local-search-engine-optimization-memeSince I’ve been spending time honing my local SEO game recently,  I wanted to share a few actionable tips and tools you can use to help your local optimization efforts go faster and further.

As some of you may know there are many factors to ranking locally. I’m going to focus these tips towards some of the more important ranking factors; reviews, on page mark-up, and citations. There are so many great posts from many local SEOs far smarter than I  to go more in depth on the ranking factors including David Mihm’s(@davidmihm)’s Local Search Ranking Factors, but I will just be giving actionable steps toward these. If you haven’t seen the local search ranking factors I highly recommend checking them out; it’s a great resource.

Landing page tip – easy Schema

Putting a structured markup on your local landing page on your website is highly suggested. This shouldn’t be a site-wide markup just for the local landing page. If you’re not too saavy with Schema.org or hcard you can easily use a generator. I’ll get back to that in a minute, but this should include the company name, address, and Phone number(NAP). It is important to have all three components and have them accurate otherwise this will be a incomplete citation.

Structured Markup Generators

The two best resources I have ever found are Raven Tools Organization Schema Creator(with a little modification) and Mircroformats.org hCard creator. I personally use Schema since this is really “Google’s language” but I have also seen positive results from hCard so for local I haven’t noticed much difference yet. If you use the generators just fill out the NAP fields and ignore the URL. I will add that you must add manually the phone number to the Schema Creator, and I left the addition to the code and the example below.

HTML Schema Code(with Phone)

The Reeves Law Group
4900 California Avenue, Tower B-210
Bakersfield, CA 93301

(720) 545-9090

Schema Code Implemented:

The Reeves Law Group
4900 California Avenue, Tower B-210
Bakersfield, CA 93301

(720) 545-9090

Once you install the code it may cause formatting issues, so you may need to do styling if you want to have it display differently. Otherwise keep the Schema/hCard fields and you will have your structured markup good to go.

two-thumbs-up-markup-trans

 

Making your company more available for reviews – review buttons

Once you get your local SEO properties verified (most specifically your Google+ Local) you will be able to start having the business reviewed. Getting  reviews are a ranking factor for local SEO, not to mention after 10 reviews you will have a displayed Zagat rating on your location page and search result. For many business this can be a bit of a problem as their services aren’t as simple as a restaurant, or retail location where you get an immediate response from the consumer. As a disclaimer, you must observe the guidelines for reviews very closely as violating them will likely result in the loss of your reviews and potential a suspension of you listing if it’s severe abuse.

company-review-button

Something that isn’t against the guidelines is making the ability to review you company easier.  This can simply be a trust signal button to your business for review on Yelp, Google+ and other listing sites. I by no means suggest overdoing this tactic, but this can be a way to help make a company that wouldn’t typically get many reviews, have them more available to the consumer. It also adds a trust signal to your website as previous reviews will also be seen more readily.

Citation consistency – great tools exist for this!

Easily one of the biggest and best things to do for local SEO and for your company is to get listed among citation websites, such as Yelp, Super Pages, Yahoo! and City Search. This isn’t just beneficial for your local SEO ranking but also for building organic links since most of the citations include a link back to your website. I’m not going to focus too much on the link building benefits of local SEO though, rather on the method that you get your local citations of your business. For those who don’t know all of the “citation sources” are considered structured citations. As opposed to an unstructured citation that might just be in the HTML content without specified fields for the company name, address and phone number.

Local SEO is currently blessed with a entire toolbox full of great SEO tools both unpaid and paid.

Awesome Paid Tools!

Whitespark – This is one of the newest, coolest paid tools for local SEO. There are a number of awesome features including a local rank checker(a personal favorite) but, I would like to focus mostly on the local citation finder. This is a great way to find the citations you have so you can check for data consistency, and to just compare your citations to your competitors. The best part of this tool is that you can use multiple ways to find the citations you’re looking for whether that be by using a key phrase or phone number. The cost of the tool isn’t to extreme (also offer a free trial) and can be very helpful at the small business and agency level.

Bright Local – This is a great tool with some awesome feature but the biggest focus is on local search rankings and displaying not only the citations you have but also potential citations you may want to acquire. This is a really handy tool for those who aren’t very familiar with a verticals citation websites or new to local SEO as it give you a place to start. The prices are fairly competitive and they offer a free trial so take advantage of these to see if you find the tool useful to you.

The Unpaid Gems

Getlisted.org – As for free tools this is one of my favorites, it’s very simple. However the citation source information provided isn’t too vast as it’s very new. This is a tool from a very trusted name in local SEO and if you are looking to do some quick improvement is the way to go. I would highly suggest any small business to check out this unpaid tool and give it a whirl. The tool makes fixing and acquiring citations quick and easy(as can be for local SEO anyway).

Yext – This isn’t one of our favorite tools on the paid side of things(though it does provide results while paid) but is an awesome gem for an unpaid citation checker! Just put your Business name and Phone number in and scan your citations very quickly, showing outstanding differences, places to optimize your citations and best of all if you don’t have the citations you can quickly acquire them.

If you are looking for a complete walk through on citation building, Casey Meraz(@caseymeraz) has a great post on Building Citations Like An Agency.

Start Crime Fighting!

These are just a few local SEO tips as of right now that can help you compete better and get an edge as an in-house SEO or a small business owner looking to get their business ranking better locally. Remember to keep your NAP consistent and your information complete and you should rank it in no time!

May 20, 2013 | Local SEO

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