Having an online presence has now become one of the pre-requisites of running a local business. Before buying from local brick and mortar businesses, people look for products, services, and recommendations online.
If you’re not doing local SEO, your business stands to lose out to competitors who understand the importance of this essential online marketing strategy.
Local SEO is a strategic approach to helping your business get in front of a local buyer looking for a solution online.
This ebook will help you learn how to execute local SEO and get your business to feature among the top of Google’s search engine results.
This guide will give you a complete know-how of building an impeccable reputation and online presence that fetches repeat customers for your business.
Are you looking to master local SEO and make your local business stand out? Do read this comprehensive local SEO guide from My SEO Sucks.
If you’re running a business that caters to a local audience, local SEO might be the best way to market your products and services. For those who’re new to the concept, here is a simple definition of local SEO marketing:
Local SEO is an online marketing technique that helps your website to rank for location-specific Google search queries. The optimization technique helps local and multiple location businesses to reach out to prospective customers in their business location.
Local SEO helps you attract new business from local searches on search engines such as Google, Bing, Apple, and Maps.
Whether you own a restaurant or a salon or fashion store, local SEO helps you generate leads for a business. Here are some interesting statistics about local SEO:
46% of all Google searches are local. (WebFX)
97% of consumers search online for a local business. (Adaptive Marketing)
Every month, Internet users visit 1.5 billion locations related to their Google searches. (GeoMarketing)
70% of consumers will visit a store because of information found online. (bluelist.co)
28% of local searches result in a purchase. (Digital Logic)
These stats show that most consumers go online before making a local purchase decision. Local SEO is, therefore, an important way to showcase your business to potential customers. Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of investing in local SEO:
1. Improve your business’s visibility by getting on top of Google’s local search results.
2. As more people click on your search listing, you get more website traffic, leads, and sales.
3. Enhance your business’s visibility in Google Maps.
4. Build an impeccable online reputation—vital to generate long-term sales and revenue.
5. Stay ahead of the competition by conquering this critical online marketing channel.
While local SEO is a powerful online marketing channel, it works for specific business types only. The nature and structure of every business are different. For instance, a SaaS company selling software may not need to focus on local SEO—they would look to target search terms on a national or international level.
But it’s not the same for small businesses targeting customers for a specific city such as Houston or New York or Ottawa. Let’s look at business types that need local SEO:
Most people who’re looking for legal help, start with a simple online search. Plus, a large percentage of new queries for law firms come from online searches. If you have a law firm or you’re an independent attorney, local SEO is a great strategy to get leads.
You must have a local SEO optimized website and a Google My Business profile. You can target keywords based on your area of specialization. Take a look at these sample search terms:
a. divorce attorney in florida
b. real estate lawyer in philadelphia
c. family lawyer in ottawa
If you type ‘real estate lawyer in philadelphia’ in the Google search bar, you’ll find that Harper J. Dimmerman’s website shows on top of the search results.
As a plumbing business, you’re looking to target homes in your area, and hence local SEO is the best way to get in front of potential customers.
When they have a clogged dishwasher or a drainage pipe issue, people often type search queries like plumbers near me or plumbers in my area, to look for the right person to help.
Whether you’re an independent plumber or a plumbing company, local SEO is a great way to start building a connection with potential customers.
Doctors, medical practitioners, urgent care clinics, and healthcare service providers can benefit from local SEO. Your medical services business can rank for local search terms, but you have to do the groundwork first.
You need to get your website up and running, make it user-friendly, and start publishing content that helps your community.
Imagine yourself planning an outing with family or friends. You would look up Google for the ‘best places to eat’ in your area. Or check out Yelp reviews of popular local restaurants, right?
That’s what most people do, and that’s why local SEO is such a perfect strategy for restaurants and bars.
60 percent of respondents said they had read online reviews for restaurants, the highest of any business category.
List your restaurant in the best of directories, and work on getting incredible customer reviews—these are two essential local SEO strategies for your restaurant business.
The real estate needle may be slow to move, but things can be different with local SEO. As an agent, investor, or a broker, local SEO can help you promote yourself. As a real estate professional, the key for you is to target long-tail search terms by starting to focus on home buying in your closest neighbourhood. A hyper-local SEO strategy can help you lay the foundation for bigger goals and markets. Take a look at some of these narrow, long-tail search term examples:
1. buy home in beverly hills
2. homes for sale in brentwood los angeles
3. house for sale in santa monica
Another way to rank for local searches is to list your business or property on prominent real estate directories such as Zillow and Trulia.
Local SEO works like the usual search engine optimization. But in the case of local SEO, the focus is on a specific location. Getting your website to rank for local search terms involves a good deal of strategic effort. Let’s look at some of the critical elements of local search engine optimization:
Content Marketing For Local SEO
Prospective customers often use search queries to look for information that’s about a specific region. Create content that meets the informational needs of online searchers, and they’re likely to land on your website.
You need to create content after doing thorough research on local search terms. Delve into the intent behind these keywords and create content that best meets the needs of your audience.
Localized content speaks to a community of individuals who belong to a specific region. This type of content caters to local needs and finds its way into SERPs.
Here are local content ideas that can fuel your local SEO strategy:
1. Content related to local news stories and their impact.
2. Industry content that’s unique to a location.
3. A content piece that attracts local media attention.
4. Content that answers location-specific queries.
5. A story that covers a local event.
6. Interviews of experts and community leaders from the said location.
Content is an integral part of a robust local SEO strategy. You need to create and publish localized content with the intent of adding value to your target audience.
