Local Search Strategies for 2017 – Local Citations & SEO Tips

GainTap is a Chicago based digital marketing company and Google Partner. SEO is a specialty of ours and we’ve helped clients recover rankings and get more business through search engines. Contact us to learn how we can help your company.

Getting your small business in front of the right people is critical to your success. As a local small business you have certain advantages. Due to your physical address, you have a much higher chance of ranking locally than a nationwide company. But only if you’re optimized properly and telling Google all the right things. To compete nowadays, you’ve got to be a modern SEO expert.

Every local strategy revolves around one thing: consistency.

Your number one goal for setting a local SEO strategy is consistency of information. As you work through the different items on this page, make sure you’re laser focused on precision. Here’s what you should do before you get started.

Here’s how you have a consistent web presence.

Make a spreadsheet or add a tab to your marketing spreadsheet. Call it “Business Citation Info” or something easy like that. If you have multiple business listings, break these out on separate tabs or columns in one tab. Whatever works. Make sure you enter the following information in it and that it’s 100% accurate.

  • Business Name
  • Address (including suite number)
  • City
  • State
  • Zip Code
  • Phone number
  • Fax number
  • Description
  • Email
  • Business hours
  • Link to photos (ideally five photos)
  • Link to your logo
  • Website URL
  • Social media URLs

Whenever you need to add this information to any website, you’re going to copy and paste it from this sheet. No manual entry allowed.

To simplify things I made a local citation template for you.

Open in Google DriveDownload for Excel The template also lists the top 50 local citations with links to create them, research courtesy of Hubspot.

I also put together a short video explaining the above.

Top strategies for better local rankings.

Secure your Internet presence.

Businesses need to get on Google Maps. You do this through Google My Business. Keep your information updated including store hours, phone number and address info. Don’t forget to include your suite number. This is especially important if you’re in a building with multiple businesses. Make sure you take time to enter relevant categories so you have a greater chance of ranking for these terms.

Get in local directories. Do a quick local search for a phrase that’s important to your core business. Do you see any non-business sites such as Yelp and Yellow Pages on the first three pages of Google? Write them down and spend time making business profiles on these sites. If they rank for local terms, and you’re listed on them, they’ll pass these good vibes onto your site. Those directory listings are important even if they don’t link to you. They list your business name, address, phone number (commonly referred to as NAP). This sends powerful signals to search engines when used consistently on quality local directories. And since you’re copying and pasting from the spreadsheet we don’t have to worry about inconsistent information.

Get your social media profiles up and running. Dislike social media.
Make sure you secure social media profiles even if you don’t plan on using them. I know you’re too busy to tweet, like, post and snap-chat. But set up your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn at least. Make sure you link back to your website and have accurate information including descriptions.

Your website is just a part of the Google local search ecosystem

A mindmap from Moz showing the Google local search ecosystemHere’s a mindmap from the wonderful people at Moz.com. It shows the Google Local Search Ecosystem. Where does your business fit into this? You website is part of a community online. The image above shows how local search information is interlinked on the web. This is just a fraction, too. Overwhelming, right? You don’t have to get every one of these right, but your competitors likely have a presence already. So there’s never been a better time to optimize your website for search.

Create quality content.

Invest in creating useful local content Think hard about who you want as customers. Where do they go in the community? What do they like to do with their free time? Who else do they do business with? Create content that will interest them and make sure they see it. If you don’t know where to start, here’s a good place with tips on writing content that drives visits. Write for humans, first It’s tempting to pull keywords, do a little math and drop them all over your page. But you should focus on what people want to read first. There’s more and more research showing Click-Through-Rate is the number one metric to focus on. Write eye-catching informative titles, headlines and call-to-actions. Keywords aren’t dead yet. Plenty of SEO’s love saying keywords are dead. They’re not. Search engines still look at keywords as a ranking factor. In fact, it’s really easy to get a penalty for over optimization of keywords. If you can get penalized for over optimization, that must mean there’s an ideal way to use keywords, right? Have a general theme for each page. Focus on a handful of keywords and work them into copy naturally. If something reads awkwardly to you, it will be extra weird for your readers. There are plenty of keyword tools out there to help you.

Author: Graham Onak
When not running the day-to-day activities of GainTap, Graham writes about technical optimization for websites and online marketing programs.

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