Local SEO Tips for 2019 By Industry Experts
For those marketers who have worked diligently on SEO for years, 2019 is setting up to be a year that only the most prepared will reap the spoils.
While the local online marketing industry is consistently changing, it is also continually reminding online marketers that hard-work, white hat methods, and a focus on proven iron-clad approaches are a path to success.
SEO is an ever-evolving climate and those marketers who choose not to adapt often get left out in the cold. Avoiding marketing dystopia is easier than you think, however, if you are willing to keep your finger on the pulse.
Let’s Examine Why Local Search Marketing is Essential
For local businesses, online visibility is a prerequisite for business growth. If you or your clients cannot sell your products or find your business through their smartphones, you risk becoming an Internet dinosaur.
Local online marketing, in general, is the very foundation of business success. However, all too often, Local SEO’s impact is understated, leaving profits on the table for many business owners who do not dive in for further understanding. Too many articles focus on the general aspects of SEO and marginalize hyperlocal tactics.
The panel of local SEO and marketing experts is here to help feed you some nuggets of wisdom and well your confidence in the arena, as well as expand your current understanding of Local Search’s working parts.
Today’s panel has one single focus: to help you keep your finger on local strategy.
I have helped bring together some of the most astute and resourceful minds in local marketing.
Our experts look to knock down some Google myths and prime marketers for what will likely be a challenging year in 2019. Will this be the year of local voice search?
I want to extend huge thanks to everyone for taking the time to contribute to the panel.
We are blessed to work in an industry where highly experienced experts devote time and energy to the greater good of those who work hard to do things right.
Please Share These Local SEO Tips!
It was a lot of work. I think I had hair when I started on it.
1. Links and Citations:
Still a foundational element of any local search campaign. Make sure the Name, Address, Phone number, and website are consistent across all sites. We use Yext to start (direct feed into 50+ major local directories/ listing sites) and then layer on additional citations each month using a tool like Bright Local. Outside of the essential aggregators and main citation sites, always be looking for local and niche-specific citation opportunities.
Domain authority is now tied a lot more into the local search algorithm. As a result, local businesses need to be focusing some energy on building a solid link profile, with an emphasis on local links. Again, this sends strong signals to the Big G.
You can rank for all the keywords in the world, but if you have a poor online reputation (i.e., few or bad reviews), consumers will go to the competition. Not only is the velocity and quality of reviews a ranking factor, but it has the most significant impact on winning the click, and the conversion. Ensure your business has a proactive review management strategy in place to source quality reviews across sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, niche-specific directories.
3. Behavioral Signals:
User engagement is being more heavily weighted into the ranking factors than ever before. It is critical that your business has a site the not only looks great, is easy to navigate, loads fast, but it needs to provide this across all devices. If you do all the hard work to get visitors to your site, but they bounce right after getting there, it’s all for nothing.
Considering that Google has stated that their top three ranking factors are content, links, and Rankbrain. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise that the top strategies my team and I use for our efforts are in-line with the top three ranking factors. Since SEO is a holistic process, meaning you can’t succeed if you do not approach it in its totality, not just on a singular aspect, you can expect that our strategies are holistic - which means it’s made up of multiple, successful strategies.
1. Content Strategy:
Our content strategy is something that most content writers know but often forget. The strategy is simple enough that every capable content writer can do it. The content that we write and publish are monitored in three ways:
These three ensure that the content that we put out is high-quality, top-notch, and SEO-friendly. I actually published our content strategy on SEO Hacker’s blog to help fellow SEOs improve their website’s content.
2. Link Building Strategy:
Our White hat link building strategy is nothing new. We just use tried and tested tactics where they fit the best. Guest posts, skyscrapers, broken link building, link reclamation, etc. We use these tactics whenever they fit the bill, so I can’t say that there is a top strategy - if there is one, it would be a combination of all of these tactics.
3. Mobile Optimization:
As we all know, Google has taken an unexpected turn with their Mobile-First Index. Which means that Google will now index and rank a website based on the content of their mobile site. Almost all capable SEOs know that the number of users on the mobile platform will only increase as the years go by. So, with that in mind, one of the top SEO strategies for 2018 is optimizing a mobile-friendly website.
Since this was a major change in the SEO landscape, I took it upon myself to gather statistics and present what mobile search optimization really is, and publish it on our company’s blog.
1. Don’t Ignore Google+:
Sure, Google+ as a social network is dying on the vine. However, there are still millions of users still on it. And, it appears that Google Search is looking at engagement on Google+ as an indicator of overall social "buzz." Google desperately wishes they had access to the Facebook user/page/post data, but they do not all they can see is an ocean of pages, all filled with no followed links. They have got no way to tell what‘s an ad vs. what a link shared in a post; and no way to tell if the 100 people who shared a link are legit, or are all spam accounts created last Thursday somewhere in southeast Asia. They CAN tell what’s legit in Google+ posts and accounts though, and so if they see what looks like ten legit followers of business on Google+, they might presume that that business likely has 1000 followers on Facebook. Ben Fisher at Steady Demand has proven that building a following and promoting your content on Google+ has a noticeable, positive impact on both organic rankings and 3-pack rankings. See this case study. So...at, a minimum, take everything you share on Facebook and Twitter and also share it on your Google+ page. Even better...spend some time in Google+ each month finding people and companies with similar interests, and schmooze...like and comment on their stuff, follow them, and some of them will return the favor.
2. Trust but Verify:
NAP consistency is a big deal. Google looks at various big business directories for confirmation that the phone number, address, name, and URL they are about to show a user in the search results is correct. If your business moved last year, Google does NOT want to show users your old address, especially if after driving to the wrong location, getting mad, and looking Yelp or Bing they find the right address. If Google has any doubt as to whether they have the right information for your business, they will tend to show other businesses in the 3-pack instead, just to be safe.
Let‘s say you checked your data consistency a year ago, maybe with Moz Local or Yext Powerlistings, and it all looked good. That is no guarantee for today, though! Time and time again, I have seen old addresses, and phone numbers for clients’ businesses show up in the big directories, long after everything got straightened out in the first place. These local business directories generally get feeds of data from a number of sources, and old data can creep back into the system. Usually, when it does, it just creates a duplicate listing for you...but, that is still a problem. Run a free Moz Local Check Listing test on your business at least once a quarter. If you are an agency, check it yourself--several times I have had clients tell me they checked their listing data just in the past few days and it was fine....and when I looked, they’d missed tons of inconsistencies.
3. Ranking for Non-Category Terms:
Google My Business‘ set of categories is pretty limited in certain areas. When someone searches using one of the categories in Google My Business, it is easy for Google to figure out which businesses are relevant. For instance, if someone searches for "criminal justice attorney Denver," Google has a category for "criminal justice attorney," so all they have to do is pull the listings they have in that category from Denver. Unfortunately, hardly anyone uses that term (what were you thinking, Google???), but they search for "criminal defense attorney" instead. So how does Google know which business listings to show? Well, they MAY be doing some work with synonyms to figure that out in cases like this, but in other cases, like "dinner cruises," it is a lot tougher to find a Google My Business category that’s a synonym for that term. What they appear to be doing (H/T to Mike Blumenthal, who tested this with his famous "dive bars" study) is look at the text of reviews in not just Google+, but also in Yelp, to see what other terms that business should rank for.
So, if you want to rank in the local 3-pack for terms that aren’t Google categories, get reviews from clients with those terms in the body of the review.
1. Focus on the Local Pack:
The key things to do:
- Create a Google My Business Page
- Claim Your Google My Business Listing
- Verify & Optimize Your Listing
- Manage Your Citations
And don’t forget to manage NAP on your website.
2. Online Directories:
Certainly, few of us still have the printed version of Yellow Pages somewhere in the closet. The majority of people are using the Internet to find information on local services/businesses. By accurately listing your business on as many high authority online directory websites as you can, you will convert one in two leads into customers.
No website that is willing to rank high in local search can afford to be non-mobile-responsive. More and more people (especially, in the developing nations) are using smartphones and mobile Internet to access the web. And there is something about the mobile search that is game-changing: people conduct most of their searches on the go, which means that a big chunk of information they need is very local in its nature and they expect some immediate and relevant results. No one wants to type in (or use voice search) a “shoe repair” search query and receive results that are useful for those who live hundreds of miles away. Just imagine:
- 50% of local mobile searchers intend to find some business information (the company’s address or a phone number)
- An impressive 78% of local mobile searches lead to an offline purchase
Check your backlinks, create new super-authoritative links, implement a compelling content strategy, monitor your website’s health and so on. That’s why Google is transforming its “ten blue lines” doctrine and is working on promoting SERP Features - Featured Snippet, Instant Answer, Carousel, Top Stories and….Local Pack. The latter can be your winning strategy, as localization is the new “it”-thing in the digital space.