Local backlinks help a site to achieve local relevance as opposed to site authority. A local link offers an opportunity to get a link to your site to reach a local audience. Studies reveal that local link-building is the most sought after SEO tactic by local SEO marketers.
Here are some tasks that help you to get local backlinks for your site:
1. Build a list of citations and correcting the NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number).
2. Create valuable local content and research that attracts links.
Local backlinks play a vital role in helping you establish a substantial presence in SERPs for local search queries. The strategy helps earn rankings for geo-targeted search terms and a presence in Google’s local pack.
A Google My Business profile helps you list your business on the world’s largest search engine. Google My Business is a free service from Google—it allows you to create and manage your online presence. It lets you add essential business information, such as opening hours, category, address, and reviews.
Since Google has over 90 percent of the world’s search engine market share, creating and optimizing your Google My Business profile is an essential local SEO strategy.
Here are some ways in which a Google My Business profile can help you:
1. Showcase accurate information about your business and make your search listing a lot more professional.
2. Display photos of your office, team, products, and services.
3. Get your customers to post reviews about your products and services.
4. Run location-based ad campaigns while running Google PPC campaigns.
Search Engine Land reports that 72 percent of the consumers trust reviews as much as they do recommendations from friends and family.
As a local business, your primary target is Google’s local pack. The local pack shows the top three map-based results for any local search query.
More and positive reviews on your business listings ensure you a place in Google’s local pack, which is the same as Google’s top local search results.
Work hard on making your customers happy—get them to give you good reviews and ratings, and it will make a world of difference to your local SEO efforts.
Optimizing your website for search and user experience is a core activity for local search engine optimization. You need to make sure that you’re optimizing your landing pages for local search terms.
Optimized URLs, page titles, and meta-descriptions play a critical role in getting you more clicks on your website pages—a higher click-through rate gives a positive signal to search engines.
Showcase local relevance by including your business’s NAP details as a crawlable HTML text on your site.
To get local search rankings, create an impeccable experience for your visitors. Make it easy for visitors to navigate the site and find the relevant information. In short, have a robust internal linking structure that adds to website-usability and helps page-authority. A mobile-friendly website is necessary for local SEO success.
An error-free and fully functional website is essential for search engines to consider it for local search rankings
Search engines, especially Google, make sure that users find the best information related to their search queries. Google’s complex algorithms filter out sites that don’t offer a relevant user-experience to online searchers. A set of ranking factors govern which site will get to the top listings in Google’s SERPs.
Being aware of local search ranking factors paves the way for small business owners like you to optimize your site for higher rankings. Let’s learn about some of the key local SEO signals that affect website rankings:
By their very nature, local search queries have local intent. Google ranks those businesses that are located nearest to the searcher’s physical location. The search engine checks for NAP citations to understand which company would best meet an online searcher’s current requirement.
Google is looking to rank sites that are most relevant to a search query. For instance, if a user is looking for the nearest nike shoe store, the search results will showcase only those selling Nike products. Optimizing your website, GMB profile, and social media pages with the most relevant search terms is the best way to display relevance.
There are quite a few parameters that measure a business’s prominence in a niche within a locality. If your company has excellent reviews, higher website authority and CTR, more social shares, higher user-engagement, it’s better off than its competitors. The bottom line is that you need to have a solid web presence—overtake your competitors, and Google will pay you in terms of higher local search rankings.
“Entity Authority” is being seen as the key local SEO ranking factor for the year 2020:
Overall, local search rankings depend on the quality and worth of your products, services, and content.
More and more online searchers are using voice to perform a search.
More than 50% of search engine use to include a voice or image search by 2020.
A study by BrightLocal revealed that restaurants, grocery stores and food delivery are the top three local businesses that people search for using voice.
There were over a billion voice searches a month, as of January 2018, and 40% of those mobile searches had local intent.
Considering that many users have switched to voice-search, businesses need to optimize their web presence for conversational and voice search-terms.
Besides optimizing location-specific keywords, you need to focus on long-tail keywords. Voice queries are usually longer than text searches.
While the queries may be longer, you’ll benefit from offering your users concise answers to their voice-search questions.
Backlinko’s study says Google prefers short, concise answers to voice search queries. The typical voice search result is 29 words in length. Take a look at this example:
By optimizing for voice search, you’ll have a greater chance of showing up in Google’s featured lists such as Knowledge Graphs, Rich Answers, and Featured Snippets.
Voice searches are in vogue and form a large part of how local searchers find products, services, and information. That’s why voice SEO is a significant ranking factor in 2020 and the times to come.
Nine out of ten smartphone users conduct local searches on their mobile devices. Since most online users and local searchers are mobile, a mobile-friendly website is an essential prerequisite for local search rankings.
A local consumer is increasingly going mobile—for purposes like learning, buying, and visiting places. Mobile optimization is, therefore, a key local SEO ranking factor.
Content marketing is a terrific organic growth strategy that helps you build an online brand. When you localize your content strategy, you can achieve higher search rankings for local search terms. Creating content for a local audience is different from doing content marketing for a national or international audience. Head in the right direction, you’ll set yourself up for success.
Let’s learn about some of the key local content ideas that’ll help you gain traction, engagement, and search rankings for your business:
There are quite a few questions that prospective customers have on their mind before they make a purchase. A nice way to show up in Google’s SERPs is to create content around frequently asked questions.
Take a look at some of these examples of questions that a home buyer might ask:
How long does it take to buy a home?
How much do I have to pay an agent to help me buy a house?
What is earnest money?
Consider creating videos or blog posts around common queries.
