ranking for and their exact positions.

sem-rush
Refer to Chapter 4 for more information on keyword research.


2. Analysing Organic Search Results

Once you have an idea about the keywords that you are or should be ranking for, the next step would be to analyse organic search results.

Simply type one of the important keywords in Google in a private browsing mode and see which results come up. You will be able to find your competitors and the exact webpage they are ranking for in the search engine results pages. Especially notice the competitors that are above you in the SERPs.

  • Note how their title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs are formed. We are going to need this analysis in the next steps.
  • Visit their web pages and read their content. Try to identify the differences that are there. Are they using images while you are not? Are they creating longer pages? Do they use video? Is their page more engaging than yours?

Your goal should be to identify your webpage’s weaknesses and come up with reasons why Google would be ranking your web pages below your competition. Based on that analysis, you can come up with ideas to beat them.

Pro tip: Once you have identified a few web pages that you want to beat in search engines, you can also use The Skyscraper Technique by Brian Dean.

 

Pro tip: Run your competitors webpages through Moz’s Opensite Explorer or Ahrefs to find out how many backlinks are pointing to their pages. Is it more than yours? If so, you need to find a way to get more.


3. Meta Information

The next step in the Local SEO audit is to identify any loopholes in the meta information of your website and fix them.

You can do it manually or you can use a tool like Screaming Frog to make the entire process very simple and easy to do. I’ll highly recommend that you use Screaming Frog. It’s free and makes the process very easy and fast.

Just download the tool and insert the URL of your website. It will come up with a whole bunch of information.

For this step, however, we are interested in the meta information of the website.

  • First, try to identify any missing meta titles. If there are any, make sure that you write keyword-rich and interesting titles for those pages. Use the competitor analysis and information that we gathered in the previous steps.
  • Repeat the same process with missing meta descriptions.
  • After that, try to optimise the meta titles and meta descriptions that already exist, but not are not fully optimised. Make sure they are interesting, compelling, and have the right keywords.

As a general rule, make sure that the meta titles you write are not more than 55 characters and the meta descriptions are under 160 characters.

screaming-frog-scrapper


4. Google Search Console Audit

Remember when we mentioned that you can use Google Search Console for SEO purposes?

Google Search Console puts a lot of valuable information regarding the SEO health of your website out there for you. You can then use that information when running an SEO audit and fix those issues
to improve the overall SEO health of your website.

From fixing crawl errors to creating a sitemap, you can do a lot of improvements using the Search Console information.


5. Social Signals

Although it still appears to be debatable, it really isn’t. Social signals directly and indirectly influence the SEO of your website. So, how strong your local business website really is in terms of social media presence across different platforms?

This following chart from Search Metrics compare
the SEO impact of different social media signals.

search-metrics-ranking-factors
Also, strong social signals can lead to happy customers, more positive reviews, increase links and citations, higher time on website, and more repeat visitors. All these consequences also lead to better SEO and higher search engine rankings.

You can start your social signal audit by simply searching for your brand name in Google. See how many social media platforms it shows.

For instance, if you search for Pat Flynn, who is a very popular 6-figure internet marketer, we get this.

pat-flyn
The first page of Google displays a number of the major social media websites and Pat’s presence on it.

Run a search with your brand’s (local business name) and see what comes up.

The more social profiles of your business appear in the search results, the better it is. However, in case your social media profiles are not appearing in the search results, it means that your profiles are not good enough at the moment and you should work on them.

Start by updating them. Make sure that you clearly use your brand’s name in the description of each social network’s profile. Also, start investing some more time on each platform.

Once those networks start getting some engagement, they will start appearing in the search engine results pages.

 


How to Audit Your Competitors’ SEO

Chapter 14: How to Audit Your Competitors’ SEO

Running your own website’s Local SEO audit is one thing. Auditing your competitor’s SEO is a different ball game.

Auditing your own website helps you identify fixes and errors on your website.

However, auditing your competitors SEO gives you new ideas on how you can grow your local business, improve its SEO, target new keywords, and beat your competitors in the process of doing so.

In this chapter of our e-book, we will discuss a few different ways on how to audit your competitors SEO.


1. Keyword Research

We have already discussed a few of these tips in the previous chapter.

Let’s discuss these tips and tricks from the perspective of competitor analysis.

First of all, you should start with Google Keyword Planner. In the previous Local SEO audit section, we used our own website’s URL.

This time, you will have to use the URL of one of your competitors that you want to analyse and audit.

competitor-keyword-analysis
You will be able to see the keywords your competitor’s website is optimised for.

Moreover, you can also see the level of competition and search volume of these keywords. Based on how relevant these keywords are for your business, you can start shortlisting them for your own SEO optimisation process.

Next, you can also use SEMRush to find analyse your competitors’ keywords and their search engine positions for each keyword.


2. Meta Information

In the previous chapter, you analysed your website’s meta information (meta title tags and meta descriptions).

That was an important step because you wanted to make sure that there are no missing meta tags.

For that, we recommended using Screaming Frog, which is a free tool and does the job adequately.

This time, you will have to use the tool again. The only difference would be that instead of using your own website, you will be analysing one of your competitor’s website.

Screaming Frog will enable you to see all their title tags and meta descriptions in one neat interface. This will allow you to notice any pattern.

Try to identify if you can find a few keywords used over and over.

Also, search for those keywords in Google and see how well your competitor is doing for those keywords in the SERPs.

Don’t be hesitant in applying some of those tactics yourself if you think those tactics are going to improve the way you have been optimising these meta tags on your website.


3. Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the most important SEO factors. So it is obvious that you keep a close eye on the backlink profile of your competitors.

It is important that you track what type of backlinks your competitors are getting, and from where. Then you can identify the opportunities to get backlinks from your website as well.

To put it simply, you should at least match the backlink profile of your competitors if you want to overtake them in the search engine results pages.

To see the backlink profile of any competitor, Moz and Ahrefs are two of the best tools. You can use either one.

The concept is simple.

Through this competitive analysis, your goal should be to find out two things:

1. Where your competitors get their backlinks (the
source / website)

2. How they get those backlinks (whether they used
guest-posting or any other technique to get that
backlink).

Once you have that knowledge, you know what you will have to do (hint: the same thing!) to land yourself a good backlink.

I personally like Ahrefs more than Moz when it comes to backlink analysis. They have a very robust system in place to help you find good backlink opportunities.


4. Social Signals

No competitor analysis can be complete without measuring social signals.

Take notes of how many Twitter and Facebook followers each of your competitors has.

Another important thing to note here is the number of different social media platforms they are active on.

For instance, you may not be active on Instagram, discarding it as a platform that is unlikely to help you grow your business. But what if you find out that one of your competitors is doing pretty well there?

That’s evidence that you should also get active on that social media website and don’t let your competitor grab the entire market share.

You can also check their overall “socialness” with Klout.

And don’t forget to just search your competitor’s name on Google and see how many oftheir social media profiles are ranking on Google’s 1st page.

Last but not least, check each of their social media profiles and see what type of content they usually post and what content gets the most engagement from their social media followers. You can craft your own content marketing and social media marketing strategy based on that.


5. Content

Content is king!

I’m sure you’ve heard that one before.

If any of your competitors is doing particularly well in search engines, it means that they must be doing content marketing right.

Content is such a big part of search engine rankings, and that’s why it is imperative that you know what your competitor is doing right.

One of the best ways to audit your competitor’s content is by using BuzzSumo. Its premium version is a little expensive, but you can easily do with the free version.

Simply speaking, BuzzSumo lets you find the most socially shared content on the web and the biggest influencers in a niche. When you insert your competitor’s URL in BuzzSumo, it lets you know their most popular content in terms of social media shares.

buzz-sumo
On the other hand, if you are using Ahrefs premium, you do not even need BuzzSumo. Ahref’s Content Explorer has all the features of BuzzSumo and then some.

While BuzzSumo only lets you analyse content in terms of their social media popularity, Ahrefs also let you filter content in terms of backlinks and total number of referring domains.

ahrefs


6. Google Trends

You can also Google Trends and compare each of your direct competitors to see how well they are performing each other.

It may not directly give you anything useful to use right away, but it paints a very clear picture overall. You will know which competitors are actually your competitors that you should target.

You can also for specific keywords that your competitors specialise in to see how the overall search volume trend over the years have affected them.


7. Google Alerts

Last but not least, Google Alerts is another tool that you should use to keep a bird’s eye view on everything.

First, Google Alerts lets you keep track of any keyword-specific update in your niche. Create alerts for the most important keywords to your local business, so you can instantly know if anything
important happens in your industry.

Second, you can create alerts for your competitors to see where and how they are getting online mentions.

Third, you should also create alerts for your own business to keep track of all the mentions and online publicity you get. Then you can leverage that information in various creative ways to ensure maximum publicity and coverage.


