How to Win at The Local Search Game

There’s no getting around the fact that sharper local SEO practices can boost your business. Today’s online shoppers, especially those who are shopping “on the road” via mobile devices, want search results that direct them to the nearest solutions for their needs. If you want to make those lists, here are some things you should do to claim your business’s place in the competitive world of local SEO.

Get Your Facts Straight

The world of SEO is such a complex, fast-moving one that’s it’s easy to focus on dynamic online content (blog posts, bulletin board interactions, native advertising and so forth) at the expense of that good old-fashioned permanent web page content. Seriously, when was the last time you double-checked your home or About Us pages to make sure all the contact information there was still 100 percent correct? You’d be amazed at how easily a slip-up in this area can confuse your visitors and muddy up your search result effectiveness. Take care of this elementary but all-important detail before you do anything else.

If you’re creating your official website for the first time, this is your chance to get it right from the very beginning. It should go without saying that you should include your company name, address, phone/fax numbers, email address and interactive map, or at least a link to Google Maps or MapQuest. You should also pepper your site with relevant geo-local references to ensure that both search engines and visitors recognize it as a local enterprise. Don’t neglect to use the proper H1 tags, meta descriptions, and other legitimate “under the hood” SEO techniques to give your site an authentically local appeal.

What if you have stores in multiple locations? The answer to that is simple enough, if somewhat cumbersome — create a separate page within your domain for each location. This page acts as a kind of landing page, routing incoming traffic according to the city (or even street) name they’ve included in their search terms.

But your website-building adventure doesn’t have to end with your own domain. You can build localized business pages on each of the three biggest search engines. Google My Business, for instance, lets you include all the same critical geographic and contact information that you put on your own website pages, at which point Google fast-tracks it onto Google Maps and other helpful apps. Yahoo Local promises to push that information onto 50 or more local directories, with business listings on MapQuest, Yahoo Local, Superpages and Bing. Bing Places for Business is yet another helpful platform for getting your listings in front of people who use that search engine.

Scope Out the Local Competition

While you don’t necessarily want to replicate all of their tactics, you can definitely pick up some useful tips that might benefit your own local SEO results.

Of course, you have to know who your local competitors are before you can ascertain what they’re doing. You can get a quick bead on the situation by using tools such as SEMRush‘s Competitive Data online app. Type in your own domain or business name, and you’ll get a dashboard showing not only your own paid vs. organic SEO standings, but also a list of your top 10 competitors. SpyFu lets you enter a competitor’s URL to see its organic and paid keyword results, which keywords they’re using, and those keywords’ monthly click value. If they’re loading up on local keywords, you’ll know it.

Spruce Up Your Social Media

How skillfully you use and maintain your social media presence will have a big effect, positive or otherwise, on your success with local SEO. For starters, make sure that your various profile pages include accurate local contact information and whatever other geographic data you can add. Next, dig into what the various pages on your accounts can do for you. For example, in addition to creating a Facebook page for your company, you can also advertise the business on your personal account. Leave no opportunity unturned!

Don’t forget the value of Google+. Google’s proprietary social media channel obviously matters a great deal to the search engine giant, so by making good use of it you’re more likely to receive favorable notice in Google search results. In fact, you should construct a Google+ page specific to your business’s location — or construct multiple pages for multiple locations, just as you did for your multi-branch business’s official website.

Once your Google+ page is up and running, start collecting positive online reviews and giving them a place of honor on your Google+ page. The great value of this strategy is that Google will actually break the normal flow of its search results pages to call attention to local businesses that are clearly building a positive reputation among their clientele. You want to make sure your business is one of those getting the extra attention!

Local seo

Google+ can be a big plus for your local SEO efforts.

Leverage Your Links

Now matter how many social media channels you may have, or how popular they are, they can’t directly boost your website’s SEO efforts unless you link them to it, and vice versa. You also want to include relevant links to other local information resources and business partners. (Don’t be surprised if some of these resources end up linking right back to your site!) By connecting your site to these and other evidences of your local presence, you build your reputation and authority in the eyes of the major search engines as a local provider of products and services — someone who can genuinely help the residents of your geographic area.

Put these basic strategies to work for your local SEO, and you’ll be well on your way toward ranking higher on those hometown search results. At the same time, however, you’d better make sure your mobile website is ready to make a good impression to all those local shoppers who are reaching you via smartphone or tablet. Download this whitepaper for helpful tips on making your website more mobile-friendly!