Cheat Sheet: Local SEO

Last Updated: 18/03/2014

cheat-sheet-local

Not only is Google+ Local (formally Google Places & Google Maps) the largest business directory in the world, there is evidence to suggest that an optimised Local listing can actually help organic rankings (and vice-versa). The full benefits of an optimised Google+ Local listing are as follows:

  • Google+ Local is the SINGLE most important business directory in existence
  • A Google local listing is a way of obtaining an extra 1st page listing (in addition to organic listings)
  • More and more searches are conducted on mobiles – Google+ Local is mobile ready and hugely accessible
  • According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online while 1 in 3 of all searches have local intent.

Claim your listing in Google+ Local

…if you haven’t already done so. Many businesses have already been put online by Google, simply search within Google Maps for your business name and when the Google+ profile appears click “Edit This Place” and then “Claim Your Business”. If your business is new and/or small you may need to add it to the database.

  1. Go to www.google.com/places and select the “Get Started” option.
  2. Follow the steps and fill out as many fields as possible
  3. Verify the account so select the verification method that suits you best.

Key Steps To Optimising Your Local Online Presence:

  1. Claim your profile (…obviously)
  2. Achieve a “100% Complete” profile rating by filling out each field
  3. You can  use keywords in your description but remember it should accurately describe your business – try to use all 200 characters
  4. Use (up to 5) categories to describe what your business is – not what it sells. At least one must be one of Google’s default categories
  5. Upload (up to 10) images depicting your business in its best light
  6. Insert (up to 5) videos from YouTube (need to create or optimise your videos? Follow this guide: Cheat Sheet: Video SEO)
  7. Ensure information on 3rd party sites (such as industry review sites) is correct as Google often uses this information
  8. Seek out citation opportunities such as localised and industry directories
  9. Make sure your business’s address is consistent on your site, Google+ Local and within citation sources
  10. Ask you happy customers for a review on 3rd party review sites as well as Google+ Local
  11. Respond to ALL reviews, not just bad
  12. Make sure your G+ Local description contains keywords whilst remaining accurate and helpful

Finding Citation Opportunities

  • Directories and business/industry review sites
  • Local government bodies and organisations such as your local chamber of commerce
  • Sponsor local events
  • Press releases of events and publicity stunts
  • Locally-based bloggers
  • Competitor citation analysis – search in Google for all instances of your competitor’s address, phone number, URL or email address

The following are a list of citation sources listed on jonnyross.com

Citation Type Free/Paid
accessplace.com Local Directory Free Listing
activehotels.com Hotel Site Paid Listing
allinlondon.co.uk Local Directory Paid Listing
applegate.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
backpage.com Classified Listings Free Listing
beerintheevening.com Bar & Pub Listings Paid Listing
bing.my118information.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
bizwiki.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
booking.com Travel Site Paid Listing
brownbook.net Local Directory Free Listing
bview.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
city-visitor.com Local Directory Free Listing
cyles-uk.co.uk General Directory Free Listing
destinia.com Travel Site Paid Listing
foursquare.com Local Directory Free Listing
freeindex.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
gumtree.com Classified Listings Free Listing
hotel.info Hotel Site Paid Listing
hotel-ami.co.uk Hotel Site Paid Listing
hotfrog.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
laterooms.com Hotel Site Paid Listing
list.co.uk Entertainment Listings Paid Listing
local.trueknowledge.com Local Directory Free Listing
localdatasearch.com Local Directory Free Listing
locallife.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
londondirectory.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
londononline.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
orbitz.com Travel Site Paid Listing
qype.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
restaurant-ami.de Restaurant site Paid Listing
retrieva.co.uk General Directory Free Listing
scoot.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
smilelocal.com Local Directory Free Listing
solicitors.co.uk Legal Directory Free Listing
squaremeal.co.uk Restaurant site Free Listing
thebestof.co.uk Local Directory Paid Listing
thomsonlocal.com Local Directory Free Listing
tipped.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
totaltravel.co.uk Travel Site Free Listing
touchlocal.com Local Directory Free Listing
tripadvisor.com Hotel Site Paid Listing
trivago (multiple domains) Travel Site Paid Listing
tvtrip (multiple domains) Hotel Site Paid Listing
ufindus.com Local Directory Free Listing
upmystreet.com Local Directory Free Listing
viewlondon.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
wcities.com Venue/Events Listings Free Listing
wego.com Travel Site Free Listing
welovelocal.com Local Directory Paid Listing
wheresbest.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
whoseview.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
yell.com Local Directory Free Listing
yelp.co.uk Local Directory Free Listing
zettai.net Classified Listings Free Listing

Generating Reviews

  • Produce hand-out leaflets with instructions (and QR code link?) and give them out/post them to customers
  • Send email including instructions and a link to a preferred review site
  • Add a link & request on a WIFI log-in screen (great for restaurants, hotels and bars)

Be Aware…

  • There is evidence to suggest that poor or minimal reviews could harm your rankings, and negative reviews can impact your traffic and conversion rate
  • People are more inclined to leave a review after a bad experience, so you must encourage happy customers to review you
  • You should respond to all reviews left through Google, both positive and negative – this shows you are not a faceless company and are genuinely interested in your customer’s feedback

Business Images

  • The first image you upload will likely become your ‘main’ image
  • When replacing images with new ones it can take up to 4 weeks to see the changes
  • Use appropriate keywords and location in file names
  • Consider embedding text on an image or two such as a glowing testimonial or awards
  • Ask customers, friends, family etc. to upload their own images using their Google account

Remember / #ProTips

  • Not only will your business show up higher the closer it is to the search area, but it may show up higher on mobile searches that are physically close to the business
  • One of the strongest ranking factors is how high your website ranks for the same queries
  • Do not try and optimise your Google+ Local title with keywords – ALWAYS use your actual company name so that it matches citations around the web
  • You must keep your profile engaging and up-to-date – Include awesome pictures, videos and events
  • Geo-tag your videos in YouTube within the advanced settings before uploading to your listing, and if appropriate use your address in the video description
  • DO NOT submit fake reviews to boost your credibility – Google is good at picking up on patterns and tell-tale signs and will penalise you for them.
  • Consider adding your contact details to every page of your site and also use schema micro-data tags.
  • Consider embedding the interactive Google map to your site and/or linking to your Google+ Local listing
  • Use geo-keywords in appropriate image ALT tags
  • If you have multiple Google+ Local listings (for multiple business locations) link them to individual locally-optimised pages on your website
  • Get better user data through Google Analytics by using UTM tracking on the Website URL submitted to your listing