Local SEO Tips for 2018
Local SEO strategies are changing all the time as Google changes up their algorithm to show local search results from Google Maps. You can see the 20 local SEO tips from last year below this updated section. I’d like to start off this year with where I see local SEO heading in 2018 and the tips you need to know to get found fast in Google Maps and grow your business.
Local SEO Tip 1: City Pages
City Pages are how your business gets found in surrounding cities.
When it comes to local SEO for Google Maps, you can only optimize the local where you have a verified Google My Business listing. This is the address and city where your physical office is located.
But what about getting found in surrounding cities or markets?
This is where City Pages come in to help your business get found in surrounding metro areas.
City Pages will only apply to the organic search results in Google. However, an overwhelming number of people in any city will still look to the organic search results to find what they are looking for.
To clarify the difference between Google Maps search results and organic search results, here’s a couple of screenshots that should help:
Local SEO Tip 2: Integrate Location Signals
For example, let’s say you are a car accident lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia with a verified GMB listing that has an Atlanta address. However, you want to also get found by people in Marietta, Georgia who are searching for a Marietta car accident lawyer.
So you would have a City Page targeting Marietta Car Accident Lawyer, and within that City Page, you would integrate location signals.
Again, location signals are data points that help “signal” to Google the targeted metro area within your page.
Using Marietta, Georgia as the example, location signals would consist of data points such as:
- top rated restaurants
- bars & pubs
- school districts
Basically any landmark or geographic data point that’s specific to your targeted metro area.
After you list out some of your location signals within your City Page, you want link out directly to the landmark websites.
And I strongly recommend ‘do-follow’ing’ those links.
A lot of people get hung up on whether they should ‘do follow’ or ‘no follow’ their outbound links.
I’m of the opinion that ‘do follow’ outbound links gives your website a more healthy, natural presence in search and shows that you are willing to link out to great resources.
And this healthy, more natural presence through the use of ‘do follow’ outbound links gives your City Page more credibility… and more credibility leads to higher rankings, more traffic, and ultimately more customers.
Learn more: What are City Pages?
Local SEO Tip 3: Verify your Google My Business listing.
Before you can compete in Google Maps, your must have a verified Google My Business listing for your business. This verified listing must reflect your business’s address and location to include business hours, local phone number, and link to your website. If you are restaurant, you can even include links to your menu. If you are a business that accepts appointments, you can include links to where customers schedule appoints.
The key to a successful Google My Business listing is having complete and accurate information about your business. If the information is not accurate, or your GMB listing is incomplete, then your business presence in search could suffer due to a lack of relevance.
Here’s a couple of ways you can go about verifying your Google My Business listing, with one of these being released just last year.
- Verify your GMB listing via the verification post card. Here’s a simple guide showing you how to use the post card verification method.
- Verify your GMB listing via video. Video verification was released last year as a way to verify your Google My Business listing, you can see how this is done here.
Local SEO Tip 4: Publish Google Posts in your Google My Business profile.
Google launched a new product for Google My Business owners back in June 2017 called Google Posts. Think if this as a way for GMB owners to post updates and information about their business directly in their Google My Business account. These new Google Posts will appear in the SERP results along your Google My Business listing and are great way to communicate with your audience and customers.
One of the most creative ways I’ve seen businesses use Google Posts is by posting reviews from customers. You can simply copy the Google reviews from your GMB listing, and republish them as a Google Post.
Other great Google Post ideas are to publish events. Although normal Google Posts will expire after 7 days, event posts will live on until the end date of your event. Events are the one exception to the Google Post expiration time frame.
Local SEO Tip 5: Citation distribution across authoritative channels
Google looks at the volume, authority, and consistency your citations across the web as a means to determine your rankings in Google Maps / Google local search. A citation is simply a published version of your business name, address, phone #, and website URL. However, the data used your Google My Business listing is the base citation that Google uses to determine consistency. If you have citations published throughout the web that do not match your GMB listing data, you will be creating large scale inconsistencies that can negatively impact your rankings and presence in local search.
