Local SEO is becoming an increasingly significant factor, particularly for smaller businesses looking to target a local audience. Google is making a continual effort to improve its local SEO results with competitors such as Yelp doing such a good job in the local advertising market. What this means for local businesses is that (just like the rest of SEO) their local SEO must keep up with the game and form an integral part of their marketing and search strategy. Here’s some awesome tips to help you tackle local SEO:

Google Local Listings

1. Set up a Google Local Listing

It used to be called Google Places, but now it’s Google Local, with the name change coming as part of their transition to integrating the platform with Google Plus, their social media platform. As you can see in the above screenshot, these listings have been included in search results for quite some time, and take up a significant piece of the on-screen real estate. When setting up your listing, tick the following boxes:

  1. Set up pages for all of your business locations (if you have more than one)
  2. Ensure that you add the full address of each specific location into its listing
  3. Add your website address – for businesses that have only one location link to the home page, if you have myltiple locations, ensure that you link each Google Local listing to the page for each location (ie. not just the home page)
  4. Add a unique description
  5. Ensure you select the right categories (multiple categories are a good idea)
  6. Include as many details as possible – hours, payment methods, phone number
  7. Add photos

2. Add Your Address to the Page Your Are Linking To

One thing that a lot of businesses miss is the inclusion of the address on the page that their Google Local Listing links to. This is a key element in matching the two together.

If you have one location:

Ensure that you have your business address in your Google Local Listing. The listing will link to your home page, so you need to ensure that your home page address is listed on your home page. It can be included in the footer, in a side bar, or in the page content.

If you have multiple locations:

Each separate Google Local Listing should be linking to a specific page for that location, as per the above recommendations. Each page that is being linked to should have the address for that business on it, matching with the address in the Google Local Listing.

3. Acquire some Local Directory Listings and Citations

There is now a significant focus by Google to identify citations for a business, particularly within local publications and websites. By identifying businesses that are being talked about and linked to from high authority, local business sources, Google is measuring the relevance and authority of the business in its region.

I specifically mention high authority above, because there are loads of low quality local directories that have been set up by people looking to capitalise on SEO link buyers over the years. Here’s some examples of really good local directories:

  1. http://www.truelocal.com.au/
  2. http://www.yellowpages.com.au/
  3. http://www.mycommunitydirectory.com.au/
  4. http://www.dlook.com.au/
  5. http://www.startlocal.com.au/

Want an extra hand? Juliet recently wrote a post here that included a mention of a tool called Whitespark that you can use to check citations (mentions of a business’s details) of your competitors. By using  Whitespark you can see the directories that your SEO competitors are gaining citations from and add them to your hit list.