We always look forward to WordCamp Atlanta and this year was no different. There were so many great sessions, Sam and I  divided up several times so we could try catch  and as much information as we could.  After the long weekend, we walked away with a lot of new information and inspired to try new things and build on existing ones.

I think one of our favorite sessions was SEO Goes Local which was presented by Rich Owings of Asheville, NC.  Rich shared with us the difference of local SEO compared to traditional SEO and 5 components that are vital for successful Local SEO. Some of the key points we walked away are listed below;

  1. Google+ Page – Business Listings
  2. Citations
  3. Online Reviews
  4. Links
  5. Onsite Optimization

First important take-away obviously is to create a Google Business Listing if you haven’t already.  You will need to create a Google+ Page and create and choose the business type. When doing so – he recommended to create a Local Business page using Storefront or Service Area and NOT a Brand type. Brands do not rate locally.

Google+ page:

  1. Verify ownership – this verifies accuracy and ownership.  Google has a great video & information on how to verify ownership.
  2. Be sure to fill in ALL the fields on your Google profile. A more complete profile is a better profile.
  3. Choose the the most specific and appropriate category. Choose 1 category preferably no more than 2.  Choosing multiple categories dilutes your ranking power.
  4. No keyword stuffing  in your description. Use your city once or twice but no more. Google will ding you for that.
  5. If you have multiple locations, be sure to create 1 listing for each location
  6. Also note that it is OKAY to hide your address.  Not all local businesses serve their customers from a physical location. Many businesses operate from a home address. If your business serves customers at their locations, you should list it as a service area business on Google.

Citations

Citation consistency is extremely important. A citation is an online reference to your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP). Google uses them when evaluating the online authority of your business.

  1. A major factor in determining how you rank locally is the quantity and quality of citations and NAP consistency (NAP = Name / Address / Phone) across your citations. When creating business citations, be sure they are all consistent.
  2. Claim all your citations like Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook etc.
  3. Fill out all your citations thoroughly.
  4. Informal citations help –
    • Local Directories are very important.
    • Niche Listings
    • National

Online Reviews

  1. Ask clients to leave online reviews on Google, Yelp or Facebook. 5 is the magic number. 10 is better.
  2. Have a page to display reviews – Google places reviews plugin, Yelp etc.
  3. If you receive negative reviews, be sure to respond to them.

Links

  1. Do you offer discounts – local businesses sometimes list your business offering discounts.
  2. Meetup groups – consider sponsoring to get a link.
  3. Partners & Suppliers – share links with each other.  Write testimonials for them.
  4. Non-profits, charities etc.  Many link back to your website.
  5. Chamber of Commerce & Better Business Bureaus
  6. Outreach – other bloggers etc. Share your knowledge
  7. Great content on your own website.

Onsite Optimization

Be sure your website has:

  1. NAP – Name, Address, Phone Number in text – not on a graphic. Google can’t see it. (footer is a good place for this).
  2. Title tag with City, State, Business Name and main service.
  3. Be sure you have a 404 page.
  4. Have a single domain to build that authority.
  5. Clickable phone number
  6. Show Hours of Operation
  7. Include useful information – FAQs
  8. Location page (unless you are a home business)
    1. Include directions.
    2. Google map embedded on your website.
  9. You really need a mobile optimized website.
  10. Blogging – Google likes deep sites with updated material. Gives you user interaction signals.
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