Since August, local search gurus have been bemoaning the loss of Google’s 7-pack, which has been reduced to a 3-pack. Search Engine Journal’s Matt Southern tells local businesses they shouldn’t be trying to get into the 3-pack anyway. Why? Because it’s based on the searcher’s location. A 3-pack in Google search results will always be based on the proximity between a searcher’s location and the location of the businesses that appear there. The closer the business is to the searcher’s location, the more likely the business will appear in that 3-pack. So stop trying.
I’ll have to agree with that assessment. But if that’s true, then what is the point of local search? Is it possible to help your business fare better in local search results? You bet it is.
How to Improve Your Local Search Rankings
First, it’s important to understand that keywords are still important in search engine marketing. That’s not to say you should stuff your keywords into your website content. Rather, you want to include them naturally and stuffing isn’t natural. But more important, you need to think about geographic terms as keywords in and of themselves. In other words, “Wayzata” is not just a town in Minnesota. If you serve Wayzata–even if your business isn’t physically located there–then you should use “Wayzata” in your website content somewhere. The best way to do that is to create a landing page for Wayzata customers. That page should consist of unique and original content targeted directly toward people who live and/or work in Wayzata.
Another thing you can do is include a Google Map on your landing page. It’s a small thing, but it’s a local search signal that Google looks at.
Finally, familiar with Schema markup. You should include Schema markup for your company name, address, and phone number. You can learn more about Schema markup at Schema.org.
Other key components of local search marketing include:
- Off-page signals like directory listings and citations – Third-party citations will always be important in local search marketing.
- Optimizing your Google Maps listing – Make sure your address and phone number are accurate, your store hours are present, and you should spend some time encouraging your customers to leave reviews. More importantly, provide good customer service and reviews will happen.
- Local reviews at sites like Yelp and Angie’s List – Local reviews at at sites like Yelp and Angie’s List may obtain high search rankings themselves. They’re a ranking criteria on their own.
- Linkbuilding – Build solid links with guest posting and off-site articles.
- Offline marketing – Establish good relationships offline by supporting local charities and joining your local Chamber.
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