Local SEO Tips: Address Citations Can Improve Search Engine Ranking

Local SEO

A quick post tonight for the small business out there interested in how they can rank well for local searches…

There has been alot of data out lately (and I have confirmed this in my personal tests) that seems to show a huge shift in ranking factors for local search queries.  My personal opinion is that this has been a gradual change over the last year.

What is the primary shift???  Citations

What is a citation in the context of Local SEO?  A citation is an occurrence of a business address on a website… typically an IYP site (Internet Yellow Page websites).  There is alot of evidence to show that these occurrences can improve ranking significantly in the local search results area on search engines like Google.  Here is some more evidence

Here are a few places where you can submit your business address to help improve your local search engine ranking:

Hope this helps.  Local SEO is really hot right now, and it’s never been easier to get really good ranking in local search.

3 Simple Steps for Geo Targeting Your Web Page

There are alot of these types of tips online, but I’ve found that many of them are outdated or just plain don’t work.  These 3 steps are proven tactics that I’ve used to help small businesses rank better for local search terms.

Before you dive in, remember that a site that targets local customers can be a huge advantage.  When you use your physical address freely on your website, it allows the search engines to help you place more emphasis on the searchers in your local area.

If you have multiple addresses, I highly recommend that you create a unique page for each of those addresses, and make it a quality landing page for customers coming directly to that page.  You also want to make sure you reference these specific pages when submitting a local business listing to search engines.

As always, let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to share and link to this post!  ;-)

1. Put Your Address in HCard Format (micro formats)

If you aren’t familiar with this, click here first.  It does require a bit of mucking around in the html, but you can simply use the code below as a guideline.  Just copy and paste it into your site and replace the location details.  This will basically allow the search engines to parse your address when they crawl the page you place it on and correspond it with your local listing (assuming you have one).  If you don’t, hang your head in shame, and then follow this link to get added.

<div class="vcard">
  <a class="fn org url" href="http://www.commerce.net/">CommerceNet</a>
  <div class="adr">
    <span class="type">Work</span>:
    <div class="street-address">169 University Avenue</div>
    <span class="locality">Palo Alto</span>,  
    <abbr class="region" title="California">CA</abbr>  
    <span class="postal-code">94301</span>
    <div class="country-name">USA</div>
  </div>
  <div class="tel">
   <span class="type">Work</span> +1-650-289-4040
  </div>
  <div class="tel">
    <span class="type">Fax</span> +1-650-289-4041
  </div>
  <div>Email: 
   <span class="email">info@commerce.net</span>
  </div>
</div>

2.  Put Your Address Info in the Meta Section

This is another piece of code that you can simply copy and paste and fill in the proper information.  It needs to be placed in the head section of the code for the page you want it on (normally the home page if your business only has one address).  I usually place my right below the title tag.  If you need help knowing what to place in the ICBM section, try this link.

    <meta name="country" content="USA, United States, United States Of America, America">
    <meta name="ICBM" content="39.7114, -104.8192">
    <meta name="geography" content="14501 E Alameda Ave Ste 1, Aurora, CO, 80012">
    <meta name="DC.title" content="Aurora Counseling Center">
    <meta name="zipcode" content="80012">
    <meta name="description" content="Aurora Counseling Center at 14501 E Alameda Ave Ste 1, Aurora, CO  80012">
    <meta name="state" content="CO">
    <meta name="keywords" content="Aurora Counseling Center, reviews, ratings, recommendations, best, worst, map, directions, hours, Community &amp; Social Services, Counseling, denver, Directory &amp; Services, social services">
    <meta name="city" content="Aurora">
    <meta name="postalcode" content="80012">
    <meta name="address" content="14501 E Alameda Ave Ste 1, Aurora, CO, 80012">

3.  Submit Your Address & Business Listing To IYP’s

IYP stands for Internet Yellow Pages.  These sites are great to submit to when you want to build up some basic links, but more importantly, they will help solidify a strong listing on the sites that really matter like Google and Yahoo Local.  When Google Bot sees a large recurrence of the same address and lots of references to the web page associated with that physical address, it can really help to boost local rankings.  If you’ve never submitted your business listing to an IYP before, start with Google & Yahoo, then move on to InfoUSA (they help populate over 25 websites).  TIP: keep all of your listings very consistent, and if you have more than one address, make sure to link to the specific page on your website that references that address.

