Local SEO: Tips For Staying Competitive Within Google’s Local 3-Pack Pt. 2

Optimize The Off-Page Signals Of Your Website For Local Search

You can only get so far with on-page optimization.  You need to have very strong off-page signals as well in order to be truly competitive.  It involves developing a strong presence within local directories such as YellowPages.com.  This contributes to the local ranking potential for your website.

Tools such as SEO PowerSuite can be used for finding the most influential local directories for your niche.  The Rank Tracker component can be used to locate the 10 highest ranking directories for all of your target keywords coming from the Keyword Difficulty table.

The Key Is Consistency

When your local citations are being built, it is extremely important for your information to stay consistent.  Your business name, phone number and address needs to be consistent across all of your listing.  It helps to send Google a clear message about who your business is and where it is located.

Monitor Your Listings Closely

After you have narrowed down your list of directors that are the most relevant for your business, your goal should be getting your business listed in all of those directories. Your business should be submitted to those directories that are ranking high currently for your keywords.  However, don’t just get your business listed and then forget all about it.  To get maximum SEO value from it, you should also have the goal of getting your listing ranked for a target keyword of yours, or for your business name at least. SEO PowerSuite’s Rank Tracker Component can be used to track how your rankings are changing for your various listings.

All your listings can be tracked using Rank Tracker by doing the following: in Preferences > Alternative URLS, enter the URLS of your listing pages, in addition to your main project’s URL.

When you want to check your rankings, all of the Google search results will be gone through by Rank Tracker to find out which of your specified directory pages have rankings.


Optimize Your Google Maps Listings

Whenever your business is displayed in the local 3-pack, your Maps listing presentation is critical. When a person is comparing businesses within Google maps, the information that he or she has to work with is the phone number, address, store hours and review stars.

Phone Number and Address

When your Google Maps listing is submitted, it asks for your phone number and address, so that is taken care of already.

Reviews and Star Ratings

The next thing is to earn some positive reviews and favorable star rating.  This should be part of your on-going strategy and involves providing great service and that asking your satisfied customers to write and post online reviews for you. Don’t be afraid or be hesitant about asking for reviews.  If a customer doesn’t feel comfortable about leaving a review, you have the chance to ask them why and maybe provide them with a better experience before they potentially write a negative review instead.

Another thing that is important to note is that your review score is more critical than never now that the option for using this as filter in the Map results has been added by Google.


Store Hours

Having your store hours listed could make the difference between someone deciding whether or not to visit your business.  If your store is open earlier or later than a competitor, a prospective customer will want to know that. Currently, it appears that even if you have your store hours listed as part of your Google+ business pages, that your store hours will only be displayed by Google if you are using the right schema markup on your website.


Obtain Local Reviews On Websites Like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Etc.

After August 7th, one thing that really gained a lot of visibility was local review websites. With Google+ being removed and the local pack expanding from 3 up to 7, there is even more opportunities for local review website to achieve first page rankings.  You need to really consider what an individual will find if they land on a Yelp page regarding your business. Whether you are comfortable or not asking for reviews, the fact is that these days it is critical for your business to have a strong presence on these review sites.


Earn Links Through Your Offline Marketing Efforts

If you don’t believe your business’s online presence is affected by offline marketing, then you are missing out on a lot of opportunity. Offline marketing can definitely make an impact on your online presence.  The following are a couple of ideas on how to make a positive impact on your local search presence using offline methods.


How To Obtain Those Elusive .Edu Links

It isn’t a secret that additional weight is placed on .edu as part of Google’s ranking signals.  However, it is easier said  than done to go out and obtain .edu links.  Personally I have seen clients get multiple .edu links by doing offline marketing with local universities and colleges.  Sponsoring things such as career fairs, school events and scholarships can frequently result in getting a link on the educational institution’s website.  This is one effective way of earning .edu links.  However, you should just sponsor schools that you truly care about.  This is also true for any other sponsorship opportunities that you pursue.


Support Local Non-Profit Organizations and Charities

Another great way of building offline connections that can result in you getting local links is to also support local nonprofits and charities.

Support doesn’t always have to involve money.  It can also involve expertise, supplies, time or anything else valuable that your business can offer.  If you are engaged in these types of activities already, don’t be shy about asking for links on these organization’s websites.


Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce

A great way of getting a locally relevant link for your website is to join the Chamber of Commerce.  If you also attend events that the Chamber hosts, you can make connection that may lead to even more links or new business in the future.


Build Local Backlinks

Building local backlinks is what we have been technically doing through most of these off-page sections.  However, there are some other ideas that we haven’t covered yet.  They are out there for you to discover. You can use a tool such as SEO SpyGlass for analyzing your competitor’s backlinks and then comparing them with your own. The Domain Comparison and SEO SpyGlass components can be used to see where your major local competitors are obtaining their backlinks, and then use those ideas as part of your link building strategies.

Your competitor’s’ links can also be compared against one another.  The tool locates backlinks that point to each of your competitors websites, and then you can switch over to the comparison table to find which sites they have that are different and which ones they have in common. You can then get a good idea of what types of backlinks are making the most significant contributions to your competitors’ rankings, and then determine which of those links might be viable for you to also obtain.

I began with discussing the local 3-pack.  However, the scope is definitely much broader.  It isn’t simply about showing up in the 3-pack, but the way you appear versus how your competitors do. Also, remaining competitive within local search also involves making sure your business appears in those prime first page spots that are currently occupied by directory sites and review sites.