1. Situation Analysis:
One of the biggest mistakes we see businesses make with local or organic SEO is just diving in at a tactical level without understanding what their strengths or weaknesses are. There is no point building more citations or content if your primary weakness is your authority. Get a solid understanding of your current situation and how that relates to your Local SEO goals and then focus your efforts on your weaknesses (and strike at your competitor’s weaknesses!). An SEO SWOT analysis is a good starting point to get a really solid understanding of your situation and how that relates to your competitors.
2. Foundational Ranking Factors:
Once you know where to focus you need to get all the foundational local SEO factors dialed in. Moving into 2018 I think these are pretty well established, but citations, on-page optimization, reviews and NAP consistency all play a part. There are an array of tools that can help with these elements, but you really want to get these dialed in so you can focus your efforts where most needed.
Sooner or later we get to authority as the tool that Google uses to stack the deck. There are many ways to make yourself more authoritative, and links are, of course, a big factor. But building your brand and having the best answers to questions can also help. Once you are sure that you have addressed your weaknesses and the foundational factors are all in place then focus on building authority.
The only other factor here is to be realistic. Where is your business? Where do you want to rank for? Do results tend to be clustered around the location? How many competitors are there and in what total geography? Look at the results and ensure what you are looking to do here is achievable.
1. Keyword Clustering:
When ranking locally, from experience, it seems to be easy to rank for your main keywords (and related ones) by creating multiple page keyword clusters and utilizing topical seeding paired with internal linking to relevant pages.
2. Hyper-specific data from authority sources:
Several months ago, I was able to rank for a very competitive “area” + “keyword” without any internal link silos or links at all for that matter. Just by utilizing authority sources like Wikipedia.
3. Implement Schema Markup:
I could name a hundred other things you should do, but, for 2018, I would say it would be essential for you to start marking all of your pages up with Schema. Here’s what I do: Homepage gets local business markup, about page, gets about markup, contact page gets contact markup, service pages get product markup (hopefully with reviews (that you list on the page)), blog gets blog markup, and if you do local events, try event markup (possibly a meet up?)
4. Generate Reviews:
Get a killer review generation strategy. So many people only ask their clients for reviews. Why? Because they do not understand that they can utilize other sources of traffic to build reviews. It is easy, just give away something you know about, like for instance, your top ways to do local SEO in 2018. Then grab your traffic in an asset that you control, perhaps a Facebook group. After a few days, ask target people to leave a review on what you teach. In case you have fake reviews, remove google reviews asap!
The three best strategies I know will have the greatest impact on local SEO in 2018 would revolve around prioritizing voice search, partnering with neighboring businesses, and focusing with a sense of urgency on native reviews. I’m being presumptuous, assuming all local businesses have already redesigned their websites to address "mobile-first" with fast, responsive layouts.
1. Voice Search:
For voice search, local businesses should consider running a few focus groups to see how users will search for them, and what appears when they do, on Siri, Google Assistant (phone and Home), Cortana, and other assistant technologies.
Adjust and/or create new content to address these queries, both in what’s displayed or said by the device and in what the webpage renders to the hands-free user.
2. Partnering with Neighboring Businesses:
Partnering with neighboring businesses opens the doors for dozens of hyper-local business citations and links, all having an incremental benefit toward 3-Pack and Map rankings.
Consider having a quarterly or bi-annual event, such as a blood drive or free CPR classes. This worked really well for one our clients, and we were even able to get some extra real estate in Google search results through using Event markup from schema.org.
3. Focusing with a sense of urgency on native reviews:
Stop giving Yelp and Google My Business all the great review content, and start directing customers to your website to leave reviews that help improve the uniqueness of each location page (if you have multiple locations).
Work with a web developer to get Rating markup from schema.org, under your respective Local Business category. This will allow you to potentially display stars within search results under your listing, similar to how Yelp has stars under theirs.
Google seems to keep focusing more and more on branding and quality as the internet evolves and ranking becomes more and more difficult. With SEO changing we have to keep an eye on the highest contributing factors and what will move the needs of our clients.
1. Focus on Website Branding in 2018:
The more search engines see companies popping up through reputable sites, the better their rankings could be. This is especially true for sites who are local and need higher rankings in map results.
2. Backlinks from Reputable Sites:
It still holds true that the sites should be relevant and high quality, but backlinks aren’t going away anytime soon.
3. Quality Content Focused on the Consumer:
The longer people read your content, the better and that will only happen if the content is useful, entertaining or otherwise engaging.
Over the past few years, some SEO for local search ranking factors have remained constant while others have changed drastically. Here are my three tips/strategies to rank higher local SEO rankings in 2018:
1. Structured Data:
Structured data on websites are actively used by search engines to provide more information to users, and they will continue to do so.Using schema markup to provide data about events, payment methods and even review ratings to search engines will push local SEO rankings higher in 2018.
2. Business Listings Online:
Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp will significantly affect local search rankings in 2018 as well.This doesn’t stop with just NAP consistency across major websites and directories - the depth of data present on business listings is equally important since user searches are becoming increasingly more specific.
3. Optimize to answer questions that users ask:
With a major chunk of search queries being in the form of questions, and with users launching searches in a conversational tone owing to the increase in the usage of voice search and digital assistants.
Business websites that can actively provide answers to queries with the applications such as chatbots or having rich FAQ/support sections will help improve rankings in 2018.
1. On Page SEO Is the Foundation:
Without a solid foundation, your house will crumble. The same is true of SEO. The concrete foundation of your SEO is the message on your website, the coding and URL structure of your website, and all the on-page SEO factors. The great news for business owners is that you may not need to focus too intensely on your ongoing SEO efforts (such as link building) when you have this strong foundation.
To help with this, be sure to design a "power page." Power pages are useful, engaging content that people actually care about. Pages that offer some unique value, insight, or research findings. In my case, one of my power pages is a blog post on how to build links to your dental website. On this page, I have a webinar I did where a dentist asked me every advanced question imaginable regarding how link building for dental websites actually works. Such useful, engaging pages that teach or entertain people tend to rank highly. It also helps immensely with implementing another SEO strategy which we will cover in tip #3.
2. Connect with Influencers:
Influencers are people who have the power to link to your web pages and share your content on social media. When influencers link to your content, it will help boost the credibility of your message. Making you more authoritative in Google’s eyes. I have been able to rank #1 on Google for "dental SEO" because of the relationships I have built at major dental publications. When you connect with the right people in your industry, you will boost your rankings and get more content ideas. Building relationships with influencers in your industry can pay off big time!
3. Link Building Is the Rocket Fuel:
When top-level influencers in your industry link to your website, it takes things to a whole new level! Earning just a few powerful links can put you at the top of search engine results in record-breaking time! But, it is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Steps #1 and #2 will help you along your way to gaining lots of new customers from search engines!
Adam G. Steele
1. Organic Ranking:
If you‘re not top 5 among your competitors, forget about it, go home. There are outliers, but it’s true far more than it‘s not true. I have made this #1 because this isn’t as understood as it needs to be. I find myself explaining this to SEO agencies every single day, and it proves right more and more. With this in mind, agencies need to be budgeting to spend more on link building.
2. Citation Building:
Big surprise, but here‘s what you won’t hear from most guys like me who sell citations for a living. Citations really should be #10 on this list. They are a checklist item for most businesses. Having 50 vs. 55 of the same quality citations won‘t make or break your rankings. I see businesses with lots of inconsistency and only 30 citations to their name, but their organic ranking is on point, and they smash the competition. There is a caveat, however, if you are competing with the big boys and girls in legal or similar, pull out all the stops. Citations are cheap relative to links, so when every little thing counts, don’t slouch, even on a simple checklist item.
3. Study User Behavior:
This only applies to local rankings by way of organic rankings, but I am spending a lot more time studying SERP CTR and on-site user behavior, specifically how these things relate to ranking.
By manipulating both, I am seeing sustainable and quick bumps in organic rankings. This isn’t entirely new to SEOs, but what’s new to me is how I can consistently replicate the results. What this means to me is, more investment in (labor hours) in improve title tags and meta descriptions, as well as on-page user experience, may be for more than just improve click-through or conversions. Maybe.
Gather reviews for your business across different review platform (i.e., Google Business, Facebook, Yelp, etc.).
This tells Google and your customer you are trustworthy and provide great services.
2. NAP Consistency:
Using services like Yext and Moz Local make this process is really simple. Having a clear and consistent NAP citations across the web lets Google know you are who and where you say you are.
3. Links, Links, Links:
Earning links from local and relevant sites will be extremely beneficial and will help set you apart. Look at local charities, 5Ks, organizations that need sponsorships and often in return they will give you a link back to their website. Chambers of Commerce are also easy layups for link wins.
