Welcome to Local SEO Guide‘s local SEO guide! If you’re a business owner, executive, or a local SEO beginner looking to increase your online visibility and attract more local customers, then this is the guide for you.
Local SEO is critical to help you appear higher in the search results for specific geographic locations, making it easier for potential customers in your area to find your business. With the right approach, Local SEO can greatly enhance your online presence and bring in more foot traffic to your physical location.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of Local SEO, exploring the key components, best practices, and tips to help you rank higher and reach more local customers.
You’ll learn how to:
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of increasing the exposure of local companies in search engines page results, mainly those having physical locations or businesses targeting a specific geographic area. These businesses can enhance visibility in organic search engines with specific consumers in target markets by adopting local SEO best practices.
By contrast, general SEO is not regionally specific and isn’t necessarily attempting to capture keywords conducted by users with local intent. Instead, General SEO has a more broad and global emphasis, which leads to some differences in SEO strategy
Local SEO functions similarly to “regular” Google search on a high level.
When someone conducts a search, Google searches its database to get the most relevant results.
Local SEO is distinct in that Google ranks local search results using a separate set of ranking variables.
Local SEO has peculiar ranking signals such as:
We will discuss several local ranking factors in detail but the major components of Local SEO include optimizing for:
This will help you conquer the local pack, finder, as well as local organic search results.
Additionally, these components are some of the key aspects of local SEO best practices and are applicable across several verticals.
The beginning chapters of this guide will walk through the more local SEO 101, general things you need to know. These tips can be applied almost anywhere. Afterward, we’ll zoom in and also discuss the application of local SEO best practices for different verticals, such as:
If you are already familiar with some local SEO concepts and want to skip to the bits specific to your business, then you can jump around using the chapter outline here.
Using Google Business Profile (aka GMB) listings and optimizing them is an essential part of local SEO and has become increasingly important. In this section, we’ll cover everything from adding your company information to using Google My Business features to help improve your visibility online.
By following these tips, you can create a comprehensive and effective Google business profile that will help promote your business to potential customers. This will help you stay ahead of your competition and makes sure you are utilizing one of the most important ranking factors for local SEO.
The Information section of a Google Business profile includes key details about your business, such as address, phone number, website, business hours, and category.
First thing’s, first. You want to make sure that all of the profiles are as complete as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to fill out every field in the information section, but you should – name, address, phone number, and so on. Most importantly, you must guarantee that the information connected to that store listing is reliable and correct.
Google Business Profile allows you to create customized hours of operation details that will display for users searching your business. You can set specific hours for different services as well as holiday hours that deviate from the standard business hours.
Industry categorization is also something to note. Unsurprisingly, the appropriate category labels will assist your clients in finding your stores more easily. Just keep in mind that while the primary label has the biggest impact, secondary labels also have an impact on how Google perceives your company. To optimize your search traffic, you’ll want to experiment with the right number and type of secondary category labels.
The Google Business Profile also helps you manage listings you need to remove. Under the “Close this business on Google” you’ll find options to mark them as temporarily closed or permanently closed as well as the option to remove the listing altogether.
Posts are an excellent method to broaden your audience and increase click-through rates for various profile listings. The goal of this functionality was to make it easier for businesses with many locations to load posts across several locations at the same time.
The postings appear in search results underneath the Google Business Profile information panel, giving you extra real estate on the SERP page and increasing visibility. Furthermore, when someone searches for your brand, these posts produce high intent traffic, especially if you have offers in them, which improves the possibility of a user clicking.
Using GBP’s API, you can even build your own posting system. This can make it easy to manage posting for a large number of locations. You can put them up manually but then if you have to also take them down manually or else Google with leave offers there forever. It’s best to have a systematic way of managing hours of operations and dates updated throughout your team. The simplest way to do this is by uploading a CSV file to the bulk account.
The insights portion of Google Business Profile tells you how customers search for your business and provide additional data on how many clicks and impressions you are getting. The problem for enterprise businesses is that it’s not aggregated data. So, you have to look at each listing individually which isn’t the most helpful.
The key tip here is to use the API to create a way to aggregate your data. If you do this, then you’ll be able to see the performance of each market and also performance in aggregate terms. Also, note that the directionality of the data in some subsections is likely correct but can be inaccurate.
