A guest post from Stuart McHenry
For those that do not have experience in local SEO, it can be a difficult switch from typical optimization techniques, especially for those that are used to non-local search engine optimization. Many local factors are taken into account when ranking a site for city related keywords that are just not present in typical search engine optimization on a national scale. Below are a few techniques that you should employ when preforming local SEO.
Local citations are the foundation of most local optimization efforts. Local citations refer to local business directories and business listings, such as Yellow Pages and other local directories. This is a good indicator that your website is for a legitimate business, and being listed in as many of these directories can have a profound effect on your rankings.
These citations are not only going to help you to achieve higher rankings, but also provide you with multiple avenues in which potential clients can find your business. Local business listings can provide you with a huge surge in traffic after you are able to gain listings. Start by targeting the larger, well known business directories since they are most often crawled by Google and provide the largest benefit.
You should attempt to encourage as many of your customers as you can to leave reviews online after doing business with your company, whether positive or negative. Reviews are a sign to Google that you are an actual place of business, and not just a website. Reviews also allow you to give a positive impression to potential customers about your business and the services that you provide. If you provide a solid service, your reviews will be overwhelmingly positive, which not only will help you pre-sell customers, but will also have a positive effect on your local search engine rankings.
Addresses and Phone Numbers
Google also checks to make sure that sites that are ranking well for local terms have addresses and phone number that match the locality in which they are trying to rank for. Google actually takes the address listed on your website, and matches it to the location of the city center in an effort to gauge the locality of your website to the keywords that you rank for. This is to keep non-local websites from ranking for local keywords, which could potentially cheapen the experience of the user who is searching for local businesses. Not having a local mailing address could potentially keep you from ranking for local keywords.
Another excellent method for local link building is the use of local organizations. Local organizations like your chamber of commerce and other business related organizations can provide a huge benefit in local search engine optimization, and also help you to network with other related businesses in your industry. Many of these organizations will link to the businesses that have maintained membership, which can provide you with a high quality link from an authority in your local community, which is hugely beneficial for optimization.
One aspect of local optimization that many businesses owners overlook is the power of networking. Getting to know other business owners in your locality can help you to build relationships, which can result in links to your website, and help your local rankings. By working with other business owners in your area, and developing relationships with them, it can have lasting positive effects on your search results.
Local search engine optimization can be very different from non-local SEO, but the same basic principles apply. Instead of focusing so much on industry-specific links, the focus is placed on locality and local factors.