Local SEO

local seo nap

Local SEO Beyond NAP: Site Elements & Citation Improvements

by SEO Savvy September 16th, 2014

Many local businesses already know the benefit of managing their local online business directories like Google My Business and Yelp, but improving local SEO shouldn’t stop there. Claiming their business profiles and confirming that their NAP (name, address, phone) data is listed correctly across other local online business directories like Yellow Pages, Superpages, etc. is important as well. Using services like Moz Local is a simple way to centrally manage your business listings.

If local search is an important part of how your customers find your business, then improving local SEO through on-site optimization and finding citations are additional important pieces to this puzzle. From adding the city and state into content to improve on-site optimization to finding and improving citations, here’s what you can do to improve local search optimization:

#1: Geo-modified content improvements.

If your business has a single location, you can optimize your pages to include your city, but if your business has multiple locations, it becomes more challenging. Creating a separate location page and possibly service pages for each of these branches will be important.  Consider optimizing the following on-site elements where it is relevant and makes sense:

  • Add city and state to the title tag
  • Add city and state to the H1 heading
  • Add city and state to the URL for local product and service pages
  • Add city and state to alt image tags
  • Add city and state to your meta description
  • Include an embedded Google map
  • Utilize Schema.org locations data mark-up

Whether or not the meta description plays a role in Google’s ranking algorithm, it’s still important to optimize for local search in order to boost click through rates when your site appears in SERPs. Finally, when including the embed map, be sure that it points to your actual Google Plus local listing.

#2: Monitor & correct citation inconsistencies.

Inconsistency with local directory listings can negate all the hard-earned benefits of onsite local optimization, according to Forbes’ contributor Steve Olenski. Even if your NAP data is correct in Google My Business, it is still possible that errors may exist in other local registries. Common inconsistencies include duplicate business listings, the wrong address location (maybe your cafe relocated last year, but a local directory listing still sends searchers to your old address), incorrect store hours (such as special seasonal hours that are not correctly listed), or the wrong telephone number. Fixing a citation problem, however, is not complicated once the problem has been identified.

A citation finder tool is great for finding duplicate listings and checking your business citations for accuracy. A citation finder tool will crawl the Internet to find references and mentions of your business whether it includes complete or partial NAP reference. It will highlight inconsistencies, which presents the opportunity to correct those issues. Many times businesses don’t know that citations are out there with inaccurate or partial information referencing their business. Whitespark, Sycara Local and Brightlocal all have citation finder tools as part of their local software.

How to Make Local Search Work for Multi-Location Brands

by SEO Savvy August 26th, 2014

Multi-location brands that integrate local focused marketing into their existing marketing strategy may enjoy a 10-15% revenue increase, according to a new report released by Local Vox. The report also cautions that pay-per-click (PPC) ads alone may not get the job done. In fact, only 2% of local businesses found PPC ads to be effective on the local level, behind even radio and TV advertising. Multi-location brands should integrate local SEO best practices with localized content marketing and mobile optimization in order to directly connect with target customers on a local level.

Is your business prepared to use a local marketing strategy to drive traffic and brand awareness at individual store locations? Here’s how to make local search work for your business:

 #1: Build awareness with localized content marketing.

Localizing content so that it is authentic and relevant is the primary challenge for multi-location businesses. Managing manual content production on a localized basis can be a daunting task. Successfully doing so, however, is key to standing out from the competition. Sending blast emails or using your local Facebook page to only promote in-store sales is short selling the potential of real localized content marketing. Instead, start by building a narrative and genuine dialogue with consumers in the local community by understanding and connecting with their wants and needs.

#2: Drive new customers with local search optimization.

Local search requires a different approach than national search optimization. The local SEO approach should be focused around location-based pages on your site and include external sites like Google+, Yelp, Facebook, and other online business directory pages that support location tagging. If you have not done so already, claim your Google+ location listing. While 88% of local mobile searches convert to a phone call or visit within 24 hours, 70% of Google+ Local pages are unclaimed, according to Local Vox. Worse, over half of all business listings have Name, Address and Phone errors across their business pages, a sure-fire way to hurt your local search presence. Once you have claimed your company pages on the top local business directory sites, confirm that all the listing information is correct down the last computer character.

