Local SEO is all about knowing where you stand. More specifically, it’s about knowing where you stand in terms of your ranking on Google Maps. This is because the Google Local Pack — the box on top of Google’s homepage featuring the three local businesses that it has determined to be close (geographically), the most relevant and the most prominent in regard to a search query — is fed by Google Maps. Google Maps, in turn, is fueled by information contained within a location’s Google My Business (GMB) profile.
Thus, a fully optimized GMB profile is always a good place to start when discussing local search engine results pages (SERPs). What do I mean by that? At a minimum, the name, address, phone number, and website (NAPW) data from your GMB profile is directly supplied to Google Maps. Consistent citations, or mentions, of this information elsewhere online, bolsters the trustworthiness and authority of your business in the eyes of Google. Pictures and videos, reviews, Google Posts, and feedback further elevate that.
The Difference Between Local SERPs And Regular SERPs
That’s not to say that your GMB/Google Maps info has no impact on universal search ranking or your website has no influence on your local search ranking — it’s just that they have different weights.
A Refresher On Local Ranking Factors
Even when you have that straightened out, many in the local SEO world express frustration about the variability of Google Map rankings depending on where search queries originate. How do you accurately measure local SEO rank, track your progress and gain an edge on your competition? How do you become a candidate for the Google Local Pack, strategically positioned to draw more customers who are currently in or will be in your area?
As you may be aware, the Google local search algorithm returns results based on their relevance (does this pertain to the search?), prominence (is this a quality result?) and physical proximity to the searcher. Google has become smarter over the years at interpreting context, and it will weigh these ranking factors differently depending on how a query is worded. Proximity is the most fluid of the three and is given more or less cachet depending on the phrase modifiers (or the lack thereof) used within the search terms. I’ll give you some examples.
• ‘Near me.’ Obviously, proximity becomes a higher priority with search queries containing “near me,” as Google tries to find relevant businesses within your immediate physical area. Prominence (i.e., best rated, most visited or mentioned), while still a consideration, is on the back burner to a degree.
• Conditions such as ‘open now,’ ‘outdoor’ or ‘pet friendly.’ Relevance becomes Google’s main mission here, as it is looking simply at whether businesses in the category you’ve searched for satisfy the condition or not. They may well be scattered across the map.
• Qualitative modifiers such as ‘best’ or ‘most popular.’ Prominence takes a lead when using terminology such as “best” or “most popular,” with Google pushing the superlative examples of what you’ve searched for (relevance) to the top. Results may be farther away than you’d see otherwise (the best French bistro may be on the other side of town).
Another thing to pay attention to when tracking keyword phrases is whether or not they are geo-modified — that is, is there a named geographical area that Google has been instructed to search within? If so, prominence and relevance are given more weight, as these queries are typical of someone planning travel or already in transit. In searches that are not geo-modified, Google elevates proximity as a rank factor, implying you’re looking for something nearby.
Tools To Track Local SEO Rankings
There are a handful of local SERP tracking tools out there — in the form of web browser plug-ins, desktop applications and web-based software as a service (SaaS). Smaller SEO operations (three or fewer keywords) may be able to get away with a browser plug-in, but larger web marketing outfits with multiple clients should probably invest in web-based SaaS, which offers more advanced features and can handle larger keyword volumes.
With just a few local rank tracking tools available, you are bound to do some additional research, so when evaluating local rank tracking tools, consider the following:
1. How many keywords can you track?
2. Can you scan on a schedule?
3. How many times does your business appear in results?
4. How do your numbers stack up to competitors?
5. Are reports available?
Locally Rank Tracking Your Business
Google Maps results for the same keyword phrase may look slightly or even very different depending on the searcher’s location, even within the same zip code. Many of these rank tracking tools pull in local map data — examples include GeoRanker, Whitespark or BrightLocal.