Start by understanding standard buyer pain-points, and you’ll have a host of new content ideas. Make your content pieces as helpful and actionable as possible.
Creating content about local events starts with getting involved with your community. If you own a restaurant, you can cover food cultural events in the city, or if you own a fitness studio, you could sponsor a marathon and talk about it on your web properties.
Create blog posts of forthcoming and current events. Consider doing live videos of popular local events. Event-related content is an excellent way to inform and entertain a location-specific audience.
Such content pieces foster local brand engagement and level up local SEO outcomes.
Go out there and be a local journalist. Are there community leaders you could interview? Reach out to subject matter experts, and see if you can tell their story in a blog post.
A good way to optimize such content for local SEO is to mention the interviewees’ business and location. Customer interviews and case study pieces also work well.
All such content pieces allow businesses to link to each other and earn local credibility and reach.
As a local business, your priority is to rank for location-specific landing pages. These pages are going to be your primary source of leads and new business. Whether you own a single-location business, a hyper-local business, or a multi-location company, you want to come across as a worthy contender in the said local market. Depending on the location and needs of your business, you can create neighbourhood specific, city-specific, and state-specific landing pages. Here is an example of a top-ranking city-specific landing page:
Now take a look at this example of a neighbourhood-specific landing page:
Make sure to optimize your landing page content with location-specific search terms. Showcasing some of the key USPs of your products and services is another landing page essential.
Add customer testimonials on the landing pages to build trust among your target audience.
A map helps your users to find your business location or locations with ease. At the same time, it helps your landing page to find a place in Google’s ‘map pack.’
Besides these features, have a clear call-to-action to ensure that visitors can take the desired action.
Well-optimized, location-specific landing pages form the backbone of a winning local SEO strategy. Depending on your business presence and focus, you can create multiple location-specific pages.
As with any other business, creating specific landing pages for different products and services works well for your local business. It is a great tactic to rank for product or service related search terms in your location. Here is an example of a service landing page:
Make sure to optimize product or service related pages with the relevant location-based search terms.
A unique strategy to get the community to engage with your local business is to create ‘local only’ offers, discounts, and sweepstakes. It makes the audience feel exclusive. A contest or a giveaway helps generate a buzz among the members of the community.
Sharing campaign pages on social media handles are likely to get audience attention and shares, and thereby, better local search rankings.
Co-promotions with other local businesses also work well to fetch local visibility and benefits of cross-promotions.
One way to get the local people interested in your business is to write about your city or state. The right practice is to tie in niche-specific content ideas with location-specific ones. The content piece could be a local guide or a ‘best of list’ that helps the reader know more about the place. Here’s an excellent example of a blog post about ethnic eating in San Jose, California.
You can easily find local trends by browsing through local newspapers. Is there a news piece or a trend that’s related to your industry? If yes, you can create a blog post around it.
Make use of local studies and research papers to understand and share their implications. Newsjacking is about staying aware of the latest in your community and sharing information that locals would consume.
Another cool way to find local trends is to use a tool like Google trends. Type a variety of topics in this free tool to see which one is most popular.
Understanding the nature of recent online conversations helps understand which topics will grab the highest number of local eyeballs.
If you had reliable connections in the real world, people would think you’re a big guy. Similarly, Google measures a website’s worth based on the quantity and quality of sites that link to it. Links also showcase the niche and location relevance of a business website.
So if you had local backlinks from authority sites, it would stand a better chance to rank on local search results. What’s more, links would help a website reach out to a bigger audience and attract a higher click-through rate.
Hence, local backlink-building offers direct and indirect local SEO benefits. Before getting down to understanding local link-building strategies, let’s first look at the definition of a useful link:
Local link-building can be a tricky business, but if you follow a few simple rules, you’ll know if a link is worth an effort or not. A useful link will fetch you:
Let’s now learn about some effective local link-building strategies.
Connect with Local Influencers/Media Outlets
There are macro, small, and big influencers in every city or state. Influencers and media outlets have an existing audience.
Look for local motivational speakers, fitness gurus, and even stand up comics—people who’ve worked hard to build a reputation.
The correct way to get quality links is to build a relationship with such influencers. Reach out to them, and see if they’ll be interested in linking to your products, services or business.
Also, get in touch with local journalists and media outlets. Journalists are often looking for expert sources—offer them quotes and tips to get rewarded with links and mentions to your site.
Do Something Newsworthy
Another solid link-building strategy is to get news outlets to talk about your business. Announce a free service for residents or create a scholarship, for instance. You could even offer to speak at local events. These strategies can help you earn links from the best of local news outlets.
Here is a three-step local PR plan to get backlinks from trustworthy local publications:
Sponsor a Local Event or a Charity
Find a way to sponsor a local event that’s relevant to your business. Look for sponsorship opportunities in local sporting events or stand up comedy shows or even business conferences. As a sponsor, you can get a link on the event website.
Sponsoring a local club or a charity is another way to get links. The strategy also helps to associate your business with a good cause. Plus, you can distribute a press release about the donation to earn more links and media coverage.
Do an online search to look for potential opportunities, and reach out with your offer.
Create a Local Resource
Attracting links is also a game of adding value to a local audience. There could be a variety of local resources that other websites may want to link. For instance, you could create a tool that helps locals find real estate for sale or investment.
Similarly, you could develop an in-depth guide on the best of local restaurants or bars in your city.
Something like a calendar of high-school sporting events or movie premiers is a good option too. That’s not all; you could publish original research and survey results that offer rich consumer insights.
Value-driven content or technology is a fantastic way to attract natural links back to your website.
