The Local SEO “How-To” Guide
:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::
When discussing SEO many people do not realize that organic SEO and local SEO each have a unique set of ranking criteria and both place varied importance on overlapping ranking factors. Today, we are going to cut through the fog and give you an easy-to-follow guide for ranking your site in the local results. Let’s jump right in.
On-page is the foundation for all of your SEO efforts, therefore it is imperative to make sure you take the time to do this part correctly. Here are the key areas that you want to address when optimizing your website for local SEO.
• Fast load time! Test it and improve it if it’s slow.
• Mobile Friendly is must. If your site is not mobile friendly, get with the program already!
• Include the city and state you are targeting in the page title.
• Write content that includes mentions of things unique to your target city.
• Include your name, address and phone number on each page of the site (make sure it matches the information used to make citations as well).
• Use Schema Markup to make sure Google can identify and display your location information.
• Add the city or state in image alt text.
• Create a blog and update regularly, syndicated content is OK for local SEO.
• Add maps, videos and images that are about the targeted city.
• Avoid keyword stuffing in the content and make use of L.S.I. (related) keywords in the body of your content to give clear context to your primary keywords.
• Make your content easy to share by including social sharing icons.
• Provide a link for site visitors to easily leave a review for your business on Google, Yelp, etc.
In the early years of Google, the quantity of links built determined how well a website would rank. In the past few years of local SEO, the number of citations was more important than the quality, but that is no longer the case. When building local citations in 2015 you want to focus on respected citation sites and niche specific citation sites. Here is a list of general sites that are still worth building local citations on:
• 2findlocal – no-follow
• 411 -follow
• 8coupons -follow
• ABLocal – no-follow
• AirYell – citation and follow link to video
• AmericanTowns - follow
• Avantar - citation and follow link to video
• Bing - follow
• ChamberofCommerce.com – no-follow
• CityMaps -follow
• Citysearch – no-follow
• CitySquares – no-follow
• CoPilot - follow
• credibility.com – no-follow
• Cylex – no-follow
• DexKnows - follow
• eLocal – no-follow
• EZlocal –no-follow
• Facebook –no-follow
• Foursquare – no-follow
• GetFave – no-follow
• GoLocal247 – no-follow
• Google+ – no-follow
• iBegin - follow
• iGlobal - follow
• Local.com –no-follow
• LocalDatabase - follow
• LocalPages - follow
• MapQuest - follow
• MerchantCircle – no-follow
• MojoPages – no-follow
• My Local Services – no-follow
• n49 – follow
• Navmii – no-follow
• Opendi - follow
• Pointcom - follow
• ShowMeLocal – no-follow
• Superpages – no-follow
• Switchboard - follow
• Topix - follow
• Tupalo – no-follow
• USCity.net – no-follow
• VotefortheBest – no-follow
• Where To? - follow
• WhitePages - follow
• Yahoo! - follow
• YaSabe – no-follow
• Yellowise - follow
• YellowMoxie - follow
• YellowPageCity – no-follow
• YellowPagesGesGreen - follow
• Yelp – no-follow
As you probably noticed, the citation sites above are marked as follow or no-follow, you will see why you need that information in just a minute.
The organic SEO metrics of trust, authority and topical relevance are very important for local SEO in 2015. When building links to a local business you want to do so as safely as possible and one of the best ways is through tiered link building.
In the list above you see several citations sites that allow do-follow links back to your website. Since the sites on this list are trusted, it is safe to point them directly at your website or the website of your client. Since many businesses will have citations from the exact same sites as you, we need a way to make our citations more powerful which is where link building comes into play.
One of the easiest ways to boost the authority of your do-follow citation profiles is to link out to them from a guest post or other properties you have control over. One example of this could be linking out to your Bing listing from your Yellowise listing.
Assuming that you want to be more aggressive in promoting your citations and website, you can lean over to the dark side a little and build a higher quantity of links to the do-follow citations. Here are a few ideas for rapidly acquiring links to citation sites:
• Build a private blog network
• Rent links on a PBN
• Find and Register expired Web 2.0 Sites
• Use GSA Search Engine Ranker
Regardless of the method you choose, increasing the authority of your do-follow citations will be very beneficial to your local SEO efforts. As links are built to your citations the Page Authority will increase and much of that authority will be passed along to your primary website.
What about Topical Relevancy?
Great question! There are a couple of ways to increase the topical relevancy while boosting authority. One of the easiest ways is to search for niche specific citation sites that allow followed links. This will send a signal to Google that your site is about a certain topic. The other way to boost topical relevancy is by including themed PBNs or Web 2.0 sites into the equation. In order to do this all you need to do is create niche specific sites and link them to your citation sites. You can them build authority boosting links to your niche sites and your citations simultaneously.
One often overlooked factor that is very helpful in ranking locally in the number of reviews. While many people say that incentivizing reviews is not a trustworthy practice, we can all agree that making it as easy as possible for customers to leave a review is a great practice. One great tip I read in the comments of another post mentioned segmenting customers who have a Gmail address and sending them a request to leave a review on Google for you since you know that already have an account.
You could take the time to find out which of your customers are on Yelp, Angie’s List, etc., and make custom emails asking them for reviews on the site they already use. While the concept is pretty simple, it has been proven time and time again that the easier and more personalized you make it, the more people will respond. You should devote a certain percentage of your marketing time each week to reaching out to customers for reviews.
It will not only help your rankings but it can also boost your click through and conversion rates. There are also several services you can use to buy fake reviews for your business. While this may work for SEO, I strongly discourage doing so because these services mislead your potential customers and in my opinion, are highly unethical.
Through countless personal tests, I have seen a correlation between increased social signals and improved rankings. I suggest that you work to get social signals to your primary website as well as the do-follow citation sites.
As I have been saying for quite some time, even if the social share results indirectly into a link or maybe just some referral traffic, it is worthwhile still. While the quality of content your primary website paired with outreach and social promotion should get social signals rolling in for your main website, promoting your profiles socially can be a bit more challenging. In order to save time and focus on more important aspects of your business, outsourcing social signals for your citations is often a wise decision. One of my personal favorites for this task is the social signal package on Fiverr offered by CrorkService (note: I have no affiliation with the seller other than having used his services on several occasions).
As you can see, there is a lot of work involved in ranking a site in the local search results. Hopefully the fluff-free guide above will help you eliminate time spent on wasted efforts and help you get the most bang for your buck. If you have any questions or comments about the information covered, please leave them in the comments below and I will be happy to answer them for you.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share with your friends!
Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a digital marketing agency specializing in search engine optimization. If your business is ready for more leads and sales, it’s time to get #stellarized. Connect with him on Twitter @theseoproz or Facebook.