Search Engine Optimization is an integral part of any effective content marketing or inbound marketing strategy. The basic principles of SEO – that is, making your content relevant and contextual – are crucial to getting your content, and ultimately your business, found online. For local businesses, all of the best practices of SEO generally still apply, including the usual on-page factors and link building. Those are very broad categories that are outside of the scope of this post.
To complicate matters, however, local SEOs have to consider a variety of other factors as well.
Local SEO expert David Mihm has said that, at least for the local space, the citation is the new link. Citations differ from links in that they need not contain an actual link, but can simply be a mention of the business’s name, address, phone number or web address, or a combination thereof. The first place to start would be with the IYPs or the Internet Yellow Pages, the data sources that feed Google and other local engines. These include Yelp, Localeze, Infogroup, Acxiom, InsiderPages, Merchant Circle… and a ton more, I’m sure (the primary local data providers are Localeze, Infogroup, and Acxiom – if you’re feeling intimidated, start with those three). The consistency and accuracy of the information in these databases sends as a positive signal to Google that you are, in fact, a real business.
Additionally, Google appears to not only look at links and citations from the IYPs and major data providers, but also from sites in your specific region or industry. Smaller, lesser known sites matter more in a citation building strategy than in traditional link building, so don’t ignore the low hanging fruit when working in local. A link building strategy that incorporates local and micro-local blogs and directories is a good approach. Also consider searching for sites or directories in your specific industry, or in related industries.
Localize Your Website — and Content
The first thing I want to say is this: put your address and phone number in the footer of your page. You spent all of that time submitting your site to the IYPs and sources above, right? Make sure Google knows your website is associated with your physical address by putting in in the footer. Or somewhere prominent.
Even more importantly, incorporate local content into your blog or content plan. Not only does this provide the search engines with relevant, local keywords, local articles are more likely to garner interest from the community and thus benefit a link or citation building strategy as described above. Make your content stand out so people want to share it!
Title Tags and Anchor Text
While your title tags and anchor text (text that contains a hyperlink to another site) should be written for humans, they are also important places to put keywords, including local keywords. Write compelling website copy, titles and anchor text. And for god sakes, don’t use “click here” or anything equally useless as anchor text. The anchor text you choose gives Google a clue as to what that other page on your site is about.
Of course, all of this should be done as part of a complete on-page optimization plan. Research your keywords using a tool such as Google AdWords, monitor your results and Google Analytics and adjust accordingly. Target long-tail keywords that have lower search traffic, but are easier to rank for.
Do you have any questions about how to rank higher in Google if you’re a local business? Are you using any strategies not mentioned above? Leave a comment!