The Basics of Local SEO – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 Howdy mozfans! This week’s Whiteboard Friday features the return of Danny Dover, our lead SEO here at SEOmoz. He’s going to be discussing the basics of local SEO, a rapidly developing, important niche in SEO land that involves a complex amalgamation of many data sources and metrics. Hey, sounds a lot like the regular SEO we know and love! Take a look at what’s on Danny’s whiteboard here below the video.

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Danny’s Whiteboard:

SEO Local: Behind the Scenes:

  1. Most important: accessibility and content
  2. Second most important: keyword research and targeting
  3. Third most important: links
  4. Fourth most important: social

SEO Local-Specific Features/Considerations

  1. Search engine page
  2. Local directory submissions
    • Yahoo Local
    • Yelp
    • Citysearch
    • Urbanspoon
    • Trip Advisor
    • Judysbook
    • Insider Pages
    • Niche Data Sources
  3. Links
  4. Addresses
  5. Categories
  6. Reviews

Other Metrics Worth Considering

  1. Title (Business Name)
  2. Photos
  3. Social

Video Transcription

Hello, everybody. My name is Danny Dover. I work here at SEOmoz doing
SEO. For today’s Whiteboard Friday, I’m going to tell you about the basics
of local search. So, if you’ve been paying attention to this, you’ll
notice that there was a big update with this recently. The local search
experts that I talked to said this is a tectonic shift, to give you kind of
some context. So, let me go over that.

First thing is local, behind the scenes. What is going on and what exactly
changed? The biggest thing that I see here is visual layouts. If you’re
looking on a SERP instead of seeing the seven box that we used to see,
which was a map with seven different items next to it, we’re now seeing the
local searches integrated into a normal SERP. The big difference here is,
from what we hear from Google, that they have combined their main algorithm
with the local algorithm. Where it used to be completely separate, they
are now integrated. I don’t exactly know what they mean by that per se.
An algorithm is a big set of equations. It seems to me that the way that
it used to be set up they’d have to be interacting with each other somehow.
Apparently that’s not the case, but it does make doing local SEO easier in
theory. We haven’t had enough time to test it out yet, but what it looks
like from a preliminary view is that factors that have been useful for
traditional SEO are now more useful for local SEO, which is a win. It
means that if you are optimizing your website that you’re doing well in the
local verticals and you’re also doing well in the universal search. It’s a
win/win for business owners and a win/win for webmasters. So it’s
something I like to see.

The other thing that we heard is that now Google is saying that over 20% of
searches contain some sort of reference to locality, be it a city, state,
or country, something like that. That is a big deal. It means that this
is growing. It makes a lot of sense. We see the mobile spaces growing and
there’s GPS data there and there are also people searching “restaurant
Seattle” or “museum Seattle”, that kind of thing. We’re seeing that a lot
more, and it’s growing. By taking advantage of the other things I am going
to say, you can get more benefit from local.

So, let’s talk local specific, right. Well, before I do that actually, let
me back up to what are the things that you need to focus on for all of SEO,
and then right after that I’ll get to local specific. Things for all of
SEO, this will go for your website if you’re trying to do image search or
if you’re trying to do video search or if you’re trying to do local search,
for all SEO is the SEO in pyramids. I’ve talked about this before and I’ll
link to it in the post below. What we’re looking for here is at the top in
a very small degree is social. I don’t think at this point that local
search is really dependent on social. By social, I mean things like
Facebook and Twitter and blogs, all of that kind of thing that you
traditionally think of as social. I don’t think that’s affecting local
yet, but it’s certainly affecting other verticals and specifically
universal search, which is just normal search that you think of.

Underneath that is links. Links is absolutely affecting local. Who is
linking to you, how popular are they, what does the anchor text in links
say, all those factors are extremely important for all of the verticals.

Underneath that is keyword research and targeting. What keywords are you
trying to target? Is it the name of your business or is it the name of an
item on your menu if you’re a restaurant? What is it you are trying to
search for, and more importantly are people actually searching for it? You
can be the highest targeted, the most well optimized result for a phrase,
but if no one is searching for it, you’re not going to get any traffic.

Below that is accessibility and content. Are the search engines able to
access your web page and is the content relevant? Is it content that
people would actually try to find? The entire reason that people go to
Google, Bing, or Yahoo is to find content, find some kind of answer to a
question they have. The most important part of SEO is content. You’ll
hear that over and over again.

