This past week members of the SEO Boy team attended the SEOmoz ProTraining Seminar in Seattle, WA. Among many impressive presentations, David Mihm gave a very valuable presentation on local search strategies. David’s presentation uncovered the importance of local search, insight into the local search algorithm, and best practices for local search strategy. This blog post will focus on the basics: the why’s and how’s of local search optimization. Keep an eye out for more advanced topics from his presentation next week.
Local Search Algorithm
The Google Local Search algorithm is not the same as the website driven algorithm that produces organic search results. Google’s local search algorithm is driven by Google Maps, which is a completely different animal. Businesses and SEOs need to approach local SEO differently. Local search is about optimizing based on location, and consistently optimizing for those locations.
Google Local Business Center (LBC)
The first step to optimizing your campaign for local search is to submit you listing to The Google Local Business Center. To build trust and improve your ranking chances with Google Local, there are some best practices to live by:
- Claim your locations manually, this signals to Google that you are a real person, and not a spammer.
- It is essential to include an address located in the city of the search listing. This generally needs to be a brick-and-mortar location.
- Make sure your listing is categorized properly and submit to the maximum number of categories.
- When it does not damage user experience, utilize keywords in the business title.
3rd Party Listings
Not everyone uses Google to find local listings (yet). So to be successful in your local search campaign, you need to consider other sources for listings. At a minimum, claim your business with the sources below:
- Acxiom Universal Business Lisiting
- Yahoo Local
- BOTW Local
Locally driven search engines can also be one of the best sources to add value and trust to your local search campaign. Just like a webpage, Google likes to see trusted sources linking to your site. It builds credibility for your business. When building your local search campaign, don’t’ forget to request business listings (with links to your site) from the following:
- Neighborhood organizations, non-profits
- Chambers of commerce + related orgs
- Hyperlocal bloggers and social networks (Twitter)
If you don’t care about local search, these Google search statistics from Urban Mapping may change your mind. In Google, an estimated 40% of all search queries have local intent; 5% use city or state names; 2% use information terms, like neighborhoods; and .5% use zip codes. Some SEOs also argue that the future of search will all be focused on local. So if you haven’t gone local, it is time to start preparing your search campaign for the future.