#3: Prioritize location pages on your website.

Optimize your website for local search by creating location-specific pages with location-specific keywords and schema markup. Monitor analytics to see how your location-based pages are performing in different search results. Understanding this data will help your business better identify opportunities for improved engagement through localized content marketing and social media. The right data enables your business to effectively execute a local focused marketing strategy.

#4: Mobile friendly web design.

Finally, don’t forget to have a mobile-friendly website! Don’t force your customers to pinch and zoom on a smartphone in order to find the information they need about your business. A responsive or mobile version of your website is important for user experience and driving organic mobile search traffic.


Improving Local SEO: 5 Tips For Small Businesses

by SEO Savvy May 1st, 2014

Is your business optimized for local search? When you optimize for local search, you need to be considering more than just the basic on-page SEO best practices. Beyond counterproductive keyword stuffing measures such as repeating variations of possible search phrases (i.e. “plumber in Los Angeles”, “plumber in Long Beach”, “plumber in Hollywood”) across your homepage and internal pages, you may not be taking the necessary measures to improve your local search visibility.

Local search allows Internet users to submit a search engine query for geographically constrained results, effectively searching for both a “what” and a “where”. Google, or the search engine of your choosing, then returns a list of search results localized to match the searcher’s geographic constraints. Local search results often include maps listings making it easy to directly contact a listed business without ever needing to visit the business’s website. This is especially the case for searches done on mobile devices.

There are at least three key criteria that matter for local search results: relevance, prominence and distance. In a general sense, Google determines how effectively your business matches these criteria and displays both websites and maps listings for each search. If your website ranks high enough in maps search, it will be placed with the “local pack”. The local pack is 3 to 7 business maps listings blended within the first page of search results. Landing in the local pack is very important for your business’s visibility in search results. Otherwise, it will be more difficult for customers to find you.

Don’t just be part of the local pack – lead it. Here’s how to get started optimizing your business’s local search listings.

#1: Claim your business listings

The first step to improving your local search ranking is to claim your business’s local map listing in Google, Yahoo and Bing. But don’t stop there; Google references local aggregate data from external sources to validate business data; the more your business Name, Address and Phone (NAP) matches what you provide Google, the more consistently your business will rank. Check data aggregators like Infogroup Express Update, Factual, Neustar Localeze, and Acxiom. Perform manual searches to find out which sites currently rank for your services. Sites like Angie’s List, Yellow Pages, Yelp and others are opportunities to get in front of your customers, so make sure to create business listings with all sites you find through manual searches. Keep your NAP information consistent. The more times you show up in a search, the more a potential customer may be likely to contact you. Also, be sure to create your local listing on location-based social networks like Facebook, Foursquare and Yelp for customers who like to “check-in”. Also use search services like Moz Local and Yext to find a list of top online business directories.

#2: Select the right category

Your business, whether you’re a mom and pop dry cleaning shop or a web design agency, falls under at least one of the many categories on local listing sites. Picking the right category is very important; for example, if you choose a category that is too broad, like “cleaning” or “design” your business likely won’t show up in narrower search results. The reverse can also be true – if your agency does web design don’t choose a “programming” category, or you could lose out on business when a potential customer searches for “web design services in Los Angeles.”

#3: Create unique descriptions, images, videos, etc.

A simple rule of thumb is that the larger net you cast, the more fish you will catch. While this may not apply to every situation, it’s certainly something you’ll want to consider. When creating descriptions for your local business pages on Yahoo, Bing, Google, etc., avoid the temptation to copy and paste them word for word. Sit down and spend the time coming up with different ways to describe what you do, your list of services, how your business was founded, and everything else customers might like to know. These descriptions don’t need to be long, but you want to consider the different word combinations people will search for that can send them to your page. Additionally, any images and videos that make your business stand out are great attention-grabbers.

Keep in mind that the one thing you don’t want to be unique is your NAP. This should be exactly the same for every single listing of your business, down to the last character. Look at the consistency required on Google+ or Axiom pages; this is designed to keep a uniform record for each business, preventing any confusion between similar companies.