In general, these calculate rankings from a centralized location within the zip code, which is somewhat valuable information but may not be as specific enough to simulate a real-world search. If you need to track your rankings on a more granular level, you may be interested in LocalFalcon, which visually represents rank variability within a locality through a series of pins, as seen here, while also comparing your ranking to competitors.
Companies now have numerous resources to determine how they stack up in search, locally and hyper locally. The trick is harnessing that data and using it to guide a path of continuous SEO improvement so that you become a magnet for both search engines and the customers who make a point to shop local.
Rack your brains over how to win more customers and get close ties with current customers?
There’s a simple solution – local SEO. Now is the right time to go for it. And here are some weighty reasons why local SEO is a must.
You get more profit. The latest data proved that 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases.
You obtain higher conversion rate. Local search optimization is 50% more successful than common advertising methods.
Your website becomes highly targeted. People do local searches to find an appropriate goods or services. So the closer you will be to your prosper customer, the better for you.
Your local optimization is cost-effective and fruitful. The main point is that you can reach your customer when they actually need you. Thereby it increases chances that they will pay for your goods or services.
With local SEO you may overcome even big companies. Getting listed in Google My Business boosts your chances of appearing among the highest local search results. Local SEO is a perfect way to beat the big companies. By the way, studies tell that only 44% of the companies have registered in Google My Business.
Today local SEO is becoming more and more important since customers drastically changed the way of purchase. The secret to digitally bridge your website to customers lies in proper local optimization.
At some point, you’ll have to promote your website for business, which has a store with a physical address. The best solution of this is a local SEO. You can apply all the ordinary promotion methods that you always use, but talking about the physical address, local website optimization for SEs absolutely rocks. If you think that standard promo methods will have the same effect for local promo as for the global, you’re absolutely wrong. By adding some local and regional promotion SEO techniques, you can display store position in SERPs. The only way to success is being fancy with local SEO optimization, as the majority of customers love it. In addition, the display on the map is incredibly important if a business wants to get customers who are close to him. And one more important detail: local results appear above the normal results when searching on smartphones (to say more, mobile data traffic is growing explosively). If you’ve never paid attention to the regional promotion, it is the right time to start doing it.
How to do local SEO for a website?
For companies with regional offices, it is important to provide the mapping information for each local office in SERP. In other words, a user, searching in New York for sportswear, is interested in seeing those pages that contain regional-oriented info about the conditions and places of sale of this product in the corresponding city. Info about sales in Washington or North Carolina is out of interest. Non-targeted visitors do not affect the promotion (really, they make some indirect effect, but it’s very slight), as they do not convert to buyers. To make your offices easy-to-find in all cities of residence, you must provide a display of relevant information in the search. This will require local geo-targeting and site optimization for SEs
Geo-oriented and geo-independent requests
In recent years, growth in the audience of Internet users is defined by the regional visitor’s increase. In big cities, people have long been looking for goods or services via the Internet. Every day, more and more residents of regional and district centers are attached to this process. In this connection, local SEO techniques are becoming increasingly urgent.
If the site will be promoted for a certain region, then this knowledge will help to define the strategy of promotion more clearly. Geo-oriented requests are queries with a relevant response to user’s geographical location. Accordingly, geo-independent requests are independent of the user’s location (e.g., “how to run fast”). Geo-independent requests can be transformed into dependent ones by adding a toponym (placename). The main feature of Google’s regional issue is that difference in search results is observed only in local issue (by block markers on the map).
A list of regional requests. Site semantic core must be constructed on the base of regional needs. Form the meta tags and optimize content pages by the regional needs.
Map issuance. It allows you to attract additional web traffic by regional requests. Fill in the proposed fields and description, using frequency promoted queries to form the page relevance.
Thus, properly compiled semantic core and company registration will help you to achieve positive results for regional site promotion.
On-page local SEO: the main points
Add region (city, district) name in the domain name. It’s desirable to do it at the stage of zero iteration. There are 2 ways of making a site with toponym: 1) to select a national domain and add city name to the main name 2) to register a regional domain.