Let me talk local specific for just a second here. Under local specific
you have your search engine page. In Google this is your Places page, in
Yahoo it’s Yahoo Local, and in Bing it’s Bing Local. What this is, is a
page from the search engines about a specific business. This is great for
business owners if they don’t want to have to have their own web page.
It’s also great for us as SEOs because it makes it a streamline process for
optimizing a business online. Google Places you can get a little bit of
analytics, although they’re, to be quite honest, they’re a little bit
mediocre. You can also get photos up on your thing and you can aggregate
reviews. These search engine pages, the single most important thing you
can do for local is creating this local page for your business.

Number two is local directory submissions. Let me be very clear with this.
I am not recommending traditional directory submission. So, do not just
go out to FreeLinks.com, or whatever the website might be (I just made that
up) and post links there. That’s not what I’m talking about. Instead, I
am talking about these well established data sources for local businesses.
You have things over here, these are the ones I’ve seen affecting the new
algorithm. Yahoo Local, I am seeing that everywhere when I did a review of
it. It looks like other people I’ve talked to that they are also seeing
this, too. So, Yahoo Local, there’s some kind of partnership between Yahoo
and Google there as far as getting data. Underneath that, Yelp, and after
Yahoo Local these aren’t really in any particular order. But Yelp is a
traditional business thing, and I’ve seen that show up in Google results
for local. Citysearch, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, Judy’s Book, Insider
Pages, and then I’m also seeing a bunch of niche data sources. So, if the
search is about schools, you’ll find school-specific data sources. So
whereas these ones above kind of cover all businesses or at least most of
them, there’s also these niche ones. The best way to find that is search
for your competitors, look at their Places page if it’s on Google, and see
where they’re getting their data from. It’s probably going to be some kind
of niche thing in addition to the big ones you see here.

Underneath that is links. So, I am actually bringing up links twice. I’m
bringing it up here and I brought it up in the SEO pyramid. I did that on
purpose because links are extremely important. Links, if they’re going to
your web page or they’re going to the Places page it makes a little less of
a difference, but specifically to your web page. Google sees links as a
vote of popularity. If someone is linking to you, they’re vouching for
you. Google sees that as a trust metric and as a relevancy metric. They
need that in order to want to rank you highly. Links, again.

Underneath that is address. If we’re talking local search, address makes a
lot of sense. If it is preschools in Issaquah, you better have your
address be in Issaquah or one of the surrounding neighborhoods at least.

Categories is the next one. Google and I know that Yahoo does it and I
think Bing does it as well, gives you the option of listing categories
associated with your business, be it spa or a manicure. You can actually
go through and Google it, I think it is about four or five you can list,
and the other ones vary. It is important to go through there and give
Google a very clear sense of what your business does.

Last in this thing is reviews. This one is, I probably think is more for
human readers than it is for the search engine metrics, but this is the way
that you can get click throughs. If you’re result is listed, the amount of
reviews and what people are saying within them. If they’re positive,
that’s probably what you’re looking for. Those can help you a lot both in
click through and then to a degree in the algorithm as well.

The last section I have here is other metrics worth considering. These
ones are not as important or well defined as the ones that I mentioned
before, but they’re ones that you need to consider going forward. The
title of the business. Again, if it is Issaquah Preschool, my mom’s
preschool is names Giggly Wiggly Preschool. Having the addition of the
word preschool within there is probably, probably useful, but I cannot say
that for 100% fact. Categories would probably be more important than this.

The next thing is photos. In Google Places they give you the option of
uploading photos. They’ll show these if someone goes to your Places page.
Again, it’s for humans, but it also may be affecting the metrics. It shows
Google that, like, “Hey, this is a serious business. I’ve taken the time
to upload these photos.” This is kind of a metric of trust to a degree.

Underneath that is social. This one, I don’t think is here yet for local,
but it is certainly something that will happen in the future. We’re seeing
the Internet kind of shift that way. Social being the social sites,
Facebook, Diggs, Twitters, all of those kinds of things. Twitters. Wow.
I just sounded like my mom. I brought up the preschool thing, and it was
just all downhill from there. Oh boy. So, social, it’s not affecting
local yet as far as I can tell, but I think it’s going to be important
going forward. Google is trying to optimize search results for humans, and
social is all about humans. It’s people talking to people and making real
recommendations based on experiences. It’s something that Google’s
invested a lot of money into already and Bing as well. It is something I
fully expect to continue to grow.

That’s all the time I’ve got today. I appreciate you guys listening. I
will see you next week. Thanks. Bye.

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com


Follow Danny on Twitter! Even more to your benefit, follow SEOmoz! You know what? Why don’tcha follow me too: Aaron Wheeler.

If you have any tips or tricks that you’ve learned along the way, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Post your comment and be heard!

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November 5, 2010  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing

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