Apply for Local Awards and Recognitions
Getting an award is not just a way to build a reputation; it also helps get links. The award website would list and link to each of the winners. An award also generates media coverage, which promises additional links and visibility.
Perform simple Google searches to know about upcoming awards in your location:
“best of STATE or CITY”+”nominate”
“City Name” + “Nominate a business”
Make a list of all potential opportunities along with participation criteria.
Use Business Connections
Local businesses have the chance to co-market with other companies and build links in the process. For instance, if you have a cafe or a restaurant, you could consider tying up with a local fashion store to run a giveaway. A co-branding exercise is an opportunity for both businesses to earn a new link.
Scout for guest-posting opportunities with complimentary local businesses or even customers.
As a retailer, you can also ask manufacturers for links—companies often mention a list of dealers on their sites. Dealer locators help provide each retailer with an authority link.
BrightLocal surveyed 388 Local SEOs and discovered that 76% of all respondents used citation-building to secure links.
A commitment to quality citations is an indispensable local link-building tactic.
A citation is an online mention of your business that includes its name address and phone number (NAP).
You can start by including the NAP details on your business’s social media handles on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Besides these platforms, you can create a free business profile on Google (Google My Business), Bing, and Yahoo.
Next, create a listing on popular local directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Foursquare.
The best way to get authority links in your niche is through listing sites that rank in your niche. For example, Zillow and Trulia are popular listing platforms in the real estate niche.
A large part of the local link-building success depends on how diligently you find local link opportunities.
Local link-building techniques are different from the usual backlink acquisition strategies. When thinking local-SEO, you may have to overlook that a backlink isn’t from a very high-authority site or a niche site. Understand your turf; you’ll find many valuable link-building opportunities within the boundaries of your location.
Here are some actionable tips on finding the relevant local link-building opportunities:
Keep Track of Local SERP Results
The primary way to find link opportunities is to understand the local SERPs. The moment you type some of the sought after local search terms, you’ll see a list of sites that rank in Google’s search results. Make a list of competing businesses and sites that are ranking for prominent niche keywords.
A typical list of ranking websites will include niche directories, generic directories, and niche local businesses.
The directories in the list are your link opportunities—create or correct citations on these platforms. Next, you need to create a list of existing competition backlinks and expand your link opportunities.
Make a List of Competition Backlinks
Finding backlinks of competing businesses is a straightforward process. Pop their URL in a tool like SEMrush or ahrefs, and you’ll get a list of referring domains. Filter out those URLs where you already have a link, and the rest are all potential link-building opportunities.
You can also check the backlinks of similar but non-competing local businesses to get many new opportunities.
Online reviews build trust in potential customers, make your business popular, and attract higher click-throughs and search rankings. But getting positive reviews can be challenging. That’s because most customers don’t have an incentive to write good stuff about your business. Nevertheless, some honest approaches can help you make the most of this critical local SEO strategy. Ready to hit the home run with some kick-ass user-reviews on your business listings? Read on to learn about some proven review acquisition strategies:
Most small and local businesses print marketing collateral like store signages, business cards, banners, flyers, and posters.
These communication pieces are great for adding a personal message that encourages customer feedback—an online or offline review of products and services. In-store QR codes and apps also allow you to point the user to the relevant online business listing.
Being polite while asking for feedback is the best way to say you care. And it’s a superb way to earn positive reviews.
Bonus tip: At the same time, make sure not to set up a kiosk to collect reviews. That’s because multiple reviews from a single IP are likely to get removed by business listing platforms.
Social platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow businesses to interact with customers and understand them better. Create a post update that asks users about a new service or a product feature. Ask them to leave their feedback or special request in their review—point users to the business listing with a feedback call-to-action.
For instance, restaurant owners could request users to share their experience of a new dish on their menu.
Bonus tip: Make sure you’re not getting an immediate rush of reviews on a single platform. Such reviews are considered spam and often get removed.
Reviews flow when you have strong customer relationships. Keep the interaction two-way by responding to every review on your business listing.
Responding to negative reviews is a top priority. If there’s a customer who had a bad experience, you must accept, apologize, and assure. Take a look at this example:
If it’s possible, you must share an explanation and express empathy with the aggrieved customer. Offer to make things right and be very personal with your message.
Bonus tip: Be honest when responding to all types of reviews. Review responses should be human and sympathetic. Review threads speak a lot about a business’s online reputation.
Whether you’re running a restaurant or a plumbing company, one way to serve the customers better is to train your team to be nice to them. Customer service representatives or in-store staff can ask customers to leave their feedback. A friendly, well-mannered reminder makes the customer feel comfortable in sharing their experience.
Bonus tip: Be authentic when asking for reviews. Paying customers or marketing agencies for reviews is not a good practice. Never ask your staff to add online reviews.
The good old email marketing is a fantastic channel to collect positive reviews for your business. One way is to include a Google My Business review link in an email campaign.
When requesting a review in an emailer, target a happy and loyal customer segment. Make the email copy as personal as possible.
Bonus tip: Make sure to understand the guidelines of each review platform into consideration. Some platforms, like Yelp, forbid businesses from asking customers for reviews.
It’s not possible to produce reviews out of thin air; you need to earn them through consistent quality in products and services. Delight customers through exceptional experiences and they’ll be happy to go out of the way to write a review for your business.
It’s essential to track each customer touch-point and audit the customer experience on all of them.
Whether you get a complaint on social media or in person, make sure it’s resolved quickly and amicably.
The most straightforward technique to attract positive reviews is by trying to be the best in the business—well, it could also be the hardest one!
