Let's face it, local SEO is probably the most used SEO strategy of them all. Sure, as a search marketer you will get your share of e-commerce websites and nationwide campaigns, but the bread and butter of most search marketers is local SEO. This trend will continue to grow over the next few years as search engines are pushing to personalize results based on taste and location. The later is even more important because the majority of a searcher's intent is typically local in nature (getting a haircut, ordering pizza or getting your car's oil changed are just a few examples of specific local intent). How does one go hyper local? Keep reading.
I have broken down the hyperlocal approach based on phases.
For those unfamiliar or new to the world of local search, please keep in mind that's its critical that your business NAP (business name, address and phone number) stay consistent across the web. This makes it easier for search engines to quickly and efficiently gather all the signals pointing to your website. Any inconsistencies in the NAP, may result in valuable SEO juice leakage.
Phase 1: Register your business and get verified on Google+, Yahoo Local Listing and Bing Places. This may sound like a no-brainier, but you would be surprised as to how many businesses neglect this step. This is the foundational piece as it alerts all the 3 major search engines that your business is local to a specific city and state. Without registering on these directories (and getting verified), search engines have no clue where your business is located.
Phase 2: Register and claim your business listing on all the local directories like Super Pages, Best of the Web, Yelp, Yellow Pages etc. I would call this the secondary local listings after Google Places, Yahoo & Bing Places. To find out if your business is already listed on some of these directories, MOZ provides a great tool called Get Listed for free. It will scan your business name and check if its listed on some major local directories. For those with a larger budget, Yahoo is also offering a similar service where they will claim and clean up all your business listings on all the major directories (keeping the NAP consistent). Such services are subject to available funds and resources. Having said that, if you have the budget, it is highly recommended to obtain these services as it could save you countless hours of work. The freed up time and resources could be used in other SEO areas.
Phase 3: Now that your business is listed on all the major directories (Steps 1 & 2), its time to really push the envelope further trough data aggregators. These organizations collect local information regarding a business and share it with search engines. Consider data aggregators like portals that collect and disseminate information across the web. Currently, the 5 largest local data aggregators are Infogroup, Neustar Localeze, Acxiom, Factual and Foursquare. Its best to use a service to push your business information to these local data aggregators. There are a variety of services you can use like MOZ Local that will do this for you at a very reasonable price point.
Phase 4: Now that you have a solid foundation with search engine directories, local directories and data aggregators, its time to really go hyperlocal. This means finding directories and or citations that are (a) specific to your business and (b) situated in your geographic location. This step will require a search marketer to either use one of three methods, tools or services:
1. Competitive Analysis via Google search (Beginner Level): do a regular search by using a well ranked competitor's NAP. For example, if you see a well ranked local business who is competing in your space, take the company's NAP (business name, address and phone number) and place quotation marks around it and type into a Google search. The next step will be to scan through all the search results to find relevant local directories for inclusion. This can be a tedious process, but the reward is well worth it.
2. Scrapebox (Advanced Level): can be used in conjunction with the steps outlined above. This will save you time and populate all the search results in a single file or format of your choosing.
3. Third-Party Service (Efficient): there are services like Whitespark that will help you find local citations/directories for your business. For those that are pressed for time, but have a budget to spend on a third party tool, this is a great method for finding hyperlocal citations.
4. Network: use the old fashioned method of networking. Call or e-mail other local businesses for an inclusion in their website's resources page. If you're a doctor, call all the local hospitals in the area and ask if your wesbite can be included on their site's resources page. Get in touch with the local University or Community College to ask for the same thing. Basically, you want your business to have a connection with another local business.
The end goal is to create as many local "connections" between your business and other local businesses in the area. This will send a strong signal to the search engines that your business is hyper relevant to a specific location because it is connected with other local businesses. Its going local through association.
And there you have it folks, a step-by-step guide on how to go hyperlocal for your business or local search campaign.
Good luck and may the SEO force be with you!
Zain has been in the internet marketing space for several years helping businesses of varying sizes achieve on-line results. When he’s not analyzing rankings, traffic and conversions, Zain likes to travel the world and take his motorbike to unthinkable speeds. Zain is also the founder and CEO of Search House Media, which is a digital marketing agency.