If you want your business to have a online presence then in the SEO industry, you need to understand how to do Local SEO. Seriously.. I’m not kidding here… If you’re sitting there thinking “Um, no… not really” – then you’re exactly the person I’m writing this post for.
If you haven’t already, I can pretty much guarantee you that at some point in your SEO career, you’re going to do some SEO for a business that has a physical storefront. BOOM – that means Local SEO. Sure, you’ve still got to do all the traditional SEO things that you do every day for all your clients, but when you’re talking about a physical location, Local SEO is absolutely necessary.
If you’re thinking “But Greg – If I do all the SEO stuff I’m supposed to do, I’ll still get the site to rank organically…” – you still aren’t getting it. If you add some Local SEO to the mix, you can show up in organic results AND the map pack (clients love that, so you should too). Plus, showing up in the map pack or the Local Carousel is incredibly important when a business is trying to pull in customers from the immediate area. Also, the map pack results show up ABOVE the organic results on mobile, and we all know that mobile is blowing up.
So if you’ve never paid any attention to Local SEO, it’s time to start lifting, bro. I’m going to give you a simple workout plan to help you beef up your Local SEO muscles, and with a little practice, you’ll be playing with the big boys in no time.
You should already know how to optimize a website, and if you don’t, there are a ton of awesome posts here on Moz. When you’re working on your optimizations, there are some important elements that you need to concentrate on for Local SEO. These elements are extremely important on your landing pages for your Google Plus Local listings (more commonly known now as “Google My Business Places Plus Local For Business”). If your business has multiple locations, you should have a unique location landing page for each Google Plus Local listing. you’re dealing with a single location, then we’re talking about your home page – but these elements should also be locally optimized on product and services pages.
1. City and state in the title tag. Arguably one of the most important places to include city/state information. We’ve seen many small businesses jump up in local rankings from this alone.
2. City and state in H1 heading. Hold on, don’t interrupt. I know it doesn’t HAVE to be an H1 heading… So whatever heading you’ve got on the page, it’s important to also have your city/state info included.
3. City and state in URL. Obviously, this can’t happen on your home page, but on other pages, including the city/state info in the URL can be a powerful signal of local relevance.
4. City and state in content. Clearly, it’s important to include your city/state info in your content.
5. City and state in alt tags. We see far too many local business sites that don’t even use alt text on their images. Make sure you’ve got alt text on all your images, and make sure that you’re including city/state info in your alt text.
6. City and state in meta description. Yes, we all know that the meta description doesn’t play into the ranking algorithm… but including city/state info can really boost clickthrough rate for local search results.
7. Include an embedded Google Map. Including an embedded Google Map is important too, but PLEASE make sure you do it correctly. You don’t want to just embed a map that points to your address… You want to embed a map that points to your actual Google Plus Local listing.
Most of the Local SEOs who really live and breathe local agree that citations aren’t the amazing powerful weapon that they used to be… but that doesn’t mean they’re not still incredibly important. If you don’t know what a citation is, it’s commonly referred to as NAP information in Local SEO circles – Name, Address, and Phone number. Google expects local businesses to have their NAP information on certain other websites (Yelp, social media sites, etc.), so if you don’t have citations on the important sites, or your citation information is incorrect, it can really hurt how your business is ranking.
While they’re not the silver bullet for rankings that they used to be, they’re still an important signal for local relevancy. Here’s may favorite example… We were hired to do the SEO for a car dealership just outside of New Orleans last fall. The dealer spent tons of money on radio and TV ads and was very well known in the local area, but he didn’t understand why he wasn’t showing up in local searches.
Within about 30 seconds of looking at his site, we knew exactly what the problem was. The correct spelling of his dealership name is “Deal’N Doug’s Autoplex” – but he had his own business name misspelled five different ways on his home page alone:
• Dean’N Dougs Autoplex
• Deal’ N Doug’s Autoplex
• Deal’N Doug’s Auto Plex
• Dealn Dougs Autoplex
• Deal n Dougs Autoplex
We did a quick citation evaluation, and sure enough, he had all of those misspelled names floating around in different citations. He also had several citations for “Dealin’ Doug’s Autoplex” – which is grammatically how you’d expect it to be spelled.
We figured that we had the perfect opportunity for a citation experiment. All we did during the first month of work was NAP cleanup. We corrected the business name everywhere on his site, and we made sure to manually update all of the citations that were misspelled.
In just a few weeks, he went from not ranking at all to ranking in the top spot in the map pack. When the local algorithm went through the big shakeup last October, he retained the #1 map ranking and also gained a #2 organic spot. Yes, we did a lot more optimization for him after that first month, but cleaning up the name information was enough to get him to rank #1 in his city.
Working on citations can be tedious, but it’s well worth the effort. There are tons of submission services out there, but we prefer to do everything manually, so we know 100% for sure that things are done correctly. Here’s our citation campaign workflow:
Reviews are an integral part of Local SEO, but they’re also vital for local clickthroughs. Now that Google displays reviews in an isolated popup (instead of taking you to the locations Google Plus Local page), users will read your reviews before they see any other information about your business.
Our process is simple, but it works well. Here’s how to get more positive reviews for any business:
Even if your client has a ton of customers, make sure they understand that they won’t get a lot of reviews. We tell our clients that 1 review a month is a perfectly acceptable pace. A steady stream of reviews over time is much more important than a quick influx.
There you have it! If you follow these simply Local SEO workout tips, you’ll build your Local SEO muscle in no time. You’ll be able to provide better results to your clients, which means they’ll be happier… and happier clients means more long-term business. Everyone wins!