Local businesses are of course keen to know how on earth theyre supposed to get seen on Google, and the annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey is a great way to keep up to date on what are the most effective ways of doing local seo.
Here are 10 top ways to differentiate yourself from your competition and move your website up Googles search pages:
1. You need to have structured citations for your business on the right sites
Structure citations are simply mentions of your business name in a formal way on key directory and review sites.
The details on these authority sites should match exactly the details on your website. (And you should have those matching contact details on every page of your site.) Other sites youll need to be on include Yell, Thomson, Qype and Scoot in the UK.
2. You need authority links
Work on your back links
3. You need reviews on Google Places
Steer these potential reviewers toward Google Places
4. You need mentions on industry and location-relevant domains
If youre an electrician in Sheffield, the more links you have from Sheffield websites and from websites of businesses related to yours, the better. Ie, if youre an electrician from Sheffield, a link from a strip club in Glasgow probably wont help you much. But a link from a forum where electricians gather might, and a link from a local Sheffield blog might.
If you arent already, start participating on industry and local sites, leaving your contact details on them along the way.
5. You need unstructured citations (mentions of your business)
Unstructured citations are mentions of your website in a less formal way than the Yelp address above.
It may be a mention of your business name and town in online magazines or blog posts or it may come from your social media profiles, for example your address in your LinkedIn profile or your mobile number in your Facebook profile.
The more of these you have the better, and the better quality the site it came from, the better for your ranking. (For example a mention on the Daily Mail website is going to be better for your business than a mention on a magazine website that hasnt been around for very long).
6. You need lots of photos on your Local+ page
Have as many professional-looking photos taken of your business premises and your products as is practical and upload them to your Google Local+ page. Like these Ford Motor images:
7. You need to attract third party traditional reviews
This will include reviews in online magazines, newspapers and blog posts. And of course, the better quality the website, the better.
8. You need your product/service keywords in reviews
When youre guiding your happy customers toward review sites, give them a few words youd like them to use in their reviews. Words that are important to your business and that searchers are likely to use to find you.
9.You need a range of inbound links
Links from 100 blog posts probably wont help as much as links from a range of blog posts, media sites, relevant business directories and social media sites.
10.Overall velocity of reviews
If you received 100 reviews six months ago but havent received any since, the positive effect that these reviews had on your rankings will have decreased over time.
If, however, youre receiving one or two good reviews a week steadily over a number of months your ranking will benefit greatly.
That means that if youre running a campaign asking customers to review you, dont email them all at once. Spread it out over time.
Google has made it easier over recent years for local businesses to rank. So take advantage of this and lord it over your competitors by doing local SEO just that bit better.