4. Work on Your Content Game:
Focus on creating content that speaks to your audience in the region you are serving. What events are going on in your local area that makes sense for your customer base to know about? For example, I did SEO for a family lawyer, so I wrote up an article about all the local fairs that we’re going to be in the area. For this client, I also created a page of the local therapists in the area that specialize in marital counseling.
1. Q&A on Google Maps/My Business:
The new features on Google My Business allow customers to ask a question directly in the Local Panel. This is a great tool to populate your FAQs on your website and to show a measure of trust and reputation for your business.
2. Embed your Google My Business local listing on your website:
You most likely have a Maps app on the contact page for your site, but is it your custom Google listing? By clicking the ‘share’ icon on your listing, you can select an ‘embed’ function to add to your site.
3. Ensure Facebook and Yelp reviews appear on Google My Business:
To do this, ensure that your Facebook and Yelp listings are named the same as your My Business listing and that they are linked on your website. Are your NAP details the same across all accounts? Make sure you clean these up and for an added boost, add a ‘SameAs’ schema code to the social links on your website.
1. Blogging is a valuable SEO tactic:
But why stop there? Repurposing content is an easy local optimization win.
Once you’ve finished posting your blogs for the week/month, repurpose your content into infographics and videos. Divide your blog into bite-size pieces and make a visually appealing infographic. Or, spend 30 minutes and narrate your article to repurpose it into a video using quick and efficient software like Content Samurai.
2. A mobile-friendly website is a must:
As of 2016, more traffic is driven online via mobile devices than desktop computers. And Black Friday 2017 pushed the envelope to have online sales nearly outpace traditional retails sales for the first time.
If your website uses WordPress, switch to a mobile-friendly theme or use a mobile plugin for a quick fix.
3. Improve your site’s page speed:
Page speed has always been important, but more so now than before with most traffic coming from mobile devices. Use a free tool like GTmetrix.com to identify how to improve your page speed.
1. On-Site SEO for Local Results:
Your website needs to have unique location factors to drive search engines and website visitors to your physical business location. Optimize your site just as you would for your national SEO strategy, but place a stronger emphasis on your business’s contact information, business hours, city, and state.
If you have more than one location, create a separate landing page for each location. Add Local Business Schema to optimize your local landing pages and include links to location-specific local assets, which can be done by installing the G+ Widget or link. Include a local optimized image to show your readers where your store is and to appear in Google Image search.
2. Generate Reviews:
We all know reviews play a crucial role in swaying purchasing decisions, but reviews also hold a strong power over customers choosing local services. In fact, 88 percent of consumers browse local reviews before selecting a local company for products or services because 8 percent of customers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
Work to generate as many reviews as possible, especially on your Google My Business Page and local directories. However, don’t buy or post fake reviews because you will lose the trust of your customers if they discover the reviews are fake.
3. Use Your Location in Your Favor:
The secret to ranking well locally relies on your use of NAP (name, address, and phone number) in as many appropriate places as possible. With 98 percent of internet searchers choosing a business that’s listed on page 1 of a search engine, you need a solid strategy in place to reach your customers. Your strategy will get customers to walk through your door, allowing your excellent customer service to seal the deal.
1. Secure Your Brand:
In SEO, so many people overlook creating a foundation and securing their brand. If you do not rank for every possible search phrase related to your brand/company name you have no business trying to target keywords that can lead to new business.
This is not hard, and you can use services like Knowem.com to help lock your brand over the web. While Knowem is great, creating profiles/accounts on the main social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and Pinterest should be done by you, the business owner.
Citations are created by building profiles on sites like Yelp, Manta, Citysearch, Foursquare, etc. These links are nofollow, meaning they do not pass link juice (power) on to your website. Technically this is true, but these links go a long way in establishing credibility and trust to your website.
These links will help you rank in the Google Maps, and will also work to help your business website show up in the organic search results, as long as you have your on-page SEO (what you do and where) set up correctly.
In SEO NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone #. While it might seem innocent enough, people screw this up time and time again, and inconsistent info on the web will destroy any chance you have for ranking in local search.
When building all of the citations, be sure to use the EXACT NAP info you have on your Google My Business listing. Any inconsistencies here will hurt your presence dramatically.
1. Google My Business Categories:
Go through the local results for several searches you want to appear for and make sure that your competitors are not listed for additional, relevant categories. If you are listed as a roofing contractor, but you are not listed as a gutter cleaning service, then your chances of ranking for those searches goes way down.
2. Give Google Too Much Information:
Be extremely explicit about what you offer on your website. If your restaurant offers vegan catering options and free trade espresso drinks, mention that on your website. This will let Google return your site for a wider variety of search terms, and better understand which sorts of customers will enjoy your restaurant.
3. Publish Engaging Blog Posts:
If you have to choose between publishing an engaging blog post and a relevant one, choose an engaging one every time. This is especially true if you are in a boring industry like plumbing or tree trimming, where you can quickly run out of industry-relevant topics. Instead of blogging about how to tell if your water heater is dying, blog about the five best charities in Seattle for giving back this holiday season. Your chances for greater social media engagement, on-site engagement, and better links will be exponentially higher.
In 2018, Google is continuing to refine their SEO algorithm to focus on quality user experience. For a business wanting to leverage the impact of local SEO results, there are a few tips that will continue to have a massive influence on Google’s SERP results.
1. Local Citations:
Arguably one of the most important factors of SEO, local backlinks and citations have been- and will increasingly become- a prime signal to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others about the relevance to your business‘ website. This means that if your business is in O’Fallon, Missouri, having local backlinks to your website by the O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce and the St Louis area Better Business Bureau is a great starting point for validating your site in Google‘s eyes. If you are ready to take it to the next level, we love to use Whitespark to help generate a variety of both generic and local citations. Pushing your company’s digital information through aggregators like Yext to help gain even more local traction, and ensure all of your records are consistent and accurate.
2. Location-Specific Webpages:
Google will continue to analyze the content of websites to help gain contextual clues for a company’s focus. For instance, if you are a service company like a Plumber or HVAC contractor, you should have a city-specific section for every community in your service area of approximately 800-1200 words each. While this does mean that most local SEO-rich sites can quite large (and therefore, potentially expensive), it remains one of the most effective techniques to get your website on the first page or two of Google’s SERP.
3. Customer Reviews:
We continue to notice that Google seems to prioritize companies’ websites that continually have a solid track record of taking great care of customers. Because of this, we usually include some level of Customer Service Training or Customer Experience feedback as a part of a company‘s SEO efforts. While it may sound unusual, it is simple: when Google sees that your company takes care of customers day-in-and-day-out, it will be much easier to get local SEO traction. If your company is known to give your customers more headaches than help, it will be extremely difficult to get long-lasting SEO traction. To drive this point home, Google looks at nearly all 3rd party review sites to make them available in the Knowledge Graph- so that means your Yelp, Facebook, BBB or other review sources are all weighed in Google’s rankings.
1. Acquire Local Authority Links:
It is no secret that one of the primary determinants of a website’s ranking on Google is having quality backlinks. This is because Google recognizes that websites will only link to other sites if they have quality content or are experts on the subject matter. The more authority the website linking out has (i.e., major publications, industry associations, etc.) the more influence it will convey on the website receiving the link. With this in mind, there are various strategies for securing quality backlinks. You can directly reach out to other websites and offer free content, exchange links or hire a public relations firm. We recommend using a PR firm in the current environment, their strong connections with media outlets will help your company gets features in major publications willing to link to your website.
2. Have Great Content:
Great content not only draws an audience to your website but major publications and domains will more likely link to your site if the content is relevant to their article or the content on their own website. Infographics, data and unique information are great content ideas for any website.
3. Use Analytic Tools:
There are various SEO tools on the market like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Majestic which will help you monitor and analyze the SEO performance of your website. Navigating SEO without tools to track performance is like flying blind. These analytic tools will let you track the keywords you rank for, a number of backlinks and how your competitors are doing. Having the right tools allows your website to be agile and flexible in the continually changing SEO environment.
1. Local Directories:
Consumers still utilize an array of online directories in order to choose goods and services, and online directories will only become more sophisticated in 2018. Get into all of the usual suspects - Yelp, Merchant Circle, Citysearch, etc. and do a google search of Your City Name + Directory to find more niche local directories to target.
2. Push For Reviews:
In a world in which window shopping and showrooming have been replaced by online browsing, reviews are king. Make sure to ask customers, politely, if they will review your good or service - more often than not, they will! This can help to more than counteract the occasional negative review, as negative experiences are more likely to result in poor feedback than a positive experience is in good feedback.
3. Improve On-Page SEO:
Google‘s algorithm’s and crawlers are set to become even more advanced in 2018, and local businesses need to be ready for that. Title tags, meta descriptions, image optimization and anchor text optimization all need to be prioritized, or businesses can risk being penalized by Google. Additionally, as mobile and voice search becomes more and more popular, companies need to make sure that their mobile pages are optimized both visually and in terms of speed.
