How to Navigate Local SEO
If your client runs a local business, they need to start getting very serious about local SEO, and you need to help them do that. Getting them set up to rank locally for the kinds of things their prospects are looking for isn’t difficult, but it does take a lot of commitment to a number of tasks. Trust me though, the investment is worth it:
- 98% of people searching online choose a business that is on page 1 of the results they get
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 77% of smartphone users contact a business after looking for local information
See the point? If your client isn’t ranking well locally, marketing will be a lot harder for them (and in turn, you). To avoid this, focus on the following elements to get your clients great results from local SEO and search.
Clean up and manage citations
As a consultant, you’re likely aware that Google relies on hundreds of data aggregators and directories to help them sort out and keep all the local businesses straight.
Getting your client’s listing right on Google is essential, but if they’ve moved, or changed their name, address, or phone number (NAP), or just listed it in numerous ways across a bunch of directories, there’s a good chance Google isn’t sure which listing is accurate, and that’s not a good thing.
The last thing Google wants to do is send someone to the wrong address when they search for a local business. Advise your clients to invest in a tool like MozLocal (or invest in this yourself and conduct this scan for them) to see where their business stands. Once you determine there are a few inaccurate, inconsistent and incomplete listings use the same tool, BrightLocal, WhiteSpark or Yext to clean listings and get rid of inaccurate duplicates that frequently occur.
By cleaning up your client’s citations alone, you can do more for their local listings than any other aspect of local SEO.
Optimize their Google My Business Listing
It is imperative that your client pays attention to, claims, and optimizes their Google My Business Listing. If they haven’t done this yet, send them immediately to Google’s Free Business Listing page to see if they can claim their current listing.
Unfortunately, there’s a chance they may have some cleanup to do. I’ve found that many clients created Google+ listings and Google made a mess of how this became Google My Business, so confirm they only have one listing for their business and that it’s the one Google thinks is their business.
Once the right listing is claimed, advise them to take full advantage of the real estate and linking options available. This essential for their business to show up in the desired Google 3-pack for local searches. Make sure they have the right business category and subcategories chosen for the business as well.
Note the exact way their NAP appears in the listing. As suggested in the previous section, whatever is listed as the NAP on their listing, they’ll want to use consistently on their website and across all directories and online mentions.
Search engines are trying to adopt a consistent markup protocol to help use HTML code to identify things such as businesses, reviews, addresses, movies and so on. If you’re not super familiar with schema, it’s a good idea to brush up on this topic so that you can properly advise clients on what to do. Learn more about the current popular markup for local businesses by visiting Schema.org.
Using proper markup for your client’s address is like handing Google their business card on a silver platter. It doesn’t look like anything to the untrained eye, but Google can be 100% certain of what they are looking at when it comes to identifying an address on your client’s web pages.
Here’s the thing, as a consultant, you should be conversational and knowledgeable when it comes to schema, but you don’t really need to know anything about the underlying code to get markup right. Just visit Schema.org’s Local Business NAP generator and fill it in – The tool will produce the HTML code you need to add to your client’s site in place of their current address.
Create local SEO content
When your client creates content online, they need to go above and beyond to let prospects know where they do their work.
It’s easy to get spammy when a lot of local content is listed and this can hurt your client, but what you should do is have your client talk about where they work and in some cases have specific pages with case studies for specific neighborhoods.
It’s important for them to blog and post about local events. Using your client’s blog to talk about the community, their customer, and employee-related local news is a great way to spice up their content in very authentic ways.
If your client has multiple locations, you may want to learn about content silos for each location to help give them the upper hand.
Get them reviews
Reviews are another important form of content. People increasingly rely on reviews to make decisions about the products and services they purchase. In fact, 92% of buyers regularly or occasionally rely on reviews when making a local buying decision.
While your client needs positive reviews for social proof, they also need them as a pillar of their local SEO efforts.
Google sees review activity as one of the elements that help determine what businesses show up in the 3-pack, but as you’re likely aware, reviews are harder to get than they should be. Even a business with loyal and satisfied fans must work to get those reviews from happy customers.
The key is to have your client ask often and make it as easy as possible for happy customers to log in to the sites that matter and leave a review. Your client can always repurpose these reviews in email newsletters, on their site, or in any other manner that they see fit (or that you recommend).
If your client runs a local business, it’s important to make the steps above a priority. You may find that local leads drawn from organic search can become their most effective lead generation channel.
What local SEO tactics have you found most beneficial for your clients?