Bonus tip: It’s not advisable to add negative reviews on competing products and services. Most review platforms prohibit such practices.
Finding the right review sites and platforms is one of the key ways to get optimum visibility in Google’s SERPs. Here are some popular review platforms and sites:
Google My Business
The quality of activity on your Google My Business profile is one significant local search ranking factor. Irrespective of the business niche, Google is one platform where you must get good reviews for your business.
As of the third quarter of 2019, total monthly active Facebook users numbered 2.45 billion, making it comfortably the world’s largest social media platform. Facebook works as a search engine for many of its active users.
Having already set up a Facebook business page, you need to enable the reviews feature and start encouraging customers to share their feedback on the platform.
Niche-Specific Review Sites
When you track search terms in your industry, you’ll realize that niche-review sites and directories own a large portion of the local SERP real estate. These sites have worked hard to move up the local search rankings.
For instance, Yelp is the go-to platform for restaurants, Zillow for real estate businesses, and TripAdvisor for hotels. Check for the best ones in your industry and put your efforts into getting great reviews on these platforms. Make a list of industry review sites by performing simple Google searches:
[Niche] + reviews/ratings
[Competitor Name] + reviews/ratings
Create a listing on each relevant platform and go through their respective review guidelines before asking customers for reviews.
Product Review Sites
Search engines trust product review sites while forming an opinion about a business. If you’re looking for product page rankings and conversions, you must tap into some of the well-known product review sites.
Product page visitors who read and interact with online reviews have a 58 percent higher conversion rate.
When a site goes from having zero reviews to having 30, it can result in a 25 percent increase in orders. 100 reviews can result in a 37 percent increase.
Sites like Trustpilot, Yotpo, and Reviews.io offer their visitors with unbiased product reviews. Plus, reviews on these platforms play a big role in moving a local business up in Google’s SERPs.
Listing your business in prominent online platforms and directories helps to improve business visibility in local search results. A business’s local search rankings depend on the quality and accuracy of such citations. Citations can help improve a business’s website rankings. Plus, many niche and local directories rank for local search terms—the best way to get listed for those earch terms is to list your business in these directory sites.
The benchmark 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors Study by Moz has NAP listed twice within its top five local pack ranking factors. A local business’s rankings largely depend on the overall user-experience—a consumer’s path to purchase starts with an online search.
Studies show that 96% of users turn to their smartphones when they need to get something done, with 87% of those consumers making a search engine their first port of call.
A potential customer looking to contact a local business wants current information. Inconsistent NAP details (Name, Address, and Phone Number) is likely to create confusion and terrible customer experience.
NAP consistency is, therefore, a vital part of attracting the right customers to your local business. It’s one of the core local SEO strategies:
NAP mentions take various forms: website, social media presence, listing on directories and review sites, mentions on social media, and upcoming events. A business’s NAP details should be consistent across each of these mentions.
NAP citations take an inconsistent course because they’re often generated through involuntary action. For instance, an online newspaper mentioning your website and business location may end up skipping the Pincode.
There are numerous such instances of a NAP citation generation that are beyond your control. It’s hard to be sure that each such citation will have the same business details. Since you’re not physically creating each citation, you can’t be sure of a hundred percent consistency.
Some of these inconsistencies may arise because of a change in your SEO agency or freelancer. Here are some examples of why an incorrect citation may occur:
Focussing on small things like spelling and formatting of your business’s NAP details is a good thing. Consistent NAP ensures that your business can find a place in Google’s Local Pack, and gets more website clicks. Here are some steps to optimize your NAP details:
Figure out Correct Business Details
A good way to start is to make a note of how you write the NAP details. Make sure to keep in mind details like:
Create a final version and make sure you’re sticking to this version for each citation.
A business’s NAP details (on any other site) should be precisely the same as those mentioned in its Google My Business profile. Do your best to avoid false, duplicate or incorrect information.
Check for Duplicate Listings
Businesses often change their location, and this can be one reason for duplicate listings to occur. In case there is a change, you need to update your business location in each of the listings.
To check for similar listings, you can use a tool like Moz Check Listing.
Once you do an audit, you need to contact the relevant websites and request them to remove the duplicate listing. You need to use an email template like this to ask those websites to remove a duplicate listing:
I recently discovered that your website has two listings for my business, “Business Name” located at “Address.” I was hoping you could help me delete the duplicate listing.
The correct listing is: 1) http://www.YellowPages.com/Listing1
The listing I need deleted is: 2) http://www.YellowPages.com/Listing2
Could you please notify me once you have had the chance to fix this?
– Business Owner
Another way to avoid an identical citation is not to include multiple phone numbers for specific business locations.
Audit Variations and Request Corrections
Optimizing the NAP details is a constant process. Don’t worry; to begin with, you need to focus on the top industry and location-specific citations. You can check out this list of top citations. Tools like Whitespark can also come handy when cleaning up your NAP citations. They also have a citation finder to help you track current citations and discover new citation opportunities. You also use Brightlocal to make a list of business citations.
1. Once you have the relevant excel sheet or CSV file, you can start auditing each of the sources.
2. Colour code rows which need to be fixed. Use different colours according to the priority level of each citation.
3. Reach out to the sources with the correct information. Make sure you follow-up until the error is fixed and live.
While citation management tools make it easy for you to manage and correct business citations, it’s essential to choose the right tool. Here are some features to look for in a citation management tool:
Consistent NAP citations are vital for you to optimize search-experience and achieve higher local rankings.
