What is “local SEO?” If you are looking to do local SEO, you could be a dentist trying to own a search radius of a few miles outside of your office or a basement waterproofing company in Michigan trying to dominate the state for each city where you have a location. Here are some things that I have found as a “local seo expert.”
Set Up a Google My Business and Get a Citation Builder
You should set up a Google My Business account. It’s free and it gives you a ranking in the map pack above the organics and below the paid ads. Also, look at a program that builds citations for you. Moz and Bright Local are great for starting and are relatively affordable. These will likely drive 20+% of your local traffic via organic.
Build Location Pages
Depending upon your service area and business model, you should build location pages. I say try and pick the largest cities where you want to rank (or neighborhoods) and build out pages for these. Here are a few things that will help:
- Location in URL
- Try to avoid a parent page structure (instead of /service-areas/basement-waterproofing/new-york, try /basement-waterproofing-new-york) as your URL structure.
- Optimize your meta description – this will help drive click-through rates.
- Have some video and markup for each of your location pages.
- 500 words is great.
- Keep your content simple and readable.
- Don’t get into the trap of writing content for the sake of content.
Create Multiple GMB Profiles for Multiple Locations
If your business has multiple cities, go ahead and make the landing page for your GMB pages be the location page for that particular city. Painting With a Twist is the perfect example of this. For each city where they have Meetup events, they have a GMB landing page with the name of the city.
Take Advantage of “Hidden Addresses.”
If you have a home business, go ahead and take advantage of this. You can set your map listing to show an area around your location and not your physical address.
Pay Attention to Those Title Tags
Those title tags are key. I’m not talking about the basic Keyword in City X | Brand. If you have a ™ or an ® in your business name, go ahead and add this to your title tag. This makes the world of difference when someone is searching and I pretty much guarantee that you will have a CTR of at least 10% based upon the search volume.
Optimize for the Long Tail
Long tail is key and critical to everything. If someone is searching for the long-tail, I am pretty sure that you will find more searches from the (not set) query in Webmaster Tools driving your organic traffic. Here is an example of a great long tail query for one of my past clients: “water in crawl space.” This leads to keyword queries like “standing water in crawl space,” “water in crawl space problems and solutions,” and “water in the crawl space.”
You Need Backlinks – Not a Lot, Just Some
Obviously, those websites with strong first-page dominance for virtually every search term are going to have a lot of backlinks. But you don’t need a ton of backlinks to rank on the first page of Google. If you search for “middle eastern wedding dresses,” you will find that my website ranks #1. I am pretty sure that I have significantly less PA and DA than websites like DH Gate and Ali Express. Inbound Links are only a SMALL part of the ranking factors that drive your ranking profile.
Be Smart and Be Clever When You Buy Your Domain Name
Back in the day, you used to be able to buy an aged domain and pretty much rank for everything that you wanted. Sorry, folks – that day is over. I think that a good SEO strategy always starts when you choose the domain name for your business and the name for a brand. Let’s say that you sell a “cool t-shirts” store or some other type of product. This is not the best example, but you might want a domain name with “cool” in it or “unique.” Don’t by an exact match domain name because it will not help you in the long run.
How Do I Rank For Local Maps?
This one is hard. I think that these are the most important factors:
- On-Page Optimization (Title Tag has the keyword that you want to rank for).
- Domain Authority is a small factor in Local SEO.
- Correct citation across the web (make sure that your phone number is up to date and accurate).
- Maybe consider a specialized landing page for the keyword that you want to rank for on Google Maps.
SEO Is a Lot of Hard Work
If you see someone ranking #1 for something that you want to rank for, you’re going to have to put in a lot of hard work. Even keywords that are “easy” to rank for tend to take a little bit of work. You might want to consider a few backlinks and some unique content so that you can easily rank for these keywords that you want.