Local SEO is much more nuanced than traditional SEO. Frankly, I think it’s more challenging. There’s more detail, more work, more elements to consider, and greater likelihood of screwing it up.
TOP 5 LOCAL (MAP) SEARCH FACTORS:
- Physical address
- Consistency od citations
- Proper Google My Business categories
- Proximity of the address to the searcher location
- Quality/Authority of structured citations
Part 1: Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is the core of every local SEO strategy. It contains all the information about your business and presents it clearly to search engine users.
If you optimize your Business listing properly, it will be easy for potential customers to find you on the web. Optimize poorly and you’ll do more harm than good.
Let’s look at the critical steps to getting started with Google My Business.
1. Find Your Business and Any Duplicates
First, locate your true business page.
It’s common for copycats to pop up over the years, work done by you or SEO agencies you hired in the past.
Search for your listing and choose the page that most accurately reflects the business and start there.
Get rid of duplicates
2. Verify Your Business
First, claim your business listing (if you haven’t already). On the listing itself, you will see a link that says: “Is this your business?” Click that to verify.
Note: Google usually verifies your phone with a call, and your address with a postcard. The address verification can take days, but it’s there to protect your business from copycats.
3. Connect Your Domain Email Address
In the listing info, add your authentic domain.com email address. For example, if you are the owner of beautifulbrows.com, connect your listing with email@example.com
This adds legitimacy, showing both Google and your customers that you are the true owner of the website and the listing.
4. Get Your NAP Right
If you take one nugget of wisdom from this guide, let it be this: consistency is king. This is especially true for your NAP: Name, Address, and Phone.
When filling out the business name, use the name that your customers use when referring to your business.
For example, Disney’s legal name is The Walt Disney Company, but everyone knows them as Disney. Their Business page is set up right: https://plus.google.com/+Disney
As with your business name, your mailing address should be accurate and consistent across the web. If your address is: 12345 Hollywood Blvd SW, then include the SW.
To validate your address, check USPS’ website.
Note: Google does not permit P.O. boxes to be used for My Business listings.
Use the local number for your business. Make sure this number is consistent on all local listings. Don’t use a toll-free number, like 1-800 or 1-888.
7. Link Your Website
When adding your website URL to your My Business listing, it should be the home page of your main website — the site customers find when they look for your business.
For businesses with multiple locations, set up a My Business page for each listing. On each of those pages, enter the URL for the specific landing page for that one location.
Check your Google My Business and link your website.
8. Choose Your Correct Business Categories, and Choose Wisely
After NAP consistency, business category selection is the most important local ranking factor.
Example of correct categories for PMU office and PMU school
Choose any category that specifically describes your business. Chose as many as possible, but don’t be spammy. A few well-chosen categories will have more of an SEO boost than a long list of semi-related categories.
9. Use Amazing Photos
You’re allowed three main photos on your My Business page: profile, logo and cover. Make them count!
Upload photos that showcase your brand identity. If photos don’t align with your brand, searchers will be confused and less likely to click the listing.
Part 2: On-Page SEO
With your Google My Business listing all set up, the next step is optimizing your website for local SEO greatness.
Many Local SEOs overlook on-page, at their client’s’ peril. On-page SEO is one of the top local ranking factors, and it doesn’t take much work to get right.
14. Local SEO Site Structure
Before doing anything else, map out the URL structure of your website. Your site structure should align with your products, services and areas of business. Also keep in mind how people are searching.
For example, if your service keyword is your main target, then you could set it up as the main silo landing page, as such:
On the other hand, if more people search using location-specific keywords, then the following structure may work better:
There are many ways to structure a website for local SEO, and none of them is the “right” way. It will depend on your audience and keyword research. Whatever you choose, take your time with this step.
15. Get Your NAP Right… Again
Use the exact same NAP on your website as you did on your My Business listing. Even minor discrepancies have a negative SEO impact.
Don’t try to “fool” Google or users by using an image; clearly display the NAP data as text.
16. Optimize Titles
Page headlines — aka the title tags — are essential for local SEO success.
Not only does Google use the title tag a top ranking factor, but better headlines get more clicks, but CTR also affects organic rankings.
When it comes to Local SEO, the title tag should include the following elements:
- Keyword (I recommend exact match)
- State (abbr. is fine)
- ZIP code (space allowing)
Add these elements in a way that looks natural. Don’t be this guy:
Here’s how it’s done:
As in the above examples, adding your phone number to the header can generate more leads. Start by using a call-tracking number to test its effectiveness.
17. Use Keyword-Rich Header Tags
Header tags (H1, H2 and H3) are important when it comes to ranking organically for local SEO keywords.
Ideally, include your city and state in both the H1 and H2 tags of each landing page. Again, this should be done without being spammy. You don’t need to follow some specific “header tag formula” — in fact, that would look unnatural to users as well as Google.
Instead, add in keywords and location data in a way that feels natural. As with site structure, headings and subheadings should align with the information architecture of your site.
19. Take Advantage of Customer Reviews
To spice up your landing pages with social proof, simply copy reviews from Google+, Yelp, Facebook or TripAdvisor and add them to the landing page (image or text both work fine).
It’s the perfect one-two punch; get positive ratings on local directories and add social proof to your site in the process.
- set up a “Testimonials” page and showcase your best reviews on the page.
