David Mihm is a local SEO legend. He’s been a leading figure in the SEO world for years. Recently, he started a new firm called Tidings, that helps businesses achieve success in local markets. We’re honored to present you his fantastic answers to five pressing questions on local SEO. Find out what you should focus on if you want to be successful in your area!

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

Local SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

You’ve been in the – local – SEO business for a long time now. You’ve seen many trends come and go, but what was the most striking change you’ve encountered in local SEO in recent years?

Well, I’m going to cheat a little. I’d say there are two very important trends. These are far more important for the average local business than any given algorithm update over which so many SEOs obsess. These are 1) Google’s increased monetization of local SERPs, and 2) Knowledge Panels. I wrote about both of these pretty extensively in my 2017 predictions post.

Google is showing more Adwords than ever above the fold; that won’t be news to anyone. What might be news are some of their hybrid ad/local units. We’re seeing them now in the hotel space and some home services verticals on the U.S. West Coast. Within a couple of years, these hybrid ad formats will roll out to every category, and every geographic market in the world. The availability and visibility of organic inventory will decrease.

In parallel, Google has been moving into a world of answers, not websites. They want to present as much information as they can about a local business directly in the search result. This way the need for searchers to click through to a business’s website will decrease. We’re seeing more and richer information like photos, reviews, busy times, critic lists on which the business is included. There’s also an increase in the ability to transact with the business right from the SERP. Especially in the hospitality, restaurant, and personal care industries. Of course, websites still play a crucial role in helping Google determine the relevance and authority of your business. But you’re going to get fewer clickthroughs from Google. Even if the number of customers they send you remains consistent.

Why is there this distinction between Local SEO and regular SEO? What are the main differences between the two?

There are two prongs to the differences. The first is that since the Venice update in ca. 2011, Google has been localizing organic search results to the geographic area of the searcher. If I search for something like “bankruptcy lawyer,” Google interprets that search as inherently local. I’m looking for a bankruptcy lawyer near me, not in New York or Hong Kong or London. So they sprinkle in websites from local bankruptcy attorneys for this “global” query via some local filter on their traditional algorithm. I didn’t specify “Portland, Oregon” in my search, but Portland bankruptcy lawyers appear right alongside the largest websites in the world like Yelp, Avvo, and Findlaw. Optimizing a website and backlink profile to have a strong local scent is a different skill set than optimizing an eCommerce or media website.

The second prong (one with an even greater difference than traditional SEO) is that there is a fundamentally different algorithm at work that ranks the business listings included in what we call the 3-pack: the visual unit that appears between the ads and organic website results. This algorithm is built largely on ranking factors that aren’t in play for a typical organic market: business listing data, user reviews, proximity to the searcher, and many others.

example of a 3-pack local seo

The 3-pack shown between the ads and organic results after a local search query

 

It’s hard to rank in a neighboring area or town. So what can you do when your business is not close to the center? Or when you live in a small town? Can your business compete with those in a larger city?

It’s going to be hard. You’re probably better off trying to win business on social media than you are in local search at Google — at least for keywords in the major city — in this instance. The best chance you have is to compete organically by targeting specific pages at the larger city. The best/easiest kind of content to populate these pages is usually case studies from customers who live in the larger city.

Beyond that, it’s going to take an overwhelming review profile (as in 10x the number of reviews of the most-reviewed big city competitor) to get noticed in the 3-pack. And that takes a LOT of time and a lot of effort.

So my general advice would be to dominate your small-town market. Get as many customers from your “backyard” as you can. Then start to gradually expand to the bigger city using word-of-mouth, targeted offline business partnerships and referrals, and eventually social media.

Let’s say you have limited resources available to work on your local SEO. You can focus on a maximum of three things. What would you advise?

Glad you asked!  I’ve got a graphical resource which I hope answers this question perfectly :)

Thinking about the longest-term benefits for local search, I’d say you should focus first on your website.  Make it mobile-responsive, answer the most common questions your customers have, showcase customer stories and case studies, and make sure you convert people who are already clicking through to it.

Next, I’d focus on building offline relationships in your community (but make sure they’re represented online as well).  Think about relevant non-profits to which you can donate time or money, get involved in community events, and figure out how you can network with and support complementary local businesses to your own.

And then I’d implement a really great review acquisition platform. Getting happy customers to talk about your business on prominent review sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook is not only an increasingly important ranking factor, but it helps convert prospective customers who see all of your great ratings.

The great thing for local businesses is Local SEO should get less-technical over time. Things like title tags, citations and backlinks are certainly still important, but I see their relative value diminishing as Google collects more and more engagement signals from individual customers.

Today’s marketing landscape seems to revolve in large part around social media. How important is social media for Local SEO? Should every local business have and maintain a Facebook business listing? If so, how?

Social media is important for a holistic digital presence and does have some value for Local SEO. All kinds of studies show that customers are more likely to buy from a business that shows some engagement on social media — an active presence gives people a better feel for your business before they decide to purchase from you.

Every local business should maintain a Facebook business page — not least because Facebook, at some point, will decide to leverage the huge amount of data they have around local businesses and launch a local search engine of their own. You’ll want to have a strong presence out of the gate when that happens.

Beyond that, Facebook pages regularly rank well for your business name, so they’re great for reputation management. And we routinely see Facebook reviews pulled into the Knowledge Panels for local businesses in virtually every industry. So from that standpoint, we know Google is at least able to assess your volume of Facebook reviews (if not the content of the reviews themselves).

(Local businesses should know that unless they pay to Boost or otherwise advertise their Facebook presence, though, very few fans will see it (likely somewhere between 2 – 6%). Helping bridge the gap between expected performance on Facebook and the actual performance of email marketing is the rationale behind my new product, Tidings.)

Read more: ‘Local ranking factors that improve your local SEO’ »

If your business website’s goal is to get in touch with (potential) customers, you should avoid a number of contact page mistakes. Here, we’ll mention the mistakes we find most annoying. And we’re not unique in that.

In my previous post about contact pages, I already mentioned that the right content on this page can improve both user experience and SEO. In the comments on that post, Simon asked: “What do you think are the 5 most common mistakes on a website contact page?” What I think are the most common mistakes makes it my personal list, so I decided to dedicate this post to what I find the most annoying :)

Let’s dive straight in with number one. 

