Increasing Sales Webinar Series: Local SEO
This free webinar was presented by Attracta on September 16th, 2014.
The seventh in our “Increasing Sales” series, this webinar will cover Local SEO and citation building. We’ll discuss how to get your site ranked in the local areas of Google’s search results page, how you can get set up in Google’s My Business, and we’ll cover the importance of having consistent information throughout your directory listings.
Joe Knipp Attracta Managed Services Team
Greg Webb Attracta Managed Services Team
Important Links & Resources from this Webinar
Greg: All right. Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us today. My name is Greg.
Joe: I’m Joe. I’ve been working with Attracta for a little while. I’ve been in web development for the last 15 years with a focus on marketing in the last 6.
Greg: I have been ranking websites for the last 4 years. I am especially focusing on local SEO today, so without wasting any more time, let’s get right into it. Today’s webinar is titled, “How Do You Make More Money and Leads Using Google Local?” Today’s topics are going to over about four major things here. Sorry about that.
The first thing is a quick overview of Google Local The second is getting a Google business setup on Google My Business. The third is the three-pronged local SEO attack and then, finally, we’ll wrap up by talking about the future here.
What is Google Local? Joe, do you want to take this one?
Joe: Yeah. Real quick, let’s take a look at the local search results. If you type in some localized keywords here … Maybe we’ll try coffee. Google’s going to know to show results based on your location. Here we have, tied right into the maps, it shows you exactly where this is compared to your location. We are in St. Petersburg, Florida, so this is all the coffee shops. It knows that we’re probably trying to find coffee near us, so a lot of keywords are going to have this localized search term to that.
This is showing you here, this is exactly where each one of these coffee shops is located. Here’s their listing. You can get right to their website, name, address, phone number, all that stuff listed here.
Greg: Those results are usually where people go first to begin their search to find out what’s ever (SIC) in their area. Whether you’re typing in shoes, coffee shops, or you’re looking for a chiropractor, chances are you’re going to be able to find that using Google Local.
Joe: Let me throw one more thing in here. I probably should have explained this better. If we’re on just google.com … That is not where I’m trying to go. If we do a Google search for coffee … Let me back out real quick and show you this. Just to give you an idea, this is a new thing called The Carousel, so that’s showing some local results, but here’s your organic search results. Down here, these are all non-paid results.
Over here on the side, these are actually paid or pay-per-click ads. These businesses have set up these campaigns, and they’re paying. If I were to click on this right now, Folgers Coffee would pay whatever they’ve bid for that click. That’s the difference. Here’s some organic. Here’s some paid ads. Here’s some local ads. Just real quick to show you a different version without that Carousel that we just showed.
Here’s what is generally called the Google 7-Pack, because there’s usually seven listings shown.
For our current location that we’re set up for, there’s only three relevant results, so we’re only seeing three results in the 7-Pack, but usually, you’ll see up to 7 results here.
I just typed in “Bike Shops” here, so here’s three bike shops that are relevant to us, based on our location there.
Greg: Okay. Now we know where people go to search for things. You’re probably asking yourself, “How do I get my business listed? How do I get my business actually on Google?” Let’s talk about what you’re going to do for that.
The first requirement is you actually have to have a physical location. This is pretty self-explanatory. In order to pop up on Google Maps, you actually have to first have a locatio on on the map to pop up, so what we call that is, “The name, address, phone number,” so from here on out, whenever you see “NAP,” you know that means “name, address, phone.”
Now, the next steps are to actually follow the steps that are over at Google My Business, and we’ll take you there in a minute, and we’ll show you what you do to get your business set up, but you basically go to google.com/business. Then, the last thing that you have to do is obviously get your website ready.
If there’s any onsite SEO things or if there’s any promotions that you want to get ready or anything that’s related to preparing your site for visitors to find it and search through it, you just want to make sure that you get your website ready to handle the increase in traffic that you’re about to get.
Before I get to this, let’s actually take you over to the search again, and let’s go to google.com/business. This is where you’re going to go to get your business set up, and it’s really quite easy. You go here, you follow all the steps. Google makes it pretty self-explanatory in terms of all the things that it’s going to do for you here, so read each step, and it’s going to walk you through how do you get your business up?
Now we know how to get your business actually on Google. What are some of the things that Google takes into consideration to get your site ranked? Let’s talk about the importance of citations.
Citations basically means name, address, phone, local directory citations, and this is to Google Local results as backlinks are to organic search results. You guys are probably familiar with the term backlinks. That’s the most common off-site SEO term thrown around these days, but that’s what you need to do in order to get your website ranked on the organic search results, while by getting a lot of local directory citations, it’s going to actually rank you on Google Maps, so think of this as basically phonebook websites that are out there, so like Yelp, yellowbook.com, whitepages.com, Yahoo Local. Insider Pages, Four Square.
