If you’ve mastered the basics in the first four phases of our Massive Guide to Local Search Tactics, or you happen to have unlimited resources, consider some of the following tactics to expand your local footprint online.
As mentioned previously, video can be a great way to expand your footprint online and another avenue to communicate with potential customers.
To get the maximum impact out of your videos, consider distributing them beyond your own site. Google’s YouTube is obviously the 1000 pound gorilla, but there are many other sites that you can use to distribute your videos online.
Some of the most popular include:
Getting the maximum exposure for your photos is important. Photos can be found in many ways which is a huge opportunity for your business to be discovered online.
Google Images catalogs your images from your website automatically. But don’t stop there. Here are a few options to get you started:
Social Outreach and Engagement
Engagement on social media is a world of it’s own and I won’t go into it in detail here. But let it be said, it’s an excellent way to expand your reach online and engage with local customers. Google+,Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, etc. are all options. Even if you step into the waters slowly and have just a little bit of activity on these sites it can be a good thing.
A great place to start to learn about everything social media is this site: Social Media Examiner
Claim Unstructured Citations
Unstructured citations are basically listings of your business on websites other than traditional directories or search engines. Examples might include a magazine website, niche or local blog, social media site, newspaper website, event listings, government websites, etc.
Consider pursuing these citations once you’ve claimed and optimized your priority structured citations.
The difference is that structured citations are usually in a directory or searchable/sortable format that search engines and users can easily digest. Unstructured citations are a little more random where you might be the only business listed on the page. Structured citations are obviously much harder to establish but can be very valuable to your local SEO efforts.
Guest Blogging on Local Blogs
How do you get links back to your site? Well, it takes work. One way that you can do that is offer to create GREAT local content for other websites in exchange for a citation and link back to your site. To get started check out this link: A beginner’s guide to guest blogging
Develop a PR Strategy
Getting your business in front of the local media can be a huge boost to your local marketing and SEO mojo. Trying to cover PR strategy here is not possible but we can summarize it pretty simply: plan your schedule, craft your message, seek out your targets and engage on as many fronts as possible. Learn as much as you can about press releases, how to approach reporters, be newsworthy, research wire services and learn patience.
Get Involved with Local Events or Plan Your Own
Local events can be a great way to increase your visibility in the community – especially if the event is recurring like a weekly meet-up or educational series. If you’re already holding local events, make sure to list them on sites like Yelp, Facebook Events, LinkedIn, Zvents.com, Eventful.com and AmericanTowns.com.
Get Involved in Your Community
Look for ways that your business can become involved in the community. Links and marketing opportunities often follow. Not to mention the good things that you can accomplish. It’s a win-win proposition. Get started today.
Claim All Your Social Profiles
Google+, Facebook and Twitter are only the beginning. Visit knowem.com to expand your social presence online and ensure that other companies can’t claim your company name.
Monitor and Respond to Reviews
In addition to encouraging reviews online, you should have a strategy to monitor and respond to reviews. Not knowing that there are negative reviews online about your business is not an ideal situation. So consider these services to stay in-touch with your customers and try to turn a negative into a positive. Sometimes it just requires a simple response and you can’t do that without an effective system to monitor your reputation online.
Get Listed on Mobile/GPS Services
If you utilize the services of the primary data distributors mentioned previously (Localeze/Neustar, InfoGroup, Acxiom, etc.), you’ll likely get your information distributed to the top GPS/Map providers. But to be sure, consider listing your business directly on the priority sites listed below:
There are many other data providers and services. You can go direct and deep on this if you have the time. Start with the top free services like Google, Apple, Yelp, etc. and seek out the specific procedures to get listed on each if you don’t see your business listed in a timely manner.
Comment and Contribute to Local Blogs
If you can identify local websites and blogs that have high visibility in your area, engage with other users on the site or consider contributing content. Simply having a presence and being involved – even in small ways – can help to increase your visibility in the community. Without being too obvious or salesy, consider exploring creative ways to add your business name, address, phone number and links to the site too.
Give Reviews and Testimonials to Other Local Businesses
This suggestion isn’t exactly a marketing tactic for your business but if you do it right, it can help you to bring visibility to your business in the eyes of other local business owners. What you need to do is simply review other local businesses in a visible way. The tactic is simple and it provides you with an opportunity to say something good about your favorite local businesses and promote your business in the process.
Simply offer to provide a testimonial in exchange for a mention of your name, your business name and a link back to your website. What business would not want you to provide some kind words about their business and services online? This tactic will bring visibility to your business over time and will provide you with a valuable link back to your website. The link itself may or may not bring any SEO mojo but if presented correctly it’s just another way that a local client could discover you online.