1. Get Google My Business up and Running:
It‘s true - even in 2018, so many businesses still won’t have claimed and optimised their Google My Business page. This is a free business directory, so there are no excuses! Claim your page by going through a simple verification process, and then optimise to make sure it works as effectively as possible. This includes populating your business description, hours, address, product categories, logo and images of your business. This is one of the most powerful tools for your local SEO services, and every business needs to take advantage of the opportunity.
2. Be the Expert:
While ranking in the top three organic positions will remain critical to businesses, more marketers will be pushing to reach the epitome of expertise - Featured Snippets. Ranking in a Featured Snippet for your key searches will assert your brand as the real authority on the subject. We predict that more businesses will invest time and budget into creating a strategy to achieve Featured Snippet success, including creating better quality content that answers customers’ key queries.
3. Mobile Really Is First:
In 2018, local SEO makreting will focus more on mobile-first with Google using mobile pages as the primary index for search engine results. With that in mind, it’s vital that businesses optimise their sites for mobile, creating fast and efficient pages that are easy to navigate. Your site should also offer images and copy that can be viewed easily without the need to zoom, as well as links being presented in such a way that they can be accessed simply with the tap of a thumb.
1. Ensure NAP Is Consistent across the Web:
There is a whole host of tools that will help you do this, including BrightLocal and Moz. If Google detects differences in your NAP results, you are not going to rank as highly as a company with consistent NAP data.
2. Make Sure Your NAP Data Is Correct:
Have you recently moved offices? You need to make sure that you are updating this data as a top priority. Even smaller directories can make a big difference when it comes to Google’s local search results.
3. Claim and Optimise Your Google My Business:
If your Google My Business listing is correct and features additional information such as reviews and photos. Your company will rank above a competitor with a half-completed Google My Business listing.
For 2018 I’d recommend the following focus points for website owners that want to attract more local visitors:
1. Have a Mobile Version of Your Website:
Google has already indicated that they give a higher ranking to those websites that are optimized for mobile use. Also, people use their mobile frequently when they are searching for a local business or service. You need to accommodate these people. Our data shows that only 55 percent of US websites have a mobile version, so there are lots to be gained thereby website owners in the next year.
2. Build and Earn Links:
If you are a local business and want to build on your local SEO, do this by looking for websites that are related to the area you operate in. You could ask your local magazine whether they want to work together on online articles and mention your business in them or try to be mentioned on local websites such as your community page.
3. Get Your Local Business on Social Media:
You can connect these accounts to your website and use them to in interact with your customers. If you add your location to your social media accounts and post on these accounts with a link to your website, this will help you build your SEO locally. According to our data, only 7 percent of US websites have a Facebook account and even fewer use platforms like Instagram and Twitter. This is a real waste of a valuable SEO source.
1. Local Backlinks:
Acquire local backlinks by sponsoring local sports teams, 5K runs, and community events.
Not only will this help you network within your community, you’ll get relevant backlinks on localized sites.
2. Host Events:
Our marketing agency hosts a quarterly digital marketing workshop. We are able to expand our network of prospective clients while also getting relevant local links. We reach out to the Chamber and various other local sites to promote the events, which helps with our SEO.
3. Build Citations:
Make sure your business address, name, and phone number are listed on external websites.
People don’t realize how important it is to get external references for your NAP (name, address, phone number).
If you follow these three strategies, it will set you apart from the
1. Add ’Near Me’ Page Titles:
Works excellent for industries as people will search for – i.e., laundrettes near me – this is where you can win on exact matches and appear very high, as it’s hyper-local results.
2. Offer Discounts:
Get a page on your site explaining the discounts. Links from these sites have a massive impact, and as are local, maximise your local search results.
3. Place City/Town (Naturally) in All Your Meta Tags:
The title, H1, page content, alt image, URL, and meta.
1. Update GMB to the Max:
Fill in as many details as possible on Google My Business (GMB) including opening hours, the address, photos and a link to your website (and everything else!).
If your business is searchable on Google Maps, this will attract people visiting the area as well as those who are already aware of it.
2. Encourage Reviews:
If potential customers can see that you have strong reviews, they are more likely to choose you over a competitor with lower reviews. Try to encourage past customers to write a review of their experiences and make sure you respond to them, whether they are positive or negative, in a polite manner. Learn what you can from customer feedback to continually improve your business.
3. Make Yourself Known in the Community:
Local people that use your business are the most likely to be return customers, so getting them to choose you over a big brand or a competitor can be helped by showing your face in the community.
You might want to offer special discounts for community members (e.g., a county bus pass) or sponsor a local race or local community event.
1. List Your Business on Google:
You can easily have yourself listed with Google and give the search engine a signal that you are a local business. 5 minutes work filling in a Google Places listing and completing the postcard they send directly to you will ensure that when someone looks for BusinessType in City, you are part of the listings just like the old Yellow (Gold) Pages.
2. Talk About Your Location in Your Content:
When writing on your website make sure you include your business address, your phone number (with local code) but also write about being in your location. You can add alt text to your photos to show that it is local. Ensure you write naturally and with relevance but ensure you add your place name to three times on both your home page, contact page and about us page to give you relevancy for your local area. Think about the keywords you want to rank for like Florist Bristol and Flowers Bristol and when writing your content use these words. If you are looking for a local Florist in Bristol, look no further. When buying flowers in Bristol, we can help.
3. Contact Your Local Media:
Most local newspapers and media outlets have a local business listing section, and although it might be small, it usually has a free section which will enable to you a high-quality link to your site and add to your local visibility. It’s also worth contacting their business editor, why not see if they are interested in writing an article about your business. Have you a story about why you started your business, do you have a human interest story about your business. Local papers are always interested in news stories about their area, and it’s a great way for some free PR while establishing some SEO in the most natural way.
1. Local Structured Data Markup:
Structured data markup - otherwise know as Schema markup - is a way to categorize and identify important information on your website, giving more content to Google about your business. This allows Google to display more information in the search results, which will help your business stand out and give you a competitive edge over other results.
- Business hours
- Reviews and testimonials
- Product prices
- Event information
2. Google My Business:
GMB is considered a directory, but it is one of the most essential business listings to claim and optimise for Local SEO. It is also free, very simple, and can give you significant exposure in local searches in Google’s map pack. In order to claim and verify your listing, you must have a physical location and street address as Google will send you a postcard with a PIN. It’s important to fully populate each section of the listing, including:
- Logo and images
- Business hours
- Company description and category
- Contact information
3. Local Press Coverage:
A great way to boost your local search engine ranking position (SERP) is to gain coverage in local news publications, magazines, and blogs. Build relationships with local journalists, tell them about your brand and any relevant news or offers. One of the benefits of getting local press coverage, especially in major publications, is the backlink to your website. High quality, relevant backlinks will also help to boost your rankings and local search visibility.
1. Establishing Local Places Pages:
First off, create a local business page for all of the major search engines, namely Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
It is simple to set up an account: just fill out your complete business information, including location, phone number, and hours. This is the crux of small business search engine optimization.
2. Be Sure All Business Information Is Consistent:
Fill out all necessary information with NAP (Name, Address, Phone) data. This is crucial. Listing your business name differently in two different places will only serve to confuse the search engines. If your business has already been listed by someone else, you will have to claim the listing, AKA a citation. Tools like Text or Localese can be really helpful in finding your company’s local listings online. While you are at it, search for different listings of your company name to ensure uniformity.
3. Online Reviews Are a Big Factor:
Google will rank your site according to the reviews you get. By including reviews, your customers can quickly and easily click on the links that look attractive to them. Just remember not to include fake reviews or accept gifts for reviews. Fortunately, there are ways you can improve your amount of natural reviews, such as including a button on your webpage that prompts visitors to leave a review after making a purchase.
1. Optimizing Your Google My Business Page:
A lot of internet businesses don’t take their Google My Business page as serious as they should. Managing your GMB page should be a high priority as it gives your storefront the best visibility.
2. Build Citations in Directories:
The next step to take after you’ve taken ownership of your Google My Business page is to build citations in directories.
Start with the top tier and move your way down. You should also submit to data aggregators. Make sure your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent on all directories.
3. Build and Optimize a Landing Page for Your Business Location:
Have your address and phone number on your page, embed a Google map, and write content detailing your products and services that you offer in your location. A local SEO company can help you with this if you are too busy.
1. Make Your Google My Business Profile More Robust:
Hopefully, you’ve already claimed your business in Google My Business (if not, this should be your first to-do). Once you’ve claimed your business, put some time into making it as robust as possible. For instance, ensure it‘s got detailed information about your business, make sure all fields are filled in with correct hours of operation, and add relevant photos. This ensures that Google has the proper understanding of what your business is about when it serves up local search results. You should also actively respond to customer reviews within your business listing, so customers (and search engines) know you’re engaged with the content on there.
