Local SEO: On page – On place pptimization

Local SEO has seen an increase in interest among organizations and enterprises, particularly those that operate in a regional context. This can be attributed to the influence of mobile and social. For instance, half of mobile search queries have local intent. In terms of social, suffice to say that in essence, interactions are linked to proximity.

At Mediative, we have implemented Local SEO strategies that have paid dividends. It is our aim is to master all aspects of local search optimization.

This article, the first of three parts, will explore SEO yield and On Place and On Siteoptimization. To begin, let’s examine a study performed this past June by David MIHM, which allows us to separate optimization channels into 5 categories:

  • Google Places Page Optimization Criteria (Google+ local);
  • Off place/Off site Optimization Criteria (third-party websites);
  • Website Optimization Criteria (landing page associated to Google Place Page);
  • Ratings and Comments Optimization Criteria (reviews);
  • Mobile/Social Optimization Criteria.

Local SEO - On Place Optimization - General SignalsAs shown in the accompanying figure, the study recounts another performed a year prior. The right-most number next to each criterion indicates the variation in its importance when compared to a year ago. The left-most number indicates the average rank it received from survey respondents. The larger the number, the more it is considered important. The middle number indicates the standard deviation in responses. Here, a smaller number indicates greater consensus among respondents.

On the basis of this study, David Mihm concludes that the most important Google Places Page Optimization Criteria (Google+ local) on website landing page are as follows:

  • Domain Authority of the Website;
  • City, State in Places Landing Page Title;
  • HTML NAP (Name, Address, Phone) Matching  Google Places Page NAP;
  • Page Authority of Landing Page Specified in Google Places
  • Product/Service Keyword in Website URL.

While we cannot realistically ensure meeting the fifth criteria due to marketing and other more historical reasons, all other criterions are attainable, including the following: Semantic Tags, KML and Sitemaps. We will explore these in greater detail in Part 3 of this series, as I prefer to group them under semantic optimization.

Nevertheless, it must also be noted that the Titles H1/H2 on the Google Places Page are crucial as they must contain the name of the city and province.

Furthermore, the Google Places Page, in some ways a replica of your website, must be optimized by carefully addressing the following:

  1. The categories relating to your targeted keywords;
  2. The complete postal code corresponding  to your website;
  3. The manual verification of Places;
  4. The Linking of photos and videos with the Google Places Page;
  5. The use of keywords in descriptions as well as localized information.

I would caution against the pursuit of optimization by any means necessary; for example, adding keywords and localized information in the title of your business, as this goes against Google’s quality guidelines.

Moreover, a study by Bizible, conducted after Google’s “VENICE” update last February, confirms certain points and underlines others:

Local SEO - On Place Optimization

Source: Local Search Ranking Factors by David MIHM, June 2012

Furthermore, the Google Places Page, in some ways a replica of your website, must be optimized by carefully addressing the following:

  • The categories relating to your targeted keywords;
  • The complete postal code corresponding  to your website;
  • The manual verification of Places;
  • The Linking of photos and videos with the Google Places Page;
  • The use of keywords in descriptions as well as localized information.

I would caution against the pursuit of optimization by any means necessary; for example, adding keywords and localized information in the title of your business, as this goes against Google’s quality guidelines.

Moreover, a study by Bizible, conducted after Google’s “VENICE” update last February, confirms certain points and underlines others:

Local SEO - Venice

We now see new elements being revealed which are grouped under the “at a glance” section, such as the search categories and the city names. Google explains that these descriptive terms appear as a result of local searches by producing a condensed database of all the information that it can find on an enterprise or business, in as few words as possible.

Local SEO - At a glanceIt is therefore necessary to be cohesive in every stage of SEO including, but not limited to, Website optimization, Google Places Page optimization, third-party websites, reviews, and favoring the creation of web entities via semantic tags and other techniques; something that we will touch on later in this series.

This cohesiveness, in addition to the popularity of the page (via linkbuilding, citations and reviews) produces what we call, in local search, “prominence”. This was the centerpiece of a Google patent called: “scoring local results based on location prominence.”

During the June 2012 SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle, Mike Bluementhal, an emblematic figure in the field of local SEO in the United States, explained that there are 2 factors that influence ranking in local search: The distance from centroid and the prominence of the Google Places Page.

Local SEO centroidWhile the centroid is difficult, if not impossible to control as it depends on the user, we can still summarize the key prominence factors:

  • The consistency and cohesiveness of NAP (Name, Address, Phone)
  • The authority of the domain that hosts the landing pages
  • The number of related links, citations and reviews

As for the on site content, specifically the page containing detailed localized information (the page associated with Google Places), there still needs to be descriptions and text; at least 300 characters so that the content will interact with the search engines. Matt Cuts of Google corroborated this when he stated that 2 to 3 sentences for each locality on site would be sufficient.

To conclude part 1 of the series, below is a table that highlights different on site and on place optimization points.

Local SEO - On Place Optimization Difference

In the next part of this series, we will explore how to build links and citations within the Canadian ecosystem, as well as touch on how to maximize the number of reviews capable of propelling Google Places Pages to the top of the rankings.