The photos section gives you the unique ability to set up a cover photo as well as videos that showcase your business. These will appear in Google search results and Google maps and it is the preferred option over customer photos.
The video feature is often one that should be utilized more because videos tend to perform very well. If you aren’t familiar with this platform, then you probably want to look into it – particularly if you have the ability to produce decent videos.
If budget is an issue or if you don’t know where to start with video content, prioritize videos that could be used at every location and will capture the user’s attention.
When you are considering what kinds of photos to add, be aware that Google will show different photos based on search and business type. For this reason, you should be tailoring your photo content to the products and services you want to rank for in search results.
For example, if you are a wholesale retailer that is looking to gain ground and rank for refrigerators, then it’s definitely a good idea to have some high-quality product photos of refrigerators.
You should also be mindful of customer photos. Particularly, if you have scale, it’s a good idea to periodically review them to find any offensive photos so they can be removed.
If you are in the restaurant industry, then the food ordering feature is key. This will let you accept online orders for delivery or pickup directly through the Business Profile listing on Google Search and Maps with Order with Google. Users gain the ability to order directly online through the “Order Online” button.
It also links third-party orders with Google providers. You can accept orders through third-party providers who state they have authorized relationships with your business. These providers get automatically updated to make food ordering available fast and easy for your local customers.
Google Business Profile also allows you to have users set up appointments and get online booking options in search or maps through adding an appointment URL to your info section. This added user convenience can provide value for many businesses including dentists, event providers, gyms, and beauty locations. It’s probable that Google will continue to expand this feature to more verticals in response to customer demand.
By linking your Google Merchant Center to your Google Business Profile, you can take full advantage of their integration. For example, this link will enable you to have product listings shown in your business’ knowledge panels within Google Search and also in Google Maps.
Additionally, multi-location retailers can use Google Merchant Center to uncover a treasure trove of data to power local SEO campaigns via the free version of Google’s Local Inventory Ads. To do this you should simply select the “surfaces across Google” program in Google Merchant Center.
When you are trying to understand how much traffic is coming from your customers via Google Business Profile pages, it is key to consider the landing page and URL you set up in the info section. Ideally, you could set up a tracking parameter in the URL. If you are using analytics, this will tell you how much traffic is coming from the various profile pages. If you do opt to have a trafficking parameter you need to canonicalize it to the non-tracking parameter version.
You should also consider the content on the page you send the user to. Ideally, this should be a location page or perhaps a local plus service page like, “Houston plumbing.” Depending on the business type, the landing page should be optimized for primary service and product categories as well as locations.
In the case of e-commerce or service sites, optimization can be achieved in part by linking to the category on the website. For example, if a wholesale furniture enterprise is trying to rank for “mattresses” or “mattresses in Houston,” they should be linking from their mattress category page to their Houston page.
Depending on the number of listings that you have, you may not want or need to manage them in-house. If you are a multi-location or enterprise-level business, then it may be most effective to have a 3rd party like one of these do it for you. We’ll get into that later in the Listings Management section.
What are Local Citations (NAP)? A local citation is a reference of vital company information – your name, address, and phone number (NAP) – somewhere on the web in the context of local SEO.
Local citations can be found in directories, social networking and review sites, applications, and a variety of other sites.
Similar to backlinks they are difficult to build but significantly impact your ability to rank well for local SERPs.
In this section, we’ll show you how to effectively generate local citations.
There are several different types of citation websites out there and many SEOs argue about which are more valuable than others (Full list: local Citation Sources).
But, 90% of the Local SEO SEO community agrees that local citations are very important with 86% also adding that the quality of citations matters more than the quantity. These are some of the citations that are considered high-value to prioritize:
You want your NAP data to be absolutely consistent across the web. That means it should be an exact match everywhere including:
What’s listed above are the major checks but it’s important that anywhere your business is mentioned online, it should have consistent NAP information.
There are lots of tools to choose from. Depending on the age of your business, NAP changes, and the number of locations, you may want to get a listing management service such as Yext. The benefit with Yext is that they will find and update all your listings across over 50 different services like Google, Yelp, Facebook, Yellow Pages, ect. You can also get a scan for free.