Start a Scholarship for a Local University
What’s better than cheap promotion of your business? Not much. But if you can get cheap promotion for your business and get it from a local university while doing something good for a kid? Well, that’s about as good as it can get.
For this tactic you’ll have to spend some money to establish a scholarship but it doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars. In exchange for a modest yearly donation you’ll get all sorts of visibility and likely your own page on a university website that links back to your business. When building links there aren’t many opportunities that are better than your own page on a .edu domain with a link back to your website. Just think of all the opportunities that this small investment in your community will bring you.
Sponsor College Student Groups that Relate to What You Do
Investigate opportunities to support local college groups and activities that have something to do with your business. This will get you a ton of local goodwill, marketing and networking opportunities and will likely get a link back to your website from a .edu domain. The link may or may not help you with your local SEO but it certainly can’t hurt and you’ll have many opportunities to promote your business while helping to mold the next generation of…. well, whatever you do!
Sponsor Local Events
Not many things will get you on the radar of the locals more than sponsoring local events. This can sometimes be expensive but there are always opportunities within almost any budget. Sponsoring local business and community events is a great way for your business to be discovered by local people who may never have heard of you otherwise.
Consider local chamber events, community festivals, business networking or education series events and even your own small events at your location such as free lunch hour learning sessions.
Ultra-Refine Your Citations and Links
Building citations on high quality websites is an important local SEO tactic but many businesses don’t have the time or the knowledge to do it right. This is a huge opportunity for those of you “in the know”.
But how far do you go? Well, that question doesn’t have a simple answer because there are many factors such as the competitiveness of your industry and how aggressive your competition is online with their own SEO.
One thing that you can do before you worry about quantity is focus on QUALITY. Take some time to identify the best citations that apply to your business and then take a deep dive to make sure that they all match exactly. Making sure that your NAP (Company name, address and phone + your URL) is exactly the same on all priority citation sites could make a big difference when you’re up against your competition online.
Want more specifics? Check out this article about some specific tactics that will help you review your citations and find new one’s that Google has identified for your competition.
Claim Generic/Structured Citations
Once you’ve claimed all your priority citations, local citations and industry citations, consider manually claiming and optimizing more generic citations.
Keep in mind though, not all citations are created equal. So be careful where you’re spending your time in this area.
Structured citations are usually in a directory or searchable/sortable format that search engines and users can easily digest. But many are considered to be low quality and therefore low value to your SEO efforts.
Why post your valuable content on your website when you can post it on your site and thousands of other sites? That’s a question that many people don’t ask often enough! (including myself)
We won’t go into specific tactics here but consider ways to not only publish your content on your own site but how you can use the tools and services available to you to distribute your content and potentially reach a much larger audience that you could with your own website.
But isn’t this duplicate content you ask? Won’t Google dislike tactics like this? The short answer is “no”. Having your content on many websites is inheritably not a bad thing and you will NOT be penalized for this directly. The only bad thing that could happen is that your content is returned in the search results from another site instead of your own. But if exposure is your goal, then this is not a bad thing. Exposure is exposure. Just make sure that you take any opportunities available to you to link back to your own site.
Also, there are options to distribute your content but not distribute the entire piece of content.Headline distribution, Suggested Content Distribution, Newswire Distribution, Link Distributionand Paid Social Media Distribution are all tactics that you can explore.
Use Google Mapmaker
Using Google Mapmaker to improve your business information on Google Maps can help customers find you easier (especially if you’re location is not correct on Google Maps) as well as giving them more information about exactly how to get there with as little confusion as possible.
For a great, detailed overview of using Google Mapmaker click here.
Explore Microdata/Structured Markup
Microdata, Rich Snippets, Microformats, Structured Markup, it’s all the same thing. In the words of Google: Structured markup is a way of annotating information already on your website to help Google and others understand information more precisely. More specifically: Microdata is a way to label content to describe a specific type of information—for example, reviews, personal information, or events.
With local search optimization you want to use this markup to clearly define your business location and other important supporting information so there is no question about what’s on the page and how the search engines should use it.
Why is it important? It can help the search engines better understand your pages and it can improve your listings in the search results as this additional information may be displayed inline with your listings.
Again in the words of Google: Your addition of structured markup simply helps to resolve ambiguities by clarifying that 1) you are in fact referencing a business (e.g. you mean “Shalimar” the restaurant rather than “Shalimar” the city), and 2) you’re referencing a very specific location (e.g. the Shalimar in Sunnyvale rather than the Shalimar in San Francisco). When annotating reviews, you also clarify which text corresponds to the review of the particular business.
The Massive Guide to Local Search Tactics
Phase 5: Secondary Offsite Local Strategies