 

 

How To Track The Progress Of Your Local SEO Campaign

Chapter 15: How To Track The Progress Of Your Local SEO Campaign

How do you know the Local SEO techniques you have been applying work?

The only way to know is by tracking the progress of your local SEO campaign at regular intervals.

To thoroughly examine your progress and track the performance of your Local SEO campaign, you are going to need numbers. You can then put all those numbers of the current month/quarter with previous months’/quarters’ in a spreadsheet side-by-side to compare.

At least, this is the method we recommend when it comes to tracking local SEO campaigns.

And here are a few metrics that you should keep track of:


1. Overall Organic Website Traffic

One of the major goals of any SEO campaign is to get more website traffic. So the first metric you should track is the overall organic website traffic visitors.

How many website visitors are you getting on a monthly basis?

More importantly, how many website visitors are you getting this year in comparison with previous year’s data?

If your business isn’t old enough, you can also track these numbers on a quarterly or monthly basis. However, don’t forget to take into account seasonal impacts on website traffic.

For instance, there are some businesses that reach new highs and lows because of specific months of seasons. For example, if you have a business that sells Christmas trees and decorations, obviously you are going to see a spike in traffic, conversions, and sales in the month of December.

In the months of January and February, you would see a drop in website traffic, but it does not mean that your Local SEO campaign is failing. So keep these factors in mind when campaign website traffic on a monthly or quarterly basis.

You can easily find these numbers via Google Analytics. Login to your Analytics account and select Acquisition > Overview > All Traffic > Channels.

Google Analytics Organic Search Volumes


2. Conversions and Goals

Each local business website can have its own specific goals and criteria for website conversions.

It can be anything, depending on your specific online marketing strategy. These goals may be converting website visitors into email subscribers (leads), converting them into customers by completing a sale, or making them call your business for lead nurturing.

It can be anything.

The key here is to keep an eye on these goals and conversion rates. Ideally, they should be consistently growing. If they are not — despite getting consistent website traffic — then you are doing something wrong. And that would be a great time to run some A/B tests to ensure you are not wasting the traffic generated by the SEO campaigns.


3. Mobile Traffic

Many local business owners rely heavily on the overall website traffic and they feel content with whatever number they get. The mistake here is that they do not examine that overall traffic number by dividing it into desktop vs. mobile traffic.

Mobile usage is one the rise. And it will continue to become more crucial — especially for local business owners.

It is extremely important that you are ranking high in search engine results for mobile devices and getting a decent amount of mobile traffic. As we discussed in the earlier chapters, approximately 56% on-the-go mobile searches have local intent.

So that makes mobile traffic all the more important for local business owners like you.

Login to your Google Analytics account and browse to Audience > Mobile > Overview to see your mobile traffic.

google-analytics-mobile-traffic
 

It is important that you are mobile traffic is consistently on the rise.

Also, keep an eye on the mobile search engine rankings. Google announced a mobile-friendly update. After that update, many websites — who aren’t 100% mobile compliant — have lost important search engine rankings for mobile devices.

Make sure that your website isn’t one of those penalised websites.


4. Backlink Profile

As a general rule of thumb, the total number of backlinks your website has must be increasing on a regular basis.

The process of gaining and losing backlinks is a continuous one. However, when you compare quarterly results, there should be a definite increment.

Again, we’d recommend one of Moz or Ahrefs to thoroughly examine your website’s backlink profile and keep exploring new backlinking opportunities.


5. Referral Traffic

Organic traffic is great, but for local businesses ‘referral traffic’ is also very important.

Keep a close eye on how much traffic do you get from other websites — for example, Yelp and Google Maps.

If you are not satisfied with the numbers, you may need to optimise these third-party websites to get even more traffic.


6. Your Ranking Positions

Perhaps the easiest way to gauge the effectiveness of your Local SEO campaign is to measure your ranking positions for your target keywords on a monthly basis.

You can do this for free using Google Chrome’s Incognito browsing mode. Simply type in your list of keywords one after the other and note down their ranking positions.

If you do not use the Incognito browsing mode your results in Google will be biased by your previous search history and you will not get a true view of the results.

Alternatively, set up a campaign in Moz to automatically track your keywords every week. Moz will send you an email every week with the latest updates on your keyword ranking positions.


 

 

conclusion

Chapter 16: Bringing It All Together

In my opinion, for a business that caters for a specific local area, region, or city, Local SEO is the most important marketing strategy you can implement.

Without a Local SEO campaign, you cannot expect to rank highly in Google’s search engine results pages. Furthermore, Google is continuously making changes in the way local businesses are ranked in the SERPs – so you need to keep on top of it.

The competition is tougher than ever.

Yet, the techniques mentioned in this e-book are proven and tested.

You must have noticed that there is a recurring theme within this e-books content. In essence there are around half a dozen Local SEO ranking factors that play a major role.

These factors include: keyword research, on-page optimisation, Google My Business set up, citations, backlinks, reviews and schema mark up.

In order to achieve your business goals of getting a higher search engine ranking and generating more online sales, you need to pay special attention to these factors.

Keep getting high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites, citations, and positive reviews. Along with proper keyword research and on-page optimisation and you will soon start seeing better results.

Thank you for reading!

Josh Hamit
Founder of Improve My Search Ranking

Profile Picture

Josh Hamit

Sours: https://www.improvemysearchranking.com/comprehensive-local-seo-guide/

Do you want to rank your local business in Google, Bing, Apple Maps, and other local search engines? You’re in the right place.

46% of all Google searches are local.

Yet 56% of local retailers haven’t even claimed their Google My Business listing.

unclaimed google my business

An unclaimed Google My Business listing, indicated by the “Own this business?” link in the Knowledge Graph result.

For those of you that are unaware, claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing is the cornerstone of local SEO. If 56% of businesses haven’t even claimed their GMB listing, well, I doubt they’ve done much else…

But while claiming your Google My Business listing is a good starting point, there’s MUCH more to local SEO than that.

This 6‑part actionable guide tackles the lot… from start-to-finish.

Prefer video? You’re in luck!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQSVsHvpTTA

Local SEO refers to the process of ‘optimizing’ your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. These searches take place on Google and other search engines.

That last point is an important one—this isn’t just about Google.

People search for local businesses using various search engines… Google, Bing, Yelp, Apple Maps, etc.

coffee shop in sheffield bing

Bing’s “Local results” for “coffee shop in Sheffield” — one of the many places people search for local businesses online.

However, Google has an estimated ~87% market share (in the US, at least). Which means that most people are using Google to search for local businesses.

For that reason, this guide will be roughly 80% focussed on optimizing your local presence on Google.

So let’s talk about Google…

Google’s Local ‘Snack Pack’ VS. Organic Results

Writing blog posts is hard… I need a coffee.

Here are the search results for “coffee shop near me”…

coffee shop near me

Notice that there are two distinct sets of search results:

  • The “snack pack” results”
  • The “regular” organic results

I’m sure most of you are familiar with regular ol’ Google search results.

But what the heck are “snack pack” results?

Google Snack Pack is a boxed area that appears on the first results page when a local online search is made through Google’s search engine. The Snack Pack box displays the top 3 local business listings most relevant to the search enquiry. (Source)

According to one study, 33% of clicks go to the local “snack pack” results, with 40% going to the regular organic results.

Key takeaway: it pays to rank in both, which is where local SEO comes in.

quick reminder

Don’t forget that local Google searches are performed from many different devices and apps.

Here’s the same “coffee shop near me” search on mobile, in the Google Maps app, and in Google Assistant…

google maps assistant mobile

I’ll show you the secret of optimizing for all three of these apps (and any other Google apps) in one fell swoop later on in the guide. 😉

First things first…

You need to get the basics right.

That means making sure that your website is optimized for mobile visitors, as 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site.

Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check this.

mobile friendly test google

Performing a mobile-friendly test for the Ahrefs Blog. It passed.

You also need to make sure that your website doesn’t look like total garbage.

Case in point:

peak plumbing

It doesn’t matter where you rank, nobody is going to make contact when you have a website this ugly.

Lastly, I recommend making a note of your businesses current and past name(s), address(es), phone number(s), and website(s) in this spreadsheet.

nap spreadsheet

This will come in handy later.

Let’s get started!

Chapter 1. Keyword Research

Let’s say that you run a local coffee shop—it’s called Déjà Brew.

You would clearly want to pop up for searches like:

  • “coffee shop near me”;
  • “Déjà Brew”;
  • “what time does Déjà Brew close?;
  • “how long will it take to walk to Déjà Brew?”;
  • “Déjà Brew phone number”;
  • “what time does Déjà Brew close?

(Yes, I included “what time does Déjà Brew close?” twice as a little joke. I’m easily amused…)

But these aren’t traditional queries, because Google displays this information in card-like results in the SERPs.