Specify the region name in the title and description tags. Add toponym to the semantic core.
Mention the site name in page text.
Create a page with contact info. Be sure to type the full address with postal code and telephone number. Include basic marks. Put the local maps with the location of the company’s office.
External SEO for local search
Generally, promo strategy is the same as when working with a site without local orientation. SEs, entering the position of the inhabitants of different regions have launched their own algorithms to identify regional needs and even issued a number of recommendations, which are individual for each SE. But sure, we’re considering Google as the cornerstone. It has nationwide issuance. Google distinguishes between two concepts: “region” and “language”, and the region is perceived as a country. That is, the request will have same results in all areas with the issuance of the most competitive one. Therefore, the whole promotion strategy for Google optimization comes down to keywords with toponyms.
As for the language, let’s imagine one of USA laundries has its own English-language website, and some UK resident has set search by language to show English websites (without chosen region). It is quite probable that the request “laundry” will bring a page of American service. So, setting up GWT, specify country and language correctly. Sites, focused on certain linguistic groups, must be separated from the main site (for example, by subdomain or subdirectory). For regional promotion in Google, register in the Local Business Center (LBC) to plan text ads strategy in a proper way.
Phrases and keywords should be presented in corresponding categories. Do not use standard category – create your own.
The importance of feedback. Using the LBC, you can comment the companies, presented on the map. Review is one of the trends local SEO ranking factors in 2017. Comments should be gradual, not en masse. Try to use keywords in feedback.
The amount of registered information. Please fill in the maximum number of forms in details. Use promotional photos and videos – it will definitely play in your favor.
Placing a map on the site is not only an etiquette feature, but also a prerequisite for the successful promotion of local SEO for small business.
Thus, the general scheme of website promotion for regional requests consists of the following:
Make a separate website, subpage or page for each region, if your company has regional offices or interested in advancing in several regions.
Perform a local-oriented on-page SEO.
Customize the search engines tools for each site or page.
Make unique content for each region.
SEO tips for small local business
Create an account in Google My Business. Google has already connected page on Google+ and Google Places. Using Google My Business, you quickly and easily update the info about your business (address, contact information, website). The account allows easy communication and Google Maps navigation use (business gets geotagged map). Finally, on Google Reviews tab users can post reviews in order to help others to make the right choice. What is important? Firstly, an account on My Business must be certified by the owner of the company. Secondly, business name should include the keyword. Thirdly, the user must have easy access to the business from the search place. A properly issued account can improve the SERPs position by 10–15%.
Create pages on Yellow Pages, Yelp, Business Pages and on other listings. Key information must be the same because it can improve the results of a local search by approximately 15%. We also note that SEs take into account the reviews of the business for these resources.
Place company’s address, name, telephone and website on the main site – this will help Google to integrate and correlate the results of the business, improving local search issuance.
Reviews number increases by Google My Business, plus third-party resources (Yelp, BBB etc.). Reviews must be left by real users without manipulations Google (Moreover, a tricky website may lose position in SERPs).
CTR plays quite a big role in the local issue, so make sure to find the right keywords.
Social signals are an upcoming trend, so likes, +1 and followers may increase the site local search position by at least 5%.
Backlinks can’t be written off, as they can improve the issuance of approximately by 25%. But, unlike geo-independent backlinking, building local backlinks meets a lot of difficulties when performing by amateurs. Google penalize artificial promo in any of its displays. We offer you the help of a premium quality to avoid sad consequences of Google filtering and increase site rankings. What makes difference? It’s definitely the credibility of referring domain and backling anchor, as well as the number of outbound link from the referred page. LinksManagement provides backlinks from relevant resources of high reputation.
Some other moments to remember: H1/H2 tags should contain the city (district) name; micro-structured data should definitely be used for address and any other contact information.
Local SEO checklist 2017
The company meets the specified category.
Company’s physical address is set.
