The Best Local SEO Articles We’ve Ever Shared
41 Things to do to Rank Better for Local SEO
how do you rank higher on Google Maps and Google local search results? Improving your local search rankings is possible, and the results are very real. A Google study found that:
- 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information.
- 50 percent of local smartphone searches lead to a store visit in less than a day.
- 18 percent of local searches on a smartphone result in a sale within a day.
Useful if you’ve got a local biz and you’re looking for to up your game (or if you’ve got a VA with extra time).
Go to the full post to see commentary on each item, but here is the slide deck (from Clay’s Pubcon presentation)
When (online) Webmaster Guidelines Shape Offline Businesses
Q: How do you end up with a business named “Custom Signs Near Me Denver?”
A: Google Local guidelines state:
“Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers. Accurately representing your business name helps customers find your business online.”
And we know that exact match still carries value as a ranking factor…
So when you want to stay above-board but also get those sweet sweet organic clicks, you end up with this:
Good post. Many more examples of businesses doing things to rank well in the local results.
Proximity as a Ranking Factor
A recent Moz production (coinciding with their Mozcon/Local U) was a Local SEO Ranking Factor Survey.
The winning (a.k.a. most important) ranking factor in 2017 was…
What does this mean for you and your local business:
Your local SEO game might be top notch, but all the link building, co-citation, and meta description optimizing in the world may not help you if your competitor is closer in physical distance to the searcher than your business’s location.
But, as this article points out, it’s not the only ranking factor. Not only is it not the only ranking factor, but in looking at the search results, it does not always override other factors:
I think there is only one conclusion; there are other factors that determine what businesses are in which buckets, or even better that there are factors that determine which sub-set of results that Google is then going to order by proximity. Those are things like traditional relevance and prominence signals. Things such as keywords in the business name, links, reviews, and others that you would typically expect to influence search results.
It’s Dead Easy to Tamper With Google My Business Listings
You better check your
self site , before someone wrecks your self site.
How easy is it to suggest a change to a Google local listing and have the change be quickly accepted?
The author of this post made two (approved) edits to his clients’s GMB listings–one to an unclaimed page, and one to the company’s flagship GMB listing, and both were approved.
*Note: he wasn’t logged in as the client, at the time. He just made the changes and they were accepted.
That’s why I’m concerned that this presents a way for some unethical business owners to mess with their local competitors with relative ease. Sometimes, if you’ve got a site with decent link-juice and clean citations, all it takes to “pop” into the Google Maps 3-pack is just to get your landing page URL right. The reverse can happen, too.
Might be a good idea to keep an eye on your listing…
Google My Business Has New Notifications 4 U
You can choose which kinds of Google My Business notifications you receive on your mobile device and in your email inbox. Notifications can help in a variety of ways, like letting you know when customers leave photos or reviews for your business listing, alerting you to product news from Google, and reminding you to keep your listing up-to-date.
Product updates, listing help, customer uploads a photo… you can now let Google deeper into your life with Google My Business (GMB) notifications for a list of things. Click through to see the full set.
Rapid-Fire SEO Insights
Google’s recent local update (Possum) changed 64% of local SERPs
Google to shut down Map Maker, it’s crowdsourced map-making tool.
— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) November 16, 2016
The Impact of Reviews on Google Local
In this post, David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal discuss the increasing impact of reviews in Local SEO.
David and Mike–two super-smart dudes–have some really interested ideas if local SEO is important to your business:
…all of these review sites and pages that are appearing on mobile local results and in the Knowledge Panel seem to be having an impact on local search ranking. Certainly an argument for getting reviews everywhere, and not just Google and Yelp.
This article is actually a part of a series where David and Mike go back and forth on a specific topic. Some good takeaways here, if you’re trying to get ranked locally.
Google Local-Pack: All Ads
Oh no they didn’t!
As many know, Google has been testing their new ad product, Home Service Ads, in the SF Bay area. Last June Google announced at SMX that the future “3 Pack” would include one “sponsored” listing.
Make that all three! We manage the local GMB listing plus AdWords account for a locksmith in Oceanside, CA. Google reached out to him in August to join the program that will be expanded to the greater San Diego market (and others across the US) in November. The program is powered at this point by AdWords Express only.
