There are a lot of different angles to SEO. From getting your site found organically to getting found via the local maps and more, different people approach your search engine optimization tasks in a number of different ways.
What Is A Local Search?
One thing that we find with many of our local businesses is the desire to come up in the maps. In the SEO world, we call these the local search results. It’s sometimes referred to as a “7-Pack” as well. The “7-pack” refers the the first page of results which usually consists of 3 organic search results, 7 map listing results, and then the next 7 are organic results. This gives a total of actually 17 on a front page in some cases.
If you do a search for “your service”, odds are not always with you that your site will come up. Many times searches like that result in a lot of national results – not usually what people are looking for when it comes down to finding a good local plumber. So a person will often tack on the city name. Google gets that and usually shows the state abbreviation as a suggestion. Keep in mind that both of these actually are different requests in Google’s algorithm and you will have different results in many cases using one or the other.
Google – What the Heck?
I personally just hate that Google doesn’t share their particular algorithm for getting a company quickly listed there – the nerve. We have had customers that we’ve got listed on there with no issues and then we’ve had some that we’ve tried and tried to get to come up there. I’m going to give you my two cents – there is no magical way of making it happen. The Google algorithms are based on constantly changing factors both from Google itself as well as the living websites that are all trying to get in those valuable spots.
There are a number of things that Google takes into account. In order to even be in the running, you DO need some sort of Google business page. A “Places for Business” page or a G+ business page (or both). Social signals are part of it, but not the be all end all that some might have you think. Organic plays some part of it. Being listed on a number of the search directories like at GetListed.org will definitely help. Positive reviews from trusted locations like Angie’s List, Yahoo, and Google itself seem to have a positive influence. Particularly the Google reviews – go figure.
When Does a 7-Pack Come Up?
Most of the time when a city or town name gets tacked on, the 7 pack will be returned. All of this IS based on search volume. In small towns or very non-competitive term searches, you may still get the standard organic 10 results returned. If you don’t get the 7-pack with the city name in place, tack on the state abbreviation and you should get the 7 pack. Whenever a city and state are attached to any search, Google can be very certain that you are looking for local.
Now that we’re all on the same page with a 7-pack and the Google map returns, the big question…
How Can I Get MY Company Come Up There?
Onsite Work Required
Right off the bat, does your website clearly convey that you are in or service the target town? We find that mistake SO many times. Otherwise fine website fails to even mention the town that they’re gunning for. Be clear on your website and in your website content that YOU want to be found for CARY NC! Or wherever – RALEIGH NC. Pick your town and make it clear. Of course, you can call us directly for Raleigh SEO too…
- Use the city and state words in there a few times.
- Get the city state in your URL.
- Get the city state in your titles.
Do ALL of these with some caution though. There really IS such a thing as over-optimizing that will get you in hot water with Google. Hot water with Google means dropping significantly or completely off the charts. If you count on your website position with Google to drive your business, do everything gently. How much is too much? It’s more than a paragraph explanation. There is a bit of an art to this – if you have questions, feel free to ask us.
Guaranteed Safe Things to Help Rank Local On-site
- Ensure that your local address and phone number show onsite – likely on every page.
- Make sure the same info is on a contact page – and include an embedded map. Just grab a map from Google and plant it there below your address. Google will have NO problem identifying what town you’re in.
Now, if you want to get REAL fancy, and we recommend it, use the Microformat code that clearly identifies your company and the location. In many cases, it will also identify the type of business that you have as well as a few other helpful things depending on the business type you have. Find it here – Local Business Microdata Generator. You will need to input your data, but it will give you perfect microformat rich snippet content to put in your site.
With some well optimized content that clearly states what you do, the service your company provides, or the products you offer, you should be well on your way to having excellent on-site SEO.
Is That All There Is To It?
No. Actually let me qualify that. MAYBE. It depends on your market, your area, the competition. The thing with search engines and any living thing – and the web IS a living thing – is that they are always changing. Things that worked a year ago to get things ranked better and smoother don’t. Google changes the algorithms frequently and that requires pretty regular work on any website that you expect to be successful.
And then there’s Off-site techniques – but those will have to wait for another day.
Your website is a living thing – and it’s hungry – go feed it and get to the top!