10 Apr 2014

Building Signals And Mitigating Risk For Local SEO

Big brands seem to have a much easier time ranking now a days right? Well that may be true, but, one positive point that is rarely discussed is, many small businesses can rank well too by taking advantage of local SEO. Now of course local SEO won’t apply to everyone, but if you own a local business then it might be the perfect solution to your ranking woes.

Essentially, what we are talking about here is ranking for terms that have geographic specific keywords, such as, “New York Real Estate” or “Detroit Car Insurance”. While these terms are easier to rank for then the terms that big brands go after, they still require a good amount of work. A lot of this work can be dramatically cut down if you can optimize the right signals. But just like regular SEO, optimizing the right signals is only part of the game, you also should be mitigating risk. Here are five tips to hitting the right signals while mitigating risk.

Build Just As Many Citations As Links

Citations come in many different forms. But by and large they are simply mentions of your business or brand. Some of them come with links, and some don’t. A good example would be a mention in a small business directory such as YellowPages.com or BOTW.org. The reason these are so important is because Google can pull data from these listings to verify that the information you have included in your “Google Places” listing is legit. A common recommendation for citation building is to use what is referred to as the NAP standard. Name Address and Phone should all follow the same format across all citations.

Consolidate Data on Places Page

This tip is more about mitigating risk than building signals, but it is still vital to understand. Many times businesses will use call tracking software, or a call center to handle their telephone leads. If this is the case then these businesses should make sure that all of their different numbers are included on their Google Places profile. With in the user dashboard there is a section where you can add more than one phone number. Every number that is used with in citations should be added here. This will help Google makes sense of all of the different phone numbers associated with a business listing while validating citation data.

Consider Barnacle SEO

Barnacle what??? Barnacle SEO is simply leveraging the power of 3rd party sites to rank for your target terms. In local SEO this usually means optimizing a Yelp page or similar pages to rank for your terms. Yelp is a great fit for most localized businesses, but other social media profiles such as Facebook can also be used in this same manner. I have seen some businesses be so effective at this strategy that they occupy the majority of positions on a page just by utilizing other domain names to rank for their target terms.

Increase Reviews With Feedback Page

Reviews are a big factor when it comes to ranking in localized search. However just like links there are a handful of rules that Google imposes on those trying to get reviews. For example, you can’t create incentives for them. But what you can do is optimize how users find the sites that let them review you. And the best method for doing that is to create what is called a “feedback page“. This is simply a page that links to all of the different sites where your business is listed that users can leave reviews on. It will enable users to easily find the right pages to leave their reviews on and hopefully because you have made this page more accessible to them they will be less likely to say something nasty 😉

Optimize For Mobile

There is a considerable amount of research out that shows that users contact a business through a mobile phone are much more likely to convert. Which is just one more reason that your site should be optimized for mobile. Local businesses are often the target of mobile users because they are inherently location based, which means that a user can be searching for a business while “on the go”, or away from the desktop. Google Places and other business directories are optimized for mobile devices, which means that if your site isn’t, then you are likely going to surprise a lot of folks when they reach your home page.


  1. Fortress Geek April 14, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    Thanks for the post. I like the Barnacle strategy, its something we definitely need to look into more.

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