For good SEO, you need a good user experience. Learn about UX & Conversion! »

UX & Conversion from a holistic SEO perspective$ 19 - Buy now » Info

#1 Just a form

If your contact page consists of a form and nothing but a form, you are not serving all of your visitors. Naturally, there will always be people that don’t understand the form. Provide a fallback option, like an email address or a phone number. Here are some reasons why people might dislike / do not understand your form:

  • Your form is too long. People get lost or simply don’t take the time to fill out all the things you want to know. Keep forms short and clear.
  • Your form isn’t responsive. This ruins the mobile experience on your contact page. Labels might get lost, as a mobile browser will focus on the form fields.
  • Your form can get broken. Perhaps you missed an update of your favorite contact plugin, just to name one reason.

#2 Fancy names for your contact page

Don’t you just hate it when you have to do an internal search on a website just to find their contact page? In my opinion, there are two options:

  1. Add the menu item “Contact” to your main and/or footer menu.
  2. Add your contact page at example.com/contact/.

I won’t look in any other spots. It’s straight to your search or back to Google to find the next company that’s going to answer my question. Preferably, you want that link to your contact page to be above the fold. But I have to say that a footer link is common as well, both as an extra and as the main link.

Just like the link in the URL, I’d like the title of that page to be “Contact” or a variation of that, like “Contact us” or “Get in touch”. Don’t use “Let’s talk business” or whatever strange sentence that won’t cover the immediate goal of the page. It will confuse people, even in Google already. Make it clear that this is the page where they can get in contact with you.

#3 Outdated information

C’mon people. Like all your other pages, your contact page needs some tender love and care from time to time. Moving offices? Adjust your website. New sales rep? Change profile picture and email address. Make sure your information is accurate at all times.

Don’t take this lightly, I think outdated information is one of those contact page mistakes that we choose to ignore sometimes. “I’ll get to that one of these days”. “It’s on my to do list”. No, update it when it changes. And if your address changes, let Google know in the process.

#4 Make sure people can contact you privately

That means “Reach out to me on the WordPress Slack”, “Talk to me on Twitter”, or even “Drop a comment below” isn’t enough. And yes, contact pages that use a comment form as a contact form do exist. People that want to talk to you probably just want to talk to you. Make sure they can.

Is it wise to display links to social profiles on a contact page? I believe that only makes sense if you want people to contact you on, for instance, Twitter and you monitor these social profiles for questions. If you mention Instagram on your contact page and don’t check Instagram at least every other day, it’s probably not the preferred way to contact you. In that case, that link shouldn’t be on your contact page.

Best case scenario: two options to contact you privately (form and email address or phone number would be a nice start), so if one fails, visitors can use the other.

#5 Not having a contact page at all

If only I got a penny for every website I came across that lacks a (clear) contact page… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: every website should have a contact page. Most websites are set up to interact with the visitor, get them to buy products or provide information. But they can always have extra questions or interesting business opportunities for you. Make sure it’s clear how they can get in touch.

It’s probably the most obvious of all the contact page mistakes listed here, but I just felt the need to mention it.

Are there any more contact page mistakes you can think of?

For sure. And if you’d ask me the same question on another day, I could probably come up with more. The above ones are the ones I find most annoying, but what about:

  • No clear confirmation that a form is sent. So I’ll send it again. Just in case.
  • Crappy captchas. The horror! Need I say more?
  • Contact pages that are flooded with distractions. I just want to contact you!

Now over to you

Feel free to spill your guts in the comments. Let me know what annoys you the most about contact pages!

Read more: ‘What makes a great contact page? With lots of examples!’ »

Every business owner with a website is looking for ways to get noticed in the search results. Today, there are loads of tactics to rank well as a local business, but there is no silver bullet: as with most SEO issues, this is a combined effort. One of these pieces of the local SEO puzzle is Google My Business, a dashboard for managing listings. But what is it exactly and why is it so important for local SEO?

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

Local SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

What is Google My Business?

My Business is Google’s one-stop shop to manage how your business will look and perform in the search engine. It is an essential tool to find out and adjust how your site shows in Maps, the Knowledge Graph, Google+ and organic search results. According to the 2017 edition of Moz’ Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, Google My Business continues to be the biggest driver of local SEO success, with quality links coming in at a close second.

You can manage your business listing by adding NAP details, opening hours, photos et cetera. In addition to that, it is possible to manage the reviews your customers leave behind. As you know, reviews should be a key factor in your local SEO efforts.

How does it work?

Getting started with My Business is easy; you have to make an account and claim your business. After filling in your details, you will get a real-life postcard from Google on the address you’ve specified. This card is the only proof you’re the owner of the business listed at the address.

Once verified, you can fill in all the necessary details and check how your listing is doing. You can even get regular insights to see how many impressions, clicks and subscribers your listing got over a period. It’s a great way of getting a feel for how your business is perceived by Google and customers alike.

Keep in mind that My Business is not the catch-all tool for your local SEO. It has to work in tandem with your on- and off-site SEO efforts. You won’t climb the charts if your profile is inaccurate, but you also won’t reach the top without a well-optimized site and localized content. These things go hand in hand.

Ranking factors

Google My Business uses many factors to determine rankings for businesses. We’ll highlight the three most important ones:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

Relevance

Relevance determines how well your business fits the search intent of the customer. Is your focus identical to what the customer needs or are you a bit opaque about what your business does? Vagueness doesn’t rank. Be as clear as you can be. Keep your focus.

Distance

Distance is a well-known factor for ranking local businesses. You can’t rank in a local search for (dentist New Jersey) when you have located your company in Manhattan. The exact way Google determines which businesses to show in a local search is unknown, and it can be pretty hard to rank in a given area. The other factors play a significant role as well. It helps not just to say you are located in a particular area, but also to show it by creating local-oriented content around your business on your site. Google uses what’s known about the location of the searcher to present the most relevant local businesses.

Prominence

Prominence is all about the activity around your listing; this could be the number of reviews, events, local content et cetera. It also helps if you can get loads of quality links to your site. It is somewhat hard to determine what prominence means exactly, but one thing is sure: no one likes dead profiles. You have to keep it updated with new photos and manage your reviews. As said before, this works in tandem with your site, so make sure both listings align and that you publish local content.

