Local business owners will understand the big challenges that come with local campaign and those of a non geo-specific brand.
Local SEO is a lot different from your average SEO campaign, and the local search results are changing more rapidly than any other.
The above chart shows a breakdown of the weighting of various ranking factors within local SEO campaigns. One of the things to note here is that whilst there are a few slightly different factors compared to the usual SEO campaign, links and on-page SEO factors still play a huge part. The only difference is that the type of links you’ll want to focus on will be a lot different.
In today’s post, you will find some of the techniques that you can implement to get results from your local SEO campaigns.
First Things First
Before you go ahead and start chasing links, there’s a lot of up-front work needed on your website to ensure that you’re able to get the best possible results, especially if you want to rank within the local pack listings (see below):
To rank within the above types of listings, you’ll rely less on the link building side of things, and more on local NAP citations, local reviews and My Business signals.
Google My Business
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to claim your Google My Business page. All you need to know is that once you’ve set it up, you should include the following:
- Add a long, unique description that’s formatted correctly and includes links.
- Choose the correct categories for your business.
- Upload as many photos as possible.
- Add a local phone number to your listing.
- Add your business address that’s consistent with that on your website and local directories.
- Upload a high-resolution profile image and cover photo.
- Add your opening times/days (if relevant).
- Get real reviews from customers (I’ll come onto this).
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
Consistency is key here. You need to ensure that you have your full NAP across your whole website. Furthermore, you must use the exact same details/format when you mention your address on other websites. You’ll also want to use Schema.org markup on your NAP to give the search engines all they need to display your company information correctly.
Local reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so you’ll want to spend some time acquiring them.
It’s worth mentioning that this doesn’t just mean Google reviews. You’ll also want to focus on getting reviews on your Yelp page (they’re used by Apple maps), along with other local directories. Your first priority should be Google reviews though.
To begin with, you’ll want to capture any low-hanging fruit by getting in touch with your existing customer base and see if they’d be interested in leaving you a review. You could provide some incentive for them for their time (maybe a discount, etc.).
Local Link Building & Citations
Link building within local SEO campaigns is incredibly important and it’s also something that’s often overlooked.
Compared to standard SEO campaigns, local SEO relies much more on links from other local websites that are really relevant to your business. It’s less about getting links from high authority websites (although that obviously helps) and more about getting links from websites local to you that are talking about similar things to what you do.
This means that local directories are a useful resource for link building, especially when it comes to building citations.
“A citation is an online reference to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP).” (source)
These citations don’t even need to be linked, as long as they’re referencing your business NAP consistently in the same way.
You can use a tool like Bright Local to check out any existing citations you have and then update them so that they’re all consistent. You can also use the tool to track your competitors’ citations and add your own to the same websites.
There are a number of ways to get local citations, but here are some recommendations:
- Use a service like WhiteSpark and get them to find and upload local citations for you.
- Go through the extensive list of citations on the Moz website and manually submit your citations.
- Use a tool like Ahrefs, Majestic or Open Site Explorer to run competitive link research and find citations that your competitors have gained.
- Set up alerts through Mention or Google Alerts to track new mentions of your competitors’ NAP listing.
Local Link Building Strategies
There are lots of way to go about earning/building links, and if you want a load of them, check out my link building strategies guide. For the purpose of this article I’m going to focus on acquiring links that are really effective within local link building campaigns.
Here are a few to get you started:
- Go to Meetup.com and search for a list of local events relevant to your industry. Find those that have websites and contact them about sponsorship (most of the time you’ll only need to put on a lunch for them). If they accept, you’ll get a link from their website (local to you) and their Meetup.com page (highly authoritative, local link).
- Create a local resource from public data (here’s 30 different data sources) and reach out to local press to get coverage.
- Run your own local meetup or event and bring through links from the local event page.
- Sign up to press request services to get quoted in local publications (huge potential for high authority, local links).
- Run an AMA on Reddit (within a relevant subreddit to your industry) and within other local communities.
- Line up interviews and columns within relevant online publications.
- Give a discount to local organisations for your products/services in exchange for a linked mention on their website.
- Enter local awards (or start your own if there aren’t any!).
- Spend time dedicated to local PR outreach to get online and offline coverage in local news.
- Run regular competitive link research and capitalise on any new opportunities that your competitors have gained.
- Offer scholarships (you get links from local universities) or offer jobs to students (you can get links from their careers pages).
That should be enough to get you started!
SERP Click Through Rate
Another ranking signal that’s being talked about a lot more is CTR from the SERPs. It’s no wonder that this is such a strong signal because it’s used as one of Google’s core Quality Score measures within their AdWords platform. It makes sense that they would measure the user experience that searchers are getting with this metric.
To maximise your SERP CTR, try the following:
- Ensure you have Schema.org markup set up, with reviews (if relevant).
- Make your title tag as readable and relevant as possible.
- Have a detailed meta description, relevant to what users will be searching for.
- Use Twitter/Facebook/Google+/Reddit to split test titles to measure CTR from social and then take those findings to adapt your SERP snippet.
Here’s a really good resource that looks at increasing SERP CTR.
- Get your Google My Business page set up.
- Optimise all of your landing pages with local keyword data.
- Ensure your NAP listings remain consistently across the web.
- Generate genuine reviews from your customers on Google and Yelp.
- Optimise your search engine snippets.
- Focus on localised link building.