This article serves as the first installment of what will be an ongoing series on local SEO (search engine optimization) marketing. My objective with this series will be to shine a light on the most important aspects of SEO marketing for local businesses. While this series will be aimed primarily at marketing agencies who provide SEO services to local businesses, my hope is that business owners will also find this series both informative and actionable.
Local Search Marketing Introduction
What exactly does “local search marketing” mean? Put simply, local search marketing refers to any marketing efforts, both paid and organic, to increase a local business’s visibility online.
There are many factors that can influence a business’s visibility. In this article, I will focus mainly on organic marketing tactics, otherwise known as “local SEO.” I will not cover paid advertising tactics for local businesses.
Local Listings and SEO
The “meat and potatoes” of local SEO services begins with local business listings. Listings almost always include NAP identifiers: the business name, address, and phone number.
Business listings are found across multiple platforms. These can include:
- Search engine business listings:
- Review sites, such as:
- Angie’s List
- Better Business Bureau
- Local Directories
- Other niche-specific directories and resources
Google’s Local Pack
What is Google’s Local Pack? When Google believes a query has local intent, the top of the search results include three companies, grouped into a “pack.” This local pack is displayed immediately after the paid ads and before the rest of the organic search results.
Previously, this pack included seven local companies (i.e. the “7 pack”). However, this 7 pack was too big to be properly displayed on mobile. Conversely, the 3 pack translates well to mobile, and it neatly makes up the first page of search results when a local query is made on a smart phone.
In addition to the business names, the local pack will also include Google reviews (if available). It might also include a “More Places” option, which will expand the local results.
The local pack is prime search engine real estate, and occupying a place within these listings is an important part of any local SEO strategy.
In terms of SEO, a local citation is an instance where a company is mentioned somewhere on the internet (pretty simple, no?). Some examples of citations include:
- Business directories
- Articles, reviews, etc. that mention your business
These citations can serve as a trust signal, and can therefore help a business rank in local search results.
Because of this, it is important to make sure that a business’s full NAP (name, address, phone number) is clearly and correctly displayed on every page of that business’s website. In addition, this NAP information should be uniform across all citations. Monitoring (and correcting) this information is a major component of local SEO services.
Local Business Reviews and Ratings
Online local business reviews are critiques created by customers, posted to one of numerous platforms. Some examples of review platforms include:
Reviews play a huge part in local search rankings. Given the fact that local business reviews are created and hosted by people and organizations not associated with the actual business being reviewed, taking control of your reviews and ratings can appear to be a daunting task. However, this actually presents a great opportunity for businesses to engage with their customers and to build a strong reputation in their community.
On-Page Local SEO Factors
Just like traditional (i.e. non-local focused) SEO, on-page factors make up a big part of the overall local SEO picture.
Content on a local business’s website should be created to cater to that business’s local audience. Make sure the site’s content offers real value to the customer by solving a problem or answering a question.
As always, proper use of targeted keywords, internal linking, navigational structure, etc. can go a long way toward optimizing the local business website for user experience.
Taking care of the technical aspects of SEO, such as page speed and fixing broken links, are also important parts of on-site optimization.
Link Building for Local SEO
No local SEO strategy would be complete without a solid link building plan. Most small businesses will find the process of link building to be one of the most difficult aspects of marketing their business online. Because of this, quality link building campaigns should be the cornerstone of any local SEO service offering.
Effective link building will result in increased authority in the eyes of Google. However, the link building process must be undertaken carefully and strategically. You definitely do not want to “over-optimize” your linking. A few targeted, highly relevant links from high-authority websites will be much more effective than a large number of low quality links.
The Next Steps
This article should give you a good overview of what comprises local SEO services. There are many facets, and because of this there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Each local business will have unique needs, and the more you know about the business, their customers, and local SEO strategies, the better equipped you will be to help them grow their business.
Future installments in this series will go in-depth into many of the topics introduced in this article, so be sure to check back in to learn more about local SEO.
In the meantime, if you are in need of local SEO services, PosiRank offers effective and affordable services for local business marketing. Contact us today to learn more.