Optimize your Google My Business listing

To start, you need to claim your listing. After that, you can use the following tips to make your My Business account a success. Keep in mind that everything you add must be in line with the information you provide on your site. Inaccurate information kills your listings and could kill your rankings:

  • Claim your listing with your actual business name
  • Choose a category as accurate as possible
  • Provide as much data as you can – your profile has to be 100%
  • Check your phone number
  • Check your opening times – think about holidays!
  • Review your photos – are they accurate and good or can you improve them?
  • Create citations on other sites as well – pick well-regarded business listing or review sites and directories, stay away from spammers
  • Keep your My Business listing in line with your site – and use Schema.org data
  • Above all, keep your data up to date

It’s critical to remember that this is not a set it and forget it type of thing. Things chance, your business changes. Keep everything active, monitor reviews and stay on top of things. It’s frustrating if your listing doesn’t perform as well as you’d like, but keep putting in the hours, and it will work. US businesses can check their listings with this tool by Synup: Google My Business Guidelines Checker.

my business guidelines check

Structured data and Yoast Local SEO

Google increasingly depends on structured data to find out what your site is about and which elements represent what. This is most certainly true for your business information, including the information that My Business uses. Make sure you add the correct structured data to your site. Enhance your NAP details, opening hours, reviews, product information et cetera, with Schema.org data. This will make it much easier for Google to determine the validity of your listing. Several tools can help you with this, including our Yoast Local SEO plugin.

Your local SEO is critical, even with Google My Business

So, you should activate and maintain your My Business account, and make it awesome. But the most of your listings and to get good rankings, you must have your site in order as well. Optimize every part of it. Create local content for your chosen keyword and business location. Acquire quality local backlinks to build up a solid link profile. Ask customers to review your business onsite or on My Business. Make sure your listing is active and attractive. Dead profiles are no good.

Read more: ‘Local ranking factors that help your local business’ SEO’ »

If you’re a well-known local business owner, one of your online goals should be getting more local reviews from your (satisfied) customers. These reviews or ratings help Google in determining the value of your company for their users. If you have a nice amount of four-star and five-star ratings, Google considers you a more valuable result on their search result pages, which contributes to better rankings for your site.

Today, we’ll dig a bit deeper into these local reviews and convince you to ask your customers for reviews.

Google and local reviews

First, let’s see what Google has to say about local reviews. On their review datatype page, they clearly state that Google may display information from aggregate ratings markup in the Google Knowledge Cards with your business’ details.

They state that they’re using the following review snippet guidelines:

  • Ratings and reviews must come directly from the users.
  • There is a difference between these user ratings and critic reviews (human editors that curate or compile ratings information for local businesses). That’s a different ball game.
  • Don’t copy reviews from Yelp or whatever other review site, but collect them from your users directly and display these on your site.

There is a clear focus on genuine reviews. Add name, position, photo and any other relevant, public information on the reviewer. That always helps in showing that your reviews are indeed genuine

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

Local SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

Ask your customers for a review in person

It’s really that simple: ask your customers for a review. Yelp may advise against this, Google promotes it (Source: SEL). I agree with Google on this. A friend of mine is in the coaching business and he asks his customers after finishing the coaching process to leave a review on his Google My Business page. This, plus obviously an optimized site, has helped him achieving a local #1 ranking.

It might feel a bit odd, to ask your customers for a positive review. However, I bet most of your customers will be more than happy to do this for you. It’s a small token of appreciation for your great service, product or your friendly staff. If you believe in your business, and you’re taking extra steps to help your customer, your customer will for sure leave that review for you. Especially in local businesses, where you know your customer and perhaps have been serving him or her for decades, just ask.

Ask your customers for local reviews online

Feel free to ask your customer for a review on your website, for example, right after a purchase. If a customer wanted your product so bad he or she made the purchase, they may be willing to leave a review about their shopping experience as well. Even a simple “How would you rate your experience with our company” could give you that local rating you want.

Twitter

And why not leverage Twitter here? I find Twitter to work pretty decently for local purposes. There’s a separate ‘community’ of tweeps talking to each other on Twitter in our hometown. I’m sure most of them visit local stores. Not just that, but they’ll probably also have an opinion on these stores. And they might just be willing to share that opinion.

Facebook

One of our local shops won a national award and a lot of locals congratulated the owners with this ‘very much deserved’ win on Facebook. How’s that for an opportunity to ask for Facebook reviews? Let me elaborate a bit on the Facebook reviews. These are local reviews as well! The Apple store on Fifth Avenue in NY has over 16,000 reviews already. Most good, some bad:

Local reviews on Facebook

Facebook is an awesome opportunity for any local business to get reviews. Don’t underestimate how many people search for your business on Facebook.

As mentioned in the section about Google and local reviews: “Don’t copy reviews from Yelp or whatever other review sites”. The same goes for these Facebook reviews. It’s very nice to get them, but leave them on Facebook (or use them in your offline print campaign) and get separate local reviews for your website.

Even negative reviews matter. Don’t feel bad when you get one, feel motivated!

Asking for reviews, for instance, right from your (support) email inbox, like in the signature of your email, might feel a bit strange at first. However, it will trigger your brand ambassadors to leave a review, after seeing that signature email after email. And yes, you will get some negative reviews as well from people that are not completely satisfied with your product or service. And you want these.

Negative reviews give you a chance to go beyond yourself in showing how customer-driven you are. They allow you to fix the issue this customer has. After fixing it, ask them to share the solution / their experience with your company, so others can see what you have done to turn that disappointed customer into a satisfied customer.

It’s your job to make your customer happy, and good reviews will follow. Speed up that process by asking your customers for their feedback!

Read more: ‘Local ranking factors that help your local business’ SEO’ »

In this post, we’ll go over a number of contact page examples, so you’ll be able to review your own contact page and improve it. For a lot of companies, that contact page is the main reason they have a website in the first place. For others, the contact page filters or manages all incoming contact requests. The right information on these contact pages, combined with for instance a map or images, really improves user experience. And that way you can even use your contact page to improve the overall SEO of your website.

Please understand that there is more than one way to look at a contact page. Some websites use it to direct customers to their customer service, others fill their contact page with call-to-actions and direct visitors to their sales team. Small businesses will use their contact page to direct people to their store or office. What works for others, might not work for your contact page. It highly depends on what kind of business you have. Go read and decide for yourself what improves your contact page!