2. Boost up Your Link Earning Efforts:
Now‘s the time to develop a link earning strategy for building up the authority of your website. For a small business website, sometimes just a few links pointing to it is all it will take to rank in Google’s local search results, so make 2018 the year to start earning some links. Also, don’t forget about internal linking between pages of your website!
3. Add Structured Data Markup to Your Website:
Adding structured data is essentially enhances your website with specific vocabulary to help search engines better understand the content on the page. Structured data, or Schema, creates descriptions which can then appear within search results as rich snippets and elements of Google’s knowledge cards. Implementing structured data should become a priority for local business owners in 2018 as it can give a business the edge it needs for added visibility in search engine result pages over a competitor.
1. Clickthru Rate Optimization:
User behavior signals aren’t going away and with the algorithm refreshing in real-time they are becoming a more important part of search. One of the easiest signals to improve is clickthru rate. Simply login to Google Search Console and go to Search Analytics to find out which pages have poor clickthru rates then edit them.
2. Improving Old Content:
Old sites are often full of content that could be refreshed. This keeps users updated, Google gets the updates it likes and you are more likely to keep your backlinks. Updating old content can also help you leapfrog your competitors if your content is more useful.
3. Hosting Events for Link Building:
Now we aren’t talking about just throwing events on meet-up sites we are hosting events that are useful or relevant to your audience. This helps get social mentions, links from participating organizations and a link from the meet-up site, most likely. Also, as you host more and more of these events you will increase your network for getting links from your relationships and any press coverage that comes from these events.
1. Build Links Locally:
When dealing with local SEO, it is imperative to generate quality backlinks from other local businesses or publications. For example, a barber looking to increase his or her link profile might link to a local hairdresser or stylist, and vice versa. This helps the barber’s site generate page relevancy, as all the businesses are local and related to one another, and increase their link profile authentically.
2. Keep Your Location Information Consistent:
Make sure your name, address, and phone number are featured prominently on your website and your Google Business profile. This will allow Google to sort you into the right categories and location, ensuring customers looking for a business like yours in the area are directed accordingly.
3. Generate More Reviews:
A solid local review can nudge a business higher in ranking. Additionally, if potential customers see good reviews on local businesses, they are more likely to click, which adds to your link profile as well.
1. Reverse Engineer Your Competitors:
The first step in creating an effective local SEO strategy is to find out what’s already working. Search Google for your city and your business (ex: Seattle barbershops) and find your top competitors ranking on the first page. See what titles, descriptions, and H1/H2 tags they are using. If multiple competitors are using the same keywords in their metadata, it’s a good indication that Google is giving preference to those keywords & phrases, and you should update your on-site SEO to boost your rankings.
2. Get More Backlinks:
Having more sites link out to your website is still one of the best ways to increase your rankings. Use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush to plug in your competitor’s websites, and see what websites are liking out to them. In our barbershop example earlier, see if there are any sites reviewing a competitor barbershop and offer them a free haircut to test your services. Don’t ask for a review or link before you offer value.
3. Conduct an SEO Site Audit:
Getting backlinks and more awareness to your site is excellent, but without an SEO optimized site, it is like pouring water into a leaky bucket. It’s best to optimize your current site to ensure it’s taking advantage of any “SEO juice” you receive. You can use a free tool like SEOPTIMER to get a report of your current site and fix any issues that are found.
1. Optimize Your Title Tag:
Use your target keywords at the very beginning of your homepage title, in your top header, the first paragraph, and in image filenames.
2. Proactively Work on Link Building:
You need to earn links from other websites, and it’s not likely your website company is going to help with that part.
3. GMB Optimization and Reviews:
Get your Google My Business page up to date. Always be asking for Google reviews and respond to them.
1. Title and Meta Description Tags:
SEO is in a constant state of flux, and the new thing you learned yesterday might be irrelevant tomorrow. There are a few things you can bet on staying the same though, and in 2018 I believe that the meta title and description will still be relevant.
Think of it as advertising copy and use each character available carefully.
Based on of your description, your target audience will click on your site or your competitor’s site. While its effect on search engine rankings is likely negligible, its impact on click-through rate can be profound.
Try not to go overboard on keywords, instead focus on making the description relevant to local search queries. It might be helpful to include the name of the city or area where you work early on in the description, for example.
I would recommend using SEOmofo or Yoast or a similar tool to get a clear vision of how the title and meta description tags will look once applied.
2. Local Directories and Reviews Matter:
Take control of your online presence by claiming your local business listing. That is the only way to ensure that you are in control of the conversation about your brand and that you are getting listed correctly and consistently across sites.
Reviews play a significant role in consumer purchasing decisions, so take the initiative and start asking customers to review your product or service. Offer incentives if you have to!
Make sure that you are properly listed with all of the local directories, as well as larger business directories such as Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. These sites can also give you a chance to share news and special offers directly to your target audience.
3. Optimize for “Near Me” Searches:
More and more people turn to mobile voice commands to quickly and conveniently find what they are looking for. The searches can be ultra-specific, looking for particular services that are nearby. Search queries like “Chinese food near me” or “best auto mechanic near me” provide the perfect opportunity for local SEO to capitalize on potential customers. Links with the city or area in the anchor text are best when it comes to “near me” searches.
Lori Ann Kim
1. Create Interesting Content:
First, you need to create a Google Adwords account if you don’t have one already. Then, use Keyword Planner to look up a keyword pertaining to your business (example: NYC real estate). This will give you other closely related keywords that people are looking up. It gives you ideas for articles on topics that people are actually interested. Create articles related to some of these keywords and make it specific to your location. Instead of a broad article on how to buy a house, try How to buy a co-op in New York City. Save or write down the most searched keywords for later.
2. Optimize Your Website:
Remember the keywords you saved? Use them tactfully and sparingly in your website‘s page titles, meta descriptions, and headers, and use it throughout your website’s content. Add Alt tags for any images you have on your website.
3. Ask for Reviews:
Claim a Google My Business page, create a Facebook page, and any other directory or social media platform related to your business. Then, ask your customers for reviews!
Local SEO does not have to be complicated. Just like most things in Google’s Algorithm, it comes down to sending the proper rankings signals, and understanding search behavior.
Based on industry research and experiments, here are the top 3 Local Ranking Strategies for 2018:
1. Business Basics:
This means correctly setting up and verifying a Google My Business location + Standard on-page SEO best practices. (Page titles, heading tags, URL structure, contact info, page speed, etc.)
You need to show Google you are a legitimate business and are relevant to a user search query. If not, forget ranking.
2. Google+ 3rd Party Reviews:
Number, quality, and credibility of reviews. Data has shown a high correlation between reviews and local search performance.
If you are a restaurant, you need to have a presence on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Zomato, etc. Never underestimate the power of quality backlinks.
3. In-Search Behavioral Signals:
Google is continually testing snippet and link performance to validate/change rankings. This includes (but is not limited to) click-through-rate, time-on-page, check-ins, “pogo-sticking,” frequency and location of branded search queries.
This means that if people are clicking on your links and not going back to the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), you have satisfied their query. Over time, this will help increase your rankings. Also, the more people in your area start searching for your brand, the better. Tools like Google Trends can help you visualize this data.
1. Use Schema.org code for your business type:
Use JSON format, use the right type and use Google’s rich snippets tester to ensure you have got your code right. Correctly telling Google will help Google tell searchers who you are, where you are, what you do, and more.
2. Barnacle SEO is Local SEO:
Optimize your profile everywhere you can – Google MyBusiness, Yelp, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, Houzz wherever you can take advantage of another site’s good rankings, you will help yourself. Don’t compete with Yelp; compete with your competition ON Yelp. Don’t sit and complain about Yelp – make it work for you!
3. Actively seek reviews from customers:
Reviews may not boost your rankings directly, but reviews can boost click-through-rates, and that means more traffic is coming your way.
1. Answer Your Audience:
When people use search engines, they do so for a purpose - it could be for an answer to a question, it could be to look at a specific product, it could just be to learn something new. To make the most of your SEO, you need to find first out what your target audience is searching for; then you need to give them what they want. If your target audience is looking for a simple answer to a question, make sure that you have a page that answers it thoroughly. If you are the endpoint for people’s searches (as opposed to them hitting the back button and trying a different link), it signifies to Google the value of your website and boosts your ranking across all searches.
2. Build High-Quality Links to Your Website:
One of the primary signifiers of your website’s importance has always been the number of quality links you gain. The more links and the higher quality those links are, the higher DA (domain authority) you have. Greater domain authority means better rankings in search engines. When it comes to local business, you are in a unique position to take advantage of this as you have easy opportunities to build links. By working with complementary businesses in your area, you can build links and provide value to your audience at the same time. Say, for instance, you run a plumbing company - you can provide a guest post that links to your site on a friendly electrical company’s website and have them a link to you.
