Did you miss step 1? Click here to start at the beginning.
There are a lot of similarities between optimizing for local search and a traditional search engine optimization campaign. As you can imagine, Google uses a lot of the same ranking theories for local search listings as they do traditional website search results; relevancy and popularity.
Step 2 of running a successful local SEO campaign focuses on understanding and optimizing your local listings and your general business data around the web.
Get familiar with this term: NAP. It stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. In a normal SEO campaign, it’s common to build backlinks to your website to increase your relevancy, popularity and authority. In local search, Google looks for your Name, Address and Phone number listed on other websites as a ‘link’ or indication of popularity.
It’s extremely important that throughout a local search campaign that you are writing your NAP very consistently. Everything should be identical. Here are some common variations that you’d want to avoid:
- Joe’s Plumbing LLC -vs- Joe’s Plumbing
- 123 Red St -vs- 123 Red Street
- Joe’s Plumbing and Heating -vs- Joes Plumbing
Step 2: The essentials: claim, fix & optimize
Local search is pretty fragmented right now. Many people use Google to find businesses but they are also using mobile apps from Yelp, in-car GPS systems and in the near future, we’ll see the full impact of Apple’s new map service where many iOS users will find local businesses.
It’s important to claim your listing and make sure you are properly represented on the following sites:
- Google+ Local (Places)
- Google MapMaker
- Yahoo! Local
- Best of the Web
In addition to these major individual local search sites, there are 4 major data aggregators that really fuel the vast majority of all local business data, online and offline.
Make sure your business data is listed (with consistent NAP) to the local search sites and aggregators listed above. If your business data should ever change, you’ll want to go through the same process and update them. Check your listings occasionally to ensure that your data hasn’t magically changed (it happens). Some of these sites also allow users to leave reviews (Yelp, Google Places, etc.) so you’ll want to check in often to respond to reviews.
Having accurate and widely distributed business listing is the major backbone of local search. Having your listings on the sites referenced in this post will not only help your local search rankings on Google but they will drive website traffic, phone calls and business to your local business.
Bryan Phelps is the Director of SEO, Small Business for SEO.com. He oversees strategy and fulfillment for the SEO.com small business search engine optimization clients. To learn more about Bryan or SEO.com, please visit their site.