According to this post in the Local Search Forum, Google is rolling out some good-for-adwords-bad-for-SEO features, like turning the local-pack into the ad-pack:
Perhaps this is related to the “advanced verification” Google announced for plumber/locksmith businesses we mentioned last week (bottom of post). Definitely something to keep an eye on…
Apple Maps Ranking Factors
There are approximately 63 million iPhone users in the US (a.k.a. ~20% of the population), so getting your local biz ranking well on Apple Maps is, you know, something you’ll want to start paying attention to.
Lucky for you, AppleMapsMarketing.com (coming soon: a cease and desist letter from Apple) has a helpful article on what they think are the ranking factors:
• Category relevance to query
• Keyword in business name
• Proximity to searches’ centroid (user’s and/or city’s)
• Yelp & Other Providers’ Meta Data – It’s very unclear how important reviews are for rankings, but they likely affect CTR. Meta data like Price rating, hours, etc are important.
Aside from those helpful, if not obvious ranking factors listed above, the site is quick to point out that Apple Maps doesn’t have IT going on yet.
It = returning relevant results a majority of the time. You’ll still get some wacky, extremely unhelpful results much of the time… like this search for “best hot dog” in Apple Maps:
Apple Maps knows “hot dog” is a restaurant category and brings up a set of hot dog restaurants for the query. It doesn’t understand that “best” is a modifier of “hot dog” so instead it treats it like a business name search and it looks for businesses that have “best” in their names and are in a category related to hot dogs. In this case the two businesses listed are both in the “Sandwiches” category.
But still, put this on your radar and do your best for when it DOES work better. You’ll want to capitalize on that sweet Apple traffic…
A Summary of Local Pack Tests
If there’s one thing Google does consistently, it’s test out SERP features to earn more money.
Can’t really blame them for that…
September saw a lot of tests being done to the local pack, all with SEO/Rank implications if any one of them sticks.
- Distance filter
- Light-blue links
- Ads at the top
- Filter by rating
For now, though, they’re just tests. If your site relies on Google Local for organic traffic, better keep your eyes peeled, so you can move quickly to take advantage of the new features.
As long as they don’t fill the mobile local pack with ads…
Some Guidelines on How to Rank for Near Me Queries
YOU THOUGHT WE WERE FINISHED?!!
Now that we know Google is interested in “near me” queries, Yoast has our backs with a post on how to optimize for that valuable (and variable) keyword.
- Add NAP details to your site
- Add those exact NAP details to your Google My Business page
- Use schema.org markup on your site
- Get positive reviews
Kind of some “no duh” stuff there, but it’s (no longer) surprising to see all the sites that neglect these details and try to rank for local keywords.
Basically, Google is trying to offer more relevant results to someone searching for “service/product near me,” so really nailing down your location and making your NAP (name, address, phone number) really visible on your site is important to take advantage of the opportunities here.
Everything You Need to Know About the Recent Google Local Update
If your rankings went a little nuts around the beginning of September, it’s probably because of a local algorithm update (that everyone is calling Possum. Get it? Because it starts with a P).
So what did this local shake-up involve? I’mma break it down for you (but as always, recommend you click through and read the article yourself.
Knowledge is power (France is bacon).
Business that fall outside the local city limits saw a pretty big boost. This pic sums it up pretty well:
On August 6, they ranked #31 locally for “Home Inspector Sarasota,” and I came to the conclusion that ranking for keywords like that was a lost cause without an address inside the physical city limits. We have lots of clients in this scenario and have seen that even after years of doing the right things, their local ranking just doesn’t budge for those types of keywords.
After the update, their ranking jumped to position 10 (Yes, an increase of 21 positions). We saw the exact same patterns for all other businesses we tracked that fell into this category.
Google is filtering the results based on location and affiliation:
Since this update, we are seeing a lot of businesses filtered out due to the address of the business being the same as another listing in their same category (same type of business).
The location of the searcher matters a lot more now than it did before:
It seems that since this update, it’s more important than ever to make sure the searcher location is set to the right city when tracking ranking.
There are more, but those were the big ones.
Thoughts on the Efficacy of Local Citations
Every SEO knows that if you’re trying to rank locally, your citation game needs to be strong.
In this post, Andrew Shotland of LocalSEOGuide.com provides some really interesting thoughts on how effective local citations are in ranking well.
This suggested to us that citations are a foundational part of a local SEO program — if your citations are borked, it may be affecting your ability to compete in local packs. But citation work is not a competitive advantage in competitive markets. This makes sense, as pretty much every business out there should have a bunch of citations. So fix your citations fast and move on to higher-value work, like getting links.