3. Make Sure Your Location Is Mentioned:
It seems like an obvious thing to mention, but it is something I have seen overlooked a surprising number of times. If your business is targeting a specific area, then make sure that area appears on your website. Not just in the basic text of your site, but in titles, tags, and keywords. When people search for local businesses, they do so with the name of the area included in the search. So instead of searching for something like “wooden blinds” they will search for “wooden blinds Huddersfield.” If you are missing out on mentioning your area, then you are going to miss out on searches which means you are missing out on sales.
I know everyone is tired of hearing this, but nowadays you can‘t sell anything without having good online reviews. This is extra important when you are a local company, as your reviews/ratings show on Google’s knowledge graph when people search your companies name and believe me, they won’t go further and even click to your website if your reviews are bad.
2. Display Your Product/Service List and Descriptions:
The second tip is less obvious, but it‘s an important part. You may not have an eCommerce website, but customers, as well as Google, like to see your product/service list and descriptions!
It’s a great way to target specific keywords on specific pages and rank high for them.
3. Be Easy to Find:
The final but crucial tip is to make it easy for customers and google to find you.
The contact page on your website is not enough. Implement schema markup and register on Google my business. Have your address verified.
The quality and quantity of links is still the #1 controllable factor that can help a local business drive more website traffic and sales. It’s always worthwhile to monitor media wires like HARO as well as conduct a targeted linkbuilding campaign with clients and partners to encourage them to link to your site from theirs. The more high-quality links that Google sees coming to your site, the more likely you are to appear high in search results.
Social signals are only increasing in influence in a buyer’s purchase decision, and remain an important part of most local ranking algorithms. The more positive reviews you can cultivate on your local listings, the more likely you are to appear as a top-ranked business in local search. Quantity and quality of reviews also is a powerful method to encourage first purchase from new buyers.
3. Completion of Local Listings:
Just having a local listing isn‘t enough in 2018; you also need to be sure these listings are thorough and complete. Add relevant business categories, upload pictures, and describe your business’s product or service offerings in detail. Each of these contributes signals to Google and other search algorithms about who you are, and what value your business adds to a searcher.
1. Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy:
The best thing you can do to help your local SEO ranking is to make sure that all existing listings have the correct Name, Address & Phone Number (NAP) and site URL.
2. Make Sure Your Citations Are Indexed:
If your citations aren‘t a part of Google’s index, then they won‘t show up in search results. Additionally, Google is not giving your site credit for them, which can affect your ranking. There are multiple tools available that can inform you of a URL’s indexation status. If they are not indexed, you can submit the URL to Google to be crawled.
3. Monitor Competitor Backlinks:
With 2018 fast approaching, the hunt for local listing sources is becoming more difficult. Keep an eye on what backlinks your competitor has - and invest in a few paid listings.
Usually, the sites that require payment have a good amount of users that will give you more exposure.
1. Spy on the competition:
You can often make stratospheric climbs up the local business rankings with one simple trick. Just study the exact wording of the business names in the top three of Google Maps for your chosen keyword. If the top three are including their industry within their Google My Business profile name, you may consider doing the same. For example, our Agency once worked with glaziers, and from changing their profile to add ‘Secondary Glazing’ after their company name, we saw them go from position 7, to number 1 in the map listings overnight for an 8100 search per month keyword!
2. Keep your business information consistent:
It’s likely your company’s contact information is mentioned all over the Internet in various forms. Most notably, you’ll probably be listed in all manner of business directories. It’s beyond critical to make sure that the exact wording – right down to the character – of anywhere you have a mention (also known as a ‘citation’) on the Internet is consistent. For example, if your ‘Google My Business’ profile says your address is ‘19 Example Street’, then nowhere on the Internet that you have editorial control should it be referred to as anything else. Even saying ‘st.’ instead of street is unacceptable. It must be exact.
3. Boost your site with schema markup:
Schema code sounds daunting, but it is in fact quite straightforward. It basically allows you to nominate a section or piece of text on your site as your definitive business contact and address details. This then allows Google to have more confidence in displaying your company for any given geographical search.
About half searchers on google are for local products and services.
According to Search Engine Land Report, 50% of brands use local location data to target their customers, and 85 to 95% of consumers engagement creates through local assets like local pages and local listing.
Here are my few strategies to rank for local keywords in 2018:
1. Optimize Your URL, Tags, & Content:
Ensure sure your URL, title tags, meta description, content has included your city or region and the targeted keywords of the page they describe.
Additionally, create a kick ass local page and add amazing value to users.
2. Build Links to Local Pages:
Building links to money pages is always difficult. However, you can always do the following activities:
1) Create an event page for X City (for example Get together of Photographers) and link back to your local listing page from the event page. Do it for all the cities you plan to visit.
2) Leverage guest posting.
3) Run a giveaway for a specific city and link back to your local pages.
3. Generate Reviews:
According to Zendesk survey, 90% of people check the website to review before buying or taking any services. Moz predicts online reviews gets 10% extra chances to rank on SERPs.
One should consider these sites (depending on their niche) to get reviews from customers: YELP, YELLOW PAGES, WHITE PAGES, FOURSQUARE, GOOGLE+ LOCAL, TRIPADVISOR, YAHOO LOCAL.
1. GMB Optimization:
First, make sure your Google My Business listing is robust, including up-to-date contact information, the proper categories, photos, and hours of operation.
It should also be consistent with your listings on other important sites, like Yelp, Yahoo, or Bing. This is essential to rank well locally.
2. Local Link Building:
Local links to your website can help you climb the search rankings and get into that valuable top-tier.
Also, local links can be significantly affected by an investment of time and resources, unlike other key factors such as proximity or being nationally known. By making an effort to acquire quality links, local businesses can reap significant rewards.
3. Have a Blogging Strategy:
Finally, something every small business owner can do to show Google and other search engines they should be highly ranked is blogging.
Cultivating an online presence through blogging can be done by everyone, but is often overlooked by small businesses with limited time and resources. This can seem daunting, but gets significantly easier over time and can pay great dividends.
1. Press Releases:
They are a great way to get a boost to your SERP rankings.Find a trustful and reliable company that can handle this for you in bulk. Always check the experience of anyone you choose to work with. An inexperienced press release company can litter your money site with spammy backlinks, and this is never the goal. A successful press release should get a few of your primary keyword goals to the first page depending on the competition.
2. Focus on Local Citations:
Use a white spark report to see the citations used by competitors and then get yourself on those sites. Always be consistent with your citations. This can also be outsourced but remember always to check freelancers work closely.
3. Blogging and Content Creation:
Continued blogging, and content creation always seems to do the trick. At the end of the day, this is what Google really wants. Create new and interesting blogs, have them optimized for SEO, link to other relevant pages, and share them on social media. Rinse and repeat.
Sometimes the best way to improve local SEO is to correct previous mistakes. Many clients and small businesses at this point have hired SEO companies in the past that hurt them with bad back-links and more. Do a full backlink audit and disavow any bad links with Search Console. You would be surprised how often this is an issue. I have even saved clients from negative SEO done to them by competitors.
I believe the most important factor for local SEO services is having a (semi-)automated system that:
1. Keeps you apprised of your online reputation management with the best tools.
2. Pushes out your positive reviews to multiple networks like Facebook,
Youtube and Twitter.
3. Makes it as easy for your customers to share positive reviews.
4. And, MOST IMPORTANTLY, alerts you to potential negative reviews before they’re posted so that you can make things right and turn them into positive reviews.
Implement a system that does this, and your business will explode with new customers and propel you to the top of the search rankings.
1. Claim all Local Listings:
The first step for top-tier local SEO is claiming all local listings like Google My Business (obviously the most important) as well as others like Yellowpages, Bing, and 411.
Across all these listings, it’s important to ensure the name of the business, the address and phone number of consistent.
2. Local Link Building:
Another surefire strategy to boost local rankings is to get links on local websites.
For example, at 9thCO we have a lot of Canadian clients and make sure they all are in top Canadian directories. But you can get more creative: sponsor a local charity or try and get your business featured in a local paper.
3. Google Reviews:
Finally, make sure your Google My Business listing has reviews, especially from higher authority reviewers.
If you know you have a happy customer, reach out to them and ask for a review! In general, testing by SEOs has shown that 5-10 reviewers are a good minimum amount for every business to strive for.
As Google SERPs (search engine results pages) become more customized, local search will be on the rise next year. Here’s what you need to do to rank higher in the local SERP.
1. List your business in local directories:
Start with Yelp and make sure you list your company at other, smaller directories, as well. Your business profile should be filled in accurately and will all the necessary details; don‘t skip any fields. Also make sure your NAP (Name, Business Address, Phone Number) structure is consistent across all the directories. Setup your Google My Business profile, without which your business won’t show up on Google’s local pack SERP feature.
