Want to use local seo to get more geographic-specific customers?
I’ll show you how to use Google’s local SEO ranking factors to optimize your website and online presence to rank higher in Google Maps and localized organic listings (the blue results under Google Maps). I’ll cover Google My Business, reviews, directories (also called citations in local SEO), creating location-specific landing pages, and other local SEO strategies. I will also show you how to optimize for 1 location as well as how to optimize for multiple locations.
These are the CORE factors needed to rank higher in Google Maps and while there are plenty of other factors, most people don’t get the fundamentals down. I recommend taking some time to get these down first, then use my full local seo guide to optimize for the other factors like speed optimization, fixing errors in Google Search Console, and adding AMP Pages. That guide shows you how to do everything and while it’s specific to WordPress, most items are universal no matter what you run your website on (since the local ranking factors always stay the same).
Table Of Contents
- Make Your Google My Business Page 100% Complete
- Create Profiles On Other Directories
- Ask Customers For Reviews
- Submit Business Information to Top Data Aggregators
- Create Location-Specific Pages
- Kick Your Social Media Into Gear
- Get Links From Blogging, Customers, Partners, Publicity
1. Make Your Google My Business Page 100% Complete
Claim your Google My Business Page and fill it out to be 100% complete. If you don’t have a Page already, create one, but you should only have 1 per location with NO duplicates. List all relevant categories, upload professional photos including a logo, and do everything they prompt you to do. Don’t forget to verify your page and set a custom URL (should be your business name). There’s an “edit info” and “photos” tab which should both be 100%. If it makes sense for your business, you can also get a virtual tour from a Google preferred vendor.
Your My Business page is what shows up in Google Maps and when people Google your business name (on the right side of search results). It’s the heart of local SEO so make it legit!
I want to emphasize that if you already have a Google My Business Page you do NOT want to create a duplicate or it will compete with your main page – and potentially penalize it’s rankings. To check if you already have a Google My Business Page, run your business through Moz Local or search your business on Google Map Maker. If you find a duplicate page, delete it by logging into Google My Business and select the Page you want to manage. Go to the tab on the top left menu and click “Settings” then scroll all the way down until you see “delete page.”
2. Create Profiles On Other Directories
Online directories (also called citations in local SEO) are the #2, #5, and #14 ranking factor in Google Maps. Overall it’s about 25% of how you rank. Creating 100% complete profiles on top directory websites can be tedious but is EXTREMELY important for your localized rankings.
You can either do this yourself using my list of top online directories or use Whitespark’s resources page which has top citation lists by city, country, and category. Alternatively you can outsource it using Whitespark’s citation submission service which is $4-5 per citation. This is what I use for ALL my local SEO clients and has helped many of them rank #1 in Google Maps.
Whitespark has a 4.9/5 star review on Google with over 120 reviews and is a one-time fee compared to companies like Yext who charge ongoing fees. You basically fill out an intake, Whitespark will create the citations in about 3 weeks, then they will send you a follow-up report with your new citations URLs and 1 universal login. It’s very easy and you should see an improvement in your rankings within 2-3 months once the citations get indexed and Google updates they’re local search results. Finally, don’t forget to use Moz Local to correct issues with your top 15 citations. I would do Google My Business, then Moz Local, then Whitespark.
Just to review, you’ll want to use Moz Local to fix your top 15 directories (citations)…
Then use Whitespark to build additional citations since they’re about 25% of local SEO. You can either use their resources page to build these yourself, or outsource to Whitespark for $4-5 per citation. Just fill out then intake and let they will complete the job in about 2-3 weeks.
3. Ask Customers For Reviews
Reviews are about 10% of Google Map rankings but are the single most important part of local SEO for obvious reasons. People see reviews when they search your business name, and they also show up for non-branded localized keywords like “Chicago Wedding Photographer.”
You need about 5 reviews on your Google My Business page for the stars to show up in Google, but the more the better. If you Google your primary keyword and you see the top ranked competitor has 20 reviews, you should have at least 21. Once you have more reviews than competitors on Google My Business, move onto Yelp and niche directories like WeddingWire or UrbanSpoon. I know reviews can be a pain but for local SEO this is the main way you’re going to build a solid online reputation while ranking higher in Google Maps.
4. Submit Business Information to Top Data Aggregators
There are 3 major data aggregators that send your local business information to million of other websites. You should sign up and create a nice profile on each of these websites…
5. Create Location-Specific Pages
The first step to building geo-targeted pages is learning what phrases people are searching. Use Google Autocomplete to have Google “fill in the blank” using the underscore character to get keyword suggestions. You can also use Moz Keyword Explorer to get additional keyword ideas, but make sure you write down ALL the difference services people are searching…
If you only have 1 primary keyword (eg. Chicago Newborn Photographer) then you should target that on your homepage using the strategies listed in the screenshot below.
If you have multiple keywords (Chicago Newborn Photographer, Chicago Portrait Photographer…) then create a separate page for each one to better target each keyword. If you have multiple locations you will also need to create a new page (sometimes multiple pages) for each location depending on how many keywords are being searched in that city. The general rule of thumb is that each page can only target 1 keyword (service) in 1 location.
Once you know your keywords, create your geo-targeted landing pages…
Notice the content is unique to it’s location (Boynton Beach). The keyword “Boynton Beach Dentist” is also present in the page title, URL, title tag, meta description, etc. Also, the slider photos are unique to that location and so are the testimonials and other content. Each page should have completely unique content and you should avoid using “search and replace pages” where you duplicate pages then swap out a few words. This is not a good strategy and only pages with well-designed, unique content written about a specific keyword will rank high.
6. Kick Your Social Media Into Gear
Most successful business at least have some presence on the main social networks, and Google is looking for this. Make sure your social media profiles are filled out completely and that you’re posting on them somewhat regularly. Even 1 post/week is better than nothing.
7. Get Links From Blogging, Customers, Partners, Publicity
Links to your website are about 20%, but many people are confused on how to get them. First make sure your website is well-designed and has content (eg. useful blog articles) that people actually WANT to link to. These articles should be optimized for a non-promotional keyword found in Google Autocomplete (eg. average cost of wedding photographer in Chicago). As you accumulate blog articles and more content on your website, you can start referencing other pages/posts you’ve written within your content. These are called internal links and are a natural way to build links to your website organically. You will need a good amount of content!
You can also reach out to other website owners who you think you could get a link from. Think about other local businesses in your area, business partners, friends, or customers and vendors. Maybe some businesses have a partner or testimonial page you can get a link on. The key is turning your business relationships into mentions on a website – in the form of a link.
See Also: Local SEO Guide For WordPress
I hope you found these local SEO strategies helpful so you can use them with your own keywords! If you have any questions leave me a comment and I’ll be glad to help you out. Otherwise if you enjoyed my article, please share it with others who would like it too.