What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is different to traditional SEO.

With local SEO, now referred to as Google My Business (formerly Google Plus Local and before that, Google Maps) different factors come into play.

Local SEO is about having a presence in the local 7 pack listings.

If you have a traditional brick and mortar business, i.e. one with a physical address (or you service a client that owns one) then local SEO can be a boon for acquiring targeted inbound leads.

Local SEO is relevant to businesses that provide a service, e.g. gardeners, locksmiths, accountants, lawyers, plumbers, etc.

Advantages Of Local SEO Over Traditional SEO

A big advantage of local SEO is that you don’t need to worry about wild flucutation in rankings when Google makes an algorith update with Panda or Penguin.

Neither do you have to worry about regularly updating your website like with traditional SEO. Most business owners don’t have the time to update their website and that makes the competition much easier.

A Big Disadvantage Of Local SEO

The big disadvantage with local SEO is that you’re restricting yourself to a local city and that means you won’t show up in the search results if a prospect is outside of your geographic service area.

The Top 10 Local SEO Factors

Here are the top 10 ranking factors, based on our research, that you should be paying attention to if you’re carrying out local SEO:

1. Domain Authority Of Website
Simply put, a business that has been around for several years will have a bigger advantage than a new business start up. Age is factor in domain authority, but along with age comes the opportunity to acquire backlinks from local and relevant sites.

2. Proximity Of User To Business
This is more applicable to users that are searching from a mobile. Users want to see results within a 1-2 mile radius from them, rather than seeing a result for businesses that are on the other side of town.

3. Quality/Authority Of Links To Landing Page Url
If someone’s boiler has packed in or they’ve locked themselves out of their car, the last page they want to be directed to is your ‘about us’ page or a privacy policy page. Even your homepage is not always the best option for them.

It’s far better to use a landing page like a ‘services’ page where the user can clearly see how your business can help them.

You might also consider using a ‘contact us’ for your landing page – just make sure that your telephone number and/or email are easy to find.

The majority of links on a website point to the homepage and this is why it’s also important to build up the authority of your landing page if you’re an inner page to direct your traffic to from the local maps listings.

4. Physical Address In City Of Search
If your business services more than one town in the local city, or services more than one city in the local state, Google will show your maps listing to users who are searching from the same town/city that your business is located in.

5. Number Of Authority Reviews
Think Yelp, Yellow Pages, CitySearch, Thomson Local etc. Having more positive reviews from authority listings will help you to rank higher in the local maps listings.

6. Consistency Of Structured Citations
In the local listings, citations are your backlinks. A citation is where the Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) of the business are listed in a directory. The NAP information needs to exactly match the information in the Google Plus business page.

So if your address appears as 32 Highlands Avenue in the Google My Business page, don’t be abbreviating it to 32 Highlands Ave in the Yellow Pages listing.

7. Appropriate Category Associations
If you’re a plumber and someone is searching for boiler repair but you’ve only listed your business in the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) category in your Google My Business page then it’s unlikely you’ll be found. Make sure that your Google My Business page is well optimised for all the services that you provide, in order of priority.

8. Keyword In Website URL
EMD’s no longer rank well just by virtue of their domain url, but having a PMD (partial match domain) does provide a small boost. A url like joesplumbing.com will be more relevant than JoeFisher.com.

If you have a well established brand/url then don’t get hung up on this. People recognise that the Carphone Warehouse is a mobile phone shop. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s it was supplying cars with phones but its business has long since evolved.
9. Click Through Rate
Just like in traditional SEO, the more clicks that a business page gets in the local maps listings, the more this signals to Google that a search result is ‘relevant’.

This is why reviews are so powerful – particularly if you can achieve the five gold stars in the search results.
10. Owner Verified Business Page
If your Google My Business page hasn’t been independently owner verified then what are you waiting for?

Complete the Google My Business page in full, then wait for Google
to send you a postcard, which normally takes 2-3 weeks.

On the postcard will be a verification code. Enter that code into your Google My Business listing to verify that you are the owner of that business.
Special Mention: City/State In Landing Page Title.
Some local SEO specialists believe this to be more of an important factor than verifying the business page itself.

In reality, most business owners have already verified their business page (or had a local marketing consultant do it for them) so make sure that you pay attention to this factor as well.
Agree or disagree with any of the above? Let me know.