Anyone who owns a business today knows the importance of search engines to their bottom line. This importance gets magnified exponentially when you start looking at local businesses. Considerthis statistic:
Not only do consumers search for local information, they convert more to local searches, as compared to non-local ones:
So if local searches are 157% more effective in leading to a purchase as compared to regular, non-local searches; it’s time we gave local search the focus it demands.
Local Search Optimization 101
Local search is a specialized field in its own right. There are a lot of details to cover – from ensuring consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) of the business, to injecting a local flavor into the meta data for local pages, to the criticality user reviews hold for both rankings and clicks.
Citations and Business Pages
Getting your business listed on local business pages like Google My Business, Yahoo Local, Bing Places for Business, Yelp, and local directories is often the first step towards building a local search footprint. Managing the data listed about your business on each site, ensuring the citations that you receive from each site are consistent, and focusing on the right websites to earn citations from are all key contributors to local search rankings.
Local search typically revolves around service based businesses where the quality of service is often the deciding factor between success and failure. Reviews feature prominently across organic results as well as the 7-Pack and carousel listings on Google’s SERPs.
Incentivizing customers to leave reviews on Google+ Local, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and similar review sites offers an immediate stamp of authority to your business pages.
Localizing On-Page SEO Elements
On-page SEO elements play an important role in local search as well. Infuse your on-page ranking factors with local flavor like city and state names apart in addition to focusing on important keywords. Local data in critical on-page elements like the page title, H1 tags, title tags, meta descriptions, page URL etc. send direct signals to Google regarding the relevance of your page to a local search.
While creating dedicated local pages for each city that your business operates in is a given, removing duplicate pages from your website and using the rel=canonical link element judiciously all contribute towards a better local rank.
Images play a huge role in deciding whether you go on the carousel or not.
Images on your local pages must not only be of fantastic quality, they must be optimized for local search with local content in their ALT tag descriptions. Large, relevant and eye-catching images accompanied by a detailed description of your business go a long way.
While the factors listed above were the ‘can’t-do-without’ ones, there are a bunch of local SEO signals your business would do well to maximize.
These include keeping the local flavor alive on your social media platforms and content marketing, keeping your local content across the web fresh and relevant, getting the right places tag on your business listings, keeping up site speed and making sure your website is mobile optimized.
By Pratik Dholakiya SEO Tips.