As a business owner in the Millennial era, maintaining an effective digital presence online is becoming more important every day. For small businesses, mastering local SEO techniques is becoming the standard for remaining competitive in any given industry. Optimizing local SEO takes work, but great progress can be accomplished rather quickly with the right approach.
Properly optimizing the website is a basic requirement for achieving local search visibility. Without a serious investment in website optimization, competitive rankings are more likely to be unfounded and a result of good luck.
Schema markup code should be thoroughly wrapped in NAP components, improving Google's recognition that the website's referring to a physical location.
Content Optimization should prioritize writing naturally over anything else. Duplicating content, keyword stuffing and cannibalizing keywords are now heavily penalized.
Interlinking of Webpages and Silos is an effective strategy for spreading link juice and establishing an architecture for the site. Making the main link navigation too difficult for search engines to easily access is a critical SEO mistake many websites make.
Basic Technical Considerations
In order to achieve visibility and competitive rankings with Google, there is some gamesmanship and technical requirements involved. In order to consistently show up on the SERPs, successful website's learn to play by Google's rules.
Page/Server Speed focuses on optimizing load time and improving the user experience. Otherwise, viewers are likely to leave the website before it even loads. In addition, Google prefers faster loading sites, so they typically rank higher on SERPs.
Mobile Friendly websites allow people to access businesses online across different devices and resolutions without suffering technical issues. Without a specific reason, an additional website is no longer needed to support access by mobile devices.
Sitemaps with valid XML should be created, then submitted to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing.
Google My Business Optimization
Many of the local SEO decisions are made from the Google My Business page. This unassuming page is where Google goes for critical data about the business. Filling this page out completely with accurate information should be a high priority.
Google Maps Audit is run to check if the Google My Business page contains incorrect data, duplicate listings or listing that are incomplete.
Google My Business (GMB) Page Creation is a high priority citation that should not be ignored. Confirm that the address is listed correctly, postcard verification is required.
A citation is a digital reference to the business name, address, and phone number, NAP. Citations can be a tricky time-trap, but they can also be the key to making the business stand out from the competition.
Citation Audit is used to track all existing citations and minimize the recurrence of duplicates. This tool is also used to identify inconsistencies in the business's NAP.
Citation Clean Up addresses inconsistencies in the NAP and other citation sources that can be harmful to the website's local search rankings. The focus of the clean-up is to correct all of the incorrect citations.
- Claiming and Fixing NAP on the Four Biggest Aggregators, Acxiom, Infogroup Express Update, Factual Neustar and Localeze, to overcome unknown sources of incorrect or obsolete information about the business
Competitive Citation Analysis with tools like WhiteSpark to research and track competitors' citation sources can be extremely lucrative.
- Citation Competitive Analysis Guide involves collecting and comparing citation sources, as well as assessing priorities and other important measures.
Aggregator is a reliable data distributor that can help reduce time lost to manual citation building by automatically distributing business data on other citation sources.
Local Directory Submission does include websites specific on the business location. Getting a profile live from submitting to this type of site may be challenging.
- Boost Your Online Presence with Local Business Listings by meeting the qualifying criteria and using effectively using listing attributes, including NAP, reviews, photos and social profiles.
Social Media Profiles include high-authority social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter than can be effective tools for promoting brand recognition.
Hyper-Local Citation involves hyper-local sites, ones most relevant to the business category.
Photo Citation involves websites that accept photo submissions, which could potentially be uploaded to the map. These sites add geo metadata to the photo.
Video Citation can be created with software like PowToon and uploaded to video sharing sites like Dailymotion, Vimeo, and YouTube.
Forum and community sites can be useful. Adding a link to the signature and engaging in forum commenting can be very effective at gaining more exposure.
Blog Comment on relevant or local articles inside the comment section and find ways to include the website link or NAP whenever possible.
Despite Google's position, third-party research has determined that reviews do influence the search engine's algorithm. Investing time on improving how reviews are managed should be a high priority in the present and the future.
Google My Business Reviews are one of the top ranking signals. These reviews also help businesses build goodwill as users view positive feedback about the experience. For the aggregate star rating, try to get at least five positive reviews.
- Local Reviews and Ratings create opportunities to improve loyalty and exert damage control. Reviews are essential for promoting and protecting the business. Positive ratings are an effective way to draw additional traffic online.
Third Party Reviews from sites outside of Google, like Yelp, are also the worth the time. Adding content to leading third party review sites helps tap into a large pool of potentially new visitors.
Review Funneling involves using tools like getfivestars.com to aggregate reviews and post on leading reviews sites.
Social Medial is fundamental for effective link-building strategies used in local SEO. Links from sites similar in industry or region are typically more effective than any other variety. Aside from increasing links, social media improves customer loyalty, reputation, and trust.
Activity on Main Social Accounts should be locally focused if you"re interested in improving local SEO. Google is more partial to Google+, so these profiles are more likely to show up on SERPs. It also helps to have an engaging presence on Facebook, Linkedin and other social sites businesses frequently use.
Interlinking of Main Social Accounts is critical for getting all the link juice available for the website. Interlinking accounts from high-authority sites to create a social ring of trust for the brand can increase page authority online.
Thoroughness is often the difference between ranking locally and dominating local SEO. There are a number techniques that don't fit into any general classification but are still extremely important to use.
Organic Ranking Strength is an important ranking signal to be aware of. Many sites rank well locally because they are built so well organically. For many SERPs, sites that don't rank in the top five organically are unable to rank among the top 3 locally in the map pack.
To be successful with local SEO, business owners need to maintain the focus on improving organically and ranking in the map pack. Consistently ranking in the map pack and at the top of organic search results now require the investment in content, local reviews, NAP citations and Google My Business signals.