Those are some of the really big ones out there, but as you get into each subject or each niche, it does get a little bit more focused, so for instance, wellness.com would be a perfect directory for doctors to get registered in, but a local plumber does not need to be found on wellness.com.
There’s tools that you can use to actually get a list of the most relevant directories that are out there for each subject, so we’ll walk you through how to do that at the end of the presentation, and we’ll put in some links as to where you guys can go to get that information.
Joe: Basically, the importance of that is the more relevant your citations are … Google recognizes these things, and the more power that’s going to give your listing, which in turn, is going to be better rankings in the search engine results.
We’re going to look at a three-pronged local SEO attack. Break down your local SEO campaign into three simple parts. You need to do a citation audit, a citation cleanup, and then some citation builds. We’ll walk through those here.
Greg: The citation audit. This is the first place where you’re going to go before you launch any local SEO campaign. The purpose of the citation audit is to verify what local directory citations exist for your business and if that information is correct or up to date.
Now, inconsistent citations definitely send mixed signals to Google, so the object here is to capture all of the available power that you have an, if there’s any directories that have an incorrect phone number or an incorrect address or something like that, it means you’re missing out on some power that’s available to you.
The whole idea is find out the list of all of the directories where you are online and then obviously, take tally of if there’s any incorrect or broken citations out there.
Joe: One important thing: You might think, “I’ve never built any citations.” You never know what’s gotten picked up on the Internet. People, to build their own citation database, might have found your website and scraped your data and put it on there. Then, so if you’ve moved locations … And that’s actually another good point. If you’ve ever moved locations, you want to make sure that any citations that are out there for a former location get updated to the new address. Having that improper information out there can really hurt your local SEO.
Greg: Exactly, which brings us to our next slide, the importance of a citation cleanup. After you’ve done the audit and you’ve taken tally of all the directory citations that exist for your business, the next order of business is to obviously get them corrected and fix any broken ones out there.
The problem is a lot of times people lose the login user name and password that they have for these websites, so you’re going to have to actually contact the website’s manually, and a lot of this is done over email, so make sure that you leave yourself some time because this process can take up to four to six weeks in some cases. The sooner you can get the listings cleaned up on the websites, the faster you’re going to see results, so just make sure that you plan for enough time here.
Now, citation building. This is the last part of the three-pronged attack. After you’ve done the audit, you’ve cleaned up any broken citations, you need to go out and you need to build a lot more citations. To get started with this, find the most relevant directories in your niche and get your NAP info index there.
Now, eventually, you’re going to run out of available directory citations, so I don’t know off the top of my head exactly how many exist for each subject, but give or take, I’d say maybe it’s around 200 different individual directories that could be placed and after you’ve been doing this consistently for a few months, there’s a good chance that you’re going to not need to be placed in any more of these directories. When this time comes, then congratulations. That means you’re really well optimized locally, but there’s still some other things that you can do in terms of building your relationships with people, and let’s get into that.
Joe: I was going to add one thing to that end thing real quick. We do have a service that offers citation build. If this is too much for you, if you don’t have the time to go out there and find all these directories, we have experts here that handle this every day. We can really simplify this process for you and get that out there.
We will be posting this webinar on our site when we are finished here. A couple hours after it’s done, it should be up, and we’ll send you an email and let you know that it’s up there, and we’ll post any links to any services, any of the tools that we’ve mentioned here, any free resources that can help you with this process. We will post links to that, so even if you’re watching this webinar right now, come back and check it out when we post it on the website and view the links of the relevant services and tools that you can use to help this for you.
Greg: Good point. The last thing that you should do in terms of your local SEO strategy is to build some relationships. You’ve done the citation building. You’ve done a little SEO link building on the site as well. You think you’re pretty well optimized on Google. The last step is you need to reach out to your customer base, and there’s a lot of different ways that you guys can do that.
Now, we did another webinar the other day on using social media as a great marketing tool, and I recommend that if you haven’t watched that webinar to go back and check it out because we really get into more detail on some of the best social media practices that you guys can do for your business.
This really ties into local SEO a lot, because I feel like for local businesses, it’s even more important to get your relationships built with people. It’s even more important to use social media and get your name out there because people can walk in off the street and find you, so you have to reach out and connect with the community and engage with them in interesting ways.
There’s a few different ways that you can do that. Obviously, you can use the usual ones, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc. but there’s meetup.com. Meetups are a great way to organize people in your area and get them to come together for a common cause. You can host webinars like we’re doing right now. You can walk around and flyer the community, but there’s so many different ways that you can reach out to people and let them know that you’re in town, right down the street, and you sell shoes or you sell coffee or you make sandwiches, whatever it is, but get your name out there.
