A study published by the ad agency Chitika earlier in October of 2012 had found that over 24% of all Google search queries carried out have local intent. Yahoo and Bing users were slightly higher bringing the average of the 3 major search engines to just over 26%. With 1/4th of all searches on the “Big 3” having local intent, the internet is a marketing space local businesses should learn to leverage. If done correctly, a Google Plus Business Page can yield increased local visibility in your targeted areas.
Just creating the page is not enough though, there are several factors that need to be considered and optimized in order to be successful. They breakdown into 3 basic categories:
- Google Plus Profile
- The Business’s Website
- 3rd Party Local Listings (Angie’s List, Yelp, ect)
Google Plus Profile
Begin by creating a new listing or claim an existing listing online. Once verified, optimize your business profile to make sure all information is accurate and up to date. Having consistent naming, address, and phone (NAP) conventions across multiple all online channels strengthens the implied geographic signal to Google.
When defining your categories, pick as many relevant choices from the provided list as you can. If using custom category, test the search in Google to see if it generates local results. If it does not yield any results then the category may need to be reconsidered, and retested. Moreover, whenever creating a listing ensure all information you provide adheres to Google Local Quality Guidelines.
The goal of any profile page is to obtain user flow, which is then refocused at the parent site. To retain user flow, make your profile engaging and unique Images, videos, offers, and coupons are all ways of engaging your local audience. Additionally, ensure your profile is complete by filling out the “details” section including any natural, relevant keywords.
The Business’s Website
The website linked to the Google Plus Business Page plays an important role in the Google Plus listing’s overall rankings for local searches. If your full focus is on local search traffic, take advantage of several opportunities on your site to improve your Google Plus page’s listing rank.
- Include the City, State and Zip Code in the Google Plus landing page title
- Ensure your sites NAP matches your Google Plus page NAP
- Include geographic, product or service keywords in the Google Plus landing page URL.
- Include City, State and Zip code in Websites Page Titles and Meta Descriptions as well as the Header Structure.
- Take advantage of Rich Snippets, like Authorship, Organizations or Reviews. While they may not have a direct effect on rank, they make your listings more robust and engaging, which leads to higher Click-Through Rates.
All of these adjustments improve your sites local signals to Google, leading to increased local listings rank.
3rd Party Local Business Listings
The key to leveraging the strength from other local business listings is consistency, specifically involving your businesses’ NAP. One of the highest ranking factors related to Google Places listings is consistency in NAP across all of your businesses online listings. If you have the time, claim and update all of your businesses listings ASAP. However, if you’re like most small business owners I know, there is simply no time to take care of all of this manually. There are several services like Yext and Localeze that can help automate the process for you, allowing you to update local listing information across all web profiles from one simple submission. Both are strong tools, but I personally favor Yext. Although more expensive, it offers a much more robust selection of profile fields that can be updated.
The most important take away here is to remember that consistency is the key to having a successful local listing on Google and no matter the size of your business or area in which you serve, Google Plus Business is a profile you will benefit from. For more information on how to better optimize your online presence for local search contact Webimax today!
While not all websites need to engage SEO at a local level, many businesses rely wholly on the surrounding community, and the associated physical and electronic traffic. In a technological environment where mobile usage is skyrocketing, empowered by innumerable GPS-driven applications, proper geographic listing, and engagement, is essential.
On Page Markup
There are a number of ways to mark up site pages to further define attributes, such as geographic location, ratings, and reviews to Google. SEO is largely about further definition of your site to aid Google’s total view of your properties, and Local SEO is no different. Failure to define certain aspects leads Google to make an educated guess.
Microdata is a series of on page definitions that can be leveraged to imply further geographic relevance to Google, by eliminating the ambiguity machines encounter when attempting to define a page.
Take the searches to the right. If you type in karma, the number one result is about the religious concept.
Philadelphia, a geographic keyword, prompts Google to search for geographically relevant results, which are defined through a variety of means, including microdata.
In a similar way to geographic data, one can define areas of a page to Google for it to display in the SERPs. These range from raw ratings to caloric count of recipes.
In terms of local search relevance, much of local search is conducted from mobile devices. Often mobile users are looking for spur of the moment business reviews. Better SERP visibility could make the difference between obtaining a new customer or not.
Local pages should be optimized with an official Google places map, as well as directions from local landmarks, shown to the left. This requires a full and complete Google Plus Local profile. Multiple locations should have separate pages for each one.
