Local Search Optimization is one of the fastest expanding aspects of search engine optimization. Google continues to increase the importance of "local" as was seen last year by their vast improvements to Google Places and the change in search results when looking for services in general.
For instance, when I search for "restaurants" I am not only given the top three websites for restaurants in the greater Los Angeles region, but results 7-10 are all specific restaurant Google Places pages (with an aggregate of reviews from sites like Yelp & OpenTable), along with a plotted map in the upper right hand corner of the screen. To top it all off, the Google Places are laid out differently so they are all above the fold. Getting local search results from companies that provide services and sell tangible goods, from door installation companies to pet stores, is a must to survive online.
Luckily, we have people like David Mihm getting Local Search gurus together to create must reads like Local Search Ranking Factors. I highly recommend reading this in its entirety, but I will highlight some of the key points.
Here are David and his contributors' Top-4 Local Search Factors:
- Claiming Place Page & Local Listing - Don't you want to control and optimize your listing?
- Business Address in City of Search - People don't want to travel far.
- Associating Place Page with Proper Category - You want your company's search results to be as relevant as possible, right?
- Volume of Citations from Major Data Providers - Positive feedback from trusted sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages can go a long way.
The total results include 58 positive factors and 11 negative factors and they are not only all ranked, but top-5 lists of Highest Agreement and Most Controversial are included. Of these 69 factors (was that an accident?), they are broken down into the following four categories:
- Place Page & Local Listing Information
- Traditional On-Page Criteria
- Off-Page & Off-Listing Criteria
- Customer Reviews
As I mentioned above, read the entire local search guide.
A lot of it comes down to relevancy, laziness, and trust. I mean, don't you want to find the best places that are close and everybody is raving about?
What are some of the Local Search Ranking techniques you have found most fruitful for your clients and what industry were those clients in?