Now, another thing that you guys can do, but be very careful when you do this, is be active on Yelp. You’re going to have a Yelp account set up for you, and Yelp is the mother of all review sites. It’s the most important one out there, and it’s usually the first place people go when they want to read a review of something.
If someone leaves you a negative review, it’s a really good idea to maybe go on there and just respond to that person, but be careful of the way that you do it. You don’t want to come across as being defensive or blaming the customer or anything. Just remember the Golden Rule that the customer is always right, no matter what, and if you’re going to reach out to someone on Yelp, make sure that you do so in a positive way and maybe offer some way to make their negative experience a positive experience next time around.
Now, the last thing I want to touch upon is be careful asking for reviews and be doubly careful when telling people not to leave negative reviews for you because it will backfire 100% of the time. I don’t know if any of you guys out there have heard about this … It went viral a few weeks ago, but it’s a perfect example of what I mean by this.
It was a hotel in New York. It’s called “Union Street Guesthouse,” and it’s in Hudson, New York. You can do a Yelp search for this right after you get off this webinar, but they had a policy. Basically, they’re a small bed and breakfast-style hotel, and they require a credit card deposit upon signing up for a hotel room, and part of the agreement is if you leave a negative review for their business, they fine you $500 on your credit card.
Obviously, customers didn’t take very kindly to this rule, and as soon as it got out on social media and Reddit and Facebook, etc., it totally blew up, and it went viral and everybody started leaving really nasty reviews for them, so whether they stay there or not, I think people are just leaving reviews now because it’s funny.
Obviously, you don’t tell people to only leave positive reviews or don’t even ask for reviews in general, but just make sure that you’re building relationships to the best of your ability, and the positive reviews will happen naturally.
Joe: If you watch our social media webinar that we did before that Greg mentioned, we get into this a little bit deeper, but if you know you have a happy customer, engage them and encourage them to review your site, things like that. Anytime you know you’ve got a good customer, maybe even incentivize them.
Say, “If you can go on Yelp and leave me a positive review, I’ll give you 10% off next time,” or something like that. Use that so it fits your particular business model, but engage the user, maybe incentivize them for positive reviews, because Yelp has an incredible amount of power. It almost seems dangerous at times, but they do have that power, so try to get positive reviews and engage those customers that you know had a good experience to try to get those positive reviews.
Greg: Great point, Joe. Just be sure that your business warrants the positive reviews, and I wouldn’t make a Facebook post asking for reviews unless you’re really sure that you are above and beyond the competition, and you offer something that a lot of people don’t, and you go out and you look out for your customers, and people will definitely know that if it’s true, but if you’re a business that maybe needs some improvement, then there’s some other things that you can probably do before you start asking your regular customer base for positive reviews.
That’s pretty much all we had to cover today. I don’t know if you have any questions, but this is the time where we’re going to pause and take any questions that you guys have on local SEO and getting more business and leads through people finding your business on Google.
Now, keep in mind, though, that we will have this webinar posted to our website after this, and we will have some more upcoming webinars on a lot more topics very soon. We do these each week.
Joe: We’ve got one question here, and it’s a really good question. It’s, “Is there anything I need to do on my website as far as the code of the site to help my local reviews?”
Unfortunately, I don’t know that I have an example I can show you real quick, but there is a thing called Schema, and let me at least show you that. Schema.org.
There’s a thing called Schema, and this is the website that lists all the properties, and then Google also has a thing … If I can find it quick enough … Google Markup Helper. Let me see. I think it’s like that. Oh, Google Structured Data Markup Helper. Keep these two things in mind. Schema.org and Google Structured Data Markup Helper.
Structured data is essentially, you can take your name, address, and phone number on your website that’s actually listed there, and you can add an extra little line of code within there that just makes it easier for the search engines to recognize that this is your physical address.
There’s so much more you can do with Scheme outside of the scope of local SEO. We’ll probably do a whole webinar on Schema and how you can use that for your business, but from a local SEO point of view, you can mark up your name, address, phone number that’s listed on your web page to actually help the search engines understand that this is an actual physical location address.
Search engines were probably going to figure it out that it was there anyway, but this Schema markup language helps the search engines find the information faster, and you do get a little bit of a rankings boost from having your data properly marked up that way, so structured data, and this is where you can get an edge on your competition, too.
The reason it would be hard for me to pull up an example right now off the top of my head is very few people are taking advantage of properly marking up any Schema data, any structured data on their website. Do a little research on structured data. It really can give you an edge because we really see very few websites taking advantage of this yet. It is newer, but yeah. Definitely take advantage of that if you can.
Greg: All right. Great question. I think that covers it for today, but thanks again for joining us, and again, watch our site for more webinars in the Increasing Sales series, and if you need help, feel free to give us a call at 888-639-8877.
Joe: All right. Great. Thanks.
Greg: Have a great afternoon.