Podcast Interview: Andrew Shotland on Local Search Optimization

Just had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Shotland, a local search engine optimization expert, and had the opportunity to ask him some local SEO questions. Click the podcast button for the audio version, or read below for the transcript.

Andrew Shotland Interview

[display_podcast]

 

Hi this is Justin from Searching Solutions, and I have Andrew Shotland on the line with me. He’s a local SEO expert, and I was hoping he could answer a few questions for us. Thank you Andrew for joining us today. If you wouldn’t mind just letting people know what your background is, and what you’re doing right now.

I’ve been in the internet business since the beginning in the mid 90′s. I launched Showtime network’s first website, and I worked for NBC for many years and worked for NBC.com for a while. For the last several years, I’ve been doing search engine optimization consulting, and I worked for a local startup called Insiderpages.com where I did a lot of local search engine optimization. So I worked for some big media companies, a lot of startups and a lot of small businesses who were looking for local search help.

What would you say your percentage of clients are that are more focused on localized search… I know your blog is pretty much all local SEO.

I’d say it’s probably about 50/50, but more and more even big media clients are sort of getting it. For example, right now I’m doing a project for a lot of big television stations, and they think of themselves as local, but they never really thought of themselves as candidates for local search, and now that we’re having these conversations with them, it’s opening up their eyes to all this local traffic that they’ve ignored.

So their thinking more in terms of building a national brand awareness, and things like that? Instead of localized searches basically?

They’re thinking of very specific local searches. There not as much interested in national awareness. They have all this content and programming on their site, but they never think to try to rank for keywords like ‘Oprah’. They are really focused on news, traffic, weather, and classifieds. They’ve never thought until recently that there was traffic outside of those things. Be it Yellowpages, event searches, restaurant reviews, etc. A lot of these companies have very authoritative and trusted websites, and don’t really need to do a lot to rank well for these niche terms.

You have unique experience coming from Insiderpages.com. One of the questions I had was: You constantly see in localized searches these big authoritative directory type websites like Superpages.com, Yellowpages.com, etc. What are you finding that it takes for the smaller guy that’s trying to rank well in those local searches? What is it typically taking to rank well above those?

It’s not as hard as you’d think. I’m constantly amazed when I see some startup kicking a$$ over the yellowpages.com or superpages.com type of websites. Those sites have a lot of trust, but they haven’t been especially good at getting people to generate content. They’ve gotten better with their architecture, but they’re still very slow moving in adding new stuff. For example, when I was at Insiderpages, we talked to Superpages a lot about “hey, can we share reviews with you” We wanted to share our reviews all over the place. They kept saying, we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it, but it took 2 years to just add reviews because they had so many mine fields to navigate before they did that. But if you look at a site like Yellowbot, which came out of nowhere last year, they were able to quickly launch a generic IYP (Internet Yellow Pages) and use some really creative architecture mostly around the idea of niche local tagging to start getting all these crazy niche local searches which … you know… sites like Yellowpages.com, they’re just not there. So I’ve seen a lot of start ups be able to instantly dominate these big IYPs because they’re more flexible, they’re faster, and they’re more focused. So for example, You have a site in… where are you located?

Castle Rock Colorado, just below Denver

Ok, so if you wanted to create a Denver local search site, I can pretty much guarantee, if you just work at it for a couple months, you could start to outrank DEX for a lot of searches. Because you’ll focus. You’ll get a lot of people in Denver linking to you, you’ll get a lot of content created, whereas, they’re trying to do 20 million different things.

Yeah, I’ve definitely seen that in our local market. I was just curious to see what your perspective was on it because that seems like some of the primary competition. Especially for your medium sized markets… between 50,000 – 100,000 residents. There’s not a lot of competition there, but the main competition seems to be these big authoritative type hubs.

Yeah, if you wanted to create a local search product, for small towns all over the place, it could do really well. Even just… think about architecturally, a yellowpages.com or superpages, they need to focus on the biggest markets. So if you focused on instead of the top 50 markets, the bottom 50 markets, you’d have all those markets prioritized in your architecture.

I wanted to talk about the long tail just for a minute. You know it’s a very common term in the SEO industry… but moving it over to localized search, for the small business owner… Most of the small business owners I talk to… you know, you have a local plumber that’s in the Denver area, and they’re just thinking in terms of trying to rank for phrases like ” Denver Colorado Plumber”. And they’re totally not thinking about long tail type searches, and they’re just not even considering the possibility. Do you think there’s value for small businesses to move in that direction and work on some of these long tail phrases? Keeping mind that there’s not a lot of search volume for those types of phrases, but do you think there is some value there?