No matter what tool or service you choose, you to need to find out where your information is listed so you can ensure it’s up-to-date. It’s vital that NAP information is current.
Now that you have a list of citations, you want to find NAP citations that aren’t correct or consistent.
(For older businesses that haven’t done an audit before, you can expect A LOT of citations that need to be fixed or updated.) Once you have a list of citations that need updating, the next step is to correct as many as you can.
If you are a large enterprise-level brand, or a multi-location business, then listings management can be an efficient and low-hassle way of making sure you are on top of local citations. Some of the big names in listings management include:
Listings management companies can remove the headache of having to update changes in listing information and ensure you are effectively generating local citations. If you need a more strategic support to clean up, manage, and look for opportunities to increase revenue and traffic, consider consulting with a local SEO agency.
In this section, you will learn how Google’s local Map Pack functions and how to rank in Google organic for local keywords. The Map pack is an incredibly important SERP feature for local SEO both for desktop and mobile results.
What is the Google Map Pack? The Google Map Pack (sometimes called the Local Pack) is a list of the top three results that show up at the top of the first page in a local search. The map pack is typically shown when someone searches for specific keywords that are relevant to certain businesses or services nearby. For example, if you search for ‘pizza restaurants’ on Google, one of the first things you’ll see is a map with three pizza places listed. This is the Map Pack.
If your business is one of the top three in the Map Pack, it’s likely getting a lot of traffic from potential customers who are searching for what you have to offer. That’s why it’s important to try and rank as high as possible in the Map Pack – the higher you are, the more likely people are to visit your business.
There are a number of things you can do to improve your rankings in the Map Pack. One of the most important is optimizing your website and local business listing for relevant keywords in your Google Business Profile (aka GMB), as well as building backlinks from other websites that are likely to rank highly for those keywords.
This will help both with organic search & your Google Map Pack rankings. Beyond that, what is of paramount importance for Map Pack ranking is NAPs. Google relies heavily on this data to populate the Local Pack.
Relevance, Distance, and Prominence are the three key factors that determine the ranking of businesses in Google’s map pack, also known as the local pack. They are defined as:
These three factors are used by Google to rank businesses in the local pack and provide the most relevant and trustworthy results to the searcher.
Improving ranking in Google’s map pack for local search can be done by following these steps:
The Google organic search results appear right under the Map Pack (aka local Pack) and therefore are incredibly valuable SERP real estate as well.
Ranking well in Google Organic search results will require some keyword research to determine what your target customers are looking for as well as a good site structure to support that keyword strategy.
The most basic queries for your business to target often be [product/service/industry] + [location] or some derivative of this. For example, if you are a plumber it’s likely this could be targeting searches like, “Plumber near me”, “plumber in [city]”, or “Plumber [City]” and any associated queries.
These associated queries will likely also encompass the surrounding suburbs, nearby city names, and perhaps even street names or points of interest. For example, you should ask if your service area or product are close to anything that could impact searches?
For example, a taxi company might want to target, “taxi by LAX”. Similarly, a marijuana dispensary might target a “dispensary on Main Street”.
To capture terms containing a particular geographic location or geo (e.g plumber in Portland) or searches made in a geo that have local intent (e.g plumber near me) – you will likely need to have unique pages for those areas. We have a full guide about location pages to walk you through this structure in more detail.
One thing to consider is that not all search terms are obviously “local”.
Many terms like [business type/product/service]+[City] clearly have local intent. However, Google considers some keywords themselves to be local intrinsically and will display a Map pack & locally specific results.
We’ll cover this more thoroughly in the next section.
Local intent cliff notes:
Figuring out what is (or isn’t) a local keyword is important because it should impact how you build out your site and pages. Google considers some queries to be local than you might not expect. They don’t always reference a state, city, or another geographic area (geo) in the query or a local modifer like “near me”. It’s equally worth knowing when Google doesn’t consider a term to be locally relevant as that also has implications for your strategy.
For example, if you search “dentist” or “ [product] near me”, you’ll likely see that Google provides a Map Pack.
This is important because understanding which terms Google considers to be local will inform your keyword strategy and how to approach and support your SEO investment. The wrong site structure can cost you a lot of opportunities (and money).
Search intent has layers that we can categorize to better understand the “why” and ultimately how to develop the right site, pages, and keyword strategy.