2. Lcal keyword optimization strategy:
Simply select the most important keywords and then add the name of your local area: Designer t-shirts *Brooklyn*. Also, take advantage of long-tail keywords. They have lower search volume but are easier to rank for locally and better reflect customers’ intention.
3. Pay attention to reviews and ratings:
Keep in mind that reviews placed on your Google My Business page have higher priority for Google than other reviews. Use structured data markup, for instance, schema.org, to be sure that both ratings and reviews are displayed in search results. Google clearly stated that it encourages websites that stick to structured data markups by showing them higher in SERP.
1. Provide value:
The key to consistently improving your local search results is to provide value on your website. There are some things you cannot change - like your location or your competitors. However, you can add more relevant content to your site. Provide buying guides, create explanatory videos, answer questions, compile resources; make yourself the go-to source for information about your product or service.
2. Tidy everything up:
Make sure your company’s information is accurate and updated across the internet. This includes various map platforms, directories, and industry-specific websites. The core things to make accurate are your Name, Address, Phone number, and Website. If you have multiple locations or have changed locations or names in the past, this is essential.
3. Build & protect your reputation:
More people turn to online reviews for vetting and evaluating your company - before they even visit your website. That is why it is essential in 2018 to build and protect your online reputation. Create outstanding customer experiences, so they are compelled to write about you. Politely ask for their feedback, either in person or online. When you see negative reviews, respond promptly to them and escalate it to an in-person or telephone conversation. Don’t disparage or talk down on your competition in reviews, and don’t engage in any spam review activities.
Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia
1. Google Posts:
Use Google Posts in Google My Business to increase the visibility of coupons, sales, news, etc. being offered by the local business.
I used to work with restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, mostly owned by families, not franchises. And the one thing that boosted our marketing efforts online was by offering time-based offers and discount coupons for these restaurants, especially around national holidays like July 4th as well as local holidays like Texas back-to-school week.
2. Monitor Reviews:
Always respond to reviews on Yelp, Google, etc. to engage better with customers.
Yelp gives limited opportunities on this but is quite powerful to boost the ranking higher on search engines.
3. Local On-Page:
On-page tactics like meta tags, primarily related to terms to describe the local attributes of the business, should be given high priority on the local business websites.
HTML tags set up in the right manner always helps in boosting the ranking.
1. Local Keyword Research:
I‘d do keyword research like I always would. I’d be sure to still use long-tail keywords.
However, I‘d add my location. For example, I live in Southern California. I offer a blog coaching service. Suppose someone wants to meet with me in person. I’d and make a point to get on Google Maps. The Google Maps Widget shows places on Google Maps, so you‘re covered in several places by doing this. Here’s more information on the Google Maps Widget: https://www.mostlyblogging.com/google-maps-widget/
2. Yelp and Facebook Ads:
I‘d advertise on Yelp which is a local directory. I’d make sure your clients know where they can find your review link for Yelp. Also, I have found the cost of Facebook ads to be among the lowest.
3. Use Hyperlocal Hashtags:
I realize Instagram is social media. A tip: Put your location with a hashtag in your caption. So many people have found me this way. Also, the app I use to post Instagram allows me to select my location.
1. Create and verifying a Google My Business local listing for your business:
This gives your business a chance to show in Google local search results which include prime real estate on the first page of Google for location-based searches and prime real estate on the first page of Google Maps searches.
2. Create citations with consistent NAP:
This gives you exposure in multiple search engines, not just Google, and increases your rank in Google by giving your site more links.
Include your website link in as many of these listings as possible.
3. Network with local companies:
Partner with local businesses who are not direct competitors to link to each other.
Not in a spammy way of course, but in a helpful way that generates links and referrals for everyone involved.
Google determines local ranking based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence and combines these three local factors to return the best match for any local search. It stands to reason therefore that focusing on brand relevance and prominence will result in ranking higher in local SEO.
Business’s links, articles, reviews, directories, brand mentions, and other online activity all contribute to a brand’s prominence and relevance. This form of popularity has a major impact on a local brand’s visibility.
1. Google My Business is still the #1 factor for local SEO:
It is essential to correctly set up and verify your Google My Business listing and engage on this platform. Adding NAP details, opening hours, relevant photos, and informative and helpful content for your users to engage with is a crucial first step in a local SEO strategy. The more specific and accurate the information Google has about your business, the better it will be able to correctly classify and display your business listing which in turn helps potential customers find you on Google Search, Maps, and Google+.
You should include the following:
• Add your business address that’s consistent with that on your website.
• Add your website address and a local phone number in the contact info section.
• Choose the correct category or categories for your business.
• Add your opening times/days.
• Upload a high-resolution profile image and cover photo.
• Upload interior photos, exterior photos, photos at work, team photos and any additional photos of your products and services. All images should be relevant to the business represented by the page. A complete and updated Google My Business listing is crucial to local ranking and increasing credibility among your local community.
2. High-quality unique content:
Google gives priority to businesses that deliver high-quality, informative and unique content that shows they know their industry inside out.
For a local SEO content strategy to be successful focusing on your local audience and providing real value to the people in your local area is key not only to local brand recognition, prominence, and relevance but also higher page rank, increased credibility and overall improved user experience and conversions.
Tips for finding and creating relevant content for your local audience:
When you receive new inquiries, are there questions that people often ask? If so, write a series of blogs answering these common questions. When posting on social media, what are the topics that seem to strike a chord and get people talking? What knowledge do you have that your customers would find useful? What are people talking about in industry groups on LinkedIn? Are there articles from people you view as influencers in your sector? This can give you a steer on the issues shaping your industry right now.
3. Reviews are a driving factor for local ranking:
Moz attributed review signals as 13% of the overall local search ranking factors in 2017. Added to this, a recent survey shows that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Focusing on reviews will not only drive up your ranking but your conversion rate too.
Reviews on relevant platforms for your business such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor will dramatically help with local rankings and with brand reputation.
Going one step further, if a review includes a keyword you are trying to rank for, and also mentions the city where you are located this will likely have a more significant impact on your ranking in Google.
Here’s an easy way for your customers to quickly drop a review for your business on Google by giving them a single link that they can click on to jump them to the write a review form on Google for your business.
Step 1: Go to Google Business Review Direct Link Generator
Step 2: Enter your business name in the “Enter your business name” field at the top of the map.
Step 3: Click your business name in the list that appears.
Step 4: Select the review option you would like to display – I recommend option 1 – the short URL
Step 5: Copy the link
You can place these links in your email marketing software or on your website, to ask customers to leave a review for you.
However, make sure to comply with the Google review guidelines when soliciting reviews.
There are other factors that should be considered for local SEO, but focusing on these three will go a long way to not only increase your local ranking, but your credibility and conversions too.
1. Get the basics right:
Ensure that the title, description, and permalink of each post is keyword optimized. There is no point in trying out fancy SEO strategies when your content is not optimized correctly.
2. Directory Listings:
Get your business registered on as many online local business directories as possible, such as Yelp.
3. Move to SSL/HTTPS:
If your site is not on https, you have to switch over immediately.
Google has repeatedly signaled that its an increasingly important factor.
1. Create local targeted actionable evergreen content:
Then make sure that these assets are more focused on educating its intended audience to increase its potential of earning links and social shares (which will eventually make the content more competitive to rank over time).
2. Local Outreach:
Launch an outreach campaign to promote your local content assets, targeting other topically-relevant local sites
Guest blogging on these sites could also be a viable option, especially to those that have substantial traffic, readership and following.
Build quality citations from reputable business/web directories.
1. Absolute clean citations:
NAP must be consistent across all platforms and databases, especially if you’ve recently moved or had multiple locations.
I find reviews on Google is a massive plus for ranking locally on Google Maps.
Yep, I said it. Links from local businesses or publications, especially local newspapers or other content providers who are already relevant for the area you live in are crucial.
1. Simplify reviews:
Make the “Getting Google Reviews” process super simple.
This should be short and simple. Short enough to fit on the back of a business card or after your email signature.
e.g., Like our work? Please leave a quick Google review:
Step 1: Visit www.goo.gl/TxQynC
Step 2: Click “Write a Review”
Bonus points, for actually putting it on the back of your business card!
Make sure you get your correct Google My Business URL.
2. Diversify your local reviews on other platforms:
Building your local reputation extends further than just reviews, but rather than putting all your reviews into your one Google basket, why not consider other places like Facebook, Yelp or a specialist review site like OpenTable?
Often these types of reviews will get appended to your Google local reviews as well, which help build your social proof for customers and search engines alike.
