Three Things That Affect Local SEO

Three Things That Affect Local SEOFor anybody who has paid close enough attention to the world of internet marketing and SERPs (search engine results pages) for the past year or two, the phrase "Local Search" is no stranger. For others who may be hearing this phrase for the first time, and/or are considering investing in a Local Search campaign, please go over this short multiple choice answer test:

Do you have one or more brick-and-mortar storefronts?

  1. yes
  2. no

Great job on your test! Now let's check the results--if you answered "yes", you should probably look into a Local campaign. Whether you're running it on your own or hiring professionals, here are three things you should know about Local SEO.

I. Local Directories Are King

If you've followed SEO for as long as I have, you remember a time when directories were the backbone of almost any backlink profile. As time progressed, these types of profiles were branded toxic, leading to the decline of many wild-west, self-submit, general directories, and, unfortunately, lending a bad connotation to the word itself. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people recoil in fear and disgust when talking about "directories"!

As quickly as went from "in" to "out", it looks like directories are back for round 2, albeit in a much more regulated way. Local directories are absolutely key to your Local SEO link building efforts, and where a truckload of general directory links would be enough to get you ranking in the past, it's now all about a handful of relevant local links. Like Alan Smith mentioned in ArtDriver's original piece on Local Seo Tips, Yahoo Local and Yelp are great sites to get listed on, but if you want to check out even more citations either do a quick search, or invest in a tool like WhiteSpark or another local citation aggregator.

II. Don't Sleep On Your N.A.P.

One of the most important onsite and offsite signals that you'll want to pay attention to are the appearance of your N.A.P., or your Name, Address, and Phone number. Google pays attention to how they are displayed across the web and seems to have a better time ranking those who keep their N.A.P. consistent.

For example, if you look at the ArtDriver "Contact Us" section at the bottom of this page, you'll notice the address is "1629 K Street NW - Suite 300" (assuming it hasn't changed!). This means that across the web, it should appear like this. If you were to abbreviate street names or suite numbers on other sites, you might get something that looks different, such as "1629 K St NW st.#300". Either one of these is fine - as long as it's consistent across the web!

A great tool for keeping track of listings and consistency is Moz Local (especially if you're already a member)

III. Real Life Affects the Web

Another thing that hasn't really changed since Local SEO became a well-known phrase to web-marketers is that what happens in the real world absolutely affects your online success. That might seem like a no-brainer from a broad perspective, but what exactly does it mean?

To put it bluntly, it means that your online and social reviews affect your ranking. If you have less than a one-star review on Yelp! and similar sites, you can bet that your CTR is going to be a lot lower (and not just from weakened rankings, but from the common-sense that tells people to turn away when they see 100 people claim that the same restaurant is a disaster). Moz actually estimates that "Review Signals" account for roughly 10 percent of what makes a site rank nowadays. So be nice to your customers and give them a reason to leave you a positive review!

Jacob Emmy is a content marketing associate for SEO Austin Inc., a regional SEO firm that specializes in local search.