When you are building or optimizing a pages it’s vital to understand different types of search intent and how they should align with your local SEO strategy, investments, and initiatives. These aren’t the only types of search intent but for local SEO you should know about the following:
National websites will require both a lot of content and authority. If you’ve identified your target keywords are in queries that have little or no local intent then you want one main website where you invest the bulk of your SEO budget to get that ranking by building backlinks.
Semi-local keywords will also require the lion’s share of focus to be paid to building the content and authority of your main site with one additional point of focus. Because Semi-local keywords generate a map pack it’s important that you optimize your Google Business Profile listings (formerly GMB) if relevant.
If you’ve identified that your keyword is considered to be local by Google then this is where a different site structure will really start to matter. By building a directory of state or city pages you will be able to capture more search volume.
For hyper local Keywords, it’s likely best to build a directory of pages at the state and city level and optimize for near me keywords with unique location pages. The layers will likely look different depending on your vertical but broadly they might resemble this:
This is not just applicable to businesses will physical locations but also to businesses with a geographically defined service area. If you need a full walkthrough of this in more detail, we have a guide to store locators that will do the trick.
If you try to rank local website content for national keywords, you will likely not have enough site authority or content to rank. Conversely, if you try to rank national content for local keywords, you don’t fit the intent of the keyword. Ultimately, you spend time and resources in the wrong areas and your initiatives won’t produce the results you need.
An online local business review is a sentiment written by a customer on any website or platform that supports this type of content. Yelp, Google, and Facebook are three of the major review platforms, but there are numerous other options. These can be general (e.g Superpages or Bing) or specific to an industry or geography (e.g TripAdvisor). Reviews represent an ongoing conversation your customers are having about your business on the web.
When it comes to SEO and particularly local search, the reviews on your GBP listing are a significant ranking factor. Additionally, customer review data shows that 63% of consumers will check Google for reviews before they even visit a business. A further, 94% said that negative reviews convinced them to avoid a business. So, both for ranking and the conversion of your target users this is a big deal.
Both the quality and quantity of Google reviews have an impact on local SEO. So your strategy should encompass boosting your GBP listing with more reviews from customers in relevant geographic areas (geos), responding to bad reviews, and making sure any customer concerns were addressed to minimize poor reviews in the future.
Semrush’s 2021 Local SEO Rankings Study shown in the graph above demonstrates the difference in ranking they found. Business listings with more Google reviews ranked higher in the most coveted positions in Google Maps.
They also looked at the median number of reviews and the results further align with the previous inference. The number of Google reviews corresponds with the ranking position. This should underscore the need for businesses to have systems in place to ask customers and users for reviews.
It isn’t rocket science to assume Google would weigh more positively reviewed listings differently than negatively reviewed listings. But, just in case you are empirically mined, Semrush also found that Local Pack results on the desktop were either neutral or positive 98% of the time.
Perhaps, surprisingly 60% of the featured reviews Google picked for the local pack used descriptive language that was neither positive nor negative.
The good news here is that this data also suggests that users were more likely to leave a review when they had a positive experience rather than a negative one. Yet another reason why brands should prioritize asking customers for reviews.
Ahrefs: Backlink Checker. If you need help with how to do a backlink audit they have a handy guide.
SEMRush: Search Competition & Keyword Research.
Google Keyword Planner: Use for new keyword ideas.
Screaming Frog: SEO website audit & website crawler.
SEO PowerSuite: Rank Tracker, Website Auditor, SEO SpyGlass & LinkAssistant.
Google PageSpeed: Check your site speed & Core Web Vitals.
Google Search Console: Measure & track Search traffic and performance
Google Analytics: identify trends & patterns in how users interact with your site. It also shows where user traffic is coming from and lets you track conversion goals.
RICE Model Forecasting: Prioritize and compare SEO investment & implementation ideas.
SEO Forecasting Tool: Version 0.1 – This uses machine learning to provide a good foundation for connecting historical data and performance to different levels of SEO investment.
Beyond the tools outlined above, we’ve also compiled some free local SEO tools and a larger list for things a bit more advanced including:
Multi-location businesses, and particularly enterprise-level brands, should have solid Local SEO strategies in place. If you need convincing consider that:
There’s little doubt that local search is extremely important for multi-location businesses and so this section will be a crash course overview of the high-level stuff you should know in this vertical.
