SEO HOW-TO: Local Search Engine Optimization in 5 Key Steps!

 In Online Reputation, SEO/SEM, Web Marketing

Hey guys, Nate Stockard here with Blue Atlas. We’re going to kick off a SEO How-To series for the next four weeks. Today we’re bringing you local SEO, local Search Engine Optimization. I’ve got five key things, five key steps that you can do yourself right now to optimize your business, your location and everything for local search engine optimization. Why is local SEO important? First of all local SEO affects a lot of things. One, it effects the maps, so if somebody is searching for your business and searching for either your business or business keywords in a map, you’re going to come up if you’re locally optimized.

Second, is when somebody is searching for those keywords on a desktop, they’re pounding away and they search, you’ll come up in the map pack. It’s what we call the map pack. If you ever do a search and you see a map, it has a bunch of pins above the regular organic listings, that’s because of local search engine optimization. We could talk for days and days on this, but what I’m trying to give you today are five key steps that you can do immediately to drastically improve that.

Just by taking these steps and doing these things, you will see a massive improvement because a lot of your competitors are not doing it. They don’t understand the steps that it takes, they think that you just magically show up in the maps and they have no idea how this works. You’re getting some of the insider information. Things that we do for our clients on a local optimization basis, doing these five key steps. We do a lot more, but like I said, this is something that you can do. Anybody watching right now can do for their business, optimize, and be in a much better place in the maps and on the desktop searches and everywhere else if somebody’s searching for you as a local business.

Relevancy and Correctness

The first thing is local places and it’s your local listings. Google is all about relevancy and how they determined that relevancy and correct results. They want to give their users the best that they can give. In order to do that, Google uses local profiles such as my business account, Yelp, Citysearch, Bing, any of these places that you can have a local profile for your business, they use these to verify if your information is correct. They go out and they find, I’ll say, 10 different profiles and there’s 10 different addresses on each of those different profiles. Google is not really sure which one to show, and they don’t want you to make them look stupid.

What they’re going to do is like, “Okay, well, all these things are different. We’re not going to rank you at all.” If they go find 10 different profiles and they’re all correct, they go, “Hey, this information’s correct. These guys are an ice cream shop right in the middle of, say, Rice village in Houston. Hey, maybe we should probably list those.” Your first key step is capture your local profiles and make sure all the information is the same. There are hundreds possibly thousands of local profiles, but there’s about 40 to 60 that are popular enough that Google utilizes in order to be able to rank you and to show you locally within the maps and the map pack that we talked about.

I will give you just a few real quick rundown of some that you should capture real quick. Google, Bing, Citysearch, yp.com, Insider Pages, Judy’s Book, Kudzu, Localeze, Yelp. Those are just a few and you can pretty much put all those in dot coms and you can get to them. You can actually do a search for local directory. You can even do a search for, say, local, say you’re a home construction business, local home construction directory. Capture these local profiles, populate them with the exact same information. Basically you’ve told Google, “Hey, this is where our business is. This is our information, it’s all correct. Please take advantage of this and rank me.”

Keeping Your Company Information Up To Date

That moves into our next step. If you’ve got these profiles created, particularly the Google my business profile, which if you’ve been following it and if you have one, you’ve probably received some emails. There’s a lot of changes happening with the Google My Business and Google Plus Integration and those things, but one of the key things that you need to do with your profiles is update them consistently. Things like pictures, logos, videos. There’s now status updates on quite a few of the profiles. Google My Business, you can do posts, you could do specials for your business, “Hey, you want to run a special this weekend.”

You can definitely put out this information within your post. “Hey Sarah, thanks for joining us and thanks for watching today.” Utilize the profile and updating those, because Google has always been about, “What have you done for me lately?” If you haven’t updated your content, haven’t updated anything recently, they’re like, “Well, maybe you don’t care about us, so we don’t care about you.” They’re reciprocal with that. The more that you update, the more that they say, “You care about your profile.” Because they want to show users the most relevant information, they’re going to show people profiles that have updated recently. Put those specials and those things out there for you.

Consistent Reviews

Next up, reviews. I’m sure by now you utilize reviews on map listings, and before you’re about to order pizza, before you’re about to buy shoes, before you’re about to really do anything nowadays, we utilize reviews. You may be using Google, you may be using Yelp. There’s a wide variety of places out there that users are utilizing reviews to make a determination if they want to actually do business with that business. That’s the user’s side of things but since we’re talking about search engine optimization, how do we optimize for search engines? Rankings are extremely important. They’re extremely important, especially to Google. They’re going to utilize that once again, “What have you done for me lately? Well, these guys haven’t had a review in a year. Maybe people don’t even visit them, we don’t know. Let’s not give them any benefit of that.” Hey, they’re just piling on the reviews, hopefully all good five star reviews. They’re piling on the reviews.

These guys are relevant. People are visiting them. If other people are visiting, you probably as a user who’s searching right now, probably wants to visit them as well. Reviews are extremely important. One from the search engine’s perspective, other from the user’s perspective, because people are using reviews to determine, “Hey, I want to order some new pizza tonight. I’m really tired of ordering dominoes and a couple of other places I usually order from, let me try somewhere new. Oh, hey, here’s some local places. The reviews are good. I’ll order the pizza. The reviews are bad. I won’t. They don’t have any reviews. I’m not really sure yet.”

You’re going to help your users out and you’re going to help the search engines, especially Google out if you have a lot of reviews. Get your customers leaving reviews, get creative, do whatever you can. You’re not supposed to pay people for reviews. That’s against Google’s Terms of Service, but get creative in reminding customers, email follow-up talking about pizza, after you’re through ordering them a pizza and you get the confirmation, make sure you got a link in there to help people get reviews for you. Help people get reviews on not just Google, but Yelp, Facebook, Google, any of the profiles that you can.