Citation on the authoritative and relevant sources.
Easy-to-company’s coordinates and phone number.
Google’s and third-party sites’ reviews. High-quality inbound links.
The presence of a physical address.
Structured/quality references in catalogs.
The number of references in the catalogs and “yellow pages”.
Page on Google+.
The remoteness of specified place from the location, specified in the request.
The distance between users and place where the company is located.
The number of mentions in the single-industry resources.
Presence of city name in pages titles.
The number of reviews on external resources.
Page authority, specified in Google Places.
Online data does not match with the company’s real one.
Company name contains too many keywords.
The inconsistency of specified name, address or telephone number.
Incorrect business category.
Presence of several duplicated business pages.
Discrepancy of the phone number, specified in Google Places.
Information on violations of Google instructions on the website.
Information about the harmful content on the company’s website.
How to improve local SEO: citation and reviews
Most local optimizers, who breathe with their region, agree that citation is not the most powerful promo weapon, but it should be neglected. Google expects the regional companies to provide key info in order to guarantee the security of other websites (social networks, etc.). If you have no citation in important areas, or info is incorrect, it really hurts your marketing. So let’s check the main points of correct local marketing SEO:
Search for quotes with Whitespark (link: http://www.whitespark.ca). Run two reports: one for checking the current quotes, and the other to find citation opportunities (it’s probably the best tool to find them).
Setting up the campaign with BrightLocal (link: http://www.brightlocal.com/). You get 3 info tabs: active quotes, pending quotations, and potential citations. Keep specific comments on each quote that really helps to keep track of your efforts for long. When adding new quotes from the Whitespark list, add them to the special tab for the delayed citations. When you rerun the report, all pending citations that have become active move to “active” part of your list.
Repeat these steps. You will add more links further, but always use Whitespark to test new features and any incorrect information with addresses that will probably appear later.
It’s an integral part of the regional site promotion, but they are also important for local transitions.
Set the review page. We recommend you to adjust the page for all visitors in “domain.com/review”. It is convenient and easy to remember. Furthermore, it’s a simple user-friendly URL. Warn customers that to leave a review they need to have an account with Google. Focus on Google reviews at least until the business has less than 10 ones. Once you have 10 reviews, offer other options to clients.
Create a brochure with an overview. Instead of showing directions map on your brochures, just redirect clients to “domain.com/reviews”, created before. This way you’ll create a really good brand postcard for distribution, and regardless of your strategy review, it will never change.
Hand out cards to every customer and ask them to leave a review or at least short comment. We recommend you to give a card at the very last moment of interaction with customers so that the card remains in memory. You can stimulate customers to write reviews, but do not overdo: a steady stream of no-flood reports is prevalent.
Undoubtedly, geo targeting will become better in future. If today SEO is actual only for regions and cities, soon it will become a reality for regions and microdistricts. Today a lot of regional topics have low competitiveness, therefore, their promotion is not too expensive and complex, and the effect can be observed quite fast. The most important is a planning stage, when you choose promotion strategy and construct a semantic core. To achieve local SEO success, we suggest using an integrated approach, which combines promotion of regional needs and optioning context ads with targeted displays for local users.
As we conduct more and more of our daily business interactions online, it’s never been more critical to offer users a seamless, frictionless digital experience that aligns with their daily lives. Users have come to expect an optimized user experience as a basic requirement, and it’s now become a prerequisite implementation strategy across all platforms and devices.
Clearly understanding why customers come to a site and what they need works in favor of both the audience and the business, providing brands with the rationale and pathways for optimized user experience. Companies now have the opportunity to impact their business more effectively by implementing targeted strategies throughout their market and its digital ecosystem.
As a creative agency specializing in web design and UI/UX strategies, our focus is to deliver digital experiences that are integrated and comprehensive, delivering both content and conversion opportunities. Most business clients who engage our team for site design are looking for a revenue driving product, but few are aware of how much their business can change for the better with the right UX. In a recent study from Forrester Research, a well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to a 200%, and a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%. Put simply, the metrics speak for themselves.