Ideally, you’d have a store locator page structure that starts with an index page, then a state page, city, and location page. The upper pages should link through in a downward direction. For example, the index page would list all states and link to individual state pages. Each state page would similarly list all city pages and link to them, and so on. Typically this structure resembles the following:
Most of this is pretty straightforward but there are some definite must-do items for your location pages.
Structured Data helps Google and other search engines know exactly what information is on your webpage. It’s quite useful for getting your page’s products, FAQs, and business information into rich results in Google SERPS. This helps you gain more real estate on search results.
Use local business schema to markup your business’s information.
You can find more information on how to do this here:
Additionally, you can use Product Markup to get products listed in Google’s Popular Products SERP feature. Product and offer Schema markup can also include information about product price, availability, as well as the product name and picture.
Listings Management is often necessary for Multi-location businesses. It’s quite easy for location information to be out-of-date or inconsistent. Unfortunately, it’s extremely important the information be current however it can be difficult to identify inconsistencies across the web or with a large number of listings.
This is where services like Yext, can be very handy. They take care of this process by seeking out your business listings information across several dozen platforms and updating it for you. They can also do things like manage customer reviews.
Last but not least are customer reviews. They are important both for Google Ranking and for converting potential customers. Customer review data shows that 63% of consumers will check Google for reviews before they even visit a business. A further, 94% said that negative reviews convinced them to avoid a business.
As discussed in the Local Reviews section, both quantity and quality of customer reviews are important for ranking in Google Maps and organic search. Business listings with more Google reviews ranked higher in the most coveted positions in Google Maps.
For this reason, it’s recommended to encourage customers to leave reviews. Locally relevant reviews, especially positive reviews, can have a big impact for local SEO.
Service Area Business SEO strategy isn’t quite the same as other enterprises that are not service-based businesses. Service area businesses (SABs) don’t necessarily have physical stores but they still need to keep local SEO in mind when building a search strategy. They are looking to capture searches with local intent just the same as a physical store.
Google defines a Service Area Business as, “A business that visits or delivers to customers directly, but doesn’t serve customers at their business address.” So, this includes service-based businesses like:
Many of the strategies used for multi-location businesses have some overlap with Service Area businesses. We’ll explore the similarities and differences below.
Businesses without physical locations can still have a Google Business Profile (GBP) listings as long as you travel to your customers. So, whether you have a location or not, you want to get a GBP listing. We’ll cover the must-do’s and steps for getting step up with a GBP for a service area business.
Creating a Google Business Profile is a simple process and a great way to make sure you can be competitive in the search for users with local intent (e.g., “plumbers near me”) or queries where the user is in your service area (e.g., “plumbers in Boston”). Google uses a few major ranking factors for local search results:
The top three ranking signals are taken from business information in the Google Business Profile listing, links, and reviews.
When you are setting up the GBP listing, you will be asked:
Don’t insert an address if you don’t have one. It’s unnecessary. Plus, if you intentionally give Google false information to manipulate the algorithm you can get penalized.
You can also edit an existing listing if needed. You do this with the following steps:
Google allows you to set up to 20 service areas based on the cities, postal codes, or other areas that you serve.
Images and videos can make a large impact on making sure your business stands out in search results. Particularly if you don’t have an address for your business, it is important users can see high-quality images of your business and your business services. This immediately helps them know what you do, who you serve, and that you are legit. You can upload all kinds of images including:
Note: Photos should be in either JPG or PNG formating.
You can request the removal of a photo uploaded by a customer if you notice it violates the Google Maps photo policies. The steps to remove inappropriate photos are the following:
After that, your photo will be examined and potentially removed from your Business Profile. A photo can take several days to be assessed. Ideally, you would have a process to periodically check shared photos to ensure they are not offensive or inappropriate.
Customer reviews are important for ranking better both in organic search results and local Pack/finder ranking factors. In fact, according to a study by Moz, it’s the 3rd most important factor in local Pack/finder ranking factors.
