There’s an online marketing joke, “A SEO writer walks into a bar, bars, pub, public house, drinks, beer, wine, liquor…”
Fortunately, those days are almost over. Google is constantly trying to improve their search results with updates to their search algorithm. With each change, online marketers are forced to adapt their tactics. There are two things you can implement today to help modernize your SEO strategy: Local SEO and Google Authorship.
Benefits of Local SEO
- Help people find your business location(s)
- Geo-targeted campaigns
- Integrate reviews from social networks
Benefits of Authorship
- Puts your face on a google search results page
- Claim your content on sites you do not own
- Add value by building your reputation
This is a recommendation for any business with a physical location (retail stores, restaurants, doctors’ offices, etc.). Here are a few things we have tested as part of our local SEO in Portland that you can start doing right now to help your site: Formatting, Reviews, and Google Places.
1) Formatting & Citations
The first and most technical step is formatting. This means making sure that your business information is formatted in the exact same way on your website and on other websites. For example, search engines may have difficulty matching your business address listed on Facebook with your actual business address if “street” is abbreviated to “St.,” so be consistent any time you display that information. These instances of your business information on other sites are known as citations.
On your own site, you can help search engines recognize your business by wrapping your business address, hours, etc. in specific HTML tags. Some tags are general (address, phone number, logo) but some are industry specific (menu, movie times). If implemented correctly, Google may display this information on the search engine results page, which can cause a significant increase in clicks. Visit schema.org for a full list of tags to use or to learn more about microformatting. If you are looking for local SEO for WordPress, you can find a plug-in to assist in this process.
Positive reviews are one of the most powerful elements that factor into your site’s position in search results. Bad customer service can ruin your business if you rely on Google to drive traffic to your website. Be sure to encourage your customers to post reviews online at their discretion or post logos in your window to let people know where they can post reviews.
3) Google Places
Create an account on Google Places and claim your business location(s). Be sure to follow the steps as prompted until you complete 100% of your profile. Having your business locations claimed on Google Places can help your business appear in normal Google results pages and Google Maps as enhanced listings (with links to restaurant menus, displaying operating hours, etc.).
One of the major changes in Google’s search algorithm is the inclusion of Author Rank. Author Rank is a number given to a person’s authority as an online content creator.
It’s rather simple to setup. Just create a Google Plus account and add a by-line with your Google+ name to the heading of content on your site. Or use a plug-in if you use a CMS like WordPress or Drupal. Note: the email address on your Google+ account must be @yourdomain.com. (yourdomain being where your content lives).
A real person must claim authorship on content. It can take up to 60 days for authorship information to appear on a search results page and they do not necessarily display your information just because it is formatted correctly. They will judge your content and display your profile photo next to your results only if you are considered trustworthy. There is a measurable boost seen for search results with authorship data shown.
These are just two tactics to help your local SEO campaign hit the ground running. Other ways you can improve local SEO include increasing your social media presence, developing a linking strategy, driving traditional media coverage, hyper-local (neighborhood-based) blogging, and much more.