Local SEO consists of many different local citation components, but is absolutely vital to the success of any organization aiming to reach to a nearby audience. Whether it’s a brick-and-mortar store, a ground campus for a major university, or a business that provides a local HVAC service, there are a few key strategies, amongst many, that should always be accounted for.
Consistency is key. Regardless if the organization has one location or dozens, the same concept applies. Ensuring the organization’s contact information (Name, Address, and Phone Number) for each location is accurate across all major business directories is a simple yet important step that is often overlooked. If a search engine identifies inconsistent contact information across multiple directories, how is it supposed to know which one is right? It won’t, and this confusion can negatively impact search rankings.
To make it even more challenging, there are dozens of sites to optimize, but we suggest focusing on Google My Business, Facebook, Apple Maps, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Bing, and Better Business Bureau for now. Luckily, there are digital tools to help account for all this information and ensure everything is consistent. Synup, Moz Local, and Tribe Local just to name a few.
Optimizing for the Local 3-pack
The holy grail of local search results is commonly referred to as the local 3-pack, consisting of the top 3 map results for a given query. This is the ideal position to be in for any organization, but why is that? Simply, that’s where a significant portion of the clicks happen. Per a recent study conducted by Moz, only 8% chose to load “more local results”. 44% of people who performed a local search clicked on a local 3-pack listing. It can be a game-changer for almost any organization.
So, what is the secret sauce for showing up in the local 3-pack? In addition to your citations being accurate and consistent, (as mentioned above) relevance and distance also play a significant role. Relevance comes into play while filling out your Google My Business profile, for example. Choosing what category your business falls under can make a real impact. The more specific the category is usually the right approach. Going too broad with something like “plumber” or “attorney” might not yield the type of results you were hoping for. Try to select a specific type(s) of plumbing service, if possible.
Obviously, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done when it comes to the proximity of a business to a searcher. However, organizations can increase their odds of showing up in the local 3-pack for relevant location terms by building specific location-based pages on their sites and connecting them to their Google My Business profiles.
To set an organization apart from their competitors when it comes to local listings in Google, utilize the following in a GMB profile as often as possible:
- Citations & Links
- Permanent Signage
There will always be more ranking factors to consider from a local SEO perspective. But if organizations are following these foundational strategies, they’re checking most of the main boxes Google looks for.
SEO needs, you guessed it, a documented strategy
In order for websites to maintain their content front and center in the search results, and keep up with all of these rapid-fire changes Google is dishing out, it’s important to have an effective SEO strategy in place. Don’t put the book down and run away! An SEO strategy doesn’t need to be overly complicated and feel like a huge burden. It can ultimately consist of the three following pillars:
Start with a site audit that focuses on ensuring there are no roadblocks that hinder the search engines from crawling and indexing site content. Even if a site has already had one in the past, it’s a good idea to have one every year to ensure a website is still healthy and in good-standing with Google. Similar to the way human beings should visit the doctor for their yearly check-up, websites should do the same.
Each webpage is mapped and assigned targeted keywords that offer the best opportunity for traffic. Then, all on-page factors are optimized such as HTML titles, meta descriptions, and several other elements that influence search algorithms. This is covered with a keyword map, page level analysis, and content optimization.
Focus on off-page factors, such as inbound links that increase the search engines’ view that the site is a trusted resource.
Taking these three foundational pillars into account, anyone can then break them down further to get more specific. Assuming a site has been through an audit process and is in good-standing, the next steps are all about maintaining best practices.
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