Ultimate Local SEO Guide 2014
Local SEO has become an increasingly important digital marketing strategy. Get all your need to know in our ultimate local SEO guide.
According to Google’s Our Mobile Planet research, 67% of people in the UK perform a local search on their smartphone at least once a month and just 13%of people never perform a local search on their mobile.
More and more of your customers will be performing local searches. As internet users have become more search savvy, they will also continue to carry out more specific search queries include local search queries.
User’s search behaviour and search query trends
In addition to the rise of mobile search, there are two key trends that have emerged over the past year.
OK Google, what’s conversational search?
Conversational search has seen a significant increase in usage over the past year. Popularised by Apple’s Siri and promoted by Google’s voice search options, conversational search represents a new trend in user behaviour.
Voice search isn’t the only form of conversational search though. Increasingly users are searching with much longer search queries in which they ask questions. Google launched a complete overhaul to its search algorithm called Hummingbird in 2013. Hummingbird was designed to better understand searches that placed a greater emphasis on context. Examples of typical search queries include question words such as what, how, who and when; e.g.:
’How far away is France?’
’When did the Simpsons start?’
’What are good examples of presentations’
This is significantly different to how traditional search queries worked which were essentially a string of keywords together.
Google’s local results
Similarly, Google has changed the way its search results look. The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) has gone through a variety of upgrades to provide a richer experience for users.
If you search for ’cinema film times’ then you will get a unique set of results based on your location.
Additionally, Google will also show local listings and a map for queries it believes have a local intent. The image below shows results for ’pizza’.
This understanding of context is fundamental to Google Hummingbird and to the future of its search offering. Increasingly we will see users use search queries based on their personal context: ’how far away is the train station from here?’. Google and other search engines have already begun to adapt accordingly - without a wider contextual understanding of the user, how will Google know what ’here’ refers to?
From the increased popularity of local search trends, local SEO has become increasingly important. Since 2007 there has been a significant increase in interest for local SEO.
Our guide to local SEO is here to help you with practical tips on ranking well for local search queries!
6 top local SEO tips
Own your NAP
NAP stands for name, address and phone number and you should ensure that this is consistent across the internet and present on your website.
Putting this on your main contact page should suffice, although many websites also include it in their footer. Make sure that this is consistent whenever your business’s address or name is used online. Inconsistencies can lead to search engines not fully understanding your company’s online presence and creates confusion.
You may need to conduct advanced Google searches to try and find mistakes (your company may be listed on websites without you even knowing).
Set up your location pages
If your business owns multiple locations then we recommend developing a suite of location landing pages.
"Hierarchy in website architecture is a fundamental taxonomical building block in SEO"
- Dawn Anderson
These should be unique and specific for each location. If your company has multiple locations within multiple regions then make sure the pages sit together correctly and follow the correct hierarchy and are linked together. Correctly structured pages is extremely important to aid Google understanding your website and its relevancy.
Dawn Anderson, SEO and digital marketing guru and director of Move It Marketing says: "Hierarchy in website architecture is a fundamental taxonomical building block in SEO. Cascading and cross modular internal linking in this way builds a fire of relevance in a site. Few things are more powerful than a strong hierarchy".
Elements that you’ll want to include in your location pages include:
Address and phone number (this should be unique and it’s best to avoid multiple addresses on the same page)
A Google map can help your users find your location
List the specific locations facilities
Specific information and descriptions about the location
Directions can help your customers find you
Implement location markup
You may wish to consider using location structured data. This may help search engines understanding very specific elements of your content.
You can find the structured data you need at schema.org. In particular, you may wish to consider:
You will need to add additional code to the content covering your address but it should be quick and easy to implement.
Connect with your community (local content, local links and PR)
Often online businesses or companies neglect their real world surroundings. Creating connections with your local community can have a fantastic impact on helping with your local SEO.
By building real relationships with other local businesses, events or news sources, you can start to develop a local backlink profile which will help with your local search rankings. Specifically you might want to consider:
Attending local networking events
Joining your local chamber of commerce
Forging relationship with local newspapers or journals
Hosting your own events
This can all result in links to your websites, increased social engagement and even PR coverage.
Set up Google+ and/or Bing Local
Setting up your Google+ Local listing and Bing Local for Businesses can significantly help your local listings. Google local results favours websites which have a well developed Google+ Local listing and in niche areas, this can really help you leap frog your competition.
These platforms also allow you to control your profile and can be used as part of a wider marketing message.
Have a customer review strategy
Following on from setting up your profiles on Google+ or Bing, you should also develop a strategy to build reviews on your profiles. These will help your listing stand out further, are helpful in the ranking algorithm and can help build trust with cold leads.
It is important to also consider your reviews on other websites such as Yelp or consider signing up to a review website such as Trust Pilot to give your customers a platform to review your company, but also these are used by search engines to display a star rating next to your listing.
These can help increase click through rates of your listing.
MintTwist’s ultimate list of local citations
One of the most important ways of developing your local SEO authority is through citations in local directories and Internet Yellow Pages (IYP). These are often highly trusted business directories that can help you control the search engines’ understanding of your business and NAP information.
We’ve compiled a list below of the leading IYP and online business directories that you can use as part of your local SEO strategy. Many of these allow your customers to post reviews and leave feedback, whilst others also allow you to manage your own company profile.
UK citation sources
US citation sources
Originally posted on Mint Twist