Local SEO has seen some major changes in the past year. Since 2010 Google has completely changed the way they handle local keywords. For example “city name + keyword” went from a 3 pack to a 7 pack, then to a 10 pack and then they created a whole new search result category called blended results. Now, when you search for a local company, you will see a mixture of “places” results, a few organic results, some ads (of course) and usually a few pictures or videos.
Local search can seam like a volatile market, and even though there have been some major changes lately, there is still an underlining steadiness. Here are 3 straight forward approaches to localizing your site’s content. I won’t lie to you and say they are easy, but they are simple. If you follow them, you will see positive results.
1. It’s Ok To NAP On The Job
Your “NAP” is the foundation of all local SEO efforts. NAP stands for, Name, Address and Phone Number. Every year David Mhim releases an exhaustive study called “Local Ranking Factors,” in which he reveals the most important on and off page elements in local SEO. Every year local citations makes the top of the list. In fact, this year NAP ranked #4 right behind having an address in the city you want to rank for, (thank you captain obvious, jk,) and verifying your page with Google (which you can do here.)
Google looks at your NAP wAs you can imagine, there are hundreds of millions of businesses worldwide, and they all have a unique address. Because of this, Google requires that you have your local citation formatted EXACTLY the same every time you list it. It would be statistically improbable for Google to figure out different variations of every companies NAP and attribute them to the right place. The best way to format your NAP/local citation is to create a text file that lists your companies information, then you can just copy and paste it into different directories.
Your NAP might look something like this.
2920 Veda St, Redding, California 96001
Tags/ Categories: example keywords (sorry fellas, I’m not going to give away my target keywords that easy!)
Image: Decide what image to use, and stick with it.
Description: This is an inbound marketing company..etc.
Once you have your NAP formatted go to every local directory you can find (most of them are free) and create a profile.
Pro Tip: Use yext.com to find a good list of local directories. Instead of paying them to create a listing for you, download their list into a spreadsheet and go make the profiles yourself.
Once you have your local citations under hand, it’s time to start optimizing your site. (You do have a website, right? If not, go find a good web designer and hire them to build you one!) There are a few things you can do to instantly improve your rankings.
Have your NAP on every page of your site
One of the easiest ways of doing this is to put your address and phone number in your site’s footer/header. It’s up to you how you list it, but make sure it’s uniform and user friendly.
Use Local Keywords In Your Page Titles
If you have a carpet cleaning site, you can create a page title that looks like this: City Name Carpet Cleaning | Your Company Name. When you make a title, put your keyword first, and your company name second. Unless you have a household brand, it’s better to keep your keywords on the left of your brand name. This will help you rank higher in SERPS, and it will tell visitors exactly what your site is about.
Hyper Localize Your Images
When you upload an image, make sure the image is named something relevant to your local keywords. Use the name of your city, and your keywords in the image title. After you upload the image also make sure the alt text of your image uses local keywords. Here is an example of locally optimized alt text:
<a href=”where you want the image to link to“><img src=”the url of your image. This is probably going to be hosted on your web-server” alt=” your local keyword. this should also describe the picture.” title=”the name of your image. this should have your city name in it.” width=”xxx” height=”xxx” /></a>
After you’ve localized the images on your site, you can also upload them to Panoramio. Panoramio allows you to add geo tags to your image. It will set the longitude and latitude of your picture, and give your site even more local emphasis. When you upload your image to Panoramio, set the coordinates to your office address. When you do this it will also allow your picture to show up in your Google Places profile.
3. Get Creative With Local Pages
Lastly, you need to have locally optimized content on your website. We’ve all heard the somewhat annoying mortar, “content is king” while every SEO is tired of hearing this, it still holds some truth. The truth is that yes, content is still king, but the reasons that statement is true has dramatically changed over the past 10 years.For the purposes of these local SEO tips, your content needs to at least mention your city name and keywords. If you have a company that has offices in multiple cities, you can create “local page profiles” for each one of your offices.The trick here is to create relevant and high-quality copy that isn’t duplicate content. There are a few ways you can do this.
Do Local Pages Like Pink Berry
Pinkberry takes a minimalist approach to local content. You can use their store locater to find their locations. Each location has the store address, store hours, the store’s services (catering, deliver, etc…) the store’s name, and a newsfeed from their blog. That’s it! If you take this approach, you’ll have to do a little extra link building. But with a few high-quality links, you’ll be able to rank competitively for your keyword.
Do Local Pages Like Nerds On Call
The other option is to take an over and above approach to local content and create a sub-site for each store that has completely unique content. (This is a project that I worked on.) Each store has a local page that is highly customized, and has unique content. You can check out a few of them here and here.
The trick here is to create unique content. Do not copy/past content from one sub-site to another one. Lazy duplicate content is one of the worst things you can do to your site. If your company has locations in multiple cities, the chances are you also have enough employees to make this work. You can easily leverage your employes to help you create unique content. If you sell a service, then take the descriptions you used for your services. Interview your employees about the services you offer, and re-write the service descriptions using their own words. Everyone talks, and describes things a little differently, so you’ll have unique copy about your services directly from an industry expert. You’ll have to do a lot more work if you choose to use this approach, but it will pay off in the end.
Local SEO is under a major overhaul, with the creation of Google + Local pages, and Google’s new local PPC ads. Not to worry, if you follow these techniques, your site will survive almost any google algorithm change that happens.
About Bryant Jaquez. Bryant is the founder of the innovative and creative marketing firm BrewSEO. BrewSEO is full of SEO Extraordinaire, Social Media Moguls, Web Designer Superstars and Branding Geniuses. You can follow us @brewseo