On the other hand, if you distribute an accurate representation of your citations across authoritative channels, you’ll achieve large scale consistency and authority which will come back to deliver higher rankings in Google local search for competitive, high value keyword phrases.
A few citation services we recommend are Moz Local for data aggregator distribution, Yext for one to one citation distribution, and Whitespark for vertical and location specific citation distribution. The more authoritative your citation portfolio, the more likely you are to compete and get found in the local search results for high impact keyword phrases.
I’ll continue to add more local SEO tips for 2018 here. For 20+ local SEO tips from 2017, continue reading below.
Local SEO Tips for 2017
The ultimate list of local SEO tips (2017 edition) to boost your presence and rankings in Google local search and Google Maps search results.
Here’s a list of local SEO tips to help your business account for the trend of localization in search, and to begin improving your rankings and presence in Google local search results. The local SEO tips below are not listed in any particular order. I just started writing until I’ve felt confident the best local SEO tips were presented and (hopefully) easy to digest. For a more in depth strategy session on each of these local SEO tips, perhaps I’ll follow up with a deeper dive into each one individually.
But for now, let me start with a comprehensive list of the best local SEO tips!
20 Local SEO tips for 2017 to increase your rankings in Google local search
Tip 1 – Use LOTS of images.
Adding a lot of images to your GMB (Google My Business listings) will increase actions on your listing easily by a factor of 10x. Actions = authority, and authority = rankings.
Images dramatically increase engagement on your local Google business page from mobile devices. People who find your local Google business page via mobile will find it easy to open your photos and swipe through. And on mobile, someone can swipe through hundreds of photos on your GMB listing in a matter of minutes.
The Google My Business platform has recently upgraded their photo management section, and it now looks something like this:
Tip 2 – Create a virtual tours.
Perhaps the only thing that can generate more actions on your Google business listing than images are virtual tours. The rise of popularity in virtual reality will only increase in importance of providing virtual tours of your local business.
Tip 3 – Generate more “time on site” opportunities.
Understand that Google’s ranking algorithm favors relevance and authority, and the more time someone stays on your listing, the more authority you’ll build into your Google business listing.
Tip 4 – Use videos, images, and virtual tours for “time on site”.
Creating more interactive media content such as videos, images, and virtual tours will help you boost the “time on site” metric A LOT!
Tip 5 – Create a strong “About” section.
It’s a bit obscure now, but you can edit / create an about section for your GMB listing by first going to aboutme.google.com/, and then appending your GMB / Google Maps ID to the end of the forward slash. You get your GMB ID by visiting your listing in Google Maps and grabbing the long numbered portion of the URL only. Then add that page ID to the end of the about URL.
Tip 6 – Use niche category in title.
if your main business category isn’t available, include your niche category in the title tag of your GMB listing.
Tip 7 – Include tags.
in the “aboutme” description section of your GMB listing (see tip #5 above), included a section called “Tags”, and then list a bunch of your most optimal and related keyword phrases for your local business.
Tip 8 – Link to sub-pages.
in the “about” description section of your GMB listing (see tip #5 above), create anchor text links pointing out to sub pages with your website. For example, if you are plastic surgeon, link “face lift” out to your Face Lift specific landing page within your website.
Tip 9 – Create Citations.
Citations are the presence of your business name, address, and phone # published on the web (otherwise called NAP). Increase the relevance and volume of citations to improve your local rankings (check out Moz Local as a start).
Tip 10 – Create exact match NAP citations.
When creating your citations, it’s CRITICALLY important that every one matches your GMB / Google Maps listing. Even the slightest discrepency can create volatility and dilute the relevance of your local business data, and in turn your local rankings in Google Maps.
Tip 11 – Publish citations in niche directories.
Find directories to your specific metro area, and your specific industry, to get highly targeted NAP citations published.
Tip 12 – Include Schema on your website.
