About two months ago, Google rocked the SEO world with one of their biggest “local” algorithm changes to date. From this algorithm change, it is easy to see that Google is working really hard to win the battle against map spam and also working hard to stress the importance of having a strong presence everywhere online, not just the local search arena (Google Places).
This change in the algorithm has negatively impacted many local businesses with little or no online presence except their Place Pages. Many of these businesses thrived on the search traffic driven to their optimized Place Pages, which resulted in phone calls or foot traffic, which in turn increased sales. Today, many of them are left scrambling for a solution that will help them get their revenue from local search back to where it was a few months ago.
Don’t fret small businesses who have been wiped out by this algo update, there are definitely some things you can do today to help get things turned around. Let’s start with five of them.
Put Up A Website & Optimize It For Local Search Queries
If you haven’t noticed, in most cases, the seven pack has been replaced by what is being called the O-Pack (Organic Pack).
This is where Google is putting more emphasis of having a strong presence everywhere online, not just in Google Places. In order to rank well in the O-Pack, you have to have an optimized website that correlates with your Place Page. Each needs to have some credibility and that credibility is gained by link building to your website and building citations to your Place Page. When Google feels each has reached a certain level of credibility, they will “Marry” the two together and rank them in the O-Pack.
Align Contact Data
Keeping your contact data (address & phone number) consistent from your Place Page to your website is a huge factor to ranking well in the local SERPs. There are also many other places on the web where you contact data could be found like the Yelp, Four Square, Etc. You will want to make sure that your contact data is consistent from those properties as well.
Build Links To Your Website
I won’t go into too much detail about link building for your website, however, you need to build up the credibility of your website by building out a well rounded link portfolio and linking to many different pages of your site. I would start with the higher quality links like competitive links and industry/keyword links to get that initial credibility boost from Google, then follow up with links that allow you to laser target your anchor text, like directories and articles.
Build Citations To Your Places Page
Every time I read a blog post about citations, the phrase “citations are the new link” seems to come up. Well, that is because it is true. Again, I won’t go into much detail on citation building, but finding places on the web to reference your contact data (address & phone number) will help build credibility for your Place Page. Here is a great post about citation building.
Link Between Your Website & Place Page
One very simple, but overlooked thing you can do to help increase your rankings in the local SERPs is linking between your Place Page and the associated page on your website. If you were a carpet cleaner in Provo, you would want to link from your Provo web page to your Provo Place Page and vice versa. This strengthens the relationship between the two properties and definitely helps to increase boost your rankings.
Again, these are just a few of the things that small businesses doing SEO can do to start ranking better in the local search landscape. There are many other factors that are considered by Google, however, putting these five things in motion today will help you get your rankings back faster than just sitting idle and wondering what to do now that your revenue is down or completely gone.
Also, I will be presenting on local search marketing during our monthly webinar next week, you can sign up to join the webinar here.