Understanding that UX design can dramatically change the face of their business is enough for some brands to convert immediately. But for those who are slower to adapt, it can take a fresh perspective with clarification, hard facts and an updated review of the digital environment.
Making The Case
When customers come to your site, you have only seconds to influence them; investing in UX optimization is necessary to quickly gain trust, brand recognition and ensure user retention. As a strategic design and brand content team, we know this to be true. Many businesses are tasked with the challenge of driving the importance of UX to multiple stakeholders whose focus is primarily on the numbers. In this case, a cost/benefit analysis incorporating statistics on UX ROI can prove beneficial in comparing before-and-after results against key performance indicators.
In Robert Pressman’s book Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach, an early business justification for UX is made that’s hard to argue: “For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development, and multiply to $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release.” This is to say that every dollar invested in UX returns $10 to $100, and correcting the problem from the start is most cost effective.
Off page SEO refers to techniques that can be used to improve the position of a web site in the search engine results page (SERPs). Many people associate off-page SEO with link building but it is not only that. In general, off Page SEO has to do with promotion methods – beyond website design –for the purpose of ranking a website higher in the search results.
Let’s take it from the beginning…
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the term used to describe a set of processes that aim in optimizing a website for search engines. SEO is important not only for getting high-quality visitors from search, but it’s also a way to improve the user-friendliness of your website and increase its credibility.
Search engines are using complex algorithms to determine which pages to include in their index and the order they show these pages in the search results.
SEO is the way to ‘speak’ to search engines in a language they can understand and give them with more information about your website.
SEO has two major components, On Page and Off Page SEO.
On Page SEO
On Page SEO refers to settings you can apply on your website so that it is optimized for search engines. The most important On-Page SEO tips are:
Having optimized titles and descriptions
Proper URL Structures
User-friendly navigation (breadcrumbs, user sitemaps)
Optimized internal links
Text Formatting (use of h1,h2,bold etc)
Image optimization (image size, proper image names, use of ALT tag)
User-friendly 404 pages
Fast loading pages
Mobile Friendly pages
Top quality fresh content (This is always the most important SEO factor!)
External links (no broken links or links to ‘bad’ sites)
You can find out more details about all the above tips in the SEO Tips for beginners article.
Off Page SEO
Unlike On- page SEO, Off-page SEO refers to activities you can perform outside the boundaries of your website. The most important are:
We will examine these in more details below, but first, let me explain the importance and benefits of off-page SEO.
Why is Off-Page SEO important?
Search engines have been trying for decades to find a way to return the best results to the searcher.
To achieve this, they take into account the on-site SEO factors (described above), some other quality factors and off-page SEO.
Off page SEO gives them a very good indication on how the World (other websites and users) perceive the particular website.
A web site that is high quality and use is more likely to have references (links) from other websites; it is more likely to have mentioned on social media (Facebook likes, tweets, Pins, +1’s etc.) and it is more likely to be bookmarked and shared among communities of like-minded users.
What are the benefits of ‘off-site SEO’ to website owners?
A successful off-site SEO strategy will generate the following benefits to website owners:
Increase in rankings – The website will rank higher in the SERPs and this also means more traffic.
Increase in PageRank – Page rank is a number between 0 and 10 which indicates the importance of a website in the eyes of Google. It is the system invented by Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google founders) and one of the reasons that Google was so successful in showing the most relevant results to the searcher. Page rank today is only one out of the 250 factors that Google is using to rank websites.
More exposure – Higher rankings also means greater exposure because when a website ranks in the top positions: it gets more links, more visits, and more social media mentions. It’s like a never ending sequence of events where one thing leads to another and then to another etc.
Link building is the most popular and effective Off-Page SEO method. Basically, by building external links to your website, you are trying to gather as many ‘votes’ as you can, so that you can bypass your competitors and rank higher.