Essential elements of your contact page

Think about what you are looking for when visiting a contact page on any website. I for one, am not a big fan of phone calls, so I’d rather email a company. Saves time, and it’s less intrusive. Personally, I prefer a contact form on some occasions and an actual email address on others. So I’d advise to provide both. Let’s look at all the essentials:

  • Company name.
  • Company address.
  • General company phone number.
  • General company email address.
  • Contact form.

Multiple departments

If you have more than one department that can be reached by phone or email, list all. Add a clear heading and the details of how that department can be contacted. An example: universities and hospitals usually have separate departments for students, patients, press, business opportunities and more. Youtube has a variety of departments/directions to point you to on their contact page. Obviously, these departments should only be listed if their details should be available for everyone visiting that website.

This article is about great contact page examples, but I came across this one that I really have to mention. EY.com has a great contact page example of how I would not approach this:

Contact page ey.com

Apart from the design of that contact page, the thing I like the least is the fact that I’m not sure what will happen after clicking ‘webmaster’ or ‘global ey.com team’. One would expect a page with more info, but in fact, it opens a pop-up screen with a contact form. It would be so much more convenient to have a contact form right on that page, with an option to choose between technical issues or general inquiries. That can be done by using radio buttons or a select box, for instance. That way, one topic is chosen before sending the form.

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

Local SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

Multiple locations

If you have multiple locations, list all address details (NAP plus email) for every one of those locations. But please make sure to highlight your headquarters one way or the other. Let’s check out a couple of contact page examples that have multiple locations:

  • PwC Australia lists all of their locations on one page but I really have no clue what their main location is.
  • Arcadis does a much better job with a nicely designed contact page, stating the main contact details, personalized details per department and a nice country selector to get you to the nearest location.
  • The US Chamber of Commerce lists one main address and a link to a separate page with all the locations. Makes sense, and provides a focused user experience.

Did you also notice the bottom section of that US Chamber of Commerce page? Even if you can’t find what you are looking for, this section about where to find more information helps you to find what you are looking for. It might even reduce the number of emails in the process.

These are the bare necessities. What else can we do to make that contact page awesome for visitors and Google?

Spice up your contact page

Contact pages that list the bare necessities are dull. And there is so much more you can do to spice up that contact page!

Why and when should I contact you?

It sounds so obvious, but you actually might want to tell your visitors why and when they should or shouldn’t contact you. It pays off to create a safe environment, to assure people you have no annoying holding tunes, that you’ll connect them with a human being from minute one, or simply that you won’t be taking calls after 2PM for whatever reason.

By explaining a bit more about your contact policies, you a) add text to an otherwise dull page and b) are able to manage expectations. Hubspot pointed me to this nice contact page example that does this very well: the contact page of ChoiceScreening.

An awesome call-to-action

Add a great call-to-action to your contact page. That could be a button at the bottom of your contact form, but also a phone number that is displayed in a prominent spot. Just make sure it’s immediately clear what you want your visitor to do on that contact page. Pick your preferred contact method.

There are plenty of contact page examples that have done their call-to-action right. I’d like to mention for instance Jetblue:

Contact page examples: Jetblue

Before showing you their contact details (you can scroll down for these options) they try to answer your question on their website already. It’s very clear that they want you to check for yourself first, hence the large “Select a topic & Get answers”-option. It’s a common practice for a contact page, which undoubtedly saves time for your business.

Macy’s clearly wants you to call them, judging from the box on the right of their contact page. Nestlé gives you a number of options to choose from, being FAQ, Call, and Social Media. I like that as well, although there is no one call-to-action standing out from the rest, so I’m not sure what will work best. But it is definitely better that the lack of a call-to-action on the ABN AMRO contact page.

Want to optimize your WooCommerce shop for local shopping? You need Local SEO for WooCommerce! »

Local SEO for WooCommerceBuy now » Info

Social accounts

For the fifth time in two weeks, my newspaper was late. It has been stormy, which could be the reason for the first four delays. Today is a beautiful day, so the delay makes no sense. I contacted my newspaper via a direct message on Twitter and got an ETA for the newspaper within 5 minutes. Social media is a very common way to stay in touch with (potential) customers and some customer services have made an art out of helping customers that way.

Contact page examples: social at GarminBe sure to list your active social networks on your website. And make sure to respond to any (serious) mention of your company or direct message you receive. I already mentioned Nestlé. Garmin adds a nice little block (see image) to their contact page, and Hootsuite has a nice section on theirs that contains all their social networks. I like how they emphasize the option to use these to get in contact with them.

A map and directions

A map isn’t a necessary element for every contact page, but hey, it looks nice and gives your visitor an idea of where you are situated. If your company has multiple locations, it provides a nice overview of your (global) reach and will tell the visitor if there is a location nearby.

If you have a business where customers come into your office, shop or whatever to do business or purchase products, directions do come in handy. Scribd has this incorporated in Google Maps. Gladstone added a small map in the sidebar and wrote instructions from multiple directions on their contact page, much like Gettysburg Seminary has. You can automate a lot of this if you are on WordPress. Our Local SEO for WordPress plugin allows you to add a directions option right on your contact page. It allows you to add a map with your location and a handy option to show the directions from the address the visitor is right now. If you have customers coming to your store/business, I would add directions that way.

Your staff and your business

Present your friendly staff on your contact page, or at least the ones people will reach when calling, tweeting or emailing your company. Your board of directors is also an option. You don’t have to clutter the page will images like the Tilburg University does (although they do have filter options). And I certainly wouldn’t use crappy photos like RoyalHaskoningDHV, even though I like the rest of that page. But a couple of nice photos like Peninsula Air Conditioning has, is welcoming, right? By the way, how do you like that phone number in the header?

If you frequently have people come into your office or store, add an image of your building. That way people will immediately recognize your business when they drive up to it. DSM has a nice example of that on their contact page. As a cherry on the cake, I recommend adding a nice video presentation of your company to your contact page, like Blackstone has.

A lot to digest, right? And you thought just listing your address and email would suffice. Think again. If you have a business that depends on people contacting you, be sure to pick any of the additions listed above to improve the user / customer experience of your contact page. I hope the contact page examples we mentioned will help you improve your contact page as well!

