20 Local SEO Techniques You Overlooked (Almost)

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We local-SEO geeks talk about the same old basic principles a little too much: clean up your citations, don’t get penalized by Google, be mobile-friendly, earn “local” links, create “unique” content, deserve reviews, ask for reviews, etc.

It’s all good advice.  I’ve devoted many of my blog posts in the last 4 years to unpacking that advice so it’s easy to act on.

The trouble is we’re repetitive.  We’re almost as bad as the talking heads at CNN.  We rarely move on to what you should do once you’re pretty solid on the basics – and there is a lot you can and should do.

(In fact, many of the overlooked wins can also help you even if you just started working on your local SEO.)

Here are 20 stones I find unturned way too often:

1.  Nail the categories on your non-Google listings: Pick out the most-relevant ones, and as many of them as are applicable. Dig them up with Moz Local’s free “Category Research” area and with my category lists for Apple Maps and Yelp.

2.  Do a second round of work on your citations. Do it a couple of months after the initial blob of work.  You might be amazed at how many stragglers you find.  Might be enough to motivate you for a third go-round.

3.  Try to find and possibly hire a MapMaker editor to join the Forces of Good in your local anti-spam war. Of course, there’s no guarantee that even a MapMaker editor can stop your competitors’ spam offensive, but it’s worth a shot.

4.  Become or get to know an “Elite” Yelper (like this recruit). Got a review that’s viciously personal, un-PC, or is obviously from an imposter?  The Elite Yelper may know just how to phrase the takedown request for the best chances of a takedown.  Also, because most Elite Yelpers don’t really have lives, Yelp seems to expect them to report data-errors (like wrong addresses), and usually acts on them.

5.  Embedding on your website the Google map that’s featured on your Places page. Don’t embed a map of a generic address.  You want Google to know people are looking up directions to you.

6.  Get a Google Business View photo shoot. (10 reasons here.)

7.  Pick the right itemtype for the blob of name / address / phone info that you’ve marked up with Schema.org markup. Or take a few extra minutes to go bananas with your Schema.

8.  Join a couple of local and industry associations. I’m talking about your local Chamber of Commerce and the sorts of organizations you’d find if you Google the word that describes your business + “association” or “organization.”  They’re often worth joining for the offline benefits, and you’ll probably get a good link.

9.  Diversify the sites where you encourage customer reviews. The benefits are many.

10.  Create a “Reviews” page. Use it to showcase your reviews (possibly with widgets and badges) and to ask any customers who visit the page to put in a good word.  You can pretty easily create a page from scratch, or you can make a nice one with a service like Grade.us.  Link to it in the signature of your emails, as a gentle way to encourage any customers you email to pick up a quill.

11.  Write blog posts to answer super-specific questions that a customer might type into Google. Don’t try to rank for your main keywords (“How to Pick the Best Dentist in Cleveland: a Guide by Cleveland Dentists for Cleveland Dentist Patients”).  It won’t work and you’ll look stupid.  (Refer to this post and its follow-up.)

12.  Get some barnacle SEO happening. By now, Will Scott’s concept isn’t new, but most business owners still don’t even try to do it.  But just start with the basics: if you pick out all the right categories (see point #1) and encourage reviews on a variety of sites (see point #9) you’ll be in pretty good shape.

13.  Use wildcard searches for keyword-research. (This one was new to me until very recently.)

14.  Lengthen pages that aren’t ranking well – including and perhaps especially your homepage. Yes, this sounds old-school, and about as cool as a pocket protector.  But I’m not telling you to add gibberish.  Go into detail about what makes you different, describe your service / process, address concerns the reader might have, etc.  Google likes having meat to sink its teeth into.  One-paragraph Wonder Bread pages tend not to do as well.

15.  Ask for reviews twice. People forget, and it’s a nice excuse to keep in touch.  Follow up with customers you asked for a review – especially if they said they would.  It’s easy to avoid making yourself a pest: just say you’d still appreciate their feedback, ask them if they have any questions for you, and thank them in advance.

16.  Include links to sites where you have reviews. (Be sure to have those links open into a new browser tab, so nobody’s leaving your site.)  Use review widgets and badges when you can.

17.  Cannibalize underperforming microsites, bad blog posts, or other online carcasses. Grab (and edit as need be) any content that’s redeemable, and use it to make your site bigger and better.

18.  Get listed on Apple Maps. Yes, everyone knows about aMaps by now, but I’m amazed at how many times I start working for clients and see only their competitors on Apple.