Here’s an example for a pub near me:

hallamshire house phone number

Google pulls such information from Google My Business listings.

(More on that in the next section.)

But what about the more “traditional” keywords? How do you find out what they are and what you should be optimizing your site for?

Here are a few tactics:

1.1. Brainstorm Your SiLs (“Service in Locations”)

Local keyword research isn’t rocket science.

For most businesses, the primary keywords to target will be quite obvious.

Let’s say that you’re a plumber in Sheffield—how do you think people will search for your services?

They’ll probably go to Google and type something like:

  • “plumber in sheffield”;
  • “emergency plumber in sheffield”;
  • “clogged drain cleaning in sheffield”

Did you spot the format? It’s service in location (SiL).

Doing this is easy. Just make a list of all the services you offer and the locations you serve… then merge them together to create a bunch of potential keywords.

pro tip

Make sure to list out plurals and variations of your services.

E.g., “plumber in sheffield” → “plumbers in sheffield” → “plumbing in sheffield,” etc.

Here’s a cool tool to help with that.

Just enter your services and locations, then hit “Generate keywords.” It will kick back a list like this:

keywords generator

If you’re an Ahrefs user, you can then copy-paste these into Keywords Explorer to see the search volumes (and other metrics) for each keyword.

PROTIP

Are you doing local SEO for a business based in a small town? There may not be enough actual searches for us to display accurate search volumes.

So here’s a quick trick…

Swap out your location modifier (e.g., “Sheffield”) for a larger, nearby city (e.g., London).

You should see search volumes for this location.

coffee shop london

Then do the following calculation:

(Population of target town / Population of nearby city) * Search volume for nearby city

FYI, you can usually find population data just by Googling it.

Let’s see if we can reverse engineer a rough search volume for “coffee shop sheffield” from our knowledge that “coffee shop london” has approximately 900 monthly searches.

(518,090 / 8,136,000) * 900 = 57

Not too far off—the true search volume is 90.

NOTE. This will only provide an estimate. But if you use the same nearby city in your calculations for any keyword, you will be able to get a sense of the relative search volumes, which is what really matters.

1.2. Look for Keyword Ideas on Craigslist

Craigslist’s can be a goldmine when it comes to finding local keyword ideas. Just go to their services section, select your location and enter a keyword.

Let’s search for “plumber” in New York.

craigslist ideas

Right away, a bunch of keywords stand out—

  • “reliable plumbing services”;
  • “affordable plumbing services”;
  • “drain cleaning”;
  • “experienced plumber”

1.3. Google Autocomplete

Next up—use Google Autocomplete to generate more search suggestions.

This is easy. Just enter your primary keyword into Google and take note of the suggested searches.

Let’s do it for “coffee shop sheffield.”

cofee shop sheffield search suggestions

There’s some interesting suggestions here—I didn’t think of ”city centre” and “train station” during my initial brainstorm of locations.

Make a note of any that seem relevant.

You can then rinse and repeat this process for other locations or keyword variations you have.

If you’re an Ahrefs user, you can bypass this whole process by using the Search Suggestions report in Keywords Explorer. It contains scraped Google Autocomplete suggestions for the terms you enter.

This saves a lot of time, as there’s no need to do this manually using Google.

1.4. See What Keywords Your Competitors Rank For

Google is very good at understanding search intent, which is probably why the average #1 ranking page will also rank in the top10 for nearly 1,000 other relevant keywords (according to our study).

For example, when I look at the Organic Keywords report in Site Explorer for a local Sheffield plumbers website, I can see that they rank in the top 10 for a bunch of related terms.

Looking at the these keywords for your competitors will uncover other relevant long-tail and related searches.

But this is just one competitor. So here’s another trick…

Use Ahrefs Content Gap tool to see extract common keywords for multiple competitors at once.

Just paste in a bunch of competitors, leave the “at least one of the targets should rank in the top 10” box checked, and hit “Show keywords.” You should see something like this:

content gap keywords ahrefs

Nice!—some good ideas there!

Recommended reading:How to Do Local Keyword Research in 2021

pro tip

Do this for similar businesses in other, larger areas (e.g., a big city) to uncover keywords that may also be relevant in your area, which your local competitors may have missed.

For example, when I performed a Content Gap analysis for some London-based plumbers, I spotted keywords like “blocked drains london” and “drain clearance london.”

Neither of these variations come up for local competitors, so there may be some low-hanging fruit in the Sheffield variations of these keywords. I.e., “blocked drains sheffield,” etc.

Chapter 2. Google My Business, Bing Places, and Apple Maps Listings

Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing is arguably the most important part of local SEO, although Bing Places and Apple Maps listings are important too.

Setting these up isn’t too difficult—you just follow the instructions offered by Google/Bing/Apple.

But with GMB in particular, there are a few things that tend to trip business owners up.

That’s why I’ve included a full walkthrough below.

2.1. Google My Business

Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organisations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. (Source)

According to Moz, GMB is one of the top local ranking factors for both “snack pack” and organic results.

To set it up, go here, then follow these steps.

Step 1. Enter Your Business Name

Google will first ask for your business name.

You have two choices here:

  1. Create a new business
  2. Claim and existing business

Start typing, and Google will search for your business in their system.

starbucks.gmb

You’ll see it if they have it. Hit the option to “create a business with this name” if not.

Recommendation

Do NOT try to shoehorn keywords here. Enter your business name, and your business name ONLY.

For example, if you run a coffee shop in New York called Déjà Brew, then enter Déjà Brew as your business name. Do NOT enter something like Déjà Brew New York Coffee Shop—this is against Google My Business guidelines.

Step 2. Enter Your Address

Next, Google will ask for your address.

If you’re claiming a business that Google already has in their system, this will be prefilled. Otherwise, you will need to enter your address.

location gmb

If you have a brick-and-mortar business with a storefront, this is easy—just enter your shop address.

But you may be confused about what to enter here, if:

  • You work from home.
  • You have one or more business partners, and both work from home (multiple addresses)
  • Your business is mobile (e.g., food truck).
  • You have one or more offices.
  • You have a virtual office, but no real physical location.
  • You serve customers at a physical location AND remotely (e.g., a takeaway).

Here’s my advice:

  • If you have a real physical office, use that address.
  • If you (and one or more business partners) work from home, list the home address of the person closest to the primary area your business serves.
  • If you have only a virtual office, DONOT use this address—not unless this office is “staffed during business hours.” Doing so is against GMB guidelines. Use your home address instead.

Remember, consistency is key here, so I suggest copy-pasting the information from the spreadsheet you created earlier to ensure that this is both correct and consistent with the information on your website (and any other business listings you may have).

Claiming an existing listing? Double check the information Google has against the info in your spreadsheet. Update if necessary.

You will also see a checkbox labelled “I deliver goods and services to my customers.”

deliver

Ticking this will indicate that you are a “Service-area business” in Google’s eyes.

Basically, you should tick this box if you do, in fact, deliver goods and services to your customers… even if you also serve customers at a physical location (e.g., a restaurant with a takeaway).

If you do, you’ll see another checkbox pop up—”Hide my address (it’s not a shop).”

hide my address

Ticking this means that while Google will know the location of your business (for verification purposes), they won’t show your address to regular ol’ Googlers. It will remain private and unlisted on your GMB page.

I recommend checking this box if you listed a home address.

Step 3. Enter Your Exact Location

The next screen will show a map with a location pin.

You can drag and move this around to pinpoint your exact business location.

gmb location

9 times out of 10, you can trust Google on this.

But if it looks like the pin is inaccurately placed, do feel free to move it.

Step 4. Choose a Category

Google only lets you choose one category when setting up your Google My Business profile.

They have a ton of advice about how to choose the correct category here.

Here’s an excerpt that will be enough for most people:

Select categories that complete the statement: “This business IS a” rather than “this business HAS a .” The goal is to describe your business holistically rather than a list of all the services that it offers, products that it sells or amenities that it features. (Source)

Think about what your business IS, then start typing that into the category field.

Google will start suggesting categories as you type.

category gmb

Hit the one that seems most appropriate and hit “Next.”

Recommendation

Not sure what category to choose?

Look at your competitors.

Let’s say that you run shot blasting business in London. If you enter this into GMB, it will return no category results.

shot blasting google my business catgegory

However, try searching for “shot blasting [location]” in Google Maps. You will see which primary category your competitors chose.

blast cleaning service gmb

You can then steal their category.

Step 5. Enter Your Phone Number and Website (Optional)

This one is pretty straightforward—just enter your phone number and website URL.

Here’s some advice from Google.

Remember to be consistent. Use the data from your spreadsheet!

Step 6. Verify Your Listing

Before your GMB listing goes live, you will need to verify your listing.

This is usually done via phone or postcard—just follow the instructions from Google to verify.

