At SearchLove in London last month, David Mihm gave a detailed presentation about local SEO, how it has changed and its importance as we head into 2013.
Local has come a long way from 2000, when title tags and links were the most important elements on a page. Citations and local data became important after Jan 2008 and then even more so after the Venice update in March 2009. 30% of all search queries are local and now reviews are having an impact on the results. Social is also playing a role in local search.
David gave a few tips on what a business needs to start optimising for local:
How to start in local
Every business should have a business title in the title tag of the page that they are submitting to Google. The title should be included in the HTML, along with the name, address and phone number. For those who want to have a rich snippet of their address and contact details, it is important to use schema mark up. It does not affect rankings but it has shown an increase in click through rates (CTR).
1. Links for local search
A company does not need a lot of links to rank high, a few good links can go a long way. It is important to have links from local businesses in the area. Google can associate authortity with these links from the local community such as guest posts on local blogs. If a company is hosting an event, try and get sponsorship from businesses nearby. It is important to leverage these local links.
2. Citations and location data
Citation means NAP which is name, address and phone number of a business. It is like an online thumb print and together with a website address, it is important to have all four if you want to get listed in Google. Businesses can get these citations from local places such as Royal Mail and Yell.com.
It is important to submit a business to data providers in the country where the business is located. For example in the UK, companies register themselves with Companies House and they should also then register their details with other directories such as 118 and touchlocal.com.
A business needs to have a consistent thumbprint on the web so that customers can find them. However, sometimes the results can become mixed, and if this happens companies should carry out the following steps:
1. – Search for duplicates at maps.google.co.uk
2 – Report a problem
3- Create a strong mapmaker account
4- Edit/remove duplicate errors
5- Search full NAP with out of data info
6- Claim everything
Of course Apple Maps has taken some local search volume from Google since its introduction with iOS6. If you find your business has not been listed on Apple Maps, Perth SEO company White Chalk Road has given some handy instructions on the steps to take to make sure your business is listed on Apple Maps.
It is important to have reviews of a business, this helps to gain trust and authority. All companies should conduct a full search of their business and analyse the results. Then they should consider the following two points:
1. Consider the ease of leaving reviews for those who do not have a gmail account. For example people can leave review with Qype and Yahoo even if they do not have a gmail address.
2. Incorporate feedback into everyday process
This means if people have left bad reviews, make sure these are addressed and resolved and respond back to this comment.
The next big area for local reviews are the power users. As the name suggests, these are the people who leave many honest reviews about products, places and services. There is a group called the Yelp elite and if a company receives a review from someone in this sector, it is one of most important factors that can affect its position in the SERPs.
How does a business find these active reviewers?
There are three main ways to discover these power reviewers:
1. Go to Topsy
Here you can find the trending topics in the SERPs.
2. Go to Follower wonk
This is a great place to see who are the well known power users in the market.
3. Search queries
Use different search queries to find these power users. For example to find someone in a Yelp community, type in:
“title=”Elite 2012” name of town site:yelp.co.uk/user_details
4. What is the biggest change for Local?
It is now visible to see just 1 or 2 categories on a Google+ page whereas before, businesses were able to tell Google 5 categories of their business.
For example before if there was a divorce attorney business, that business could enter the different keyword categories – Divorce Attorney, Child Custody Support Officer, Family Lawyer, but now a company has to put just one category in their Google + page which can be difficult.
5. Keyword Research
It is important to keep up with keyword research, it is a never ending part of SEO with new keywords trending. Make sure a business is appearing for the terms people are searching for on their desktop, mobile and also depending on their location.
David advised not to use call tracking for Google local, but to use GA to see where a business’ customers are coming from. To track rankings, Darren Shaw has built with a new tool, www.whitespark.ca/rank-tracker, but rankings fluctuate a lot in local so it is best to analyse them just once a week.
7. Need to know – Centroid Bias
People on their mobile phone are going to see different results than they would on a desktop. However when there are so many results, how can one company stand out from the rest?
The number of reviews a site has plays a part as well as the number of links and the where the citations are coming from. Companies that have at least one citation from a .gov or .edu site will be seen as having more authority which will help them to rank higher in the SEROs.
All companies should be optimising for local SEO. For those who have not yet started, no more excuses, claim your local listing today and reap the benefits of local search.