Google My Business is a free tool that helps businesses manage their listing in the search engine results. The platform allows businesses to list their physical business location.
Google maintains a database of local businesses so that it can provide online searchers with accurate information.
It helps connect your business with potential customers through Google Knowledge Panel, Local Pack, and Maps.
You must have seen an information box on the top right-hand side of the search results. A knowledge panel includes vital business information such as a business address, hours of operation, and a website link.
Google Local Pack
Whenever you type a local search query, Google shows three search listings below a map: Google Local Pack.
This feature helps searchers to learn about a local business’s location and directions.
Let’s now understand the nuts and bolts of setting up and optimizing a Google My Business profile for better local SEO outcomes.
It’s easy to set up a Google My Business profile by visiting google.com/business. Add your business name and address.
If you deliver goods and services in your area, tick the box at the bottom of the location form.
Add your address if you have premises where customers can visit. Else you can leave the address field blank and tick the box that says ‘Hide my address (it’s not a store).’
Also, choose whether you serve customers outside your location.
If yes, then you can select the areas that you serve.
Next, you need to choose your business category. Choose the category carefully as it impacts how your business appears in the search results.
You need to add details such as contact number and website URL.
Once you’ve added these details, you need to go through a verification process. Most businesses need to opt for a postcard verification process, while some can choose phone or email verification.
Google sends you a postcard at your mailing address. You need to enter the code mentioned in the postcard in your Google My Business profile.
After you have a verified Google My Business profile, you’ll see a profile dashboard to help you manage and optimize it. Let’s learn about some essential GMB profile optimization strategies.
Include a Business Description
You can add a brief description of your business from the GMB dashboard. This description has a chance to appear in Google Local Pack or Knowledge Panel. Go to the Menu bar in your GMB profile and click on ‘info.’ You’ll find the ‘Add a business description’ here.
Try to highlight the unique aspects of your business. It’s not advisable to stuff the business description with keywords. You can read Google’s business description guidelines and make sure the content is relevant to search engines and the audience.
Opening Hours and Attributes
The feature allows local businesses to communicate about their
business hours. You can add and edit timings by choosing ‘Info’
from the menu bar and heading to the ‘Hours’ section.
Besides regular hours you can add ‘Special Hours’ to display opening
hours on special events or public holidays.
Most businesses attract new customers because there is something unique that they have to offer. The Attributes feature in your GMB profile helps to showcase the USPs of your company. Whether you provide a free Wi-Fi or wheelchair accessible elevator or some other service, add it in the profile using this feature. Head to the ‘Info’ section in the menu to add Attributes related to your business.
Add High-Resolution Photos
According to Google, businesses with photos on their listings receive 42 percent more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35 percent more click-throughs to their websites.
Photos help searchers and prospects to get a peek into your business. Include high-quality pictures of your products.
You can also add a virtual tour of your business location or showcase your team. Images showcase the human side of your business and a much-needed human element to a business listing.
Manage and Respond to Reviews
Speaking of Google My Business, the first thing that users look for in a search listing is reviews—good reviews attract new customers, and bad reviews keep them away.
You should encourage happy customers to add reviews to your Google’s My Business profile.
Reviews don’t cost you money, but you need to go the extra mile to please your customers and request them to add reviews.
You can also use these tools to send review requests to customers. Ask customers to include photos—makes the reviews authentic and a lot more effective.
Reviews lie at the heart of a GMB profile—do the hard work, and you’ll set yourself up for higher local search-rankings and an excellent reputation.
Add Questions and Answers
Google allows online searchers to ask questions about the business—stuff they wish to know about its products and services. A good strategy is to keep reviewing all such questions and be prompt about answering them.
Since anyone can answer these questions, businesses should ensure they’re answering them first.
Pre-populating this section is a good way to share more information about your business.
The Questions and Answers feature helps to optimize a GMB profile; makes it more comprehensive. It enhances the searcher-experience of a business listing and attracts more conversions.
Publish Content Using Google Posts
The Google Posts is a terrific feature to promote coupons and deals—you can publish images and blog posts to drive traffic and conversions from your Google My Business profile. Take a look at this example:
As you can see above, the posts that you add to the GMB page are displayed on Google’s Knowledge Panel.
Start creating content by selecting ‘posts’ on the left side of the Google My Business dashboard.
Here are some content types you can create with Google Posts:
Create a post promoting a promotional offer or a discount. Use a high-resolution product photo and explain the offer in the description.
If you’re hosting a yoga or a recipe workshop, you can promote it using Google Posts. You can include a title in the event post and set the date of the event.
Announcements and Product Updates
Update users about a new location, or tell them that you’re hiring—any announcement relevant to the audience works well. You can use high-quality photos to launch a new product line.
Promote Blog Content
You can use snippets from popular posts in your business blog and a link back to the original post.
Google Posts is a unique feature that allows you to use photos, descriptions, and a call-to-action to drive engagement on your GMB profile and search listing on Google.
Local SEO isn’t just for family-owned, small or local businesses; large multi-location companies need local SEO to promote their regional offshoots. Businesses like restaurant chains and large clothing retailers need to play the local game. Else they’ll lose out to smaller regional competitors. People typing local search queries have a stronger intent to make a purchase.
Local SEO isn’t just for family-owned, small or local businesses; large multi-location companies need local SEO to promote their regional offshoots.
Businesses like restaurant chains and large clothing retailers need to play the local game. Else they’ll lose out to smaller regional competitors. People typing local search queries have a stronger intent to make a purchase.
Local searches have higher purchase intent; 18% of local searches on smartphones led to a purchase within one day vs. 7% of non-local searches.
