What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that you can gain higher local search rankings (ie. Google Maps, mobile devices).
Here's an example of a local search ranking with Google:
There are many factors that contribute to having your location displayed in local Google search results. Some of it is pretty technical. I'll try to make it as simple as I can.
Google My Business
Claim your Google My Business page. If you don't know how to claim your page, here's a how to claim your Google My Business page article you can follow.
- Your description should be thorough and include links.
- Categorize your business correctly
- Upload photos - as many as you can
- Make sure you use a local phone number (not just an 800#)
- Make sure the business address you add is the same as is shown on your website and other local directories
- Use high-resolution photos for your profile image and cover photo
- List your business hours, if you have any
- Try to get reviews
NAP (Name, Address Phone Number)
Your full NAP should be across the whole site (ie. every page). The exact same details & format when you mention it on other local citations.
It's best to use Schema.org markup on your NAP to give the search engines all they need to display your company information correctly.
Here's a good example:
Here's what the code should look like:
<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="telephone">PHONE NUMBER</p>
<meta itemprop="latitude" content="LATITUDE" />
<meta itemprop="longitude" content="LONGITUDE" />
Here's a link to a handy online code generator.
Local reviews are a ranking factor. Your Google Business Page and your Yelp page can both accumulate reviews for you. Make sure you claim locations with both of these services. Your priorities should be: Google first, Yelp second.
Obtaining reviews is not an easy process. You could start by asking existing clients to go to your local review sites and give you a review. You could also create a page on your website with instructions on how to do reviews of your business.
Local On-Page SEO Factors
Here are some local on-page SEO factors you can implement.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page title tag.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page H1 tag.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page URL.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page content.
- Try to add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within your landing page image ALT attributes.
- Embed a Google map with your business marker into your landing page.
Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?
Your site must be mobile-friendly for you to have a chance at showing up in the top local results, especially on a mobile-device such as a phone. For more information on the importance of having a mobile-friendly website can be found on my blog: SEO Factor: Mobile-Friendly Websites.
Local Link Building
Another important SEO factor is getting links from local area businesses. Consider joining local area groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau, and local BNI groups. These groups generally list the service you provide and a link to your website. If you are able, request your company name, address and phone number in NAP format be listed.
Moz provides a great list of citation prospects for your reference, listed by business type.
Here's an example Moz citation list for the construction industry:
Don't forget about social media! Facebook, Twitter, InstaGram, and Pinterest are all places to gain links.
Not familiar with SEO? You need to know the basics before you can localize. There are over 200 ranking factors, which include on-page and off-page factors, used by Google. [sg_popup id=1]Click here to get a PDF of our summary of those ranking factors[/sg_popup]. It will cost you less in time and resources if you hire a professional to optimize your website. Better to do it right the first time than to suffer the consequences for doing it wrong. If you need help, please contact us.
Local Link Building Strategies
Everyone in SEO says "get some external links". That is because incoming external links are still a strong signal to search engines (especially Google). If people are linking to you, then you must have relevant content, at least that's the thought process.
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:
- Go to Meetup.com and search for a list of local events relevant to your industry. Perhaps you can sponsor a lunch or something in exchange for a link. Links from Meetup.com are highly authoritative, local links.
- Create a local resource from public data (here’s a PDF with 30 different data sources obtained here) and reach out to local press to get coverage.
- Run your own local meetup or event and bring through links from the local event page.
- Sign up to press request services to get quoted in local publications (huge potential for high authority, local links).
- Run an AMA on Reddit (within a relevant subreddit to your industry) and within other local communities.
- Line up interviews and columns within relevant online publications.
- Give a discount to local organizations for your products/services in exchange for a linked mention on their website.
- Enter local awards (or start your own if there aren’t any!).
- Spend time dedicated to local PR outreach to get online and offline coverage in local news.
- Run regular competitive link research and capitalize on any new opportunities that your competitors have gained.
- Offer scholarships (you get links from local universities) or offer jobs to students (you can get links from their careers pages).
Here is a summary chart of local SEO factors: (to see more detail about local SEO factors, please follow the link to Moz below the image)
local SEO image provided by Moz.
In summary, local SEO is all about optimizing your website with local information, claim locations, get reviews, list with relevant services, and then go after incoming links any way you can.
About the author:
Lisa Thompson Lisa is a partner, and SEO Manager at In Cart Marketing. Following search engine algorithms and website-coding is her passion. Follow her on Twitter: @TeamLisaSEM