Read more: ‘Local SEO: setting up landing pages’ »

If you have a local business, selling products or services, you have to think about the local ranking of your website. Local optimization will help you surface for related search queries in your area. As Google shows local results first in a lot of cases, you need to make sure Google understands where you are located. In this article, we’ll go over all the things you can do to improve Google’s understanding of your location, which obviously improves your chances to rank locally.

Google itself talks about local ranking factors in terms of:

  • Relevance: are you the relevant result for the user? Does your website match what the user is looking for?
  • Distance: how far away are you located? If you are relevant and near, you’ll get a good ranking.
  • Prominence: this is about how well your business is known. More on that at the end of this article.

Let’s start with your address details

If you have a local business and serve mostly local customers, at least add your address in the right way. The right way to do this is using schema.org, either by adding LocalBusiness schema.org tags around your address details or via JSON-LD. Especially when using JSON-LD, you are serving your address details to a search engine in the most convenient way.

Our Local SEO plugin makes adding that LocalBusiness schema to your pages a breeze.

This is very much about what Google calls distance. If you are the closest result for the user, your business will surface sooner.

Google My Business

For your local ranking in Google, you can’t do without a proper Google My Business listing. You need to enlist, add all your locations, verify these and share some photos. Google My Business allows for customer reviews as well, and you should really aim to get some of those for your listing. Positive reviews (simply ask satisfied customers to leave a review) help the way Google and it’s visitors regard your business. This is pretty much like on your local market. If people talk positively about your groceries, more people will be inclined to come to your grocery stand.

Getting reviews is one. You can keep the conversation going by responding to these reviews and, as Google puts it, be a friend, not a salesperson.

Your site’s NAP need to be exactly the same as your Google My Business listing’s NAP

Even if your business has multiple locations, make sure to match the main NAP (name, address, phone number) on your website with the Google My Business NAP. That is the only way to make sure Google makes the right connection between the two. Add the main address on every page (you are a local business so your address is important enough to mention on every page). For all the other locations, set up a page and list all the addresses of your branches.

Facebook listing and reviews

What goes for Google My Business, goes for Facebook as well. Add your company as a page for a local business to Facebook here. People search a lot on Facebook as well, so you’d better make sure your listing on Facebook is in order.

Facebook also allows for reviews, like here for the Apple Store on Fifth Av. Note that this really is a local review, as the Fifth Avenue store scores a 4.6 average rating and the Amsterdam store just scores a 2.9 at the moment…

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

Local SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

City and state in title

The obvious one: for a local ranking, adding city and (in the US) state to your <title> helps. Read this article (2014), as Arjan sheds some more light on other aspects of local SEO as well. And please keep in mind that the effect of adding your city to your titles might be a lot less for your local ranking than adding your business details to Google My Business, but it won’t hurt for sure.

Local directories help your local ranking

Next to your Google My Business listing, Google uses the local Yelps and other local directories to determine just how important and local you are. Where we usually recommend against putting your link on a page with a gazillion unrelated links, the common ground for a local listings page is, indeed, the location. And these links actually do help your local rankings.

So get your web team to work, find the most important local directory pages and get your details up there. I’m specifically writing details and not just link. Citations work in confirming the address to both Google and visitors. If a local, relevant website lists addresses, get yours up there as well. And while you are at it, get some positive reviews on sites like Yelp as well, obviously!

Links from related, local businesses

Following how directories help your local ranking, it also pays off to exchange a link with related local businesses. If you work together in the same supply chain or sell related products, feel free to exchange links. Don’t just exchange links with any business you know, as these, in most cases, will be low-quality links for your website (because they’re usually unrelated).

Social mentions from local tweeps

Again, there’s a local marketplace online as well. People talk about business, new developments, products on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more. All these social mentions find their way to Google’s sensors as well. The search engine will pick up on positive or negative vibes and use these to help them rank your local business. If a lot of people talk about your business and/or link to your website, you must be relevant. Monitor these mentions and engage.

Some say links, from other websites, directories and social media, are the key factor for local rankings. As always, we believe it’s the sum of all efforts that makes you stand out from the crowd. Not just optimizing one aspect. Take your time and make sure your Google My Business profile is right, schema.org details are on your site and you have the right links to your site, and the right people talking about you on for instance Twitter. And please don’t forget to do proper keyword research and simply make sure the right content is on your website:

Optimize your content for better local rankings

Google won’t rank your site for a keyword if that keyword isn’t on your website. It’s as simple as that. If your business is in city X, you probably have a reason why you are located there. Write about that reason. And note that these may vary:

  • You are born there or just love the locals and local habits
  • There is a river which is needed for transport
  • Your local network makes sure you can deliver just-in-time or provide extra services
  • The city has a regional function and your business thrives by that
  • There are 6 other businesses like yours, you’re obviously the best, and you all serve a certain percentage of people, so your business fits perfectly in that area.

These are just random reasons to help you write about your business in relation to your location. They differ (a lot) per company. Make sure your location/city/area is clearly mentioned on your website and not just in your footer at your address details!

Read more: ‘Tips for your local content strategy’ »

One more thing: Google also uses prominence as a local ranking factor

Prominence means that when Google can serve a result first from a well-known brand or business, they actually will. And despite all your efforts to improve your local ranking, this might get in the way of that number one position. It just means you have to step up your game, keep on doing the great work you do and trust that eventually, Google will notice this as well. And as a result, Google might allow you to rank on that number one position for that local keyword!

Keep reading: ‘Grow your business with ratings and reviews’ »

If you own a local business, you want to dominate the local search results of your niche. But how do you write content that’ll pop up in those local search results? On what aspects should you focus? In this post, I’ll give tips you can use in order to set up your very own local SEO content strategy.

Local SEO is for local businesses

When you’re aiming to rank for local search results, you want people in a specific neighborhood, village or town to find and visit your website. In most cases, your goal is not to sell directly through your website. Instead, your website probably invites people to come to your store, to your practice or to hire you for your skills. Websites focusing on a local audience are different from those focusing on a national or global audience. In most cases, when visitors are interested in your services, you’ll have a face-to-face interaction with them. Your competitors are the other local entrepreneurs in your specific niche. Perhaps you actually know your competitors.

Keyword research

Which local queries do your audience use when searching for your type of business? You should get inside the heads of your audience and figure out what they’re searching for. For most local search queries, people will actually use the name of the town or village when searching for something. For instance, they’ll type in [hairdresser Amsterdam] or [therapist New Hampshire]. But even if people do not use a local term in their search query, Google will probably recognize their query as a local search intent. Searching for [dentist] in my hometown Wijchen will give me similar (but not identical) results as searching for [dentist Wijchen]. Google will give search results based on your location, if they recognize a query as a local search intent. This also counts for near me searches.