What does that mean? Broadly speaking, you need to focus on two things:
Make a link for customers to write reviews on your GBP listing. Making a link simplifies the review process for your customers. You can share your short URL with customers so customers can leave reviews directly on your Business Profile with these steps:
You can also create a specific review page on your website that links to your Google Business Profile. The benefit of this is that customers already on your site can easily find where to leave reviews without having to go back out and research your business to then click on your GBP.
It also helps build trust will potential customers visiting the site as they can see the reviews while they are considering your business’ services.
Using local businesses links in GMB can help:
If you are a service area business or have multiple service lines you may want to consider creating pages for your priority services. Home Depot, for example, may have a location page for their hardware shop, but you could also construct a tool rental page or a contractor-for-hire page.
The trick with this tactic is to have distinct pages with a high demand for their associated search queries. You shouldn’t just churn out a bunch of low-quality pages—it won’t help. You should begin by trying to make unique service pages on a local scale to determine the best blend for your company, then scale it up to your other service areas.
If you are looking for a deep dive into building a webpage architecture that captures local search check out this ultimate guide to store locators (it’s got tailored tips for service area businesses).
If you read the previous sections, you may be wondering, “How do Service Area businesses get local citations?” A great question. Service Area businesses tend to not have an address or opt to “hide” their address and therefore don’t have full NAP information for typical location citations.
The good news is that there are many directory sites that service area businesses can use for local citations. The top directories for service area businesses include:
When you register the business listing information, they allow you a few options depending on the directory. With some, you can leave the address field blank (e.g., Google), skip that step (e.g., Yelp), or mark it as a service area business (e.g., Bing, Houzz).
Local business directories have a unique set of SEO challenges and opportunities to get their directory listings ranking as high as possible in search engine results. And there isn’t a huge amount of SEO advice (readily available and high-quality) that’s targeted specifically at helping local directory websites with local SEO strategy.
You’ll likely already be aware but just in case, the big web directories for small business websites tend to be listing sites like:
Even if you aren’t a huge local business directory site or a major social media site like Facebook, you’ll get value out of this guide.
We have years of experience helping online directories climb the Google/Bing rankings algorithm so we thought it’d be a good idea to put together a cheat sheet for local directory sites. These are some of the things that online directories can do to improve their rankings in search engines, get more visibility in local searches, and gain more traffic to their websites.
One of the best ways for web directories to gain visibility is to pump out locally relevant content for queries with local intent. There are a few of the big directories (like Yelp) that use this strategy to great effect. Searches with overt local intent will look like:
These are the most obvious types of queries that you should consider. That said, there are liking derivatives like “Cleaning in Salem” instead of “Cleaning Salem.” For my city, the search volume was higher for “Cleaning Salem” than “Cleaning in Salem” (laziness perhaps?). The point is, you’ll want to use a keyword research tool like Semrush to check before executing a strategy—these are just common examples. Use search volume to help you prioritize your target keywords and which ones you focus on as you build content out.
For example, take a look at this query for “Cleaning Salem.” We get two business directories (Angie and Yelp) ranking in the organic positions #1 & #2. e also get a local pack (map results) so if we had any doubt these terms were local, this Google Maps result confirms it.
So, what does this SERP tell us about their strategy? Well, both Yelp & Angie’s List identified the same trend with their keyword research. That likely featured the terms “best home cleaning in Salem.” After this, they created a landing page for the search results for “Home Cleaning Salem” on their respective sites.
Standard stuff, right? Probably exactly what you’d expect to see with this search. All these results blend together it’s so boring. The whole first page is “meh” in terms of the Google search results standing out from each other. You should give the user a reason to click on yours.
So, how do you stand out and drive traffic to your directory?
Okay, so if we look at the first page for this search engine page result, we see a lot of the same–title structure, meta descriptions, etc. What does help you stand out from the pack is additional information. On this page the top-ranking sites made this happen with:
Review markup lets you insert a rating score and the number of reviews used to determine this average.
It’s a helpful way to show rankings, assisting users to find quality services before they click through. This subtle change can mean a big difference for many users looking for the difference between your site and another. Backlinks, domain authority, and link building can help get your page to page one of the organic search but in a sea of local listings sites, potential customers need more convincing to click.
Show them why your smattering of directory submissions is better than the others (which have similar title tags, meta descriptions, etc). Review metrics can quickly and effectively achieve this.
