If you own (or do online marketing for) a local business, you understand the challenges that come with this kind of campaign vs. that of a non geo-specific brand.
Local SEO is a lot different from your average SEO campaign, and the local search results are changing more rapidly than any other.
The above chart shows a breakdown of the weighting of various ranking factors within local SEO campaigns. One of the things to note here is that whilst there are a few slightly different factors compared to the usual SEO campaign (i.e. External Loc. Signals and My Business Signals), links and on-page SEO factors still play a huge part. The only difference is that the type of links you’ll want to focus on will be a lot different.
I’m going to talk you through some of the techniques that you can implement to get results from your local SEO campaigns.
Before you go ahead and start chasing links, there’s a lot of up-front work needed on your website to ensure that you’re able to get the best possible results, especially if you want to rank within the local pack listings (see below):
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to claim your Google My Business page.
All you need to know is that once you’ve set it up, you should include the following:
Consistency is key here. You need to ensure that you have your full NAP across your whole website (i.e. every page). Furthermore, you must use the exact same details/format when you mention your address on other websites (i.e. local citations).
You’ll also want to use Schema.org markup on your NAP to give the search engines all they need to display your company information correctly.
The screenshot above shows how a local business in London has placed their NAP in the footer of their website, marking it up with Schema.org data markup.
Here’s the code that you can adapt to your own website:
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/LocalBusiness"> <p itemprop="name">COMPANY NAME</p> <p itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress"> <p itemprop="streetAddress">ADDRESS LINE 1</p> <p itemprop="addressLocality">CITY</p>, <p itemprop="addressRegion">REGION</p> <p itemprop="postalCode">POSTCODE/ZIP</p. <p itemprop="telephone">PHONE NUMBER</p> <meta itemprop="latitude" content="LATITUDE" /> <meta itemprop="longitude" content="LONGITUDE" /> </div>
All you need to do is change the text in bold to your own details — simple.
For a more detailed look at NAPs, check out this article from Jayson DeMers.
Local reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so you’ll want to spend some time acquiring them.
It’s worth mentioning that this doesn’t just mean Google reviews. You’ll also want to focus on getting reviews on your Yelp page (they’re used by Apple maps), along with other local directories. Your first priority should be Google reviews though.
To begin with, you’ll want to capture any low-hanging fruit by getting in touch with your existing customer base and see if they’d be interested in leaving you a review. You could incentivize them for their time (maybe a discount, etc.).
Another great tip that I picked up from Greg Gifford‘s recent talk at BrightonSEO was to create a page on your website that gives instructions to your customers on exactly how they can review your business (i.e. yourwebsite.com/review-us/). You won’t believe how effective this is when it comes to getting in touch with customers, especially the non-technical ones!
On-page SEO for local businesses conforms to some pretty old school SEO tactics. There’s quite a large weighting towards the on-page content in the local search listings, so it’s important that, where possible, you squeeze the most value out of your content.
Again, I’m not going to go into tons of detail on this, because you could just read this, but I’ll break it down into a few important bullet points:
Image source: Aran Sweaters Direct
Alongside this, you’ve got to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. This is becoming even more important with Google’s mobile search update (more info here).
Image source: eCO2 Greetings eCards
Link building within local SEO campaigns is incredibly important and it’s also something that’s often overlooked.
Compared to standard SEO campaigns, local SEO relies much more on links from other local websites that are really relevant to your business. It’s less about getting links from high authority websites (although that obviously helps) and more about getting links from websites local to you that are talking about similar things to what you do.
This means that local directories are a useful resource for link building, especially when it comes to building citations.
“A citation is an online reference to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP).” (source)
These citations don’t even need to be linked, as long as they’re referencing your business NAP consistently in the same way.
You can use a tool like Bright Local to check out any existing citations you have and then update them so that they’re all consistent. You can also use the tool to track your competitors’ citations and add your own to the same websites.
There are a number of ways to get local citations, but here’s a few that I use:
There are lots of way to go about earning/building links, and if you want a load of them, check out my link building strategies guide. For the purpose of this article I’m going to focus on acquiring links that are really effective within local link building campaigns.
Here are a few to get you started:
That should be enough to get you started!
Another ranking signal that’s being talked about a lot more is CTR from the SERPs.
It’s no wonder that this is such a strong signal because it’s used as one of Google’s core Quality Score measures within their Adwords platform. It makes sense that they would measure the user experience that searchers are getting with this metric.
Moz’ Rand Fishkin carried out an interesting experiment with his Twitter followers to see the impact of a large increase in SERP CTR on search rankings. The results were pretty huge — he saw several position ranking increases in less than an hour!
I’ve been running some similar experiments over the past few months and found that it does earn some short-term wins, but CTR has to be consistently high to ensure that rankings will stabilize. You also need to reduce bounces from search, as this is a negative signal to Google.
To maximize your SERP CTR, try the following:
Here’s a really good resource that looks at increasing SERP CTR.