Local Maps SEO and Why It’s Important

Written by: Jason Bayless | December 13, 2014

Many online businesses serve a global customer base. Anyone who can find their website is able to purchase from them and thus becomes a customer. For these businesses, optimizing their website for a local search may not be a priority; this is especially so if they are online only, meaning they have no physical presence. On the other hand, businesses that operate out of a brick and mortar location are there to serve a local customer base and will need to ensure that customers in their area can find them easily.

Local SEO revolves around being optimized for a specific geographic location. The sections at the top of a Google search results page that show local options, those are essential to any business operating out of a physical storefront.

Some of the most fundamental elements of local SEO are:

• A Google+ Business Page and Google Places for Business
A business owner should make sure to register and optimize these pages correctly as they are essential for local SEO success. Registration will involve the business owner verifying their ownership along the address of the business. Google will use the information they put in in its maps and in the sections on search results pages that are dedicated to local businesses.

While registering a business is essential, it is also the easy part of local SEO success. Among other things, a business owner will have to focus on getting their business listed among the top local results.

• Optimizing Pages
This means providing potential customers with all the information they need. For example, the hours of operation and what services the business offers. Optimization includes properly categorizing the business’s pages. Businesses that are not categorized or that are incorrectly categorized, may not be displayed in search results.

• Citations
Citations are mentions of a business’s name, address and phone number. Citations on various sites can improve the ranking of a business. These mentions may or may not be paired with a website address since there are still many businesses without websites. A business can earn citations by various methods including by blogging or by having their information listed in a directory or on the website of a local business association. It is a good idea for a business owner to look at where their competitors are cited and try to get a citations from those sources as well.

• Reviews
Members of the public are allowed to post reviews on Google Maps listings, whether good or bad. The more reviews a business gets, the better ranked it will be. Google will also get reviews from sites that have authority and include them in a business’s listing in some cases. Business owners should note that only current reviews count. Reviews from a year or more back will not have any local SEO value.

• Photos
A business owner should never underestimate the promotional power of photographs. Having photographs can be tremendously appealing to those seeking information about a business. This includes photographs of the building where the business is located as well as of the products offered.

• Optimizing The Business Website
Website optimization plays a major role in local search performance. The business’s website should contain the contact information (street address, email and phone number) along with local keywords. The business owner should network with local organizations as this may make them more likely to visit the website and maybe even to link back to it.

When looking at local SEO, it is important to consider the rise in the popularity of smartphones. Smartphones are extremely popular for local search and mobile searchers convert at a high rate. People are using mobile devices to discover local businesses and to compare merchants while they are out and about. Optimizing for both local SEO and for mobile search are essential for local success.