Keyword research can be hard. But since you, as a local entrepreneur, regularly meet with your audience, you have a big advantage. Ask them about their search behavior! Ask your favorite customers what they were searching for when they first visited your website. Or what they would be searching for if they’d be looking for your type of business. That’s valuable information. Don’t stop there, though! Think about other search terms as well (as you might be missing out on an audience).

Read more: ‘Ultimate guide to keyword research’ »

Write ‘local’ headlines

Make sure that the snippet of your web page that Google shows in the search results is optimized for local SEO. You want to do that because Google will know you’re focusing on a local audience, but you also want to do that because your audience will recognize you as a local business.

Your audience is searching for that hairdresser nearby, the bakery around the corner, or that carpenter that’ll come to their house. They’ll click on those results that indicate that they are situated in their proximity. That’s important for local search. Make sure your snippet is clear about where your business is. Make sure the title of your posts and pages is clear about that. Use the Yoast SEO snippet preview to see what your snippet will (probably) look like in the search results.

Make an awesome first impression

Once you’ve convinced people to click on your snippet in the search results, you should convince them to stay on your website (and to not click away). A high bounce rate will eventually result in lower rankings, so you want to make an awesome first impression. When you’re a therapist, a doctor, a hairdresser or a carpenter, you basically have to sell yourself. People want to know who they are dealing with. A good picture is key in making a strong first impression. Your website should reflect your business. If you have a practice or a physical shop, make sure to publish some high quality optimized photos of your business – and perhaps your employees – on your website. Videos are also a great way to present your business to the audience.

Write about your business!

To rank in the local search results, you want to write content related to your local business. A blog is a great content strategy, also for local SEO. Write about what you know! If you’re a carpenter, you should write about your projects. If you’re a dentist, you should write about the most common problems concerning teeth. If you’re a florist, write about your beautiful bouquets! Write about your customers too! If people are exceptionally satisfied, they should surely be able to leave a review on your website. But perhaps their story could also be told in a blog post. Writing about local events is also a great content strategy for local SEO.

In any local SEO content strategy, you should make sure that your blog posts relate to your local community. And of course, optimize your post for the keywords you came up with in your keyword research.

Keep reading: ‘5 tips to get inspiration for your blog’ »

Facebook

Facebook should definitely be part of your local SEO content strategy. People connect with others from all over the world but are most prone to connect with people in close proximity. We interact most with people we also see in real life. If you have a local business, you can benefit from this.

Make sure to keep your local audience informed with lots of Facebook posts. If you can write about your customers (of course check with them first!) that’ll increase chances your audience will share and engage with your posts.

Advertising on Facebook could also be truly profitable. You can narrow down your advertisements to a specific (local) audience. That could be a great method, as costs for local advertisements on Facebook aren’t very high.

Read on: ‘How to optimize your Facebook reach’ »

And: the Yoast Local SEO plugin

Last, but not least: the Yoast Local SEO plugin makes implementing your SEO strategy easier. The local SEO plugin covers all kinds of technical things, like schema.org for local business, you need to be doing in order to rank in the local search results. On top of that, it will help you set up excellent local landing pages, and will allow you to add functionalities you’ll need as a local business, like a store locator, to your website.

Read more: ‘Improve your small business SEO today!’ »

One of the things you can do to present your local business better in search results is Schema.org data for rich snippets. By adding structured data to your site, you can help search engines understand what your business is about and how it performs. For this reason, you have to add your NAP details, a map to your store/location, reviews, and images. Find out how it all starts with Schema.org.

Modern day customers use search engines not just to find your specific business, but also businesses around their current location. Customers using their phones looking for ‘italian restaurants’, will get a rich search result of local businesses. The results will include distance, reviews, opening hours and maybe a possibility to make a reservation.

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

Local SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

Local SEO for WordPress

Before we dive into the world of Schema.org, we’d like to remind you that our Local SEO for WordPress plugin does all of this. If you don’t want to mess with the technical side of things or if you think it’s too difficult, then this is the plugin for you. It’s easy to install, easy to work with and keeps you from having to add code yourself. It is actively developed and will get many more features in the near future.

Improve local rankings

Getting a good ranking for your local business means offering search engines as much data about your business as possible. Besides that, you need a good mobile-friendly website, quality content, links, and reviews.

To improve your rankings, you should focus on being the most relevant result for a specific query. In addition to that, your business has to be the best result. One way of getting this kind of recognition is by asking your customers for reviews. Reviews help search engines figure out which business is legit and which isn’t.

Why Schema.org

The main thing to remember is that Schema.org tells search engines what your data means, not just what it reads. Search engines can find out a lot about your site by crawling it. However, if you add structured data, you can give everything meaning. This way, search engines instantly grasp what the data means and how they should present it. In addition to that, Schema.org is a shared initiative by the big search engines, so using it will lead to consistent results in the respective search engines.

Rich search results for businesses

So, when we mean rich search results, we are talking about the information about a business you can directly see in search results, without clicking a link. There are a couple of different results here: a regular organic search result for a business can feature breadcrumbs, highlighted pages or even a search box. In Google, there’s also the Knowledge Panel on the right-hand side. Here you’ll find lots of metadata about a business, from opening hours to photos. Last but not least, the results you see when you search for a specific term, rather than a business. See the screenshots below for the different results you can get for a specific or generic search.

local listings 1

Searching for a specific business

local-listings-2

Searching for a specific business, including location

local-listings-3

Looking for a local business using a specific term

Want to optimize your WooCommerce shop for local shopping? You need Local SEO for WooCommerce! »

Local SEO for WooCommerceBuy now » Info

Why you should use JSON-LD

To get rich results, you need to use structured data in the form of Schema.org. In the past, it was fairly difficult to add Schema.org data to your post, because it had to be embedded in your HTML code. Now, with the advent of JSON-LD, you just have to add a block of JavaScript code anywhere on your page. Plus, the code is readable and easy to change.

With JSON-LD you don’t have code wrapping around your HTML elements anymore, with less possibility of messing things up. In addition to that, Google advises you to use it. Now, let’s see how it’s done.

