Let’s play a little game to find out how well your local SEO company knows essential local SEO strategies. Start by answering the following questions about your online presence, then read more to see if your knowledge stacks up to what a fifth grader could understand. While there are dozens of strategies for improving local presence, these six essentials are a great starting point.
Kindergarten: Is your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) consistent throughout the web?
1st Grade: Do you have listings in local directories and review aggregator sites?
2nd Grade: Do you have good reviews?
3rd Grade: Is your website content specific to your location?
4th Grade: Is your Google map listing verified?
5th Grade: Are your title tags and meta descriptions location specific?
Ask a 5 year old where they live and they can rattle off their address almost as accurately as Dori in Finding Nemo. P.Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney.
Consistency is KEY.
Local search presence is entirely dependent on keeping the spelling, punctuation, and format uniform across all directories. You may find yourself asking, “How do I know what my name, address, and phone number should be?”
Google your phone number. Google typically likes to see a phone number in this format (xxx) xxx-xxxx. Try different formats of your phone number like: xxx-xxx-xxxx or xxx.xxx.xxxx or xxxxxxxxxx.
Do similar google searches for your business name and address.
Do you have other phone numbers you have used in the past, like tracking numbers or alternate phone lines? These will need to be cleaned up so you are using one phone number. The only exception for multiple phone numbers is if you have separate locations. Each location should have one unique phone number.
While you are looking at these search results, take note of how your name and address display. Does your name have various forms of punctuation or suffixes? For example, using an ‘&’ sometimes, while spelling out ‘and’ in other cases. Or including ‘LLC’ in the business name or not.
The address should also be consistent. Is your suite number included in every listing? Are there spelling errors in the street name? Your SEO company should be made aware of any alternate phone numbers, names, or addresses you have used prior to your partnership. They should also be able to tell you if there are inconsistencies in your online listings and should suggest doing cleanup work.
First grade is all about making friends. If you have one friend, and that friend has one other friend the chances are pretty high that you will soon have two friends. Your first friend will tell their other friends to be your friend.
Friends trust friends.
Google trusts rating and review sites. In terms of first grade relationships, you could say Google considers sites like Yelp and Angie’s List friends. Check out this search for ‘Restaurants Salt Lake City’:
Google did not bring up a list of nearby restaurants. ALL of the organic results are review aggregator sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, OpenTable.
It pays to be listed in these aggregator sites and directories. Be sure that your business listings look good, have correct contact information, quality images, and link to social profiles as much as possible.
This builds upon what we learned in 1st grade, that being found on these recognizable review aggregator sites will help your rankings. So will having positive reviews.
According to BrightLocal’s 2015 Consumer Review Survey, 92% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews.
image courtesy of BrightLocal
A recent conversation with a google rep confirmed that positive google reviews do, in fact, contribute to local rankings. That alone should make you want to ask your next 15 happy customers to leave you a review.
Let’s take a look at another Google search, this time just the local results.
In the local 3-pack, the two results with a star rating stand out from the others. In order for the star rating to appear on your local Google listing, you need at least five reviews. More reviews is always better.
Consumers particularly like to see recent reviews, so always continue to get more reviews. Notice how our competition’s 10 reviews pales in comparison to Be Locally SEO’s 35 reviews.
So you have some good reviews, now what?
Respond to all new reviews. Don’t just respond to bad reviews to make yourself look better. Respond to good reviews, too, and let your customers know you are grateful for their business.
Keep getting new reviews. According to BrightLocal, 44% of people say a review must be written within the past month in order to be relevant. Have you started to notice a trend here? We’ll say it again in case you missed it earlier.
Consistency is KEY.
Find out more about the importance of reviews and best practices for getting positive reviews from customers in this complete guide.
Most 3rd graders are learning how to write with a specific audience in mind. Your website should do this too.
Do you provide services in multiple areas with only one physical place of business? Try creating individual pages geo-targeting specific surrounding cities.
Take this lawn care business as an example. They run their pest control and lawn care service business out of Provo, Utah. However, they don’t limit their services to clients ONLY in Provo. They target specific nearby cities like Orem, Pleasant Grove, and Draper.
If your business has multiple locations, it's even more important to have individual pages for each one. Click here to see a detailed explanation of the best SEO practices for businesses with multiple locations.
Businesses with only one location and one area served should still make sure their content is specific to that location. Local businesses should mention the city and state in their website content, perhaps once or twice on each page, and be sure the address and phone number are clearly listed in the header or footer.
4th graders learn how to explore the world by using maps.
Google has been making a lot of changes to their local business listings in recent months. One of those changes involves displaying the local map view in local search results instead of the Google Business page.
Also, make sure the map location embedded in your website is associated with this listing and not a generic address map.
How can you tell? See the little white box in the above map that says ‘All Green Pest Control and Lawn Care’? A generic address map will show the specific address in that box instead of the business name. Having the business name showing signals to Google that the address belongs to that business and that business belongs to your website.
By the 5th grade, kids are able to form strategy and carry out plans. Your SEO company should have a consistent strategy for setting the title tags on important pages of your website that reflects your location.
This may seem a little more complex, but you’re in the 5th grade, you can handle it.
It is much simpler than it seems. Here is what a title tag may look like in the code for this blog post:
Title tags and meta descriptions show up in the search results. Title tags are one of the most important on-page factors. Search engines look at the title tag to determine relevancy. The primary keywords for each specific page, including location, MUST appear in the title tags. Although meta descriptions do not influence rankings, they are beneficial to users in determining if your content is relevant and interesting.
But you don’t need to worry about that, assuming your website is built in an SEO-friendly platform. We recommend WordPress. There is no shortage of SEO plugins available for WordPress that allow easy management of title tags and meta descriptions. We frequently use a plugin called SEO Ultimate. It puts a box at the bottom of each post that makes filling out title and meta description easy.
With the ability to use a plugin to manage title tags and meta descriptions, there is no reason why this shouldn’t be a top priority for your local SEO company.
How does your local SEO company rate? Are they smarter than a 5th grader? Or did they get held back in a lower grade?
Even if you passed, these 6 techniques just barely scratch the surface of local SEO best practices. The more you know, the better you can determine how to improve your rankings, get more traffic to your website, and in turn earn more business. But you don’t need to worry about all of the intricacies of local SEO if you have a quality marketing company in your corner. And if your SEO company is smarter than a fifth grader, you will see results!
Don’t be lose out on new business because you can’t answer these basic SEO questions. Be smarter than a 5th grader, and contact Be Locally SEO to help you get back on track!
Want a more concrete report card for your website? Try our FREE SEO Grader!