The page one competitor on this SERP page, Yelp, chose to use FAQ markup to create a rich snippet that users could interact with instead.
Frequently Asked Questions add value because they similarly give the user more information about what to expect when they click.
If you are wondering what questions to answer, you can find ideas from Semrush’s keyword research tool, as well as AlsoAsked.com.
The breadcrumb of a page lets the user and, more importantly, Google understand the hierarchical organization of this page, content, and how that relates to the relevance of the query.
In this screenshot, you can see how Angie’s List displays the parent page for the user and google so it’s clear. These are Home Cleaning Services and they are related to Salem, OR (not Massachusetts or Maine).
In the previous part, we discussed breadcrumbs. Here, we’ll talk about optimizing your webpage architecture to zero in on the local search and capture the maximum amount.
This is the URL for this Angie’s List page. It was the same one discussed in the previous section where we looked at the “Cleaning Salem” search query.
Angie’s List has arranged its company list site pages in this hierarchical structure designed to be a funnel for search queries at every category and local level. It starts with the company list page which lists all categories, i.e.,more broad searches.
Then it continues down in four layers like a well-crafted store locator page structure:
1.US – This Country Page links down to the 50 states in the U.S.
2. OR – The State Page links down to the City Pages.
Note: Notice the priority links are at the top so most users can breeze through this directory of cities without needing to sort through the full list.
3. Salem – The City Page links down to the category pages for that city.
4. Home cleaning – The service page where the user can find the reviews & services for X category in Y city of Z state.
This is the optimal structure for targeting searches within geolocations because it creates clarity for Google, letting the search engine know how the local intent relates to the directory content. It also gives Angie’s List the ability to rank for terms at the broad category, state, city, and even hyper-local levels.
Okay, so some of the above tips you may already have been familiar with but we should probably take a look at recent developments and research we’ve done that affect SEO strategy for directory sites. You’ve almost certainly heard of Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) consistency.
If not, you should know that the consistency of business information across the internet has a big impact on ranking. This isn’t just relevant for businesses that should get their local citations in order. It has implications for how and what directories can rank for.
During the course of 2022, Local SEO Guide (LSG) tested a hypothesis.
A certain percentage of the directory’s search volume stems from people looking for the businesses in their directory. If your directory listing information matches what Google has as the business information then you will rank higher when someone searches for that entity.
Sure enough, we found a correlation between an exact match in the listing and Google my Business (GBP) titles and the position they ranked for in Google SERPs.
This graph displays the position of the listing by how much of the directory listing name matched the Google My Business listing for that same business. The closer the match the better the rankings were on average. This indicates that directories could gain higher rankings, visibility, and ultimately user traffic by ensuring that there is congruence between directory listings and the information in Google My Business. You can get the full details on our name consistency research here.
What is a Content Usefulness Signal (CUS)? Exactly what it sounds like. A Content Usefulness Signal is a piece of content that provides additional information about the usefulness of a site.
Storytime: A tale of Senior Living Directories
Now, these aren’t the only content usefulness signals that are important we’ll go through more in a moment. But at the time, this was a unique feature among Seniorly.com’s directory competitors. Google has several ways of measuring content usefulness signals.
It is more likely that users looking to get a direct community phone number left these pages too soon, whereas users stayed on pages long enough for Google to understand they found what they needed. This in turn impacted the relative rankings for the various directories and caused Seniorly.com’s listings to surge.
Obviously, you want the standard business information like Name, address, and phone number. But there are other things worth considering depending on the type of directory. For example, Seniorly.com also included things such as:
Local SEO is becoming ever more important for ecommerce businesses. In the past, it may have been an afterthought in a more general SEO strategy (if thought about at all). But, in a post-COVID world where consumer spending habits are shifting more toward ecommerce local SEO can give you an edge over the competition. Consider this:
This means ranking for searches with local intent can be a big boost for ecommerce. Local Google SERPs features like the Map pack as well as rich results can get your brand and products in front of users actively searching your priority keywords.
We cover three types of businesses as Google guidelines as different depending on what kind of business you have and the extent to which you do business online, in-person, or both.
Unfortunately, this means many ecommerce businesses are ineligible for Google business profile listings. But don’t fret, there are other areas of focus that will help you compete in search both generally and locally.
