Local SEO: Off page – Off place optimization

In the first part of this series, we discussed in detail certain aspects of On-Page and On-Place optimization, or in other words,

Local SEO - Off place optimizationoptimization relating to the Google Plus Page and its associated On-Site page. We evoked an important aspect of optimization, namely, prominence. In part two of this series, we will explore the proper techniques for linkbuilding, citation gathering, and review collecting.

First, I would remind you that in the context of local SEO, citations are the equivalent of links. In general terms, they are pieces of information found in a web document (page, doc, pdf, etc.) that take the essential elements that constitute the NAP (name, address, phone) in addition to the offered products, without including a link to the On-Site page or the Google+ local page.

To establish our approach to building links, we once again bring attention to the excellent work of David MIHM. In this instance, we point to his involvement last May with a local university in Edmonton, Alberta.Local SEO - Canadian Local Search Ecosystem

The ecosystem presented here, despite the inherent advantages of illustrating the existing relationships between different contributors, is difficult to work with. Nonetheless, this mapping allows us to see that the Canadian Yellow Pages supplies other directories such as Canada411.ca, Canpages.ca, Yahoo! Local, and Google Places – not to mention Twitter and other social platforms.

To better organize our work, I felt it useful to sort these sources into seven different site types:

1. Local Web Search Portals; Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, AOL:

Local SEO - Bing

2. Local Portals; Google Places, Bing Maps, Yahoo! Local, Ask Maps, MapQuest:

Local SEO - Map Quest

3. Internet Yellow Pages/Local Search:

Local SEO - Yellow Page

4. General Directories:

Local SEO - General Directorie

5. Local Directories:

Local SEO - Local Directories

6. Social Networks:

Local SEO - Social Networks

7. Review Sites:

Local SEO - Review Sites

Thus, it becomes a must easier task to take the different contributors, organize them, and search for their competitors to produce a list of opportunities available to us.

Local SEO Google place unique NAP

Link building

Even if we accept that having a presence in general portals such as Google/Bing/Yahoo! seems obvious and automatic (thanks to search bots), we still need to assert our listings on local portals such as Google Maps, Ask Maps, and AOL’s MapQuest.

Link building policy is not just designed to improve site rankings in search engine results. It is also used in the context of SEO – notably for Google Places Pages (Google+ local) when it comes to certain links originating on certain sites.

Below are three simple ways to easily build backlinks towards Google Places Pages:

  • Submission to Directories: manually submitting to select directories from those listed above will allow you to attract the attention of search engines on Google Places Pages.
  • On site Pages: Each Google Places Page has an associated destination page that states all the key information on the organization’s site (see Part 1 of this series). Linking this webpage to the Google+ local page will give it authority (especially if the domain has a good reputation) as well as trust.  The name of the business included in the NAP is the best Anchor Text to use.
  • Corporate Social Networks: having statuses with links towards the Google+ local page on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (as well as other social networks such as YouTube or LinkedIn) sends strong signals to search engines. Flickr and Pinterest can also be used due to their clever arrangements of photos and videos of stores and their immediate surroundings, with links to the Google+ local page.

Google recently announced – through now famous Google Places community manager Jade Wang – the possibility to merge your Google+ page with your Google+ local page. She used Meatball Shop as an example. For a detailed explanation of this process, I would invite you to read Mike Blumenthal’s article on the subject. Make sure you have created your Google+ under the category “local business “ to qualify for this functionality.

Link building

As for linkbuilding, all the other linkbuilding techniques remain valid as long as the source of the site is taken into consideration (IP server is close to the target) and the type of content is relevant to the market niche. We can cite local news sites, directory sites (general and local), niche sites, blogs, partner sites, and local distributors.

Citations

As touched upon previously, a citation is a reference to local properties of the company, including the name, address, and telephone number (NAP), and a description with targeted key words. In the same way as with link building, I have listed two areas where citations can be collected:

  • Local business directories such as 49st.com, despite the fact that they don’t offer the ability to include links – a factor that would help with SEO.
  • Yellow Pages solutions offers excellent visibility since they benefit from special treatment from search engines. The main options in Canada are Yellowpages.ca, Canpages.ca, and their affiliates.

We can certainly make use of tools to help us find new opportunities to observe competitors in the same way we were already doing for links with SEOMOZ or Majestic SEO. There is a plethora of sites that specialize in this particular segment; the leader in this field is White Spark, while other options include new, free tools like My Local Citation Finder. The key is to remain cohesive by repeating the same unique NAP with the same business keywords.

Reviews

It could be said that we are now in unchartered territory as our SEO efforts move away from time-tested, proven techniques. However, after reading this Google patent on scoring local search results based on location prominence, it becomes clear that the diversity of review sites is an important factor for the success of our local strategy.

It is therefore fair to say that opening a door to internet reviews is not an option, but a necessity.

This statement is confirmed and explained in the results of David MIHM’s study last June, when he analyzed data relating to reviews:

Review Factors

In addition to integrating reviews directly into the website, preferably with semantic tags through use of Schema, we will need to gather as many reviews on as many platforms as possible, while ensuring that these reviews are mostly positive (the equivalent of 4-5 stars).

Of course, the first place to look for reviews in third party platforms is none other than ZAGAT, the ranking system that Google itself has integrated into Google+ local. After that, as you can see in the figure above, there are ten or so local sites that will be more or less pertinent depending on location, as indicated in this Google Trends graphic:

Google Trends graphic

To recap, we have been able to cover On-Page SEO (on site), On-Place (Google+ local), linkbuilding, citations, and reviews. Missing from our strategy, for it to be complete, is a specific approach for Mobile, Social, and the semantic aspect.

These three points will be the topic of the next and final part of this series. We hope to welcome you back to the Mediative blog and invite you to subscribe to our RSS feed for updates about the next publication.

To read Part 1 of this post, click here.