Local Search Optimization – Lay the Groundwork

Local search is a powerful yet increasingly complex landscape. In our first installment of Local Search Optimization, our goal is to get you Google Map of Chicagostarted with a strong base on which to build.

Start with Google Places. The data integrity process you’ll use for Google Places will be repeated across all directories, and we feel it’s one of the easiest to get the gist of. We want you to understand the procedures so you can navigate other directories that may not be quite as intuitive.

Let’s talk about five factors that optimize your local search results:

  1. Location, Location, Location — Yep, the old adage is still true. Having your business address as close to the centroid of your target market is extremely important! If you’re getting ready to open a brick and mortar business, this is definitely something you’ll want to take into consideration.
  1. NAP (Name/Address/Phone) — All the information you supply to directories has to be consistent and accurate. It needs to match the exact data you have on your website. We’ve found that while NAP is critical, you’ll want consistency down to website URLs, email addresses, and every other bit of data you’re providing. Ensure accuracy across all of your directory submissions by writing down exactly how you enter your first submission and replicating this across every other one you do. Failure to do this may lead search engines to consider your business as multiple businesses.
  1. Business Categories — Next, you want to max out your business categories. For example, Google Places gives you up to five categories. Use all five, and be sure that at least one matches a category in their index, which is available right on their page. If your business falls into a general category but has something unique that differentiates you from your competition, DO be sure to include it. DO NOT include geographic information for business category — that is considered spammy and will hurt your ranking.
  1. Off-Page Information (Reviews, ratings, citations, etc.) — The search engines are checking these, and as such, they need to be paid special attention and managed. Quality is currently not as great a factor as quantity, but both should be maximized to the greatest extent possible.

*Unstructured citations like those from a newspaper can be very powerful. Be sure your business information is included and accurate.

*Structured citations like Yelp, Yellow Pages, City Search, etc. carry less weight but are easy for the search engines to index.

*For volume of unstructured citations in blogs, news ads, etc – the more the better!

Where your citations appear make a difference in the weight they carry. For example, unstructured reviews like those from a newspaper carry a high level of clout with search engines compared to open directories (structured reviews). If a local paper is doing a story about your business, be sure they have your NAP data correct, and get your website URL in there!

  1. Keywords — In the end, all the search engines are really trying to do is provide end users the best results based off of the search terms entered. So think about your business in human terms. What do you do? How are you satisfying consumer demand? Where is your target market? Why are folks looking for your products or services, and what makes you different and special?

Well, those are five ways to get started optimizing your Local Search. In our next installment of Local Search Optimization, we’ll take the good base you’ve now laid down and work on making it outstanding! For more help on optimizing your internet footprint, contact Chicago based Launch Digital Marketing.

Meet mmiddleton

Matt Middleton has been in the marketing industry for over 20 years. He is an avid sailor, a terrible golfer and is the owner/operator of the largest cattle farm in Kendall county.