Keep Website Up To Date

Next is your website. Your website has got to be up to date. I know we’re talking about your profile listing on Google, your Google My Business, but when we talk about local SEO, a lot of people don’t pay attention that the website does affect your local search engine optimization, because Google is going to link it back to your website. “Okay, well, they’re not updating their website, I’m not really sure if I should show them in the maps because they don’t care about me, I don’t want to care about you.” It works the same way. Make sure you’re keeping your website up to date.

Real quick note, make sure that the information we talked about earlier in those profiles, make sure that it’s the exact same information, what’s called your NAP, name, address, phone number. Make sure that all of that matches what’s on your website. If it doesn’t match, Google says, “Hey, I think you’re trying to game me a little bit. Once again, we’re not going to show you.”

If you do anything that might make Google look stupid, they’re going to take advantage of that and push you to the side, so help link it all up, make it really simple, because at the end of the day, it’s just a computer figuring all this stuff out anyway, it’s not like there’s somebody going, “Hey, we like this pizza place, let’s rank them.” It’s a computer. Help the computer figure it out and match up everything. On top of that, make sure you’re updating your website, blogs, videos, images, anything that you can put out there to keep yourself relevant and new.

There’s a whole slew of things that we could recommend. We’ll save that for another time, we could recommend on how to optimize yourself a little bit more for local content, local information, but ultimately, make sure all your information is right and update something on your website. I’d recommend a blog or something that you can keep up to date talking about things that are local, that are happening, talk about your specials, talk about anything that’s going on, even you B2B guys out there, you want to keep your website up to date.

If you don’t update your website, even as B2B, people are still searching via the maps and it comes down to some of the keyword searches that not necessarily you want to drop somebody into your location. You still want them to show up. If you sell, let’s say, pipe, Houston pipe supplier, you don’t want people to necessarily show up until they’re ready to come to pick up their pipe, maybe, but you want to show up when somebody’s googling Houston pipe supplier. This same stuff applies to you. It’s not just about selling pizzas or getting people to walk in for ice cream, it works for B2B as well.

Updating Social Media

The very last step I’m going to give you that I think everyone’s probably taking advantage of this, but maybe not considering it from a business perspective is your social media updates. If you go through the massive amount of ranking factors that go into the algorithms, especially for Google, there’s a whole lot of them, but a lot of them are centered around social media. Keep your social media up to date, keep your business page going, keep all of the information that you can put into your page, constant updates. You don’t have to live on social media, but get yourself into a regular posting strategy of something that’s related to your business on your business page.

This is also another place as you’re looking at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, any of those, make sure your address, name, address and phone, your NAP matches those as well. That’s very important. That’s another one of those factors that Google and the other search engines are going to use. They’re going to compare your Facebook and everything else to pull together so that they all match up. Make sure that you’re using social media just as an extra little factor to tie all of that together. I will recap real quick. I did have a question pop up and I’m going to answer in just one second, but make sure you tie those five together.

Closing: Claim your local profiles and update consistently

To summarize, make sure you get your profiles in order, get any of the local profile that you possibly can, make sure you’re updating those profiles consistently, make sure you’re posting reviews, make sure your website is updated and your social media updates are happening. We click right here to see a little bit more here. What do I do as a business from home with my address, is it relevant that I don’t have the street number in my NAP? There’s a lot of different directions with this. I hope my phone hadn’t turned here. There’s a lot of different elements involved with this.

You need an address. You can’t verify a business address if you don’t have the full address. It’s a little bit of a factor. How do you actually position that? If you don’t have a physical address, you can’t get the postcard. It turned sideways here, sorry guys. Rotate my phone, rotate it back. All right. Still sideways. Come on, guys. Come on phone. My phone is not happy with me. There we go, is this any better? I don’t think so.

Let me answer your question real quick. Sarah, using your business from your home address. My recommendation is that you actually get an address. There’s a sneaky little way that you can get an address especially if you have one. You could utilize a mailbox. I don’t mean a post office box. I don’t mean the post office box. If you go to the post office, the post office will not allow you to say anything other than P.O. Box, but let’s say you go to the UPS store and you get a mailbox, they’re going to have a physical road address. Then they’re going to have a number that’s actually your mailbox number. Some of them may have some weird numbers like street address dash your number, but you’re able to use utilize that as a physical address.

I will tell you Google doesn’t necessarily like you using mailboxes but if you just have one, it’s not a bad thing. Take your one, get that address, then you can have a physical address that you can mail a postcard to. The reason why that’s important is you need a physical address that Google can verify for your google my business so that they can rank you, because otherwise, if you don’t have an address and you have say Houston, Texas listed, they’re not going to rank you because they don’t know exactly where you are. They feel like you’re gaming them a little bit.

You’re going to have to have a physical address. I’d recommend getting some type of address that’s not necessarily home address. I’ve seen plenty of businesses that have used their home address, but at the same time when you see the home address pop up, you google them, it’s got a picture of their house. You’re like, “I don’t know if I want to show up at their house.”

I would highly recommend getting some type of address that you can use. There’s also executive suites and places like that that will allow you to use them as a mailing address so that could be your physical address. That way you do have a physical address, because you’re going to need that for your Google listings in a lot of the profiles. All right, guys, I think we’ve covered the five steps as getting yourself set up for your local SEO. I’m going to check out here but check in next week, we’ll have the second part of our four-part series of how to for SEO. Thank you for tuning in today, Nate Stockard here with Blue Atlas.

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