Cross Site Local Signal Optimization
To cement the location of your business in Google’s mind, a consistent phone number and address should be populated in the footer on every page on the site. Footer address should reflect either the main location or sub location if the locations are divided up.
On-site optimization is strengthened by complete and thoughtful listing on external directory sites. Primarily, sites should be listed properly on Google, Bing and Yahoo business pages. Secondary listings on review and geographic social sites, such as Yelp, Foursquare, or Urbanspoon should be engaged when all of the primary listings are in place. Traditional listing resources are becoming more and more web-oriented, engage your local papers, radio, or TV.
High Quality Directories
Listing sites are generally of a high domain authority, appearing high up in Google’s search engine result pages. This means that as your site climbs the SERPs, you may already have an established presence at the top waiting for you. They are also terrific resources to engage user comments, whether positive or negative. Each review helps you craft future engagements with customers.
Business Citation Management
Citation management sites, such as Localeze and Yext, allow for single-point bulk optimization and distribution of consistent directory listings, utilizing rich media when possible. Built in analytic and feedback processes allow for mass corrections based on user feedback. This type of centralized control allows for accurate, up to date listings that can be changed in bulk, on the fly.
Outreach to Influential Yelp Users
Local decisions are very often driven by customer feedback, rather than sheer proximity. As such, it has become increasingly important to have customers post reviews on your site.
Outreach to high power users, in relevant geographic areas, who have reviewed similar products can provide quality feedback that can sway other user’s opinions. Yelp, the preeminent king of review sites, offers the perfect platform for outreach.
First, one can differentiate between registered users and the desired “power” users. Any user’s Yelp profile displays their friend and rating counts to ensure outreach to an active, adequately followed user. There is also an “elite” badge that appears on power users.
Even if a user has a decent number of friends and reviews, their rating distribution should also be scrutinized for an even and natural spread. Often, users are turned off by 5 star reviews, and especially a high number of them, because they may appear unnatural.
Outreach should involve commenting on the users comments, and establishing a relationship prior to requesting a review.
Google Plus Optimization (Formerly Places)
Google Plus Local has taken the local search torch from Google Places. Proper optimization of this property is of extreme importance, as it dictates how Google displays the locations in local search.
Complete, accurate, and verified information is necessary to list in the local search results, which often appear after the first 2 SERP results.
Additionally, mobile users using GPS may use the listing to find the location. Inaccurate information may mislead these individuals.
Become a Community Player
Knowledge of the local industry environment is key. Engage your community in the real world. Events are great sources of actionable social media material, both before and after. In addition to the community, engage your industry, become a leader in your field, even if its just socially.
As beneficial as the optimization and outreach can be online, nothing beats person to person contact. There’s a level of trust and sincerity that one can imply socially that cannot be met by any degree of SEO.
Become the community leader. If you can’t, build your own community, or lead in what you can. Social, technical, business, there’s a niche for everyone.
Attend meetings, network, network others, build your presence, engage others online.
The local search “game” is about defining your site to Google as completely as possible. Whenever a new social or listing property rolls out, claim your local presence, and consider how you can use it to either further define your geography or customer base to Google.
As the foundation of any SEO-focused marketing campaign, keywords are always the driving force for any industry. More often than not, business owners take an approach to their keyword selection that emphasizes quantity over quality. While generalized keywords do have the potential to bring in a large, broad user demographic, sometimes a far more specific search term can yield better results for company websites and online content. The trick comes from knowing how to select the right keyword for the most successful search engine optimization.
Keep It Local with Geographic Keywords
In any industry, it’s important that a business plays to its strengths. While larger companies enjoy a level of brand recognition that they can rely on for constant traffic and online sales, many smaller businesses struggle to find ways to stay relevant to their potential customer base. One of the more ingenuous ways that SMB owners manage to do this is through the strategic use of local keywords. Keyword phrases that focus on geographic proximity lend themselves to a style of search engine optimization that improves organic traffic while focusing on clientele that is within driving distance of a business location.
Many readers have no doubt used geographically- focused keywords in the past to find nearby services. Imagine, for example, that a family needs mold remediation services for a home in Miami. While simply searching for “mold remediation” will show results for home services in different states, looking for “mold remediation Miami Florida” will show proximal results. Users commonly include the town where they live in their searches anyway, so a smart business owner should try to focus on keyword phrases that account for local users if they have only a few locations.
Long Tail Keywords Have a Proven Conversion Rate
Similar to geographically-focused keywords are long tail keywords. These terms often include more specific terms which can narrow down the focus of a search considerably. For example, to return to our earlier search phrase, a long tail version of “mold remediation” would be “mold remediation business and apartment complexes.” While less users will turn to long tail keywords than broader ones, those who do often show a better conversion rate by actually purchasing goods or services from a website.