Plus, most people support small businesses and local retailers.
55% of consumers choose to shop local rather than with large chains simply because they “love supporting local businesses.
94% of people think that buying from small businesses is important.
That’s not the end of the story.
Big brands with hundreds of local stores and outlets have to face quite a few implementation hurdles while attempting local SEO.
Big companies have a multi-layered organizational structure, and a small task like claiming a GMB listing may take a long time. A small business enjoys complete freedom to finish one-off tasks and quickly move to the next.
Lack of Clearly Defined Roles
Most large enterprises have a centralized corporate marketing team. In such a scenario, it becomes difficult to assign and delegate local SEO responsibilities. One bad review from a single location can cause chaos and blame-game without any resolution on the ground.
Scale of Tasks
For a local fashion store, it’s relatively easy to populate five questions and their answers in a Google My Business profile. The thing is that a fashion store chain with 100-plus locations has to implement this tactic in all those different profiles. Scaling each local SEO task with the desired accuracy level becomes a huge obstacle.
Before getting down to understanding the enterprise local SEO process, let’s take a look at some key don’ts of such a strategy:
Link Local Listings to Website Homepage
Some SEO experts suggest that linking a local listing to a home page would improve search rankings as the homepage has more authority.
85% of all consumer engagement occurs on the local pages (e.g., Facebook Local Pages, local landing pages). A minority of impressions and engagement (15%) happen on national or brand pages. – Local Search Association
But since it’s the location landing pages that offer the most relevant user-experience, it’s advisable to link each local listing with the specific local landing page. You can link the local landing pages to the contact page on your website.
Focus on Just One Important Tactic
Many enterprises fail to implement a host of local SEO tactics. They often start believing that relying on a single tactic can get them the results. Following a short-term trend, to forget about the foundational tactics isn’t the right way to go about local SEO. From creating local content to link-building to citations, each local SEO tactic is relevant to enterprises, as much as it is for a mom and pop store.
Since you’ve got some background on the subject, let’s now delve deep into how you can create and implement a winning local SEO strategy for a large multi-location business.
Executing Google My Business
Optimizing Google My Business profile for an enterprise means you need to create accurate listings for all the business’s local shops. Here are some steps to follow:
1. Establish a set of guidelines on how to create a detailed listing. Include instructions on how to populate the most relevant Google posts and Q&As.
2. Create a process to map the competition listings regularly.
3. Track metrics like clicks and engagement within each of the GMB profiles. Analyze the location-wise growth rate vis-a-vis a predefined growth target.
4. Make use of tools like Moz Local and Brightlocal that come with features that fit enterprise requirements.
5. Appoint and train specific personnel to request and respond to reviews on GMB profiles.
Building Local Backlinks
Most large companies find it hard to get involved with the local community—it’s where they could see the bulk of link-building opportunities.
a. The first step is to have a local team that takes charge of understanding the region.
b. The team would host and sponsor local events that can generate the right level of local PR. Plus, create link-worthy local content that can add to the backlinking efforts. Take a look at this example of a localized content piece from Airbnb:
c. Getting local links is tricky—you need to get people in your team to take ownership of one or a set of locations. Putting micro-level effort in content and PR can make a big difference to your local link-building efforts.
The basic on-page optimization applies to enterprise SEO—make sure each of the local landing pages is optimized for local searches. Include the NAP details and Schema markup on each such page.
A good strategy is to include store photos and videos on these landing pages. You also need to link each landing page with the store locator page on the website.
Publishing localized blog content that links back to the relevant location landing page is the best way to get local engagement and page traffic.
Every store needs to have a separate plan-of-action when it comes to citation management and NAP consistency. You can use tools like Moz Local to manage store listings on generic and industry-specific listing websites.
A dedicated resource should take responsibility for a store or a group of stores and manage manual and automated citations.
Collecting and Managing Reviews
Local reviews are crucial to the reputation of an enterprise brand. Making sure to align a dedicated review management team can help manage the process.
You need to develop a clearly defined process to respond to negative and positive reviews. Plus, you would need a centralized review tracking system to escalate unresolved issues to local teams.
Managing local SEO for a multi-location enterprise is a subtle art—it requires the right combination of data vigilance and an agile approach to implementing SEO strategies at the local level.
From auditing your website to managing citations and reviews, various tasks need your attention, while implementing a local SEO strategy. Thankfully, there are a bunch of tools that can make the whole process a breeze. Let’s learn about some of the top local SEO tools and how they can help you:
Moz Local is a powerful suite of local SEO tools. The local SEO platform offers an automated process to track and delete duplicate local listings. This tool integrates with Google and Facebook and makes it easy to publish business data on these platforms.
Besides that, Moz Local helps manage and respond to customer reviews across different platforms. This tool is excellent for populating and correcting NAP data across generic and niche directories.
Plus, you can cleanse your data as and when required. Moz Local comes at a price range of $129 to $299 per year.
Whitespark is a popular local SEO and listing management tool. The tool comes handy when finding the best citation opportunities for a local business. The local rank tracker feature helps in tracking and improving organic search rankings.
The tool also comes with an incredible link prospecting feature that lets you locate the best link-building opportunities.
Its reputation builder tool helps businesses to collect, track, and respond to online reviews. All-in-all, you get a complete range of local SEO tools. The pricing of this SEO tool starts at $55 per month.
SEOprofiler is a terrific option if you’re looking for a tool to automate the website auditing process. It not only checks a website for common errors but also offers solutions related to local on-page optimization. You can use this tool to check your site’s local search rankings.
