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Local SEO Handbook – The Tools You Need For Success

Marketing

As a digital marketer you likely know one thing is certain…SEO seems to be constantly changing.  If you’re looking to rank using local SEO tactics it is very important to not only optimize your on-site metrics but also your off-site SEO as well.  Local competition can be heated.  If you’re not working to be at the top of your local rankings, your competitors likely will.

For anyone who needs to rank for local search phrases it is likely that you already know how to set up a Google Places for business account (http://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/). You have probably set up a Facebook business page as well. This is a good starting point but these are not the only accounts you will need for a successful local SEO campaign. Below are a few additional accounts you should create.

1. Google Map Maker
http://www.google.com/mapmaker
Google Map Maker (GMM) allows users to make updates or corrections to Google Maps. If you can’t seem to figure out a way around a road block you can correct it via the Map Maker.

2. Google Regional Expert Reviewers
http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2011/09/map-maker-turns-to-locals-with-regional.html
For the last two years Google has been building their Regional Expert Reviewer program (“RER”) to encourage power reviewers to add more reviews on Google Plus Local. These users have more authority than the average user to approve edits of business info and reviews in Google+ Local.

3. OpenStreetMap.org
http://www.openstreetmap.org/
This is basically Wikipedia’s version of Google Maps hat anyone can edit. There are a number of services that use the Open Street Map data, including Apple Maps.

4. Facebook Places Editor
https://www.facebook.com/places/editor
As of last year Facebook has been allowing users to make edits to Facebook Places data. As you may have noticed, Facebook has quickly become one of the top local search sites.

5. Universal Business Listing
http://www.ubl.org
This is a great site to make sure that all of your listings are syndicated across the web. There are a number of local citations that will buy their business listings from Universal Business Listing

On Page Optimizations

After you have done some of the important off-page optimizations you may want to check-in on your on-page to make sure that everything has been properly optimized.  Start with your title tags and meta descriptions.  These are both HTML elements that will be show on a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).  You can think of it as a mini ad.

To get the best results from your title tag and meta description you will want unique, compelling and descriptive text that will not only contain your location and keyword, but will also encourage a user to click on it.  In search, you only get so many pixels of space for your title and description, so make each and every space count.

The next thing you will want to add is local structured data markup.  This is often referred to as “schema.org markup.”  When added to the code on your website it can help Google better understand information about your business.  If you don’t know how do add this type of code yourself, consider hiring a coder and then check the code using the Google Structured Data testing tool.

Online Reviews 

A Harvard University study found that online reviews on Yelp.com can have a serious impact on restaurant revenue. Researchers found that for every one star increase in Yelp rating, there was a five to nine percent increase in revenue.  We’re now seeing that hotels may adjust their prices based on their reputation on social media.  According to Google research, businesses that have a three star rating or higher will receive a disproportionate number of clicks: 87%.

And if you haven’t been monitoring your reviews and noticed that you have many bad ones, you may have some work to do.  It can take between10 to 12 positive reviews to offset a single negative review. 

Join Local Search Groups or Hire Consultants

While DIY local resources are great, sometimes it helps to be part of a local group, find consultants, or just have an agency do the work for you. If you’re looking for a place where you can ask questions, bounce ideas off each other, get additional direction, or need some directions on who to contact to start your campaign, try browsing the below resources.  These are just a few of the many sites and companies you might want to consider. Since I don’t have any first hand experience with any of these resource, please do your homework before using.

Local Search Forum
Local SEO Mastermind
Reddit Local SEO Group
Tack Media
Advo Group Inc. Business Coaching
Moz Local Q&A Forum

 

 

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