3. Keyword research:
Google has made it harder for small businesses to do adequate keyword research by only supplying accurate keyword search volumes to Google AdWords advertisers. Claw this crucial keyword data back – and for free by installing Keywords Everywhere – and without spending a penny!
Without a shadow of a doubt going beyond the regular SEO strategies we were taught in the past is necessary for rankings in 2018 as competition is growing and search engines focus more and more on user experience. When thinking about local SEO rankings, the 3 top strategies that are going to work and that most people will not take advantage of are:
1. Using Local Influencers:
This practically means getting support from high authority local influencers. Links coming from their blogs and even social media endorsement offer higher ranking and immediately increased brand awareness.
2. Site optimizations for local SEO ranking:
You can get as many local backlinks as you want and still not be labeled as from the area that you cover. It is always beneficial to add details about physical store presence on the website. This is something many do not do or just forget about. Something as simple as creating a complex About/Contact page with physical address, local phone number and similar details or at least a mention that is visible on the entire site in a visible area can work wonders.
3. Local Business Directories:
This should be the very first thing you do when you want to rank higher in local search results. There are surely different top local business directories where your site would be a relevant addition. The site you want to rank needs to be present there with NAP (name, address and phone).
Miles Anthony Smith
1. Local Directories in your Vertical:
Submit to local directories for your vertical with links pointing to your city landing pages.
Make sure they have decent domain authority relative to the domain you are working on so that it helps rather than hurts you. For help with directory submissions were doing that manually would be too time-consuming, check out BrightLocal. Their prices are relatively affordable for larger projects, and they are still doing this manually (just super efficiently) versus a truly automated software doing it. Google doesn’t want you doing the latter.
2. GMB + Reviews:
Google My Business will help anchor your location in the search results, and once your profile is live, work to increase the number and quality of reviews.
Just keep in mind that if you don‘t have a bonafide physical location (a mailing-only address or something like a Regus location doesn’t count), your profile will get yanked eventually. Google has cracked down on abuses of Google My Business so be sure not to create multiple accounts for the same location which can result in your brand being banned from GMB altogether. This might seem elementary, but you should check to see if previous employees or marketing agencies created a GMB account before and used that one rather than starting a new one.
3. Guestographic Strategy:
Use a guestographic strategy is a solid way to build domain and page authority for each of your locations as long as you use a local pitch.
Here is an example of one we used for a nonprofit client. Solicit people related to your industry to ask them to use your infographic and link back to your local city page. So if they are a realtor in Tampa (someone who uses locksmith services), and you have a location in that city, ask them to link to your locksmith Tampa page.
1. Activate a Google My Business profile:
Google appreciates when you use their products and will give you a little boost in local search when you set up and optimize your Google My Business profile. Instead of getting into technical details, it’s easiest to think of optimization in terms of completeness. Add as much data, video, photos, and other content to help someone find you!
2. Embed a Google Map on your contact page:
Remember what I was saying about how Google loves when you use their stuff? The same guidance applies to the website associated with your local business. Doing this also makes it a little easier for people to visualize how to find you.
3. Invest in a listings management/review management tool:
Yext and ReviewTrackers are two to look into if you’re not sure where to start. Making sure your listings are consistent, and that you address reviews as they come in, is key to succeeding in local search marketing.
1. Localized Title and Meta Description:
Localizing the title and the meta description has been helping me to rank onGoogle SERPs for years.
2. Creating a Google My Business Page:
Having a page on Google my business is a great helper for the local business and is an essential part of Local SEO, and I think that even in 2018 it is going to pass a value to the local SEO.
3. Local Structure Data Markup:
Local structure data markup is going to help the search engines to understand your local business better. The use of the schema.org markup will help.
With the rise in the number of local businesses online, getting rank on the #1 page of Google has become tougher than ever before. Nevertheless, with proper optimization of website content, one can ensure that their target market finds them easily online.
1. Local Keyword Research:
Half your battle is won if you implement the right set of keywords on your website. Here it is important that you don’t just rely on high ranking keywords but also make use of LSI keywords - which are basically phrases & search terms - as this will help boost your site’s visibility in local search results.
Moreover, various studies have shown, that a title comprising of a location such as ‘web designing in Mumbai’ helps garner more clicks as opposed to a title that just says ‘web designing.’ Thus, make sure that you include local keywords across your website’s content, meta tags, alt tags, etc., in order to enhance your site’s ranking.
2. Have Consistent NAP:
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. To build brand awareness, listing your business across various relevant sites is essential. However, when you are listing your site on Google My Business and other citation websites, it is important that you provide an accurate and consistent NAP across all these platforms as this helps search engines to determine if you are a legitimate business, which, in turn, will help improve your ranking.
3. Customer Reviews:
Reviews are the best way to gain user trust as well as to garner more leads for your business. Displaying customer reviews on your website helps instill confidence in potential buyers and clients, as they are able to view what your existing customers have to say about the products or service that you are offering. Hence, encouraging your clients/customers to write a review about your business can do wonders to your SEO campaign.
1. Optimize your Google My Business Listings (the top local SEO ranking signal) to help improve local visibility and branding.
2. Submit your local site to local directories and local citations (only requires a few amount of resources to get started).
3. Invest in building local links from professional organizations and local sponsorship/scholarship pages.
1. Local Colleges and Universities:
I know there is the standard scholarship strategy that everyone seems to use, which is getting less and less effective, but there are other ways to target local schools as well, especially if you offer services that would appeal to students. Restaurants, moving services, etc. So be sure to check the local schools for pages that link out to businesses in the area.
2. Local Events and Sponsorship:
If you participate in local events like a home show, business expo, job fair, etc., be sure you are listed on the event site as a vendor/sponsor with a link back to your website. The more you do in your community is great for your brand and your business, and it can also help your SEO strategy.
3. Local SEO Tools:
Be sure to leverage the top SEO tools that can help your link-building strategies. Use local citation and link finders like whitespark’s suite of tools. Also, use tools like ahrefs and semrush to reverse engineer your local competitor’s links and see what you can leverage or utilize.
1. Fight Local Spam:
One of the most significant issues in the Local SEO industry at the moment is spam. Too many companies are taking advantage of Googles weaknesses by over optimising their business names. It sounds silly, but it works... and works well. The best thing for you to do is find any competitors who are guilty of this and suggest an edit to the business name. Your suggestion will then go in the queue for approval. Sometimes they get approved instantly; sometimes it takes a few weeks. And as simple as that, you could jump up several positions simply by doing this. My personal best so far is seven positions, from #8 to #1.
When it comes down to competing with local businesses, website authority is usually something that everyone lacks. So just a small handful of links can really get you moving up the page. I once had a client who jumped from position #12 to position #2 with just two links.
3. Location Specific Directoriesand Links:
Similar to my tip above, but this focuses on sites relevant to your local area. For example, let’s say you live in New York. Getting a link from a New York business directory or any site that focuses on New York specifically, these sorts of sites can be twice as good as a standard link and tend to be much easier for you obtain, as you already have the common ground with you being located in that area.
1. Fill your site with information:
Think about Wikipedia - why does it rank so highly in the search engines? Simple: they provide a LOT of information to their reader. A big reason why your business or content will not rank is that the search engines do not have enough information from you about your business. That means they cannot decide how relevant it is to the viewer and what their search term is.
2. Add videos to your website:
Doing this will keep people on your website longer, especially if you add long videos. The more time people spend on your site, the more relevant that the search engines believe your content is. To make this more powerful, try uploading videos on YouTube and then adding a location once you have added the video onto the site.
3. Confirm your business location:
Confirm your location or listing with the search engine or directory you are listing your business on.
You may have to verify your business address or details by phone or post, and by doing so, you stand a better chance of being favored in the search engines.
Bonus tip: Become a contributor to other businesses and add information to them, for example, pictures of a coffee shop. Doing so will increase the chance of someone doing the same for your business and reciprocating the favor.
1. Have an Awesome GMB Presence:
Complete all fields in their entirety and use keywords naturally. Don’t forget to use lots of photos, videos, find ways to get reviews and use some of the new features like GMB Posts! It never hurts to sprinkle a little Adwords into the mix. We regularly log into our GMB and add photos, update our description, ensure details are correct, etc.
I do not care what anyone says; it is still the #1 SEO signal. Don’t do something crazy like buying shady links but do what you can to position your website to acquire them. For local, make sure you have a solid base of citations. Look for local citations and niche specific ones.
3. Quality Content:
The last trifecta in ranking for local in 2018. You gotta have a blog. If you can‘t blog, learn to take great photos or do videos/podcasts. Our top clients are the ones that help us generate their content. At the very least, encourage them to help you come up with content ideas/strategies. Just check out Bradley’s blog, he is ranking for all sorts of keywords, and I can be confident in saying its attributed mainly to his quality content.
Lastly, ensure your on-page game is on point. On-page is everything from your title tags, to schema markup to how fast your website loads.