Step 7. Optimize Your Listing Further

Congratulations—you’re verified!

But don’t stop there. You should optimize your GMB listing further by:

  • Adding more categories;
  • Uploading some photos (ideally ones taken on your premises or at least nearby, as these will have location metadata attached);
  • Listing your opening hours;
  • Listing any individual services you offer;
  • Adding any additional phone numbers;
  • Adding relevant attributes/amenities;
  • Etc.

Here’s a great guide to fully-optimizing your Google My Business listing. I recommend checking it out.

2.2. Bing Places

Next up—Bing Places.

This is essentially just Bing’s equivalent of Google My Business.

Is it as important as GMB? No, not at all. Bing only has a 7.81% market share in the US. Which means it’s about 1/10th as important as completing your GMB profile.

But as it only takes a few minutes to set up your profile, it’s still something you should do.

And as you’ll see in a moment, there’s a reason it pays to complete your GMB profile first. 😉

To get started, go here and hit “Get started.”

STEP 0. Check That You’re Not Already Listed!

First up—make sure your business is not already listed on Bing Places.

(I can’t stress the importance of doing this enough.)

To do this, go to Bing Maps and start typing your business name in the search bar. If you’re already listed, you should see your business appear in the live search results.

Let’s try this for Paul’s Meats—a stunning butcher’s shop near my old house.

paul smeats

Bing Places search results for “paul’s meats.”

Looks like he’s already listed.

If you find this is the case for your business, view the full listing, then hit the “Is this your business?” link in the bottom of the listing. (Yes, they couldn’t have made this any smaller!)

is this your business bing places

You will then be redirected to a page where you can claim/add your business—it will be partially pre-filled.

Step 1. Select Business Type

Next up—select your business type and location.

Here are your choices for business type:

  1. Small of medium business (1–10 locations)
  2. Chain business (more than 10 locations)
  3. Online business (no physical locations)
  4. I manage business listings on my client’s behalf

For the purpose of this guide, I’ll assume that you’re a small business with 1–10 locations.

If you do run a chain business, hit option #2—Bing will walk you through what you need to do.

So let’s hit option #1.

Now something magical will happen—there will be an option to import data from Google My Business.

import data from google my business

If you’re already verified on GMB, do this. Not only is it a time-saver, but it will also reduce the probability of mistakes.

If not, enter your business name and location (I recommend entering a ZIP code) as normal.

Bing will then search for your business. But as we already checked this in step #0, it shouldn’t find it. So hit the “Create new business” button.

bing places create new business

Step 2. Enter Your Basic Information

Now you will need to enter your business name, address, website, etc.

As with the Google My Business listing, you should copy-paste the data from your spreadsheet to ensure that it remains consistent with other listings.

There’s also the option to hide your address from the search results.

hide address bing

You should check this box if you work from home or use a virtual office.

Step 3. Choose a Business Segment & Category

First things first, if you’re a “healthcare professional or doctor,” tick the special box—that’s you done for the “business segment” part.

healthcare professional bing

Otherwise, hit the “browse” button and select one of the 11 available business segments. Select “I don’t know” if you’re unsure.

Then choose the category/categories that your business falls into.

Bing’s list isn’t as extensive as Google’s. But unlike Google, you can choose multiple categories (up to 10) here and then select a “primary” category later in the process.

I recommend hitting “browse” to bring up a modal window, then searching for an appropriate business category there. It displays categories and subcategories in a more logical manner.

coffee shop categories

Don’t go crazy here. Just because you can select 10 doesn’t mean that you should—just pick the ones that are truly appropriate for your business. This is usually one or two categories, in my experience.

You can then select a primary category from the categories you selected.

primary category bing

Finally, add a short description for your business—sprinkle your keywords throughout, but don’t overdo it.

Step 4. Add Phone, Website, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor links

Paste in your phone number from your spreadsheet—again, this ensures things stay consistent.

Bing also displays social profile links in their Knowledge Graph panel (or whatever Bing calls it) when people search for your business.

Here’s an example for Starbucks:

social profiles bing

So if you have them, add them.

If not, you can always add them at a later date.

Step 5. Add Photos

Here are Bing’s guidelines for photos.

You can add up to 10.

3.3. Apple Maps

Apple’s iPhone has a 32.9% market share in the US—that’s ⅓ of all smartphone users, or tens of millions of people.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you probably use Google Maps over Apple Maps.

But there are two important things to keep in mind:

    1. Millions of iOS users still use Apple Maps, as it’s the default maps application on iPhone. Apple is pretty secretive, so I couldn’t find any up-to-date stats on the number of iOS users who use Apple Maps. But, as it’s the default maps application on iPhone, I’d be willing to bet that it’s the majority of iOS users, which is millions of people.

 

  1. Apple Maps is built into Siri and Spotlight searches. Ask Siri for directions and Apple Maps will open. Same goes for Spotlight searches. Latest stats show Siri is actively used on more than half a billion devices. That’s a lot of people!

Bottomline: if you’re doing local SEO, you should claim and optimize your Apple Maps listing.

You can do that here. Then follow this guide to optimize your listing.

Chapter 3. Local Citations (NAP)

Citations are online mentions of your business, which usually display your business name, address, and phone number—collectively known as NAP (Name, Address, Phone).

There are two main types of citations: structured and unstructured.

Here’s an example of a structured citation:

Basically, structured citations are those where NAP information is presented in a visually-structured manner. They usually reside on business directories, social profiles, etc.

Here’s an unstructured citation:

the hallamshire house unstructured citation

The Hallamshire House, Sheffield, cited in a blog post about Sheffield pubs.

Unstructured citations are mentions of your business that in an unstructured format (surprising, right!?). These usually reside in blog posts, on newspaper websites, on business blogs, etc.

Why Are NAP Citations Important?

Here are two reasons why accurate and consistent NAP citations are important:

  1. According to Moz, citation signals are one of the top local ranking factors. This is true for both Google’s “snack pack” results and regular organic search results. Most likely, this is because consistent NAP information across the web serves to further verify the data Google has on file (GMB) for a particular business. Inconsistent NAP information, on the other hand, serves only to confuse, mislead and misdirect both Google and potential customers. This leads to a poor user-experience—not something Google is a fan of.
  2. Google isn’t the only place people search for businesses. They also search via Facebook, directories, etc. Having an accurate NAP listed on those sites will allow potential customers to find your business, which translates into more customers and revenue.

So when it comes to local SEO, your job is two-fold:

  1. Make sure existing citations are correct and consistent.
  2. Build more relevant citations.

Let’s explore how to do that.

3.1. Perform a Citation Audit

Most businesses will have some existing citations.

But more often than not, at least some of these will be incorrect and/or incomplete.

Some will have the correct business name and address, but the wrong phone number. Others will have the correct business name and phone number, but an old address. And some may have partial information—e.g., business name, address, but no phone number at all.

For example, Europcar Sheffield displays their phone number as +44 (0371) 3845930 on their website.

europcar sheffield phone number

But their Yelp listing shows 0871 384 5930.

yelp listing europcar

This is a perfect example of inconsistent NAP information across the web—and something that should be corrected.

Here are a few ways to find inconsistent, incomplete, and duplicate NAP citations:

Moz Local (Check My Listing)

Go here and search for your business.

Moz will check the main data aggregators in your country and uncover any incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate listings.

Here are a couple inconsistent listings (here, and here) it uncovers for Europcar Sheffield:

europcar inconsistent listings moz local

It’s looks like the phone number is the culprit here. They each display the 0871 version rather than the 0371 number listed on their official site.

To fix these, click through, claim the listing (if you haven’t done so already), then update.

Check the Big Aggregators/Suppliers

Most smaller directories obtain your businesses NAP information from data aggregators/suppliers.

Here are the big ones:

Checking your listings on these sites allows you to potentially update tens or hundreds of inconsistent/inaccurate NAP citations in one fell swoop.

pro tip

Use a paid service like BrightLocal to supply data to many of these data aggregators in one go.

Manual NAP Citation Audit

Fixing any issues with the major data aggregators won’t clean up all citations. You will almost certainly still have some inconsistent, incorrect or incomplete data out there.

The only way to clean up this data is to perform a manual citation audit and cleanup.

The basic process for this is to search Google for such citations with advanced search operators.

Here are a few you can use:

To find incomplete NAP citations:

    For example, I searched for  and found this:

    europcar phone number missing NAP

    Having looked at some other listings on this site (example), I know that the phone number is usually displayed below the address. It’s missing from this listing.

    To find incorrect NAP citations:

      For example, I searched for europcar sheffield + corporation street + 0871 and found this:

      europcar incorrect phone number NAP

      I don’t see this phone number on the Europcar website, so it would probably be better to change this to the 0371 number (if possible).