Basically, if you’re in a competitive niche, trying to rank locally, you simply will not rank well without citations.
Because all of your competitors have their sh*t together where citations are concerned. It’s like, the #1 SEO thing a local business does.
However, if you’re in a not-too-competitive niche, and your competition is lagging on the local citations, then having strong citations will help.
Think of it like this: you need strong citations to even get a seat at the table in competitive niches. Once there, you’ll need to step up and execute some solid SEO.
Local Link Building — Not Just For Local Sites
Theory: local link building not only helps local sites, but non-local sites as well.
Recently, Fishkin did a whiteboard Friday talking about this topic, and some local SEO experts chimed in to back up what he said–with data!
The only tactic performed on this URL over the time period was local link building. You can see how big of an impact this has had for them, on some pretty high volume (and competitive terms), for a single URL.
^ Good stuff.
A Very Curious Local Search Query
This twitter exchange:
Has inspired some really interesting posts and speculation in the world of local SEO, recently.
LocalSEOGuide.com (a really fantastic site) has dug in to this query, and come away with some interesting thoughts:
Close to the city limits, but clearly outside them. Does that mean that ** holds the secret to gaining local organic relevance for cities your aren’t physically located in? Can you use it to break into packs where you aren’t physically located? Who knows! But it’s definitely worth more research.
Check out their full posts for all of their speculation. Pretty interesting stuff…
Why You Should Optimize Your Site for “Near Me” Queries
This will be most helpful for small, local businesses. Here are the benefits summarized:
Overall, our results started to give us the answer that, yes, updating your website and content for the appropriate “near me” phrases can have a positive impact on the impressions and clicks for those phrases. This is just the start for a small business website, as mobile search and search intent will only continue to become more important.
A Different Perspectve: Looking at “Near Me” Queries
Funny how this works out, but the last post in this week’s update is very related to the above post. And this particular post is just the type of content that warms my SEO-heart the most.
Another reason this opportunity is interesting to me is because it doesn’t seem to be taking much to rank.
In two of the search terms above, exact match domains are performing very well with very few backlinks. I’m not going to ‘out’ the sites but they are very easy to find when you start analysing the opportunities here.
Something to think about if your business could benefits from these queries (or if you’re searching for a new niche to go after).
THE Local Citation Stack
Our stack consists of 3 things:
– Moz Local
– Manual citation audit/cleanup/building
The reason for this is pretty simple. Yext & Moz Local are both pretty affordable tools for making waves right away. We can use Yext and get listings corrected and duplicates suppressed within their publishing network in a matter of minutes.
The Local SEO Guide team are super knowledgeable when it comes to local SEO, so when they put up a post like this, it’s best to take notes…
Click through and read the rest if you’re at all involved in local SEO, you (probably) won’t regret it.
How Google Maps a Query to an Entity (for Autocomplete)
Recently, SourceFed did some “hard-hitting” selective research and proclaimed that Google was in Hilldog’s pocket, censoring the autocomplete search function from filling in anything negative relating to FBI inquiries and email etc. etc. (that’s as political as we’re gonna get here).
Here’s the link if you want to go watch that video, and see how a) selectively presenting data can back up a controversial claim, and b) why (if this was true) search engine diversity is such an important thing to have.
As a bonus, you can really see how controversy drives views, as the video is coming up on 1,000,000 views, and got coverage on nearly every big media/news site (Hellooooooo Linkjuice!).
Rhea Drysdale eventually ate their lunch in this Medium post. The whole thing was kind of fascinating to watch, but here’s the real point of this story:
Bill Slawski weighs on on a patent Google was just granted on mapping search queries to a specific subject/entity.
“Hillary Clinton” that used the terms “email charges” rather than “criminal charges” as SourceFed was guessing should be how Google would map the topic of that query. Sourcefed didn’t map out the query the way that Google did, but Google did have autosuggestions that covered that topic. If we compare Google trends information for both terms added to the entity “Hillary Clinton”, those terms seem to be close to each other in regards to how much interest searches appear to have shown for each of those queries:
We’ve previously talked about the importance of keyword intent, and understanding Google’s process for assigning meaning to keywords/phrases is important to understand. Click on through and read the whole article. Slawski is good at breaking complex data down using real-world examples.