The local SEO tool is useful for analyzing competition search campaigns and backlinks. This incredible tool comes at a starting price of $9 a month.
Synup is a local SEO tool that works for small businesses, agencies, and enterprises. The platform lets SEO professionals manage a business’s digital profiles across global business locations. This tool helps optimize your business for voice searches by connecting it with platforms like Amazon Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant.
The tool helps optimize and distribute local content to relevant online platforms. It’s a great tool to track and manage local customer sentiments and feedback. Synup’s pricing starts at $30 per month.
As a local SEO manager, one of the things that you should not ignore is content optimization. Surfer SEO offers you a powerful content editor that helps optimize content for the right search terms and phrases.
The tool can help you with local keyword research, SERP analysis, along with backlinks analysis. You can use this tool at a starting price of $49.2 a month.
Elevatie is a popular online reputation management tool that takes care of customer reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook, and Trustpilot. The platform helps SEO executives to send text-based review invitations and respond to reviews in real-time.
This unique tool allows businesses to set up a review funnel—a feature that lets customers choose whether they wish to leave feedback on a single platform or multiple platforms. The cloud-based tool enables you to track reviews as and when they occur and respond directly from the platform.
Yext is a tremendous local SEO tool to help you cleanse your NAP data across listing platforms and directories. This tool is useful for suppressing duplicate business listings and optimizing your brand experience in the local search landscape. With Yext, SEO managers find it easy to create audience-centric local content and call-to-actions for higher website traffic and conversions.
From optimizing landing pages to great business reviews, this tool has everything you need for taking your local SEO efforts to the next level. You can buy this SEO tool for a starting price of $199 per year.
Geo Ranker is yet another robust local SEO tool that makes it easy to rank higher on local search results. The software offers its users all the SEO data they’re looking to level up their search optimization efforts. Pop in your keywords and this tool will give location-specific information related to organic, paid, and map search-listings across different search engines.
The tool also doubles up as a keyword researcher offering complete intelligence on your SEO campaigns. GeoRanker comes at a starting price of $99 per month.
Looking for local sponsorship opportunities can be a lot of manual effort. ZipSprout is a tool that helps to automate this tedious process. The platform has a database of sponsor-able organizations in 1000 US cities. You can use this tool to download a list of sponsor-able organizations in your town instantly.
It’s an excellent tool to help you participate in the local community and build some quick links for your local business.
Many times, SEO managers find themselves in a tricky situation when they fail to understand whether a bad review is genuine or not. This free AI-based tool helps to check if a review is authentic or not. You can copy and paste any review to learn if it qualifies for removal.
Adding structured data to a website is vital to tell search engines about your web page’s purpose. This free tool helps you to fill in a form and generate the relevant code for your website.
In today’s world, a large percentage of the audience is online and glued to social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. According to Digital 2020: July Global Statshot, more than half of the world uses social media, and there are 5.15 billion unique mobile users. Marketing on social media platforms is essential for local SEO and marketing success.
Social media channels help local businesses to display their location, prominence, and relevance to search engines. Through social citations and engagement, a local company can demonstrate its authority in the local search arena.
Publishing useful content and updates on channels like Facebook and Instagram attracts local engagement. Hang on, and you can also get targeted traffic from these channels.
Lots of people use social media platforms as search engines. They look up information and business from their social media profiles. A well-optimized profile helps social media users to find your business with ease.
Most social media platforms offer businesses a way to run paid ad campaigns. As a local business, you can quickly set up an ad campaign targeting a location-specific audience.
A social ad campaign is a terrific way to complement your SEO campaign and get qualified leads for your business. It’s also a great strategy to spread brand and product awareness in the local community.
Social media users often ask their friends and family for recommendations before making a purchase. Facebook recently launched a feature that enabled users to ask for such advice from their peers.
A social presence helps users to tag a business when referring to a product or a service. Having a business page enables you to collect and display positive reviews of your services. Social media platforms allow you to interact with customers, offer them advice, and solve their queries.
All of these strategies help convert probable customers into local business evangelists.
Social media platforms allow businesses to start a community with the click of a button. As a local business, you could create a Facebook Group and get people of similar interests.
For instance, if you’re running a fashion store, you could probably create a community where people can exchange clothing ideas or trends. Make it location-specific and encourage more and more people to participate.
Getting known in your region is about adding value to the lives of its residents.
A social media community paves the way for you to create a platform for like-minded people—and these are all your prospective customers and word-of-mouth agents.
Social media platforms are suitable for talking about achievements such as media coverage and awards. Also, if you’ve created some useful blog posts or videos, you can promote them on your business pages on these channels.
Social media platforms like Facebook allow you to create events and invite your friends. These events could be online or offline. Hosting local events works well to promote your business and generate new leads.
Most local businesses have limited resources for social media marketing. With so many social media platforms out there, trying to be everywhere won’t get you the results. For instance, as a restaurant owner, you may feel that most of your audience is on Facebook. A fashion store may find that Instagram is the most rewarding channel to connect with a local audience.
This way, you need to find one channel and aim to build a large following on it. Here are some tips on how to create content for a focussed social media platform:
Aim at being a thought-leader on one social media platform, and you could gradually expand your footprint on other platforms.
Having a bunch of followers works well to maintain a two-way conversation with potential customers. Besides creating content, you can ask offline customers and store visitors to follow your social media handles.
Besides having an optimized website and local landing pages, having an optimized social media presence is essential for small business growth. It’s the best way to reach a local audience and to build a relationship with them. A social marketing strategy integrates well with your local SEO and offline marketing efforts.