      Casey Meraz, founder of Juris Digital, wrote an excellent post for Moz that goes much deeper into the manual citation audit process. I recommend that you check it out.

      3.2. Build More Citations

      Now that you’ve found and fixed existing citations, it’s time to build even more.

      I recommend starting with some core structured citations.

      Here’s a list of 50 to get you started.

      You can then move on to geographically-relevant citations, such as:

      • Local Chamber of Commerce (see here for a list of US Chambers, and here for UK);
      • Other local business associations and directories (e.g., local networking events);
      • Community hubs

      Also, there are relevant industry-specific citations, such as:

      Basically, just look for any online publications related to your industry.

      Here are some ways to find these:

      Using Whitespark’s Citation Finder Tool

      Whitespark’s local citation finder tool finds opportunities based on your location and keyphrase.

      Just enter your location and some keywords related to your business (e.g., plumber). The tool will do the heavy lifting for you.

      whitespark citation finder

      For this search, it found 110 potential citation opportunities.

      It’s then just a case of creating listings on any relevant sites. You can easily outsource this task to a VA too.

      Using the Anchors Report in Ahrefs Site Explorer

      Site Explorer > enter a competitor’s domain > Anchors

      Look for anchors like:

      • “Visit website”
      • “Website”
      • “Visit site”
      • “Click here”
      • “View website”
      • [Naked URLs]

      Generic anchors like these often come from directories.

      Not sure who your competitors are?

      Site Explorer > enter your website > Competing Domains

      You will now see a list of similar sites that compete with you in the SERPs.

      Using the Backlinks Report in Ahrefs Site Explorer

      You can also use the Backlinks report and filter for nofollow links only—these are also often directories.

      Site Explorer > enter a competitor’s domain > Backlinks > nofollow

      Using Ahrefs Link Intersect Tool

      First, go to Google and search for [keyword][location]. E.g., “plumber sheffield.”

      Copy-paste some of the top-ranking websites into our Link Intersect tool. Paste your site in the “But doesn’t link to (optional)” field.

      ahrefs link intersect local plumber

      See who’s linking to multiple websites with Ahrefs Link Intersect Tool

      NOTE. Make sure they’re actual business websites, not directories.

      Hit “Show link opportunities.”

      You will now see which sites are linking to one or more of your competitors.

      In this case, ManchesterEveningNews.co.uk is linking to ¾ of the competitors I entered—this is clearly a directory.

      manchester evening news directory citation

      Remember, we know that each of these sites rank in the top 10 for our target keywords.

      So it’s reasonable to assume that any common citations/links these sites have are helping them to rank. And if that’s the case, it will probably pay to get listed on these sites too.

      Using Google Search Operators

      Every SEOshould have a master list of search operatorsto call on for link prospecting. A good search operator contains two things:

      — Root operator (i.e. “suggest a site”);
      — Search modifier / keyword (i.e. Miami)

      For local link building, we want the modifier to contain local keywords. Get specific with it – instead of just using your city (i.e. Miami), dig into neighborhoods, counties, towns, etc.

      Ryan Stewart

      Here’s an example:

      sheffield business directory operator

      Check out section #2 from this guide for more relevant search operators.

      Chapter 4. On-Page SEO

      Many “traditional” on-page SEO practices apply here, like:

      • Keyword in H1
      • Keyword in title tag
      • Keyword in URL
      • Short and sweet URLs
      • Enticing meta description

      Recommended reading: On Page SEO: A (2M Keyword) Data Driven Analysis

      But there are a few other things to keep when trying to rank locally, like displaying NAP information and adding relevant schema markup.

      There are also differences in approach depending on the number of locations you serve.

      So let’s cover both bases…

      4.1. Set Up Your Website Structure to Rank Local Landing Pages

      If you serve multiple areas/cities and want to rank in each of those locations, you need to set up local landing pages.

      Here’s the structure I would recommend:

      • yourlocalbusiness.com/area‑1/
      • yourlocalbusiness.com/area‑2/
      • yourlocalbusiness.com/area‑3/

      Want to see a business doing this extremely well? Check out Europcar.

      They rank well for hundreds of location-based terms, such as “car hire [location]” and “car rental [location].”

      car hire car rental europcar local landing pages

      Europcar’s 1,349 top 10 rankings for keywords containing the phrases “car hire” and “car rental,” from Ahrefs Site Explorer.

      Take note of the pages that are ranking.

      • www.europcar.co.uk/locations/united-kingdom/london (ranks for “car hire London”)
      • www.europcar.co.uk/locations/united-kingdom/edinburgh (ranks for “car hire Edinburgh”)
      • www.europcar.co.uk/locations/united-kingdom/inverness (ranks for “car hire Inverness”)
      • www.europcar.co.uk/locations/united-kingdom/belfast (ranks for “car hire Belfast”)

      They are all location-specific landing pages.

      So this is clearly the way to go if you want to rank in multiple locations.

      pro tip

      Don’t go crazy with location-specific landing pages unless you have an actual physical presence (office) in each of those locations.

      For example, if you’re a Sheffield-based wedding photographer (meaning your GMB listing address is in Sheffield), don’t create hundreds or thousands of local landing pages for every town/city/county under the sun.

      Stick to making landing pages for a handful of relevant nearby locations that actually make sense for your business. E.g.,

      • greatweddingphotography.com/chesterfield
      • greatweddingphotography.com/derbyshire
      • greatweddingphotography.com/peak-district

      Don’t make local landing pages for faraway locations unless you have a specific reason to do so (e.g., you’re based in Sheffield, but genuinely specialise in Maltese weddings).

      Also, DON’T create multiple landing pages for the same location, but targeting slightly different terms. This will not help you to rank.

      Want proof? Check out the footer links on this site: sierphotography.com:

      photography site footer links

      Here are the pages these link to:

      • sierphotography.com/wedding-photography-sheffield
      • sierphotography.com/wedding-photographer-sheffield
      • sierphotography.com/sheffield-wedding-photography
      • sierphotography.com/sheffield-wedding-photographer

      Let’s see if they rank for their target terms, shall we?

      Looks like the site ranks in position #2 for all of these terms.

      But look at the page that ranks—it’s the homepage, not the landing pages.

      Basically, Google has made the decision that it’s the homepage that should rank here, rather than the individual landing pages. So, no harm done, right?

      Not quite. The downside of this is that so-called “link equity” is unnecessarily distributed across multiple pages. In plain English, this means that the homepage could be stronger and potentially rank higher.

      Bottomline? This is bad practice and you should avoid doing it.

      4.2. Optimize Your Homepage

      Most businesses should optimize their homepage around their primary location.

      For example, a Sheffield-based wedding photographer should optimize their homepage for terms like “sheffield wedding photographer” etc.

      I know what you may be thinking…

      “[…] but I do weddings all over the UK/Europe/The World! I don’t want to restrict myself to [location]”

      Fair point. So you should leave out the location references and just optimize for “wedding photographer”, right? After all, that has 45x more monthly searches.

      This is a bad idea. Here’s why…

      Google “wedding photographer” and I guarantee that most of the results will be location-specific.

      To illustrate this, here is the same search (wedding photographer) from Sheffield, UK and New York, USA:

      ny sheffield

      Do you see my point?

      Despite not adding a location modifier to your search, Google still shows localized results. This is because they’re able to infer your location from things like GPS (on mobile), your IP, etc. They know where you are, so they effectively just add the local modifier for you in the background.

      So, you may as well optimize your homepage for your location.

      Here are a few pointers:

      • Show NAP information (add this in the footer, unless you have local landing pages for other physical locations)
      • Embed a Google Map showing your location (optional — but helps customers see/find where you are)
      • Display testimonials/reviews/etc.
      • Add relevant schema markup (keep reading!)

      Business with lots of locations? Read this.

      You’re exempt from the rule of optimizing your homepage around your primary location if you have hundreds or thousands of real, physical locations.

      For example, take Europcar—they have more than 3,300 physical locations around the globe.

      It would make zero sense to optimize their homepage around a single one of those.

      In this case, the homepage should be optimized around relevant keywords (car hire, car rental) WITHOUT location modifiers.

      4.3. Optimize Your Local Landing Pages

      Your local landing pages should be optimized around individual locations.

      Let’s say that you’re a Sheffield-based wedding photographer serving two other locations: Leeds, and Manchester. You might have the following local landing pages:

      • greatweddingphotography.com/leeds
      • greatweddingphotography.com/manchester

      For some on-page optimization pointers, read our full on-page SEO guide

      Here are a few additional inclusions specific for local landing pages:

      • Opening hours;
      • Local NAP (if you have a real local presence);
      • Related keywords, sprinkled throughout

      4.4. Add Schema Markup to Your Pages

      Schema really isn’t that complicated.

      It’s just some additional code that gives Google additional information about your business/website, and helps them to better understand the data being displayed on your website.

