Getting Started with Local SEO

SEO management can be complex and intimidating, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. But there are simple steps you can take to make it easier. You may be aware of the basics, but if your services apply to a particular area, local search is where you can really cash in. And if you do it right, you might just get pinned at the top of the Google results page, right up there with all the other superstars in an area called the local 3-pack.

An example of what the local 3-pack box looks like at the top of a Google search results page.

It’s important to know that local search indexes are separate from organic search information. Local indexes are populated from business-record sources. And that’s where you come in.

Maximize Your Business Profile

If you don’t already have an account with Google My Business, start by creating one. Then claim your online business profile by searching for it or selecting “Add Your Business”.

The next step is verification. Google needs to know that you are in fact the owner of this business. To do this they mail out a verification code to your business address – usually in about one to two weeks. Certain businesses, usually plumbers and locksmiths, may require an advanced verification.

Once you are verified, add as much info to your profile as it will allow. That includes name, address, phone number, descriptions, photos, and videos, the whole shebang. Tag everything with keywords (just like you would for organic search).

Do this for Yahoo and Bing as well. Yahoo gets regular search results from Bing, but manages its own local search index through a separate service called Yext.

Make sure your profile contact information is always consistent across directories. Descriptions should use the same keywords as well so that search engine systems can easily find your business.

Consider using a mass-submission service to gain additional exposure. These services will forward your data to scores of other local search systems.

Curating your site reviews on the business page is important as well. Ask satisfied customers to rate your business. However, the star ratings for your business will only show in search results if you mark up your website’s pages with the correct schema. Do this for every page on your site that has reviews of your business and search engines will be more likely to present star ratings next to your indexed link. Five stars can go a long way to get clicks.

Link Building is Business Building

Ask yourself this question: If other sites don’t care enough about your website to link to it, why should the search engines care enough to index it? Link building is not easy, but it is essential for success in search. And if you’re local, sales growth can be directly attributed to improving your search game. In fact, Search Engine Watch reported in 2016 that 18 percent of local searches performed on mobile devices lead to a sale within 24 hours. So how does it work?

Search engines like Google and Yahoo will crawl site-to-site links in order to determine your rank and index priority on their results page. They also use these links to discover new pages. Remember, they can’t put you in front of potential customers if they don’t know who you are.

Link building is accomplished by making formal requests to sites that relate to yours – mostly through email. So get out your list of references and craft a message that briefly explains your site and details the specifics of your request.

It may feel as though you are jamming up inboxes with the rest of your competition, and in a way you are, but you can make your message stand out from the others with a few simple tips. It’s a no-brainer to ensure that your subject line follows the site guidelines for requesting a link. And take time to find the site owner’s name and use it in your greeting. Generic salutations on the other hand, have a way of suggesting that you haven’t been to their site.

Be sure to include your site name and a link to the URL you are hoping they will link to so they can preview your content. And make a suggestion to where you believe a link to your page fits in best with their site.

Many of these tips may seem like courtesies, and some of them are, but so many other sites (especially in local) will ignore etiquette, and your request will get noticed more often if you don’t ignore this etiquette.

And, by the way, don’t stress if you do not receive responses from every inquiry, most likely you won’t, but make a good practice of following up tactfully.

The Rewards of Keyword Management

You may already know that adding keywords and duplicating them is a good strategy for getting indexed on results pages. However, unlike link building, there is such a thing as overdoing it.

The key is to find the sweet spot. If your content doesn’t read naturally because you’ve stuffed it with search terms, this is sign that you are overusing keywords. If GoogleBot detects that you’ve been keyword stuffing your page, you will be penalized, and they don’t make it easy to re-enter the graces of the SEO gods.

The best strategy to using keywords responsibly is to stay focused on your customers. Repeating a keyword phrase should not undermine the integrity of your content.

Another good strategy is to use long tail keywords to maintain the freshness of your body copy. These are longer and more specific phrases that lower funnel customers are likely to use.

It may seem like you are narrowing your inquiry responses, but long tail SEO keywords cater to customers looking for exactly the product you offer. In fact, WordStream suggests that roughly seventy percent of pageviews are the direct result of long tail keywords.

Local SEO can put your company on the map and Rebuild Group is your trusted source for anything and everything SEO.