Many are confused about the importance of local SEO in a marketing strategy. And even those who are familiar with it often find it difficult to launch an effective local SEO campaign that produces the results they need. This is partly due to the complex algorithm Google uses for their local search engine platform. If you are looking for a way to do local SEO that offers solid results and won’t cost you a fortune, here is a simple to use step by step guide that will help.
First, you need to know whether or not the keywords associated with your business and target audience will trigger the Google local algorithm. For the most part, if you combine a city name plus your keywords, you should trigger the algorithm. However, in some cases this doesn’t work. If your keywords aren’t triggering the algorithm, local SEO isn’t likely to be very successful for you, so spend your time on developing a better global SEO strategy for your business. If you are triggering the local search algorithm, proceed to step two.
Gain a better understanding of your business’s relationship to the city you are trying to rank in. For example, If you are a pizza joint in Houston, you will want to rank well in a Houston search. The Google algorithm always gives preference to businesses based on their physical location. So, a pizza joint that is located closer to the center of downtown Houston will rank higher than yours. Why does this matter? Because, the farther out from the center of the city you are located, the harder it will be for you to rank for that city. This is an especially tough situation to overcome if the industry you represent is highly competitive. So, try to make sure that you are ranking well for the area you are closest to.
Next, it is important to understand your competition. Conduct a local search for businesses using your city and keyword triggers. Write down the name, address, and phone number of the number one business on the list as well as the number seven business on that list. The top seven search results is known as the seven pack and is where you are trying to get your business listed. Now, run a Google search with the name, address, and telephone number of the number one business using quotation marks around the search terms. And then do the same for the number seven business. Then look to see how many search results show up. The number of results that you get will tell you how many online business directories and citations you will need to break into the seven pack. Now, run the same search with your business’s name, address and telephone number to see how many you have. The difference between the number you have and the number the #7 position has will be the number of citations you will need to break into the seven pack.
Now that the research is done, it’s time to go to work. Start adding your business’s profile to relevant business directories. Start with Google Places, Yelp and other highly visible, popular directories and then work your way down. You can grab a listing with your local Chamber of Commerce and other local directories. While getting links is great, the goal here is to create listings. You need quality listings, however, so make sure that you are sticking with directories that cater to your industry and to your city.
Lastly, make sure that ALL of your directory listings, web pages, and other listings have your business’s name, address and phone number listed accurately and exactly the same. Inaccuracies will result in a loss of effectiveness for your local SEO campaign. Even the slightest variable, such as a capitalization in one location and a lower case in another can produce poorer results.