      You don’t have to be a technical wizard to implement it either. Google’s Structured Markup Helper does most of the work for you.

      Just tick the “local businesses” checkbox, paste in one of your pages, then hit “start tagging.”

      structured markup tool google

      Your page will load in a visual editor. Adding schema.org markup is as simple as right-clicking any appropriate on-page elements and choosing relevant markup items from a list.

      Let’s start with NAP information. So Business Name…

      schema name

      Address…

      address schema

      Phone Number…

      phone number schema

      You can also add markup for opening hours and a bunch of other stuff. If you want to add cell/mobile numbers, just use the telephone markup twice—this is perfectly ok to do.

      Just remember that all of this data should match up as closely as possible with your Google My Business data.

      When you’re done, hit “create HTML” and select the JSON-LD format.

      You will see a code snippet like this:

      <!-- JSON-LD markup generated by Google Structured Data Markup Helper. --> <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context" : "http://schema.org", "@type" : "LocalBusiness", "name" : "Millhouses Plumbing & Heating Services", "image" : "https://www.millhousesplumbing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/millhouses-plumbing-and-heating-logo2.jpg", "telephone" : [ "07887 850588", "0114 289 1817" ], "address" : { "@type" : "PostalAddress", "streetAddress" : "Dobcroft Road Millhouses", "addressLocality" : "Sheffield", "postalCode" : "S7 2LQ" } } </script>

      You can then test the code using Google’s Structured Data Testing tool.

      Just paste it in and it will highlight any errors.

      google structured data testing warning

      Fix any errors, then paste the code into the header section of your website.

      PROTIP

      SchemaApp is another useful tool for implementing schema markup on your site.

      It integrates with Google Tag Manager (and other existing platforms—Shopify, Drupal, etc.), which means you can add/edit markup without messing around with code.

      If you have multiple physical locations (different addresses, phone numbers, etc.), you will need to follow this entire process for each and every local landing page.

      Chapter 5. Link Building (for Local Sites)

      According to Moz’s 2017 survey, “link signals” are the most important ranking factor for local organic results.

      For the local “snack pack,” they’re the second most important factor.

      moz ranking factors study

      Source: Moz

      You should have already built a base set of links when building local NAP citations. (Most directories and local listing sites let you link to your website.)

      But unfortunately, many of these will be nofollow.

      So here are a few ways to build links to local business websites…

      5.1. Create and Promote a Useful Local Resource

      Nothing will help you to win over potential customers more genuinely helping them.

      Let’s assume you’re a plumber in Sheffield, UK.

      Your target market is Sheffield folk. What kind of resource would be genuinely useful to those people AND likely to attract links?

      Here are a couple of ideas:

        • A Guide to Plant Care (for Sheffield Folk)—Up here in t’North of England, our water is soft. But did you know that soft water isn’t great for plants? I didn’t, but now I’m wondering if this is the reason my basil plant always dies. It isn’t totally plumbing-related, but I’m sure a guide to plant care for Sheffielders would be both eye-opening and useful.

       

      • How to Unblock a Drain with Henderson’s Relish and Baking Soda—OK, this is a bit of a silly one. I found this video via Content Explorer, which talks about unblocking a drain using vinegar and baking soda. With Henderson’s Relish being produced in Sheffield—and tasting just like vinegar, according to my taste buds—I’m wondering if this might have the same effect. If so, this could (maybe) make a great piece of linkbait.

      I’m not saying those ideas are great (they are just off the top of my head), but hopefully you get the idea.

      If you’re not feeling so creative, here are a couple more ideas that tend to do well:

      • Local “best of” guides—Create a list of the best restaurants, bars, breweries, attractions, things to do, etc. in the area.
      • Local calendars—Create a local calendar, featuring the most notable events across numerous categories occuring in the next few months.

      Once created, it’s just a case of promoting it.

      Facebook groups like this are a great place to start.

      fb group sheffield

      Just make sure to clear it with the admins first!

      5.2. Guest Blogging

      Guest blogging is still a great way to build high-quality links.

      Just don’t do it solely for the links. Do it for the exposure it can generate for your business.

      In 2018, it’s more about quality than quantity—you should be writing for blogs that have the potential to send targeted referral traffic to your website.

      For local businesses, this will usually be either:

      • Local blogs and publications;
      • Industry-specific blogs

      Finding local blogs is as simple as Googling things like:

      • ;
      • ;
      • ;

      Here’s what it might look like for a business based in Miami:

      miami guest posts

      You can also do the same to find industry publications—just replace the location with a keyword (e.g.. “plumbing” instead of “miami”).

      Similar searches can also be done in Ahrefs Content Explorer.

      Recommended reading: An In-Depth Look at Today’s Guest Blogging (Case Studies, Data & Tips)

      5.3. Improve Popular Content (a.k.a. “Skyscraper Technique”)

      Here’s a page I found via Content Explorer about preventing freezing pipes.

      It’s 482 words long and has 116 referring domains.

      TIP

      Use the referring domains filter in Content Explorer to filter for pages with lots of backlinks.

      referring domains filter content explorer

      Having looked closer at the backlinks in Site Explorer, there are some good links too.

      Here’s a DR90 link from mass.gov—the official blog of the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation:

      mass gov links

      It would be super-easy to create a better guide to frozen pipe prevention and steal links from this page.

      5.4. Steal More of Your Competitors Links With Link Intersect

      Link Intersect is useful for more than just building citations.

      You can also use it to find common links among your competitors.

      Link Intersect > enter competing domains > see common links

      It’s best to do with the top-ranking sites for your target terms (e.g., Sheffield plumber), as this should uncover needle-moving links.

      Nine times out of 10, this will uncover a lot of directory links.

      link intersect directory links

      This isn’t a bad thing—it’s a good way to discover more NAP citation and nofollow link opportunities.

      But it will also uncover forum links, guest posts, and other unique types of links.

      Case in point, this DR78, dofollow link from an NHS discount site:

      nhs discount link

      Links like these are easily-replicable.

      5.5. Even MORE Link Building Tactics!

      It would be impossible to cover every link building technique in this article.

      So here are some of the best link-building resources from our blog and others:

      Chapter 6. Reviews (and Other Ongoing Activities)

      Having a “set it, and forget it” mentality is the worst thing you can do when it comes to SEO.

      Local SEO is no different.

      As such, there are a few ongoing activities you should keep in mind.

      6.1. Keep Active on Google My Business

      Here are the three most important ongoing tasks with GMB:

      1. Respond to customer/client reviews;
      2. Look out for incorrect edits;
      3. Use Google Posts to keep your customers informed

      No.1 is pretty self-explanatory—just keep track of and respond to reviews (positive and negative) in a timely fashion via Google My Business.

      But you also need to keep a look out for incorrect edits to your listing.

      Basically, anyone can suggest an edit to any Google listing with the “Suggest an edit” button.

      suggest an edit gmb

      Google seemingly implements a lot of suggested changes without notifying the business owner or validating the information. So it’s worth giving this a quick check once every couple of weeks to make sure everything is still accurate.

      Now let’s talk about Google Posts…

      Google Posts is a micro-blogging platform within Google My Business. All updates are visible in the Knowledge Panel and on your listing.

      Here’s an example:

      google posts

      Knowledge Graph showing Google Posts from Just Mind Counseling in the SERPs

      Not only does this increase your SERP real estate, but it provides an opportunity to attract more attention and boost conversions.

      Some studies (here, and here) even show a correlation between “snack pack” rankings and Google Posts activity.

      You can create a Google Post from within Google My Business.

      There are a few options to choose from, including:

      • Upload an image;
      • Write text (up to 300 words)

      You can also choose the call-to-action button (“Learn more,” “Sign Up,” “Get Offer”, etc.) to include on your post.

      I recommend all local businesses play around with this feature and stay active with Google Posts. It doesn’t take much time or effort to do, so ROI will likely be high.

      6.2. Publish New Content Regularly

      Blogging regularly does two things:

      1. Tells Google (and visitors) that your site is actively maintained;
      2. Attracts links

      But don’t blog just for the sake of it—go for quality over quantity.

      Just publishing a new post every month or two will be enough for most small businesses.

      I’m not going to go any deeper on this point as we already have a ton of resources related to blogging on the Ahrefs blog. I’ve included some further reading links below.

      Final Thoughts

      Annnndd… DONE! 🙂

      I’m know that’s a lot to take in but, seriously, follow the advice above and I guarantee you’ll be ranking better than 99% of your competitors.

      Just remember that you also need to track conversions as best you can (call tracking, contact form conversion tracking, etc.). Otherwise, you will have no clue if your local SEO efforts are actually translating into leads, customers, and ultimately, more revenue for your business.

      Did I miss anything in this guide? Let me know in the comments.