When you publish your NAP citation on your website, wrap your NAP in Schema language. I recommend using JSON – LD to create Schema for your website.
Tip 13 – Create City Pages.
Create city specific landing pages within your website. We call these city pages, and they help give your business a high level of relevance and authority for your targeted location.
Tip 14 – Add your city page URL in your GMB listing.
In your GMB listing, you have the option to link to a URL. Make sure the URL you use is the most relevant landing page for your business and geo-targeted area. This is not necessarily always going to be your homepage.
Tip 15 – Embed your GMB listing.
Embed your Google maps business listing (GMB) into your city specific landing pages. It’s also valuable, for some businesses, to embed your Google local listing map into the footer of your website.
Tip 16 – Use Schema on your website.
Include another instance of your NAP citation on your city specific page, but wrap it in Schema language (see the JSON – LD comment above).
Tip 17 – SEO for City Pages.
Add your targeted metro area as the first instance in the title tag of your city page.
Tip 18 – Link from city page to GMB listing.
Within your city page, make sure to include a link directly to your GMB listing. This is also accomplished when you embed your GMB listing directly into your city page (see point #15 above).
Tip 19 – Start a blog.
Start a business blog and write about local news and information relevant to your targeted metro area, and share your content across all social media platforms, including your GMB listing.
One of the latest updates to Google My Business is the ability to add a Post. You can read more about Google My Business Posts in this quick overview we put together. In summary, anytime you create a new blog post on your website, you can share that blog post, including a link to the post, as a new update on your GMB listing as a Post.
New blog posts will help you get higher rankings in Google local / Google Maps because each time you publish fresh content, Google will come back to your website to crawl and index that new content. This helps to build domain authority within your website. And since your website (typically your homepage) is listed as the landing page URL of your Google My Business listing, this domain authority contributes to building location authority.
And the more location authority your GMB listing has, the higher you’ll rank in Google local search results (or Google Maps), and the more productivity you’ll get from your listing in the form of phone calls, direction requests, and visits to your website.
Tip 20 – Get reviews.
Over 88% of consumers trust reviews as a resource when deciding what business to buy from or hire. One of the fastest ways to generate reviews is to send an email to recent customers or clients asking for a review and including a link directly to your GMB listing.
The relevance of local search has been perpetuated by the explosive use of mobile phone usage. Google will show local search results even when you search a word or phrase previously considered a global search phrase (just type the word ‘lawyer’ into your Google search app on your phone and see what you get).
As such, because of the influence of localization in search, and the fact that over half of all searches are now being conducted via mobile phones, now is the time for every business – large, small, local, global, etc… – to start implementing effective local SEO strategies to get found in Google.
The process surrounding local SEO can be confusing for many business owners. And again, it doesn’t matter if you are a large corporation, a mid size SMB, or a small local business, the traffic and exposure to your business via search is being impacted by localization.
It’s amazing to think how influential mobile and local search has become for every business. The truth is, the majority of your customers are nearby and on their mobile phones. All of this puts a premium on being found in the top local search results, which is achieved when you have a strong local SEO campaign.
The local SEO tips above are a starting point for you to generate more calls and customers for your business.
Finally, here’s some stats to get you motivated to implement some, or all, of the local SEO tips above:
- Local based searches lead over 50% of mobile visitors to visit a store (or place of business) within one day of searching
- Over 60% of consumers use local ads
- Over 88% of consumers trust reviews to help buying decisions
- Business address / exact location is the #1 piece of information local searchers are seeking
- Photos on your Google business listing generate at least a 10x factor of engagement vs. any other element
- 18% of local searches lead to a sale conversion within one day
- over 50% of mobile users prefer a mobile browser to an app
- The #1 ranked business gets 33% of the search traffic and engagement
- Google, by default, uses the location of the person searching to influence the search results
Let me know if you have any questions or comments on the local SEO tips above!
Or if you need help with local SEO for your business, get in touch with us here.