Local SEO – What’s Happening
There’s been a significant change that happened in the local SEO scene recently. Most of you have probably noticed by now the change in SERP’s visual layout.
Local results used to be displayed at the top of the search result page as a map with up to 7 local results also listed on the side. Now, local results are integrated into the normal SERP.
Looks like Google is combining main algorithms with local algorithms which streamlines SEO, particularly local SEO, and is a good thing for local businesses. Additionally, more and more universal web results are localized, even when the maps/local trigger isn’t in place.
Google says that over 20% of searches reference locality (city, slate, country, etc.) and it’s clear that localized search is growing and becoming an important part of online search in general and the trend will most likely become even stronger in the future.
Google’s bias towards local sites ahead of national ones is a good thing for both local business and searchers. This strategy actually improves relevance and returns better search results to the user.
All of these changes and factors are in favor of local SEO, and therefore localized businesses. Factors that are important for traditional SEO are now more important for local SEO. That’s great news because if you are doing well locally you’re also doing well on the universal level.
SEO Local-Specific Features in the Order of Importance
The best news is that any localized business can have an online presence without having to build a website. This is where Google Maps/Local, Yahoo Local and Bing Local come in, aside from a myriad of other websites & directories catering to this particular need.
Here is what you must consider if you want to take advantage of local SEO:
- Local Search Engine Pages. Establish local presence with local search engines (Google Local, yahoo Local, Bing Local). In Google Local & Maps, it’s all about the listings (links to your website are much less important) so make sure to optimize your local search profile.
- Local Directories. Create lots of consistent data across the web, especially resources Google might be using to get more data from. Start with local directory submission to general sites (always hand submit) then follow with niche data sources:
- Yahoo Local
- Trip Adviser
- Insider Pages
- Any niche data sources (search your competition; check their Places profile to see where Google is getting their data from)
- Links to your website. Links are like a vote of popularity so they are considered very important in Google’s algorithms. If you live locally, run your business in an area and thus participate in that community, your likelihood of earning links from local businesses and with anchor text that includes your city name increases dramatically. Links from local blogs and other business’ websites, especially those with localized anchor text are invaluable to local SEO.
- Listing Details. Address (never use PO BOX), categories (targeted keywords), business title listed, local phone number, photos etc are all part of a comprehensive and well optimized listing.
- Reviews. Those are not only great for improving your click-through rate. Maps/Local rankings use an algorithms based on optimization of your listing and quantity, quality and consistency of your business reviews so request reviews from your most satisfied clients regularly.
- Social media scene. Local business investing in social media marketing should see their work pay off in the not so distant future. Social media integration will be more and more important as we continue since Google is trying to make search more human and social media is all about being human.
There’s no doubt that reaching the top of search engine result pages takes lots of resources, hard work and determination. However, armed with the knowledge of what factors matter most you too should be able to take full advantage of search results localization! If you need professional help with creating a local SEO strategy for your business, we’re here to help!