      Sours: https://ahrefs.com/blog/local-seo/

      Guides moz local

      Building business and driving traffic is all about getting the word out. While regular SEO is one way to do that, local SEO can be even more effective, especially for local businesses. Whether you’re a boutique coffee shop serving the arts district of San Francisco or a plumber in a small town in the heartland, making sure potential customers can find your services should be a top priority.

      If you want to learn more about local SEO, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll show you what it is, how to develop an effective local SEO strategy and show you concrete actions you can take to boost your business rankings in local searches.

      What is local SEO?

      SEO stands for search engine optimization, a process where you improve content so that it ranks higher on platforms like Google. Local SEO is all about optimizing content so that your business appears higher in the local search engine results pages (SERPs) than your competitors in the local area.

      Most of the time, local SEO is used to optimize results on search engines like Google, Apple, and Bing. In some industries, local SEO can also be used to boost results on local yellow pages sites and industry-related review platforms. To build local SEO, you can use tools like keyword research, backlink building, and optimizing business listings. We’ll go over all of these in a moment.

      Local SEO is important because it helps consumers find local businesses. Most of the time, people are looking for products near them, rather than national or international options that may be harder to get. This is particularly prominent in service industries. For example, construction, restaurants, and lifestyle offerings like laundry services and tailoring need to be close by for the person searching. For these types of businesses, local SEO makes it easier for consumers to find what they need.

      If you’re only going to optimize SEO for one site, choose Google. That’s because Google owns 87% of the search market share in the United States. Read on to learn more about the basics of local SEO and how to optimize it for your business.

      Ranking factors

      Local SEO works much like regular SEO. However, there are some additional techniques that can be used to drive rankings for local search results. The main local search ranking factors include:

      • Where the searcher is located
      • Whether a company has a Google My Business listing
      • The overall consensus on the business based on online reviews
      • Which keywords are used in online reviews
      • The number of unique times the business information is shared on social media
      • The Google Maps rating of the business
      • The number of online citations referring to the business

      Search results are different for local searches compared to regular searches. For local searches, Google displays what is called a “map pack” or “snack pack” above the regular search results. The local pack listing features the top three businesses in the area that are relevant to the search term.

      Getting your business in this top three list can dramatically improve business results. It helps you stand out among the competition and it ensures consumers can find your business. That’s where local SEO strategy comes in.

      A simple guide to local SEO strategy

      Here, we’ve put together a simple guide to local SEO strategy, from gathering online reviews and conducting keyword research to establishing local listings and building backlinks.

      1. Keyword research

      The main goal of your local SEO strategy should be making it easy for potential customers to find your business. If you’re a small business specializing in construction, you want your business to show up in local results for near me searches. In this example, you’d want to target search terms including “contractor near me” and “builders in my area.”

      You’ll also want consumers to be able to see your business contact information, hours, and physical location (more on that in the Google My Business section in a moment).

      Local keyword research is far easier than looking for keywords to create blog content. That’s because most of the terms will be anchored to your business services and a location. Most of the time, people will be searching for a specific service in a location near them.

      For keyword research, start with service in location (SiL). This means taking all of the products or services you offer and adding “in [location]” to the end. For the construction example above, you’d start with “construction in New York,” or wherever your business is located. Then repeat for all of your services from framing to kitchen remodels and water damage repair.

      When you’re done, your list of keywords could look like this:

      • Contractor in New York City
      • Kitchen remodel in New York City
      • Water damage repair in New York City
      • Design-build in New York City
      • Construction management in New York City
      • Interior build-out in New York City

      If you’re having a hard time figuring out all of the keywords for your business, you can use a keyword generator tool. This one from Higher Visibility makes it easy to find all the relevant local search terms for your business.

      Local SEO strategy: Bulk keyword generator screenshot

      Just choose your type of local business from the drop-down menu, select the relevant service types, and add all of your service area locations. The tool will generate relevant local keywords specific to your business.

      Another way to get local search keyword ideas is from Google’s auto-complete function. Anytime you type a search in the Google search bar, the website offers completion suggestions based on the most popular searches. Try searching for relevant terms about your business and see if Google offers any ideas you haven’t thought of.

      Once you have your search terms, use a tool like the Keyword Explorer section in Ahrefs to check the keyword volume and keyword difficulty. Keyword volume indicates how many people are searching for those terms. Keyword difficulty shows how hard it is to rank for a specific search term. Prioritize keywords that have low difficulty and a high search volume.

      2. Google My Business (GMB)

      Google prioritizes businesses that are verified and have basic information listed on their platform. To rank in local Google results and Google Maps searches, you need to create a Google My Business listing. Fortunately, setting up the account is simple and only takes a few minutes. If you want a step-by-step guide to creating the account, check out our guide to claiming your business on Google.

      Setting up your listing involves adding vital information including the business name, phone number, website, hours, physical location, and service or delivery areas if applicable. You’ll also need to choose a business category.

      Make sure to be precise and consistent with information. Google does not like it when there is conflicting information and this can hurt your SEO rankings. That’s because inconsistency lends itself to scammy sites and degrades the user experience.

      Consistency is particularly important for businesses that don’t have a brick-and-mortar location since you may be working from home. Make sure to provide the same contact information you offer on your website. If you move or change addresses, update the listing.

      In addition to Google local listings, Bing, Yahoo, and Apple Maps also have programs for business owners to register their business listings. These programs make it easy for customers to find local businesses when they search using Bing or using Apple Maps.

      It’s essential to set up a Google My Business account for local SEO, but Bing Places and Apple Maps Connect are a lower priority. While these search engines have far less market share compared to Google, they’re another way to help local customers find your business. Both offer easy business listing sign-ups so you really have nothing to lose. Set them up as well.

      3. On-page SEO

      On-page SEO is a marketing technique where you optimize landing pages and other web pages so that they rank better on search engines. Good practices for on-page SEO include:

      • Include the full keyword in the URL
      • Feature the keyword in the title tag
      • Keep keywords short and concise
      • Use the keyword in the meta description

      For more on general search engine optimization, check out our guide on how to optimize SEO to increase visibility.

      In terms of local searches, there are a few additional optimization tips you should use to boost search ranking. If your business has headquarters in more than one location, create local landing pages for each area. For example, if your plumbing company services Pensacola and Miami, creating local pages for each area can help improve visibility and increase your ranking in the local searches in both regions.

      To create a local landing page, make a URL for each area. In this example you could do:

      • businessname.com/Pensacola
      • businessname.com/Miami

      Don’t create hundreds of local landing pages unless it’s really necessary. Creating landing pages for areas you don’t really service will dilute your results and actually hurt your rankings. If you’re a huge company like a car rental agency that offers rentals in dozens of different cities, go ahead and make a landing page for each area.

      If you’re a musician who plays across America, making local landing pages in each area isn’t a good idea. Only make landing pages if you have particular expertise in a certain area. For a musician that specializes in a certain local type of Italian music, a landing page in that region may make sense. However, a musician that simply wants to play in Milan shouldn’t make a Milan landing page. Use your discretion to decide if a local landing page is really necessary.

      4. Local citations (NAP)

      Local citations—also known as NAP, which is short for name, address, phone number—are online references to your business. These local citations appear in structured tools like search engines and in an unstructured format such as blog post mentions and press releases.

      This includes review sites like Google along with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. As mentioned, consistency is key to ranking well in local web and mobile searches. Ensuring all mentions and local citations reflect the same information can help strengthen your local search position. Check to see that all places where people search for your business are displaying the same business info.

      You can use the Moz local check tool to identify any inconsistent citations. Enter your company name and address and the tool will show you a list of your business information from online directories including Facebook, Google, ShowMeLocal.com, and Foursquare.

      Most sites use information from larger aggregators when displaying local business information. Check and update your information on these main aggregators:

      • Infogroup’s Express Update: Check for business information or set up an account to provide listing details.
      • Factual: Free business listing account.
      • Neustar Localeze: Use the database to search for your business or create an account if it’s not already listed.

      Changing your data in these aggregates will instantly update your information across a range of sites. It’s quicker and easier than reaching out to individual sites when they have incorrect local citations for your business.

      Once you’ve cleaned up your existing local citations, you’ll want to start building new citations. The more mentions you have, the more weight your business carries when it comes to local search rankings.

      To build citations, start with locally relevant agencies like the chamber of commerce and community hubs that may refer customers to your business. You can also approach industry-specific sites like Tripadvisor if you’re a travel-related entity or HomeAdvisor if your business deals with plumbing, construction, renovation, or a similar service.

      To find relevant sites to build citations, use a tool like Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder. You can try it for free or sign up for the service if you want to see the full list of results.

      Alternatively, you can simply search for business directories in your area. These are basically online yellow pages that help people find different businesses and services in the local area. Once you identify a few, reach out to submit your details to the directory.

