Local marketing experts will tell you that the world of local search marketing is highly competitive and oftentimes intimidating. However, with the inclusion of the "7-pack" on the first page of Google's SERPs, there is at least a target that businesses can shoot for to achieve local SEO success.
The overall formula for winning at local business listing optimization consists of the fundamental building blocks of all successful SEO: creating great content, acquiring local citations, link building, gathering online reviews, and adding in strategic social media campaigns. Here is the formula explained in more detail.
- Use the Most Effective Keywords
Continually test the effectiveness of your keywords by looking at how you are ranking for those keywords and how many people are actually searching for your targeted keywords. If your keywords are ineffective, change them. Make sure your keywords are locally targeted, so they activate a search engine's local search algorithm. The easiest way to test whether or not your keywords are locally targeted is to search for your keywords on Google. If searching for your keywords does not trigger the "7-pack" of local search results to appear, then the keywords are not locally targeted and are not triggering a search engine's local search algorithm.
- Understand Where You Are in the World
If there are more than 7 well-ranking sites for a search performed on Google, then Google will give favor to the results that are closest to the city center of the given region. This is known as "centroid bias". It is important for you to understand, which city center your business is actually closest to, when targeting your website locally. For many businesses this is not a hard thing to do; however, it is easier to make this mistake than you might think. It is not uncommon for businesses to be incorrectly targeting their keywords for local search.
- Maintain NAP Consistency
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number. Essentially, what this means is everywhere your business information is listed online it should be consistent. Your business name should always be the same. Your address should always be the same. Your phone number should always be the same. This is critical in allowing Google to make the connections between all of your online business listings and provide your business with the search engine "credit" you want. Maintaining NAP consistency seems so simple, but it can easily get out of hand. Oftentimes, businesses are not even aware of every single online reference to their NAP.
- Gathering Reviews
Gathering customer reviews through your website and through your local business listings (such as Google+ for Business) provides credibility to your business for potential customers and user generated content for the search engines. People are much more likely to frequent a business, when the business has positive online reviews.
Google has provided the real estate on the first page of its SERPs by setting aside space for the "7-pack". Businesses that are able to optimize themselves for local search results can take advantage of the success that a "7-pack" listing can bring.
For nearly three decades, Chris Marentis, founder and CEO of Surefire Social, has been responsible for driving innovation and sales growth for large media and e-commerce brands as well as start-ups. Marentis is a frequent speaker at local digital marketing conferences and a contributor to SMB and technology-focused publications.