Stunning Examples of SPAM in Google Maps
Look, I know it’s a hell of a difficult thing to battle bots, SPAM, and big-dreaming SEOs with lots of time on their hands and creativity on their minds. I feel for Google as much as one guy can sympathize with a multi-billion dollar company, but these examples of rampant spam in the Google Local results is… impressive.
A writer for Search Engine Journal posts some screenshots and examples of the ways people are manipulating the Google My Business listings. Here’s just one:
Google: If you’re reading this, it’s time for you to either get rid of the Google My Business guidelines or actually start enforcing them. Also, when a user takes the time to report spam to you, please actually read the comments, and don’t protect the spam that exists.
A week after the post went live and gained a bunch of attention, a Google spokesperson chimed in on the matter:
As spammers change their techniques, we’re continually working on new, better ways to keep them off Google Search and Maps. There’s work to do, and we want to keep doing better.
Should You Claim a Local Business Listing?
Want that sweet sweet Google.com backlink?
Easy, just make a local business listing and claim it–even if you’re not a local business… right?
As this post explains, this could potentially hurt your organic traffic. If you’re an ecommerce (or other non-local business), claiming a listing could be pretty detrimental.
When it comes to Google’s search results, claiming your local listings can be harmful if you’re not truly a local business. Claiming your local business listings can restrict your website traffic to only visitors from your local area. You could miss out on international visitors, or even visitors from another state in the United States.
Online Scheduling: A Ranking Factor in Local SEO?
Take this all with a grain of salt. These are merely observations of the author, but they are worth paying attention to.
There are a few reasons why online scheduling functionality in Google local results might be (or end up being) a local ranking factor–the strongest of which is:
One thing I’ve noticed is that a business using online scheduling only tends to outrank other businesses if it’s got reviews (Google reviews and others). As with Google Maps driving-direction lookups, a combination of online bookings and an influx of reviews might suggest to Google that customers do business with you and live to tell about it.
Something to keep an eye. I think it’s important to always be looking new possibilities and thinking outside the box–even if it seems kind of crazy. I’ll be paying close attention to see how this unfolds.
Ranking Factors for Google My Business Local
Want to get your site ranked in Google Local?
Google’s got your back. They recently updated the Local guidelines, giving an insight into what it takes to rank.
Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.
Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.
Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results.
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.
Basically, Google is confirming that organic rankings play a role in showing up in the local pack.
Here’s the actual article published by Google, I highly recommend giving it a read if ranking locally matters to your business.
An Introduction to Local Search: 2016
Local search is a monster of a subsection within SEO, and is every bit as complicated and involved as non-local search. This article is a great beginners guide if you’re thinking about branching out into the local SEO.
In addition to all the usual beginner advice you’d expect to find in an article like this, its got some interesting points you may not have thought about at first:
Voice search continues to grow in popularity and usage. This means longer, natural language search queries.
How do you optimize for voice search? Create content that answers those natural language queries, and use those queries as the keywords. Voice search will usually be mobile, so make sure your site is mobile-friendly and that the content for these searches is clear and to the point.
How to Change Your Google Local Location
Recently, Google disabled the ability for users to perform a search as if they were in a different location. Presumably, lots SEOs used this feature for research, but the official party line from Google claims there weren’t enough users to keep this as a search tool.
Go Fish Digital has published a step by step guide for changing your location, but fair warning: it’s not easy. Where before you could change your location in a few clicks, this process has you starting by right-clicking “inspect element” in the search results–and it’s all downhill from there.
The good news is you’ve got a way to perform this search again if it’s critical go your business. The bad news is it’s a pain in the ass.
The next step requires that you open a new tab and load Google Maps. We need to get the latitude and longitude for the location you’d like to search from. In Google Maps search for the city and state of the location you’d like to get local search results. Once you perform the search in Google Maps, look again at the URL and you’ll see the latitude and longitude for your desired location.
What NOT to do re: Local SEO
Local SEO is crazy, but Neil Patel has you covered. In this post he talks about the “pigeon” (local SEO) algorithm update, and has some juicy tips for you. Here are the best ones:
- If you’re in a larger city (with neighborhoods), don’t focus your online marketing efforts and search terms exclusively on your city name, but rather on your neighborhood name.
- Seek to be listed in the directories that are ranking the highest. Often, these are right underneath the local packs.
- When Pigeon occurred, many of the 7-packs dropped to 3-packs. The three remaining listings were presumed to be ranked based on traditional (rather than local) SEO factors.