      5. Local link building

      Link signals are among the most important ranking factors for local businesses. These links add authority and trust to your business, helping boost your rankings.

      While adding your local business information to directories can build links to your site, these are usually no-follow links. These links don’t help your ranking in SERPs. No-follow links were created by search engines to help cut down on spammy comments and posts that simply linked to everything possible, even if it wasn’t relevant.

      Instead, it’s better to focus on getting do-follow links. The best way to do this is to create great local content. Think of things your customers may have questions about or what types of topics they may find useful. Create guides, blog posts, and e-books on these topics. When consumers find a post that is useful and informative, they’ll share do-follow links to your page, helping to boost your spot in the rankings.

      For local searches, think about creating a listicle with the best businesses in your area and feature your own on the list. You can also create a post with the top upcoming events your business is hosting or participating in. Promote your content on your social media channels to get the word out.

      You can also do guest posts to help boost your authority. For guest posts, you’ll create a new piece of content or share something you already have on your site that may be beneficial for readers of the target site. If the site agrees, you’ll get a do-follow link, helping to drive traffic to your site and improve your rank in searches.

      Try reaching out to local publications like newspapers or industry blogs. Contact the site owners and propose a few different topic ideas or pitch an existing piece of content their readers may find useful.

      6. Online reviews

      One of the best ways to boost your local profile is to be responsive to customers. Reviews also form a key part of your online reputation. Responding to both negative and positive reviews on local search sites shows potential consumers that you care about how your customers feel. You can also ask customers to write testimonials on their experience with your products or services.

      Podium makes it easy to text customers and invite them to write reviews about your products and services. With this feedback, you can make changes as needed and see what is working well. In addition to review management software, Podium makes it easy to get feedback from customers to see why they love your business and what they want to see improved.

      Boost local SEO with Podium

      Local SEO is an important tool when it comes to search rankings for your business page. When combined with a larger digital marketing strategy, it can help boost your visibility and make sure your business edges out the competition when people search for your products and services.

      If you’re looking to maximize your local SEO, Podium can help. Use our local SEO checklist and SEO tips from this guide to improve your visibility and edge out other local competitions. Podium can also help you win more leads and earn repeat customers by creating unparalleled customer experiences and offering tools to help you stand out online.

      Sours: https://www.podium.com/article/local-seo-strategy/
      Top 10 Most Important Local SEO Ranking Factors You Must Know

      Local SEO: Everything You Need to Know

      Why Website Optimization is Important for Local SEO

      Your website serves as another valuable citation piece for search engines, but the keywords you use in the right elements on your website can make your brand more visible even if people aren’t necessarily looking for your business.

      Moz’s report on local search ranking factors put on-page signals – which includes the right keywords in titles, overall domain authority, and the right basic information about the business – as the second-highest factor in organic search.

      An optimized site also helps brands that have multiple locations. When done correctly, your business website not attracts more traffic from local searchers because of the way you create and improve individual pages for each of your locations.

      The Local SEO Strategy for Website Optimization

      If you know the keywords that you want to rank for in local searches, you can implement them in the right places throughout your website. This can be in the title of various pieces of content as well as in subsequent headings throughout the site. You can also put the keywords as part of an image when you add it to one of your pages.

      Another way to highlight these keywords is by using schema markup code, which you (or a web developer on your staff) can add to your site’s HTML code. This code can help search engines find multiple elements of information on your site so use it to highlight relevant information such as your business name, contact information, opening hours, and even first-party reviews (more on that later).

      When creating landing pages for your other locations, you should make the URL address simple so that both search engines and customers have an easier time to find it. Instead of a complicated line of nonsensical numbers and symbols, you can try changing it to the format below:

      yourbusiness.com/location1
      yourbusiness.com/location2

      You should also invest in the time to make your website mobile-friendly. Research shows that 57 percent of all local searches are conducted on smartphones or tablets. When someone on a mobile device goes to your website, your website and its contents should be optimized on today’s portable devices. Neglecting this improvement can be a missed opportunity to bring in more customers, many of whom might be ready to convert within 48 hours.

      Local SEO Factor #4: Content

      The backbone of any local SEO strategy is the content you create to bring more eyes to your business. In many ways, creating this content can bring in more leads than paid promotions and advertising. 

      HubSpot research showed that 69 percent of businesses say their improvement in lead generation is due to their blogging efforts. However, this doesn’t mean that you should create content for the sake of making content. It needs to be meaningful and provide valuable insight to the customer to make them more interested in what you have to offer.

      local seo

      Why Content is Important to Local SEO

      The right content can bring larger volumes of traffic. However, the HubSpot research above shows that content can also turn those use visitors from interested parties to actual leads. This puts the onus on you to keep the overall content tone and quality consistent in other parts of the site as well so that they easily convert into an actual customer.

      Meaningful content also stands out in SEO, which helps you build authority online. Even just a few pieces of high-quality content can easily set you apart from the competition, but finding the key topics for your industry requires some research on your end.

      The Local SEO Strategy for Content

      When creating content, think of a topic that represents your industry as a whole instead of looking for ways to promote your products and services. Creating these overarching topics shows your knowledge of the industry as a whole, which can put you in place to be a thought leader for the local scene.

      However, you shouldn’t just constantly churn out small bits of content in order to build up that authoritative voice. Each piece of content must be well thought out, include valuable stats and figures, and provide actionable insights for the reader.

      The top marketing challenge for businesses in 2018 was to generate traffic and leads. By focusing on blogging to create high-quality and authoritative content, you are 13x more likely to see a positive return on your investment.

      Local SEO Factor #5: Reviews

      Customers need social proof when choosing a business. They want to know that other people tried it and had a genuine experience, and these all come in the form of customer reviews. Actively gathering, monitoring, and responding to reviews will tell future customers that your brand utilizes feedback to engage with past customers and improve the overall experience.

      Why Reviews are Important for Local SEO

      To get into the local pack, you’ll need reviews, which are one of the top three factors for higher rankings. This is because reviews are so powerful when it comes to convincing the customer. In fact, 94 percent of consumers said a review convinced them to avoid a business.

      When it comes to local search, the reviews on your GMB listing will also play a role. Research shows that 63 percent of consumers will check Google for reviews before they even visit a business.

      Simply put, the quality and quantity of reviews on your local listings can easily bring people in just as easily as it can deter them away from you and towards the local competition. Here are some local SEO tips to make sure that you get more of the former and not the latter.

      The Local SEO Strategy for Reviews

      If you already have customer reviews, you should take some time to respond to customer feedback because it shows that you care about the experience of every customer and want to use reviews to improve it for future patrons.

      Responding to reviews is an opportunity to build a trusting relationship with each customer, but only 36 percent of customers actually get a response from a business. With the right responses, you can make a one-time customer a loyal patron or even convince a critic to come back for a better experience. Data shows that responding to negative reviews specifically makes it 44 percent more likely for someone to visit the business in question.

      Before responding, make sure that you have a plan in place so that each review carries the same professional tone and manner whether it’s responding to praise or criticism.

      Once you respond to reviews you should also make an effort to actively ask for more feedback from customers. There isn’t one correct way to ask for reviews so you’ll need to employ multiple tactics to get the feedback you want. This includes:

      • Post-visit emails
      • SMS notifications
      • Feedback kiosk at checkout
      • Website review landing pages
      • Asking directly

      Employing different strategies for review generation ensures that you’re providing multiple ways of making the review request process as convenient as possible. Forcing people to go through one method of leaving a review might leave you wanting more feedback, but using digital and analog options together ensures that you get as many reviews as possible.

      With enough reviews and a steady stream of fresh feedback coming on a regular basis, it’s time to promote your best feedback. This is free marketing material that you can use to convince new customers to give your business a shot.

      If you have social media channels, you can easily retweet or share some of your best (or worst) feedback. If people are leaving reviews on your website, you can show those off with custom widgets like ReviewTrackers’ Amplify tool. Showing off reviews on your website alone can increase your overall conversion by 270 percent.

      A Multi-Point Local SEO Strategy

      There’s no better time to execute your local SEO efforts than right now. Even if your nearby competitors are ranking higher than you in online SERPs, you can use these tips and best practices to improve your online position.

      By optimizing your GMB‌ listing and your website, creating consistent citations, publishing high-quality content, and garnering better reviews, your business will eventually catch up and even surpass the local competition in SERPs. Over time, this results in more exposure, more loyal customers, and ultimately larger revenues.

      Sours: https://www.reviewtrackers.com/guides/local-seo/

      Now discussing:

      He sucked for about 5 minutes, until Pasha started to finish. Then everyone got dressed, because we arrived at the station, and the stop lasted about 40 minutes. We had the opportunity to buy more vodka, but as it was already late and dark outside - we did not find.

      When we returned to the compartment, we saw that the carriage was practically empty, only pensioners were traveling in the first.



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