Six months ago Google changed the Local Search algorithm and it’s crucial for your business to learn about it.
Google changed the algorithm to combat spam and reward websites that have a strong online presence. Greg Shuey, vice president of client services, will discuss how this change affects your business, and how to increase your website revenue through local search engine marketing.
There are over 10 billion unique Internet searches done each month:
- 40% of the searches are looking for local companies
- 5% use the city and/or state name
- 2% use informal terms, like neighborhoods
- 0.5% use zip codes
Learning how local search works will enable you to gain the strongest possible presence for your business- leading to more website visitors and more customers.
View our webinar to learn how to get more website traffic and convert your website visitors into buyers.
[link to proper YouTube webinar]
Pat: Greetings, everyone. Thank you for joining us for the SEO.com webinar today. We have a great presentation planned with Greg Shuey, the Vice President of Client Services at SEO.com. He is here with us today to talk a little about local search. How are you doing today, Greg?
Greg: I’m doing great, Pat. Thanks a lot.
Pat: I know you have a pretty meaty presentation planned today, so I think we should get right to it. Why don’t you set this up a little bit? Tell us what you’re going to be discussing.
Greg: Today, we’re going to be talking about local search marketing, and in particular, some major problems that hinder the ability of small businesses to rank well in the local search results. So, unless Pat has anything else to say, let’s dive right in.
Pat: Let’s dive right in. I know you have a lot to talk about, today.
Pat: What’s going on here? I was wondering about that.
Greg: In my opinion, many people trying to rank well in the local search results oftentimes feel like this guy right here: ripping their hair out and trying to figure out what the problem is and why they can’t outrank their competitors. I’m wondering if this is how most of the people on this webinar are feeling when they think about local search marketing—when they hear the words “local search marketing”—if it’s just a nightmare for them. So, I thought that was kind of a fun graphic.
Pat: It looks like at least one member of the audience agrees and can relate.
Greg: Amen to that. That’s what Patty says.
Pat: Thanks, Patty.
Greg: Basically, is this what you’re thinking where you should be? This is what’s called the “seven pack” in the search results, and this is where businesses want to be so they can get the most visibility for the keywords that they’re targeting. This slide—I don’t know if he’s listening—is actually dedicated to our president, Ash Buckles, because he absolutely hates how many arrows I use in my slides, so I overdid it on this one for him.
Pat: Trying to please the boss as usual, Greg.
Greg: Trying to please the boss. Anyway, this is where you want to be to have that visibility in the online search and be able to get clickthroughs, visibility, and customers coming to your business. This is our goal, right here, is the “seven pack.”
Pat: What does it take to get to that “seven pack?” I guess that’s what you’re going to discuss here.
Greg: That’s what we’re getting to. This is a typical Google Places page. I did a search for dentists in Cedar Hills, UT, and this is what they look like, right? A lot of times, this is what yours might look like if you’re a local business trying to optimize for the local search, and you just can’t rank.
You’re thinking, “What am I doing wrong? I think I’m doing everything right. I’ve got my business name in there, my address, my phone number, a link to my website, it looks like I’m categorized properly, I’ve got a nice description…. Why in the heck am I not ranking? Why is this not working for me?” That’s a question that lots of local businesses and small businesses have, not only here in Utah, but across the country and around the world. “What am I doing wrong? Why is this not working?”
So, like I said when we began, we’re going to discuss some big problems that small and local businesses are encountering—things that are hindering their progress and making them unable to compete in the local search landscape.
Greg: So, to get started, here are the three big problems that we’re going to discuss today. The first one is what’s referred to as NAP: the business name, address, and phone number. If you don’t have your NAP standardized across all of the locations of the web, you’re going to have a heck of a problem on your hand. We’ll get into that more in just a minute.
Greg: The second big problem that businesses are encountering is what is called “citations.” How many other websites out there on the Internet are talking about my business and referencing the NAP? Some of those just come with time and age, and some have to be built. The more citations you have, the more credible you look. I’m probably going too deep right now. We’re going to get more into that in just a minute as well.
Pat: Excellent. I think that’s something people have a lot of questions about, probably.
Greg: Yeah, for sure. The last big problem is reviews. How do I get more reviews on my Google Places page and everywhere else across the Internet to help boost my credibility in the eyes of the search engines and particularly Google? So, we’re going to talk about those three today, how we can overcome those, and hopefully get you moving in the right direction.
- Do not focus exclusively on your Google Places page (or Yahoo! and Bing local listings).
- Standardize your NAP (including abbreviations) across all online locations where you information can be found in order to look more credible, beginning with your own website.
- Build a separate Places page for each location of your business.
- Mark your website with the proper tags or “schemas”—HTML codes that search engines recognize as indicating a local business. These are not yet affecting rankings, but they soon will.
- Especially make sure your data is correct with these major data providers: Infogroup, Acxiom, or Localeze. These providers feed data to countless other online sources. If you update your data with these providers, they will push the correct data to other online sources.
- You also want to keep an eye on Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com, and Universal Business Listings. Sometimes they get data from the big three providers, but often they just stick with their own and you have to update them separately.
- Just as links build credibility for websites, citations build credibility for place pages. They are external web pages that reference your NAP. Eight good sources for citations are: Yelp, Judy’s Book, Merchant Circle, Insider Pages, Kudzu, City Squares, BOTW Local, and Hot Frog. You should build legitimate profiles on each of these pages.
- Reviews are a huge deal for rankings because they’re hard to get. Reviews build trust with search engines and potential (and current) customers. Make certain you always ask for reviews and make it easy for customers to review you.
- Ask for reviews at the point of the sale or service, on the receipt, on your website, or by email. Use an incentive (such as a discount) to encourage them to give you their email address so you can ask them for reviews via email.
- Tailor your emails specifically to the big email providers so you can send them directly to your Google Places page or Yahoo Local Listing without sending them to a login screen. That helps to encourage reviews.