Of course, it is always a good idea to experiment with the keywords one chooses in his or her SEO campaign. Just like any trending news topic, certain keywords can change in frequency of use over time. If any readers would like further advice on the subject, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It seems not a week can go by without Google raising more alarms within the SEO community. Online businesses that have been watching their web analytics over the last few weeks may have noticed some alarming trends. Traffic has been dropping steadily for many online companies and the page rankings have been falling along with it. While not everyone has been affected by these disturbing trends just yet, more and more pages are experiencing the impact of Google’s constant search engine revisions.
Just this past weekend, webmasters checked their analytics to find that their sites were hit severely by what many suspect is a silently rolled-out Google search engine update. From Friday through Sunday, site traffic and Google referrals changed so dramatically that a fair bit of speculation has been made as to whether Google has already begun implementing its long-promised search algorithm overhauls. While no one can say for certain whether the weekend’s traffic trends were a result of the Easter holiday or something nefarious from within Google itself, the fact is that many people have already begun to panic once more.
Times are Changing and SEO is Changing with It
Regardless of whether your company’s website is already SEO friendly or has yet to be optimized for search engine relevance, the fact is that every site online today will need to be prepared for the coming months. Many businesses and even some webmasters still haven’t heard the news of Google’s upcoming massive Panda update, which will include revisions to punish sites with excessive SEO activity. Because of the update, everyone is waiting on pins and needles as countless search engine result pages will appear radically different in only a few weeks’ time. So how does one best prepare for the future?
As WebiMax continues to revise its own SEO development practices for the upcoming Panda update, we strongly recommend that every online business and organization owner revises his or her own web content. In the past, internet companies could observe simple SEO practices and implement them in order to create more search engine friendly sites. Yet with Google radically revamping how its search algorithm operates, many of the techniques the SEO industry has come to rely upon are going to fall by the wayside very soon.
We have the Solutions you Seek
Always forward-thinking and progressive, WebiMax has been working overtime with its clients to better prepare them for the looming threat of the new Google algorithm. Our staff of expert SEO developers and project managers works together with businesses to provide exceptional local SEO support and a design process that yields proven results every time. Even though the future may be an unsure time for many internet companies, we are able to provide a little peace of mind in the days ahead. With Webimax here to help, no online business owner needs to panic.
If you’re more curious about the upcoming Panda updates, we suggest reading more about it. We are proud to offer a great overview on the topic. It can be read here.
Google announced that their local search service “Google Places”, will now allow the local business to submit their data including business hours, address, name, and more directly. This more streamlined process places more trust in the business. Google stated “the organic listing will automatically be updated and the business owner will be sent an email notification about the change”. The official announcement occurred last week on October 13th, titled “Faster updates to Local Business Listings”.
In addition, the search engine firm has tweaked their local search crawlers to look for the above business data (hours, address, etc.) and to provide greater accuracy. Google will make an automatic update if their crawler reports back with credible data. This move helps to ensure the most updated data is available for local businesses. For example, if the company sends out a news release announcing new operating hours, Google’s crawlers will catch this and automatically update the business page.
Local search has emerged dramatically in recent years. It is said that 1 in 2 Americans have a smartphone by the end of 2011. In fact, more Americans will have a smartphone then a 4-year college degree. Since so many consumers own one, more and more consumers are searching for “local businesses” on their devices. WebiMax, the leader in search engine optimization, offers local search services and is rated the top Local SEO firm in the United States.
Google Maps added a few new features this week, including “Helicopter” view. The new view provides a fly-over view of the route the user specifies between two destinations. This new 3D view is available to users that have the Google Earth plug-in installed on their computer. This not only adds enhanced video and viewing capabilities, but provides a “practice run” for drivers that are unfamiliar with how to get to specific destinations, and are unfamiliar with the area.
Google Maps also added “My Location”, a new feature that pinpoints the exact location and can make it the starting or ending point of a destination. Defending against privacy concerns, Google stated that they do not store location information in their maps for others to see. (Recall some months ago when privacy concerns were in uproar over the Apple iPhone reportedly storing locations).
This has also been optimized for local search. With local search and SEO, businesses can be pinpointed on Google Maps. Local search dramatically influences the company’s online visibility in a geographically defined radius. Now, users can pinpoint where your business is located and take a 3D flight path to the destination.