- use review help software tools
20. Set Up Images for Local SEO
Use keywords and locations in your image filenames, titles and alt text.
As with stand image optimization, do not keyword stuff. Repeating the keyword too many times in the filename and/or alt tag text hurts a page’s ranking for that keyword.
Instead, shoot for a sweet spot — mention the exact keyword once or twice, then include a few long tails.
For example, instead of
Alt tag is a special tag that is used to help people with vision problems to describe what is on the image. Don’t be spammy. describe how you would do it to give anybody not seeing the image itself, brief and clear explanation of what is there.
Also, compress each and every image to make your pages load faster. If you have big, beautiful images, compress them using a tool like Kraken.io or Smush.it.
21. Make Mobile Work
Recent research shows that more than 70% of local searches happen on a smartphone. Let that sink in for a moment… (That doesn’t even take tablet searches into account.)
If your site isn’t optimized for local devices, your customers will go to your competitor — period. The recent Google update, along with comments by Google’s mobile search team, emphasized the emphasis of mobile readiness to SEO success.
Many small businesses worry about redesigning their entire site for mobile. This isn’t necessary; mobile design is cheap and easy. if you don’t know how – ask professional website designer for help.
Part 3: Schema Markup
“Schema” is a bit of code that goes on your website that helps search engines understand your site better.
The code contains all sorts of additional information about your business, like opening ours, customer reviews, menus, and much more.
For Local SEO, Schema is a quick-and-easy to way to get a leg up on your competitors.
Get these two Schema types setup and you’ll be in great shape:
22. Add Local Business Markup
Remember when you added NAP data to your site? Take it a step further and wrap the NAP data in Local Business schema.
This clears any confusion whatsoever about the proper NAP, so that Google knows the accurate Name, Address, and Phone Number of your business.
23. Add Review Markup
Ever notice how some websites display stars below the URL in the search results?
Here’s an example:
With a 5-star rating, Miami Beach Microblading gets more eyeballs on their SERP and more clicks through to their page.
Part 4: Building Local Citations
Google runs on a trust factor and user experience. The cleaner and more authoritative citation profile you have, the more likely Google will see you as a trusted business that they’ll display higher in the SERPS.
If your Google My Business listing is set up and your on-page SEO is handled, then it’s time to start building citations.
I recommend building your citations using a service like Yext CPRListings Pro.
TIP: Automatic citation building is the way to go, but you don’t have to use most expensive tool (though it is $50 a month, you can cancel at any moment). A service like CPRListing Pro (USA) is a $30 alternative and CPRListing Distribution ($10/ month but you have to commit to the full year) will get you set up in the big four aggregators and uncover NAP inconsistencies.
24. Audit Your Citations
Before building any citations, you need an idea of the work that’s already been done. Even if the business (or its previous Local SEO agency) didn’t build any citations, there’s a good chance its NAP data has been scraped and added to local aggregators.
Main things to look out for with an audit:
- NAP errors an inconsistencies
- Closed or duplicate listings
If everything checks out, it’s time to look for opportunities. Start by spying on your competitors using special tools we have at SEO CPR. Some of them are free, some fuller reports are $2-3 a report. Those tools show a list of the citations built by your competitors.
Write down a list of their citations; you’ll want to add them later.
Part 5: Getting Reviews
Here’s the truth: you could have the perfect Business listing, website and citation profile, but no one will click your listing if you don’t have reviews.
Businesses ranking #1 in their local map pack have as many as 33% more reviewsthan businesses at the bottom of the maps pack.
Further, SEO research shows that shoppers click listings with more reviews, regardless of where they rank.
Yet, high quality, thoughtful reviews are hard to get. Even your happiest customers may forget to leave a review.
Here are two ways to get more customer reviews:
25. Send Customer Handouts
Even with email hacks like the one above, customers may sign off and leave before leaving a review. Even the simplest review sites seem complex to someone who isn’t a regular internet user.
Solve this problem by giving them clear instructions for writing a review, in the form of a one-page PDF handout.
Benefits of giving customer handouts:
- Use clear pictures to describe exactly how to leave a review so there’s no confusion.
- Saves you hours of time on the phone with customers.
- One simple page is easy to understand and easy to email (or mail directly).
- PDFs are easy to read on mobile devices.
- Handouts are tailored to your business and to the type of listing you’re asking for (Google, Facebook, etc.)
26. Use CPReviews tool
This tool monitors the reviews the customers leave, giving you the option to response. You need to response to bad review and try to fix what the customer was unhappy about. you also need to respond to positive reviews to show the world (potential customers and search engines) that you care.
Timing of the responses is important. Many sites, like Google and Yelp track and pos the average response time.
CPReviews also send automated reminder to your clients with nicely worded polite review request. Of course you can customize the request text yourself. The can be sent through emails or SMS. After the client agrees to leave the review, CPReviews help them by linking the customers directly to the reviews section of Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.
Benefits of using automated review tools:
- SMS requests.
- E-mail requests.
- Request metrics.
- Request workflows.
- Customizable review widget.
- Customizable templates.
- Reach customers where they are.
There are many more not covered here, including link building and other advanced local search strategies that serve both local and traditional SEO.
However, these are the essential steps for local SEO domination.
Once implemented, your business will be set on a solid foundation from which you can build the remainder of your local campaign for even greater strides forward.