Crucial Local SEO factors
Google My Business Listing Optimization
As we’ve established, the main objective of local SEO is to rank on Google Maps results.
However, Google Maps are not ranking websites bust business listings, and to be more accurate, Google My Business listings.
Google My Business is Google’s free listing so businesses can manage how their information is listed by Google. Optimizing all the various elements of Google My Business listing will be crucial in determining your business’s ranking on Google Maps.
- The main principle here is to provide complete, accurate, and attractive information for human users. Include keywords when we can, but keyword density isn’t really a factor in optimizing GMB listing.
- Choose a relevant, specific business category. Many searchers search based on categories instead of business names.
- Consistency is very important. Make sure the information listed on your GMB listing, especially your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information, matches everywhere else.
- Make sure all kinds of information listed are accurate, including business hours, service area, and so on.
- Use Attributes to specify unique values your business might have (i.e. have an outdoor terrace)
Foundational Citation Building
Citation is a very important ranking factor in Google Maps SEO, akin to backlinks in traditional SEO.
A local citation is any mention of a business’s NAP information on the internet in a complete form, and there are several ways we can get citation:
- Earned citation, when a media or blog reviewed our business and mention our NAP
- Citations from business partners, influencers we’ve worked with, etc.
- Listing our business on various online directories
While we don’t have much control over the first two, we can put our effort into the latter: citation building on online directories.
Platforms like Facebook Places, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and others are considered major online directories, and these will be our main foundations before we build our citation on smaller directories, which we will discuss later on.
It’s important to treat SEO as a competition: we are here to beat and rank higher than our competitors.
So, analyzing our competition is very important to ensure our local SEO campaign’s success.
We will find our client’s closest competitors based on target keywords and location and analyze the following areas (not all-inclusive):
- The competitors’ Google My Business listing and their approach in optimizing their listing.
- Their content and their optimization approach
- Their website performance including various technical factors
- Link profile, especially backlinks profile
- Local citations profile
Niche Citation Building
Above, we have discussed how we’ll build citations on major platforms based on your industry/niche/category. Here, we will build upon that foundation by listing our business in niche directories.
The only rule here is the more, the merrier. We can list our business in as many online directories available based on our industry/niche and location.
However, maintaining consistency of NAP information throughout all these listings are very important. If, for example, you just moved to a new address, then you’d need to update all of these listings and citations.
This is where Boost Up Digital can help you in this time-consuming and rigorous task so you can focus your attention on growing your business.
The number of (positive) reviews on your Google Maps listing is a very important ranking factor, and Google does take account of third-party reviews. Also, having positive reviews is very important in maintaining positive brand information, maximizing conversion rates.
Review generation is simply our method of getting more customer reviews especially on Google Maps, but also on platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor among others. While there are various tactics we can implement here based on various factors, here are the common ones:
- Sending email outreach to happy customers
- Including accessible feedback forms on your website
- Offering incentives, for example, to offer discounts in exchange for a positive review
- Sending SMS messages to customers
- Having on-site devices where customers can leave their online review and feedback
Backlinks to your website are still very important ranking factors that will affect both your Google Maps ranking and your site’s organic ranking. Your website’s URL should be properly included in your GMB listing, and this is how Google will take account of your backlinks in local SEO.
We are a firm believer that there’s no shortcut in getting backlinks besides actually having high-quality, relevant, and linkable content. So, our backlinks building strategy will center on content creation, including outreach for guest posting opportunities to generate links from earned media.
We understood that the quality of generated backlinks is more important than quantity, and we will pay extra attention to ensuring all incoming links are high-quality and relevant.
Other Important Local SEO Ranking Factors
On-page SEO refers to the optimizations done on your site, which typically involves technical optimizations such as:
Header tags are one of the most important factors in SEO ranking. In general, the primary target keyword must be included in the header and also in the META description. Including them naturally, however, is very important.
For body content, it’s more important to prioritize for readability and overall quality. Include target keywords and semantically related keywords naturally and sparingly, but focus on providing value for your human audience.
Specific for local SEO, we might create similar content to target different locations (i.e. “how to find X in LA” and “how to find X in NJ”. However, we will stay to our principle that the quality and relevance of the content is the most important emphasis.
Internal links are any hyperlinks from your site to another page of your site (hence the name “internal”).
Maintaining a proper internal ranking structure is very important to ensure Google can crawl, find, index, and properly parse all information in various elements of your site. So there are two purposes in adding internal links:
- So that users can easily find related information and jump between pages to pages for a more seamless experience
- Ensuring Google (and other search engines) can properly understand:
- Relevance of pages
- Context of information within pages
- The relationship between pages
Our internal linking approach will vary between site to site depending on the structure of the website and other factors.
Include NAP on Location Pages
The best practice to follow is to add full NAP information on all pages of your website. This is typically done in the site’s footer section. Although Google is getting better at parsing information on image forms, we might include your NAP in text format, depending on your website’s design, just to be sure.
If your business has more than one location, we will create different pages for each of these locations and ensure accurate NAP information on each of these location pages.
Other optimizations we might implement include:
- Embedding Google Maps on your site is not a direct ranking factor (it used to be), but it is still a great practice to follow so Google can accurately recognize your business’s physical location and improve the site’s overall experience.
- Include operating hours whenever possible. It’s very important to keep operating hours on your website always up to date. You can also add additional information on these location pages such as when specific services are not available or when it’s lunch break and no one would be around to answer the phone.
- Include directions even if we’ve embedded Google Maps on the location page, we might add directions and address to provide more value for your site visitors.
Different sites might or might not have service pages (pages describing a specific service sold by the company behind the website). For example, if the client is a dentist, then there might be a page for “root canal procedure” on the website. This is an example of a service page or often called landing pages.
The service page must be optimized according to the target keywords and must be designed to encourage conversions.
Specific to Local SEO, we might optimize the service pages according to the target keyword, or create different service pages for different locations (i.e. Dentist NY, Dentist NJ) for local SEO purposes.
We value the importance of these service pages in generating conversions and producing revenue for your business. So, our job here is to find the right balance between optimal SEO optimizations and user experience to encourage conversions.
Schema markup, or structured data markup, is in a nutshell adding attributes and properties to all the different elements of your site so Google can understand them properly. A key benefit of implementing structured data markup is that your site is now eligible to be featured as rich results or rich snippets.
Also, schema markup is increasingly becoming an important ranking factor, especially post-RankBrain. Schema markup allows Google to properly interpret the context of your website and can match it better to an incoming search query with the same intent or context.