Oh for sure. First off, to get back to your previous question, I think the small business owner has the biggest advantage when it comes to competing and ranking in these pages. Because ultimately that’s the content that Google wants to show you. The guy that can actually do your plumbing, not the page that aggregates 20 people who can do your plumbing. Which is just kind of a repeat of Google’s search results. I think for small local companies, just focus on SEO a bit, and you will see dramatic results. Because, they are so much more favored. They have a lot more relevant links to them usually, and they just have a lot more interesting relevant content created.

So I think, in your plumber example, I think they can get a lot of bang out of long tail because many times, long tail keywords are much more qualified people. I’d rather have someone for me, looking for… let’s say… “leaky toilet in Denver”, then “Denver plumber”. Because it’s just a much more qualified searcher, and they certainly know what they want. It definitely couldn’t hurt. This is always the challenge, it takes a little bit of work and research to just figure this stuff out, and figure out where is the relevant search volume in the market, and can I first rank for that, meaning I have to create content for it and build links to it, and then, can I service it and turn it into a lead. But I think that the smart local guy will do the same things that the big sites are doing just on a smaller scale.

One more quick question before I let you go. If you could speak directly to that local business owner. Everyone knows the economy is tighter, and business budgets are pretty tight, but what would be a couple real practical tips you’d give to the business owner that may not be the most technically savvy type of a person, where they could really improve their rankings without too much of an investment.

A lot of it’s the basics. Look at your title tags first. That’s always the first thing, and best thing to do. And make sure you get content on the page that targets specific terms you want to rank for. Make sure that you have your phone number on every page. And that’s not for SEO, that’s for getting people to call you. And it couldn’t hurt to have email me, or a contact form on every page as well in big letters… so many companies don’t do that. Certainly try to get local links from your local chamber of commerce, and friends, partners, things like that.

But the thing that I’ve found that is the biggest bang for the buck is looking in your analytics, and most web packages, even cheap ones, have some kind of analytics that they can get access to, and most businesses don’t really look at these things, but if you can get access to your charts… here’s how many people you’ve got this month from Google, or Yahoo, and here are the keywords they used to get to you. If you take a look at that, And look at the keywords that are sending traffic, then go to Google and search for them and see where you rank, getting an approximation of where you rank… and if you rank let’s say, at the bottom of page one or page two, That’s a sign that that keyword is pretty good for you if you’re getting traffic for it. So I would recommend figuring out which page is sending that traffic for that keyword, and boost your internal links to that page for that keyword, with the keyword as the anchor text. I’ve found that it works for big sites, small sites, and it works really fast, which is great.

That’s a great tip. Thank you so much, and thank you for taking the time to give this interview.

For more information about Andrew Shotland you can view his page on Local Search Optimization at LocalSEOGuide.com

Thanks again Andrew!

Optimizing Local Search Results with Reviews

We’ve all seen how big reviews can impact a sales decision. Sites like Amazon changed the way we make product purchasing decisions online forever. With big local business search sites like Yelp and Insider Pages picking up speed in the local search world, online business reviews have become a huge part of online marketing for any business.

There have been many articles written that try to debunk the review model, usually citing the large number of fraudulent reviews.  But whatever your view on the effectiveness of local business reviews, the fact of the matter is that reviews are becoming MORE important, not less as time goes on.

We are now seeing many sites giving special algorithmic boosts based upon number and quality of reviews.  Even Google seems to rank sites higher in the local results that have more reviews than others.

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So what does this mean for your local business?  It means that reviews on sites like Yelp and Google, and a host of others will not only help someone make a buying decision, but also help you rank better on many sites.  I’ve seen a simple well devised review campaign launch a local business to the top of the results with a relatively small number of reviews.

local business review search engine resultes

Take a look at this map from the Local SEO Guide that shows the number of online reviews for restaurants around the country:

local restaurant online review map

There are alot of great opportunities out there.  One of of the things Searching Solutions does for many local businesses is to work directly with managers and business owners to come up with creative ways to increase the number of reviews a business receives.

If your local ranking is suffering in the search engines, call us!  We can help…

Searching Solutions

Justin | 720.670.0742

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