While fully online e-commerce sites don’t typically have GBP listings they do have knowledge panels like the ones below.
The information here helps inform users about your brand and produce authority & trust. Google populates the data from trusted sources which typically include wikipedia, crunchbase, or a similar high-authority site.
You do have the ability to claim a knowledge panel so you can put your “best face forward” so to speak. This will allow you to add product photos, stats, support information, or other facts relevant to your target customers.
As an example, the brand Zwift is a stationary biking game company application that makes great use of its knowledge panel. In it, users can find what the product is, ratings, monthly cost, and what platforms it can be played on. All of these are key aspects of conversion for Zwift.
You can use structured data to make sure you are getting the most out of your content, increasing conversions, and improving visibly. They allow you to have more search real estate and control over how users get information about your site and its products.
Product markups show important details about your product, such as availability, price, and reviews.
Product markups will often appear on SERPs below the meta title or description to guide the user and can give you an edge over your search competitors. In a sea of options, it can give a user a reason to click and find out more about your product.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) sections of your webpage and People Also Ask (PAA) features are another good use of structured data. Targeting relevant product and brand queries with FAQ markup should give you a shot at both ranking better in organic search queries and capturing the PAA or FAQ SERP feature.
You can see how the Ecommerce brand Chewy has made use of FAQ markup in this search query for “dog carrier”. Similarly, Home Depot has used FAQ markup on the related query “dog carrier near me”.
This can help not just with getting more clicks but also with converting more customers as they have more information about the product directly in search.
If you need help with how to use structured data, Google has a good breakdown.
Whether your keyword terms have local intent or not you should start by collecting high-value user queries and grouping the ones that are associated with your product and brand. You can use SEO tools like SEMrush for this process.
This might sound rather obvious but keep in mind that you can’t compete for every search query unless you have a well-established site with a great backlink profile. If you are a new ecommerce site or just in a competitive space for the products you are selling then you want to be asking:
We’ll give some ideas below.
The objective here is to have each page be high-quality and well-structured in addition to specifically targeting unique keywords. The title tags should also be aligned with the target keyword by including it, preferably at the beginning. Don’t build several pages that target the same primary keyword. This can lead to keyword cannibalization. Not good.
It’s likely your customers or potential customers have a constellation of interests that you can target holistically. If you are a brand that is trying to focus on selling health-related products, for example, fitness watches then you can create a range of articles that your target customers can find useful. This is exactly what many smart ecommerce brands do.
The ecommerce unicorn Whoop has done just that. They rank for several queries that drive quality user traffic to their site like:
The users searching these terms are likely to fit their ideal persona. So, this strategy doesn’t simply get you more traffic it gets you the right kind to covert and increases sales.
A resource hub is a great place to house the previously mentioned content clusters. This can go beyond blog posts. It can include all kinds of things that customers will find interesting:
What content types you create are going to vary based on your product and ecommerce site but the larger strategy remains similar. Bucket out the categories of interest to your target personas and prioritize them based on search volume & ability to rank for those queries.
Wether you are a multi-location, SAB, directory, or e-commerce brand having a solid SEO strategy can be rocket fuel to your bottom line. To navigate the issues specific to your industry, it’s vital to help the right expertise.
Local SEO Guide has been consulting for over 15 years and delivering results for clients to drive organic traffic and resulting in higher conversion rates and improved ROI. Grab a new consultation to talk about how we can help with your local SEO or drop us a line in the form below.
A local guide in SEO refers to a person or business that optimizes their online presence to rank higher in search engines for specific local keywords. This involves creating and verifying business listings, building local citations, creating location-specific content, and managing online reviews.
1. Create and claim Google My Business listing 2. Verify and update business information
3. Get listed in online directories and local citations 4. Optimize your website for local keywords 5. Encourage and manage online reviews
Research keywords related to your local area, update and verify business listings, and create location-specific content. Continuously monitor your online presence and rankings, and ensure your Google Business Profile(s) have current, accurate information.
The three pillars of local SEO are relevance, proximity, and prominence. Relevance involves ensuring the accuracy and consistency of business information, proximity refers to demonstrating physical proximity to the searcher, and prominence involves building a strong online reputation through positive reviews, citations, and local link-building.
If you would like to discuss how we can help you with your search marketing program, please contact us below.