By Paul Morris
Local Search Engine Marketing (SEM) presence is an important tool (monkey wrench perhaps?) in capturing a highly engaged audience with a high propensity to find out more/ buy. Clearly with releases such as Venice for SEO and geo-location improvements for PPC, Google is seeing local relevance as hugely important to its own success on both mobile and desktop.
As a result I thought it pertinent to provide some overarching advice on Local Search Engine Marketing:
Onsite Optimisation – Onsite SEO is key. For example, consider locally targeted landing pages with optimised meta descriptions to bring in the clicks and then optimised page titles, Header tags, content, etc to bring home the rankings.
Local Directories – Claim and optimise your local listings (Bing Local, Yahoo Local, Google Places, Yellow Pages, etc) as these are hugely important; particularly after Google’s Venice update and when coupled with…
Content – You need locally relevant and optimised page copy. Ensure also that the copy is unique and quality as if it’s simply auto generated you are in trouble; hence make sure you include relevant headings, local phone number, local store address, location information, local store manager, specific customer reviews (do not forget your micro tagging mark up here) for that store, etc. A poor example is here whilst a better one from the same site is here (I headed this site up fortunately/ unfortunately in a previous life)
Universal Search – Optimise images (image in situ next to local content, have relevant alt text, images added to Google Places) and optimise other Universal Channels as well such as Google news and Products.
Social SEO – SEO is about ‘searching for stuff’ hence Search optimisation should also sway your Social Media. Consider a Twitter and Facebook Business Page strategy that ensures you are found in search environments other than Google.
Vertical Search – Related to the above two points; ensure you also optimise other Vertical Search environments where people are searching at a local level. E.g. Wikipedia, review centre, tripadvisor, Top Table, etc.
Landing Pages – Make sure you have relevant landing pages to your locally targeted terms to aid conversion rate, minimise bounce rate and ultimately improve quality score.
Keywords – Generate a long tail locally targeted keyword list. Difficult (not impossible but difficult) to do via Google AdWords Keyword Tool and the SeoBook Keyword Tool due to low volumes however easy if you think about it!… ‘Just’ size up your competitors to see what they are doing, use your (and that does not just mean you; it also means your wider team) market knowledge, look in your Analytics/ Webmaster Tools for keyword suggestions and ultimately refine your more generic targeting to include local derivatives
Keyword Copy usage – Include local terms/ phrases/ call to action messages in your PPC ad copy to aid CTR and Quality Score.
Settings – When setting up your campaign choose the relevant local settings (see ‘location and languages’ and ‘advanced settings’) to target specific geographic regions. This is easier to do in the US of A when compared to the UK (due to the way ISP’s and static/ dynamic IP’s work in the UK) however IP geo targeting can still work in the UK. As an aside, also make sure you optimise mobile and desktop differently e.g. employ click to call on mobile.
Account Structure – Make sure you structure you account correctly for local. Isolate local ad groups and stick to a solid structure methodology e.g. towns + product & counties + product.