This is local search optimization: the art and science of mastering online searches with local intent.
Local Search Listings
In the US alone, over 4 billion annual desktop searches (and the vast majority of mobile searches) are location-specific. You don’t have to search “Delray Beach plumber” to find a plumber nearby — Google does that for you.
How do search engines know the location you’re searching for? They detect your IP address and compare it to their database of businesses in that area. That database is hosted by the search engines themselves on Google+, Bing Local, etc. To even contemplate ranking on the maps, we get you listed on the search engines themselves. Then we optimize those listings — and here’s how we do it!
Data Aggregation & Distribution
It’s one thing to tell Google and Bing where your business is located, but how do they know whether that information is accurate? The answer is data aggregation. In the US, there are 4 major aggregators of location data: Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual.
You’ve probably never heard of any of these data sources, but you probably have heard of where they distribute data to: YellowPages, Twitter, and even Apple’s Siri (among hundreds of others).
Local search optimization entails much more than simply getting your site listed on one or two directories — there are thousands of directories and each one has a part to play in getting you to show up on local searches.
When search engines check your listing and rank you on a local search, they’re looking at one specific piece of information: your contact info. Logically, Google can’t tell users where your business is if they aren’t sure where it is – i.e. if you have different names and addresses listed on different directories.
To optimize your chances of ranking in local search, you have to have consistent contact information (Name, Address, Phone Number, and Website URL) across as many directories as possible.
This seems simple enough…until you consider that many of these directories can be edited by anyone. On top of that, your contact info is always liable to change. Local search optimization requires 24/7 vigilance, but TM34 is always up to the task.
Your listings on search engines, directories, and data aggregators are called citations. In general, a greater number of citations means a greater local ranking for your site. However, it’s equally important to get not only a large number of citations, but also the right kind of citations.
What exactly are the right kind of local search citations? They are categorized citations, the ones specific to your niche or industry (think WebMD for doctors and Zillow for real estate agents). A core part of your local search optimization strategy involves researching these categories, finding the best citations, and getting as many of them as possible.
Reviews & Reputation
Ah, earning and preserving a good online reputation through reviews. What a process! Reviews are the core part of ranking on local search.
Placing yourself in the shoes of a consumer, which site would you click on: the one with 45 reviews and a 5 star rating or the one with a single review and half a star?
Everything else being equal, a site with a greater quality and quantity of reviews will rank better for local searches. When we run a local search marketing campaign, reviews are often the first order of business. We craft a strategy for incentivizing reviews organically from your customers without posting fake reviews (which aren’t only bad press, but are also penalized by Google).
More than this, we help you position your brand so the reviews flow in on their own. A good service and a good product don’t need an incentive — they’ll always speak for themselves.