How to add Schema.org to your local business listing

The most important thing to keep in mind when you are working on your listing is to pick the correct business type. Make sure to pick a specific one, not a broad one. So if you own a barber shop, you can use the Local Business Type Hair Salon. There are over 400 types of businesses, so you’ll probably find one that matches closely. If not, try using the product types ontology. This site uses Wikipedia pages for describing products or services with GoodRelations and Schema.org. Here, you can get more specific information if your listing is too broad.

While it’s possible to write Schema.org JSON-LD code by hand, it’s not recommended. Use a generator like this JSON-LD Schema Generator or Google’s Structured Data Helper. Always validate your Schema.org data in the Structured Data Test Tool. Using Synup’s Schema Scanner, you can check your site to see if the Schema.org data is implemented correctly. Don’t forget to add your site to Search Console, so you can check how Google presents your site.

Required properties for local businesses

There’s one main Schema.org at play here: Schema.org/LocalBusiness. In this Schema.org, you’ll find everything you need to inform search engines about your local business. To get started, you need at least the following properties:

  • @id (globally unique id of the specific business in the form of a URL)
  • name of business
  • image (as of now, you have to supply a logo)
  • address
    • address.streetAddress
    • address.addressLocality
    • address.addressRegion
    • address.postalCode
    • address.addressCountry

Recommended properties

The properties mentioned in the previous paragraph don’t get you very far, though. To make the most of structured data for your site, you need to go further. Be sure to add the following properties as well, if applicable. This is just the beginning, on Schema.org/LocalBusiness you’ll find loads more.

  • url (unlike the @id, should be a working link)
  •  geo
    • geo.latitude
    • geo.longitude
  • telephone
  • potentialAction
    • ReserveAction
    • OrderAction
  • openingHoursSpecification
    • openingHoursSpecification,opens
    • openingHoursSpecification.closes
    • openingHoursSpecification.dayOfWeek
    • openingHoursSpecification.validFrom
    • openingHoursSpecification.validThrough
  • menu
  • acceptsReservations (true/false)
  • priceRange (how many $?)

Example code for local business Schema.org

To clarify how all of this works, we will use a real local business: Unique Vintage in Burbank, CA. This makes it a bit easier to validate the data we enter. In the code below, you’ll find all the NAP details, URL’s, geolocation data, maps, opening hours and reviews you might need.

<script type='application/ld+json'> 
{
   "@context": "http://www.schema.org",
   "@type": "ClothingStore",
   "@id": "http://unique-vintage.example.com",
   "name": "Unique Vintage",
   "url": "http://www.unique-vintage.com",
   "logo": "http://www.unique-vintage.com/example_logo.jpg",
   "image": "http://www.unique-vintage.com/example_image.jpg",
   "description": "Clothing store featuring vintage-inspired women's separates & dresses plus men's shirts & hats.",
   "telephone": " +1 818-848-1540",
   "address": {
    "@type": "PostalAddress",
    "streetAddress": "2011 W Magnolia Blvd",
    "addressLocality": "Burbank",
    "addressRegion": "CA",
    "postalCode": "91506",
    "addressCountry": "USA"
      },
 "geo": {
   "@type": "GeoCoordinates",
    "latitude": "34.1736486",
    "longitude": "-118.332408"
      },
   "hasMap": "https://www.google.nl/maps/place/Unique+Vintage/@34.1736486,-118.332408,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x47a3a037cf1e183b!8m2!3d34.173649!4d-118.3302131",
   "openingHours": "Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr 11:00-19:00 Sa 10:00-18:00 Su 12:00-17:00",
   "priceRange": "$$",
   "aggregateRating": {
   "@type": "AggregateRating",
     "ratingValue": "4",
     "reviewCount": "250"
  }
}
 </script>

Reviews

Reviews are a major driver for new clientele. Scoring well in Google means your business provides quality, and this can eventually lead to better local rankings. Think about how you pick the next business to visit. Will it be the one with three two star reviews or the one with eighty five star reviews?

In the example above, we’ve added a review section. If you want to use reviews in your Schema.org data, you have to keep in mind that these reviews have to live on your site. You cannot use sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor to generate reviews to show in the search engines. Simply ask your customers to leave a review. Make a review page, collect the reviews and present them to the world.

Social

Another element to add to complete your online profile, are links to your social media accounts. To do this, you must specify an organization or a person. The URL has to lead to your main site, while the sameAs links lead to your social media profiles.

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
 "@context": "http://schema.org",
 "@type": "Organization",
 "name": "Example shop",
 "url": "http://www.exampleshop.com",
 "sameAs": [
 "http://www.facebook.com/exampleshop",
 "http://instagram.com/exampleshop",
 "http://twitter.com/exampleshop"
 ]
}
</script>

Place Action

Google is currently working on an interesting new feature for local businesses, especially for local searches: direct actions from the search results. If you have a restaurant or a hair salon, you can use it to book an appointment or reserve a seat. Shortly, you can use reserveAction or orderAction to trigger this event. Eventually, you’ll see a nice call-to-action in your rich results that let customers contact you directly. Google is working with a small number of businesses to develop this.

Google My Business

There is another way to add your local business to Google. By opening a Google My Business account, you will be able to verify that you are in fact the owner of your business. After that, you can add or edit all relevant information about your business, such as address information, opening hours and photos. In addition to that, you can even manage the reviews people add to Google and see how your local listing performs.

Conversely, this only applies to Google. Every search engine can interpret Schema.org, so it is still advisable to add structured data to your site. Additionally, Schema.org can do so much more than just add relevant local business locations. Therefore, Schema.org should be your main focus.

In spite of all this, you’re still very much in Google’s hands. Some businesses appear in the Knowledge Panel, while others don’t. Some products get rich listings, including prices, reviews and availability, in the search results, while the same product from a different vendor doesn’t. It’s hard to predict what will happen. However, don’t let this stop you.

Structured data for your local business

As we’ve shown, Schema.org can play an important part in the optimization of your site and in your SEO strategy. Structured data can do much more, just look at all those properties on Schema.org. We’ll keep an eye on what structured data can do for your site and keep you in the loop!

And don’t forget, if you want an easier way to add your local business data to your pages, than you should check out our Local SEO for WordPress plugin.

