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Tips to Boost Your Local Marketing

Local-SEOBy now everyone is familiar with the “local search results box” that appears adjacent to a Google Maps readout on search engine results pages. That’s right, we’re talking about being found based on your business’ Google Places listing, known affectionately as “The Seven Pack”. Look familiar? As of recently Google has put far more emphasis on its local search results and has even re-branded their Local Business Center as “Google Places”. If you’re a small business dependent on working locally then ranking well within Google Places through local search engine optimization should be very important to you. This is the area where you face off against your local competition. We often get asked how to appear in this local search results box (The Seven Pack) all the time. And no, it’s not as easy filling out your business’ Google Places listing, but that’s a start. A local search engine optimization (LSEO) strategy is comprised of a variety of different tactics. Here’s are some local search engine optimization tactics to start with:  
  •  Complete your Google Places listing with as much information about your business as humanly possible, photos and videos are a big plus. The more keywords, the better. Look at your Google Places page from your customers point of view, what information do you want to see? This should be a basic first step to any local search engine optimization strategy.
  •  Citations are essentially “mentions” of your business name and address on other websites. Citations are relevant even if there is no direct link to your website. An example of a citation might be an online YellowPages directory where your business is listed, but not essentially linked to. Citations are a key component in the ranking algorithms of major search engines. Businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations. Some are claiming citations are the new inbound links, if so digital press releases distributed to local papers and other press release sites might be a good local search engine optimization tactic here.
  •  Search engine algorithms consider (give weight to) inbound links as a standard practice. Having these links will make your business more valuable as a search result to search engines. Links that are authoritative in nature are more valuable than one’s that aren’t, say links coming from a trusted authoritative source like the Better Business Bureau or The Chamber of Commerce.
  •  Google’s validity is based on making quality recommendations to its users. So it’s in their best interest to recommend businesses with positive reviews and ratings, these reviews even show up in the “sentiment analysis” on the Google Places pages. Again, think about your Google Places page from your customer’s point of view, wouldn’t you want to see reviews?
  •  Your business name, address and phone number should be consistent across the many sources of local business information. This means if you have a phone number listed on your local Chamber of Commerce website that is different from the phone number on your business’ website, Google will see this as an inconsistency. The more places that Google Places can find confirmation of your basic business information, the better chance you have of moving up in the placement on the local search results.
  •  On your Google Places listing, ignore that 800 number of yours and instead use the one that has an area code that matches your local area search targets. The imperative term here is “local”, think long and hard about what “local” means to your local search engine optimization strategy.
  •  Modifying your business name to have a descriptive keyword in it such as “bakery” or “real estate” etc., helps with the relevancy of the search results. In general this is also a plus to have in your site’s URL as a basic search engine optimization strategy.
  •  If you want to rank for keywords related to a specific geographic location (say Concord, NH for example) you’ll place better in the local search results if you’re legitimately located in that city. Plug your address into your website’s footer, this is a clear indication to all sorts of search engine bots that this is your physical address. An educated guess here would be that bots are programmed to specifically put weight on pages with file names such as contact, contact-us, about, etc, so drop addresses there as well. Be sure to include local variations of keywords on your local pages. For example make sure to vary NH and New Hampshire within your content, because searches use both. Your company name, address, keywords (relating to your business category), and local phone number need to be the same everywhere. Every page of your website should have a textual version of your company name, address, and local phone number.
  •  There are a huge number of YellowPages-like sites that allow you to update your information for free. These sites include Merchant Circle, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local. These sites get a lot of traffic and tend to rank well. At the very least you should go to each one, claim your profile and make sure they are correctly linking to your site.
  •  Many local small business are missing out on the extraordinary opportunity blogging provides. Blogging is a simple way to establish your business as a thought-leader and an easy way to continually add keyword dense pages to your site, on your own! Additionally you can go to Google’s blog search engine and add your blogs URL, which means your blog post will rank for search engine results.
  •  Many of the elements that assist in promoting your website to the first page of organic search engine results are going to help your Google Places ranking improve. Google will look at your site and see if it has a wealth of information (such as keywords!) that match the categories on your Google Places listing. Google will also look for reputable inbound links, combined with overall information and keyword consistency, your business website builds credibility for your Google Places page.
  •  If you feel the tactics you’re pursuing are less than genuine, you should abandon them. Google will figure it out and then ban you. Yes, of course using spammy, blackhat tactics seem like a quick fix, but in the end it’s not legitimate and not worth being booted for.
  Are you a local business concerned with placing prominently in your local search listings? Let Epic help! Let’s talk about your business’ situation and improve your search visibility.

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