#4: Optimize landing page experience

When it comes to websites, we’re apt to judge a book by its cover. You should optimize your landing page whether it’s your homepage or an internal page because when visitors land on your site they make quick decisions to stay or leave based on what they see. Your landing page should be just as rich and engaging as the other pages on your website, as well as easy to read and navigate. Optimizing content for local search is important. Content that describes your business and services with geo-modifiers (City + Service) will go a long way in improving relevance. Be sure your landing page includes all of the information your customers may be searching for, such as your business’s hours, driving directions and maps, a list of services by location. Including localized promotions can help turn searchers into customers. If the information isn’t directly available, it must be extremely obvious where a user should click to find it, or they may give up and move onto the next search result.

#5: Use structured data markup

Structured data markup is a growing trend in search engine indexing. It makes it easier for Google’s web crawlers to identify information embedded on your website’s pages. By adding important structured data markup language in your webpage code, you’re creating a marker or flag of sorts that search engine crawlers are likely to identify. These “rich snippets” as they are commonly referred to, enhance search result listings with additional text like events, images, address, phone or even localized coupon offers. This isn’t exactly a universal practice at this time, so if it is fairly simple for you to adjust your code accordingly, you may find this puts you a step ahead of your competitors. Read more about structured data markup here.

Local Mobile Search 101: 3 Simple Tactics for Small Businesses

by SEO Savvy April 15th, 2014

Mobile Search and Local Search

Thirty-eight percent of our daily media interactions occur on smartphones, according to Google.  We use local mobile search when we need a quick, immediate answer to a question, often when we’re out and about, but even at work or at home when sitting down at a computer just isn’t fast enough. This means that customers searching for your business on smartphones are primed to take immediate action. Paying attention to local mobile search results and what your potential customers are searching for is key to converting these highly qualified leads.

Imagine this: you just moved to a new city, you’re rushing home from work, and you need to drop off the dry cleaning. You search “Dry Cleaning” on your smartphone and the top result – less than a mile from your office – just became your new go-to drycleaner. This same scenario will often play out in local mobile search for other necessities – from finding a new plumber to locating the nearest florist. If your business is not committed to optimizing for local mobile search results, then it is missing out on potential customers.

Local mobile search requires different optimization tactics than Web 2.0. As search results become increasingly individualized to location and preference, local businesses must understand how to leverage local search in their favor. Here are three key ways to get started:

#1: Select the right mobile keywords.
Choosing keywords for mobile search is different than selecting general search terms. While many searching on their computers use longtail keyword phrases, these same individuals are more likely to search with one or two short keywords from their mobile phone. After all, it’s all about the speed. Search engines are great at identifying and personalizing mobile search to include local results. Optimizing pages with the use of a geo-modifier for your local city can go along way to capture local search. To compare traffic from mobile and desktop search to your website, go to Audience > Mobile > Overview within Google Analytics. Filtering visits for organic, paid and mobile can help compare mobile traffic across paid & organic campaigns.

#2: Optimize your business for voice search.
Is your business acquainted with voice search, like Siri? Strengthening your presence on geographic-based applications such as Yelp, Google reviews, Foursquare and Facebook will increase the likelihood that the intelligent personal assistant’s suggestions include your business in location-based searches. Don’t just start a Twitter account and call it a day; active engagement with customers through social media will increase the chance for customers to find you via mobile search and map applications.

#3: Leverage influencers and reputation to rank higher in local search results.
A high ranking is absolutely critical for local search result success. Encourage customers to review your services on Yelp, Google, Facebook and other online platforms by posting signs or including a message as a memo on your receipts. But don’t resort to paying for bulk reviews; popular services like Yelp and UrbanSpoon have installed monitoring systems to block businesses from stuffing inauthentic reviews. Doing so will only hurt your business’s reputation, which is key to ranking higher in local search results.

According to Google, seventy-seven percent of smartphone owners use their phone to conduct online searches. As Americans become increasingly reliant on on-the-go information, this percentage is expected to increase. It is expected that mobile search will surpass desktop search in 2014. Optimizing your business for local mobile search will give your company an opportunity to connect with local customers.

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