19.  Try hard to reach non-English speakers, if applicable. Don’t just stick Se Habla Español (for example) in your footer as an afterthought.  Include a paragraph in that language on your homepage and on your “Contact” page.  Maybe create a whole page geared toward those customers.  Be sure to use the hreflang tag if you have more than one version of the same page.

20.  If you’re a local SEO-er, find steps your clients might be able to do better than you can. Don’t just look for more billable hours; look for the best person for the job, or the best combination of people.  Don’t spend hours trying to dig up all their old phone numbers and addresses; ask them first.  Whenever a writing task comes up, pump your clients for info.  When you need to find link opportunities, send them my link questionnaire.  They know the business better than you do.  If you don’t get much cooperation, fine.  At least you tried, and you’re giving them options.  But I’ve found that most clients recognize when they’ve got just the right wrench for the oddly-shaped bolt.

What’s an “overlooked” local SEO tip you like?

Any that you’re considering but not sure about?

Leave a comment!

10 Reasons to Get a Google Business View Photo Shoot

Since 2010 Google has let business owners hire a “Google Trusted Photographer” to come to their store or office, take a bunch of photos, and splice them together into a virtual tour.  That tour is called Google Business View.

The walkthrough tour and photos get uploaded to your Google Places page.  You can also feature them elsewhere, like on your website or Facebook page.

You can’t get a Google Business View photo shoot it if you’re a service-area or home-based business.

It may not be a good idea if you know your place of business just gives off the wrong vibes.

But otherwise, you’d be smart to fork over a few hundred dollars to have a photographer come out.

Here are 10 reasons you should get a Google Business View shoot:

1.  Potential customers, clients, or patients want to know what your place looks like. If it’s a nice environment, it can be a selling point.  But even an dingy little hovel can have a certain charm, and it’s usually wise to let people know what they’re in for.

2.  The photo shoot may encourage more people to click through to your Places page or website. It shows up in your knowledge graph and in the Maps tab.

 

3.  It may be a ranking factor. Trusted photographer Jeff Finkelstein explored that possibility in a nice Moz post last year, and he offered some good insights in my follow-up post.  My guess is that a Google Business View photo shoot by itself is at most a very minor ranking factor, but can help your rankings more indirectly, because it can get more people to click (and Google knows when someone clicks).  Again, just a hunch.

4.  The “See inside” view is front-and-center when you view the Google Places page on a smartphone. (It’s even more prominent than it is on desktop.)

5.  You can embed the photo shoot on your site.

6.  You get 10 professionally-taken still photos.

7.  Someone else is taking the time to take photos. That saves you time – especially if you’re picky about your photos.  To take good photos is rarely quick or easy, because it’s a numbers game.

8.  You can reuse the still shots elsewhere – on your site and on your non-Google business listings. You own the photos for good.  You can do whatever you’d like with them.  And if you don’t have a good cover photo yet, maybe you just found one.

9.  It can be the start of a quid pro quo with your photographer. Google Trusted Photographers often have other online-marketing skills, so especially if you like the photo shoot and them personally you can probably get their help in other areas.  It’s also possible you could get a link and/or a citation from the photographer.

10.  Google seems to have plans for Business View. It’s been around for almost 5 years now – which is about 68 in Google product years.

It’s getting phased in, not phased out.  In the “Google My Business” rebrand / facelift they put a pitch for it right at the top of your dashboard (unless you’re a service-area or home-based business).

Maybe someday they’ll integrate it with product feeds, so that you could “walk” through a store and click on the inventory and actually order it right from within the tour.  Who knows what the Big G will think of next?

Bonus – reason #11.  This one comes from Greg T’Kint of JHBathrooms.com.  You can send potential customers “a link to a specific location within the virtual tour, in order to show a specific product or display within email communications.”  (See Greg’s comment, below.)

Update (11/10/14): David Deering just told me about a Google service called PhotoSphere.  Maybe it’s well-known in some circles, but I hadn’t heard of it.  It’s an app that lets you take and embed your own panoramas.  Those have been around for a while, but this one’s from Google.  Obviously, you wouldn’t get some of the benefits of an”official” Google Business View photo shoot (see points 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, and 10), but in some ways it might be a nice DIY alternative.

What’s been your experience with Google Business View?

Can you think of other reasons to get a photo shoot (or not to)?

Leave a comment!