A lot of people would like to know more about how to optimize for local searches. Indeed, it is a hot topic around the internet today. Below are some of the factors that can massively affect your local search rankings. Content and citations are the two most important elements.
A citation is one of the most vital tools in local search rankings. Citations come from online Yellow Pages portals or other major data providers. They reference back to each other, including addresses, business names, websites and phone numbers. This is displayed in a “Web Pages” tab within a business listing. The Google Maps Webpages Importer is a great tool to use in order to find out what your citations are, or what citations your competition has. You can find this tool in the Advanced Link Manager.
Very simply put, citations are a type of directory listing. It is very important, however, that you have NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency in your citations. This can be streamlined through third party services if you are worried that your consistency isn’t good. SEO experts agree that if your NAP is not presented properly, your rankings will drop. Additionally, you should not only ensure the content of your NAP is consistent, but also the way it is presented. Google deciphers the information using data normalization and it can filter through some minor inconsistencies. However, by having a standard format, you have a much bigger chance of getting better rankings.
Do also remember that citations will drive customers and leads to your customers organically. This is another reason why it is so important to focus on that. Some of the services you can use include UBL, Localeze and Yext. They can’t actually take all the work out of your hands, but they can certainly lower your workload. Yext tends to be the most respected service out there, so it will come as no surprise to find out that it is also by far the most expensive. One of the reasons why it is still so popular is because it allows you to update any listing in real-time. This makes it a lot easier for you to achieve that all important consistency.
Another hugely important element in local internet rankings is your content. To get your content right, you should use your location as a keyword. The location should be found everywhere, in your headers, titles, anchor text, body copy and so on. As always, you do have to make sure you don’t keyword stuff. Rather, you need to place your location keywords naturally. Don’t forget to include your location in the description of your local business and on your inbound link anchor texts, this being the links that you have control over.
3. Directory Listings
Once upon a time, the internet was all about the directory listings. Then Google came along and changed all of that. However, this doesn’t mean directory listings are dead, certainly not for local SEO services. Google+ Local is perhaps the best one out there, because it ensures your directory listing is still liked by Google as well. Google+ Local, which used to be known as Google Places, allows you to create a unique listing for every phone number you have. Again, make sure your NAP is consistent, however. Additionally, you have to make sure that you look into the information provided through Google’s policies and procedures and whether or not your business is actually relevant. Listing your business here should greatly improve your rankings on local services.
4. Display Your Business Information
The final thing to be aware of is that you must have all your NAP details on your own website as well. You may also want to consider listing your IP address. This won’t help you in your ranking efforts, but it is something that Google looks out when returning results. Nowadays, all the major search engines, including Google, Yahoo! and Bing, want to make sure that their search results are personalized to the needs of the person entering the query. This is why they do also look at the IP address of the user in particular. For instance, if someone were to simply search for “pizza,” they will first be shown a number of local results, even if they didn’t enter a location in their search results. If, however, Google is unable to find out what the location of the user is, then they will ask whether the searchers wants to specify a local area instead.