Local SEO: More Challenges Ahead for Local Businesses

Local SEO is More Challenging Than EverIn my latest blog post for Search Engine Land I talked about the challenges that local businesses face as they try to rank high on Google Local Search results. Gone are the days where claiming and updating your Google My Business and Google+ page is enough to get you to show up in the Google Local 3-Pack (down from the original 7-Pack and soon to go down to a 2-Pack with one paid-for spot at the top.)

Now more than ever, local businesses need to be aggressive about their Local SEO efforts. You can find more details on these tips in my Search Engine Land post, but here’s a quick overview:

  • Claim and optimize your Google My Business and Google+ Business pages and then continue to add to these pages by posting pictures, videos, posts, updated business description (using keywords, of course). The competition is stiff. Take a look at what your competitor’s Google My Business and Google+ pages look like and one-up them whenever possible
  • Create localized pages on your site — and really make them local. For instance, if your business is participating in your town’s local St. Patty’s Day Parage, write a blog post of your support and be sure to mention the city’s name a few times, post pictures that have Alt tags and even make sure that the image file name is optimized. (i.e. instead of 0005998.jpg rename the file to Business-Name-City-St-Pattys-Parade-Photo.jpg.)
    • If you are a business with multiple locations, create a separate page for each location and be sure to post events and specials that are happening at those locations
  • Get your business listed on as many QUALITY online business directories/citation sites as possible — Online Busines Directories show up all over the place when you do a search online (Yellowpages, Yelp, Foursquare, etc.) Look for the quality (and I do mean quality) online business directories that show up in Google’s search results and claim and verify your business listing on these sites. There are probably around 150+ quality online business directories that you should be striving for. Additionally, you should also find a company with connections to local citation aggregator services, like Neustar and InfoUSA that will push your business’ online directory listing out to even more quality directories
  • Reviews are a MUST. If you despise the thought of dealing with reviews about your business, now is the time to get over it. Reviews count more and more to not only future shoppers or customers but also in the search engines. Google even recently started showing third-party review sites in a company’s Knowledge Panel. Now more than ever you have to be proactive about asking happy customers to leave reviews on Google My Business, Yelp and a few other major review sites.

To read more tips on how to compete in the challenging Local SEO world, check out my post on Search Engine Land.