Read more: ‘New plugin: Local SEO for WooCommerce’ »

Ranking locally should be a top priority for all small businesses. Customers increasingly depend on local search to find a relevant business near their current location. In view of that fact, you must make sure Google knows everything about your business so it can index your data and promote it in the search results. It can be a daunting task, but Yoast SEO: Local SEO for WooCommerce is here to help.

Local SEO for WooCommerce is based on our Local SEO for WordPress plugin. You get the same features, but with the addition of a couple of WooCommerce specific extras. If you sell your items locally, you can now offer customers the possibility to pick up their order in your store or location. As a result, you can now offer your customers a complete local package, with good visibility in local search results, great location data and a pick up option in your online store. Remember, if you already have our Local SEO plugin and you don’t need the WooCommerce part, you’re already set. We have a special upgrade price for Local SEO users ($60), please contact our support to take advantage of that.

Local options in WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the leading platform for online stores in WordPress. Chances are your shop runs WooCommerce. Until now, it wasn’t that simple to incorporate your online shop into your local activities. Our new plugin gives you everything you need to make your online store a first-class citizen of your local shop strategy. These new settings in your WooCommerce store make shopping locally much more interesting. You can now set a new delivery option: local pickup. This is an invaluable addition if you really want to do business locally.

The local store pickup option is easy to enable and comes with its own status messages. If a customer chooses to pick up his order locally he or she will get a message when the product is in transit, if applicable, and when it is ready to be picked up. Should you charge for local shipping, it is possible to add these costs as well.

Local SEO for WooCommerce store pickup

Better local search results

You have to remember that good local results don’t come cheap. It takes some work to get Google to pick up your local site and data, and it only works if you provide every possible detail. In our Local SEO for WooCommerce plugin, we’ve made it easy for you to add your address, phone number and opening hours.

Moreover, we’ve made a great Google Maps integration. You can add your location without breaking a sweat. Your customers can even navigate to your location. In the end, you’ll have a great local page on your site and a solid entry in Google.

Local SEO for WooCommerce is a full featured plugin for getting the most out of your local commercial efforts. We hope you make great strides with it!

For a year and a half now, we SEOs have been talking to small business owners and each other about how Google’s handling near me searches better and better. Needless to say that mobile traffic is growing and location based ‘everything’ needs to be taken into account for every location dependent business. With the recent Google update that has been named Possum, it’s even more clear that Google is stepping up its game for local search results.

In this article, I’ll try to give you some more insights on near me searches and what you should do to make sure your online presence is set up the right way.

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more!

Buy this plugin nowLocal SEO for WordPress plugin

What’s near me?

Google tells you what business is closest near you. I bet you have done Google searches from your phone, looking for a local business, bakery or gas station. In the suggestions that Google gives you, keywords like these appear:

  • Near me;
  • closest;
  • open;
  • nearby.

Things that relate immediately to your location or dire needs at that time. Here are some examples from my own phone:

Near me variations

While testing this (please try it yourself as well), you’ll find that there is a ton of similar combinations of words people use to find these local businesses.

These are what we SEOs call near me searches. Over the past years, traffic on these search terms has grown exponentially:

Google Trends near me

And yes, you can optimize for these.

How to optimize for near me

Optimizing for near me searches resembles your local optimization process. There are a few steps you really need to take:

  1. Add your NAP details
    We’re talking Name, Address, Phone number, in an easy to read and index format. Preferably, I’d say to add one page per location, if you have more than one.
  2. Add NAP to Google My Business
    Add that exact address to your Google My Business page. If you have multiple locations but only need to promote one being the main headquarters, add multiple locations to one listing. If your business consists of a number of smaller businesses, feel free to add multiple My Business pages/accounts.
    Don’t forget to update your listing when you move!
  3. Add schema.org data to your address
    We made a plugin for that: Local SEO. It adds the appropriate LocalBusiness schema markup to the address listed on your website, making it easier for the larger search engines like Google and Bing to index these details.
  4. Get positive reviews
    We can’t deny that positive reviews on Google, Yelp or similar websites influence the strength of your local ranking. It’s like the marketplace. If locals, users or simply any other people recommend a business, we’ll be more tempted to go there. Search engines obviously pick up on this.
    Don’t forget Facebook and Facebook reviews in this! People also use that a lot to search for local businesses.

Where’s the Possum?

Google did an update we like to refer to as Possum, that targets local search rankings on the first of September of this year. Effects are still rolling in, and at the moment there seems to be only one real reference for the update, being Joy Hawkins’ article on Searchengineland.

There was something going on that first of September. Here’s MozCast for this month:

Mozcast September 2016 including Possum?

There’s something going on today as well, judging by this graph #justsaying. On that first of September, Joy found that:

  1. Businesses that fall outside of the physical city limits saw a huge spike in ranking.
    This is interesting, as that would mean that after the Possum update, Google is better at understanding service areas, right? That’s me thinking out loud, but it makes sense.
  2. After Possum, Google is filtering based on address and affiliation.
    Multiple addresses listed for your business? Google will most likely only show one. And I bet they try to make this the one that seems most likely for you.
  3. Search results vary more based on slight variations of the keyword searched.
    This is new to me, and I think that this is just Google trying to come up with the best result per query (as always). Google tends to focus a lot on ‘similar’ queries and less on order of words, in my opinion. In near me searches, the addition of ‘near me’ is extra, and the main keyword is at the beginning of the query. I’m wondering where this is heading, and if it’s not just something that will get back to ‘normal’ at one point.
  4. The local filter seems to be running more independently from the organic filter.
    If Possum’s goal was about delivering better local results, this makes all the sense in the world. If this is correct, it definitely feels like Google is somehow ‘helping’ these smaller businesses compete with the giants.
  5. The location of the searcher plays a larger role in what results are served.
    This seems like the red line in the update. If you search for local results in another city that you are searching from, results will vary. Mobile traffic increases, geolocation is easily determined, why not act on that.

All of the above means that if you have a local business, you really should make sure you have your local optimization in order. Focus less on trolling the search results to rank in a nearby city, as Google seems to understand that better now, and focus more on simply being the best result for your brand, business type or product.

One more thing

Following item four, local searches being less dependent on organic results, that gives local business another near me opportunity:

Product near me

Yes. Near me suggestions are given for brands and products as well. Not new, but definitely an opportunity. Good luck optimizing!

Read more: ‘Focus on Clarity First’ »