As SEO grows more popular and more complex in response to the evolving sophistication of Google’s search algorithm, it becomes more difficult to adequately execute a formal strategy and reap the benefits. In an anticipatory move, most modern optimizers are adjusting their strategies to become more specialized and more targeted, effectively drawing up into a niche. Local SEO, which has grown in importance over the past few years, is one of the most common niches to choose—by competing with other companies in your city, rather than other companies throughout the country, you’ll greatly enhance your visibility and reduce the amount of resources needed to sustain the effort.
However, modern local SEO is about far more than just stuffing your city’s name into your articles and meta tags. If you want to be successful, you’ll need to become more locally active on every possible marketing channel you can—meaning using other marketing strategies to support your local SEO development. One of the best examples of this is using your social media presence to improve your local relevance in the eyes of Google.
First, remember that your company information, as it appears throughout the web, is a major factor in how well you rank in local searches. Google relies on information provided by hundreds of sources, mostly including third party local directories, to calculate the prominence of a brand and determine information about its name, address, phone number, and hours. If you want this information to be as accurate and readily available as possible, it’s in your best interest to claim as many profiles as you can for your company on as many different social networks as possible, of course ensuring that all your information is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date. Fill out all your profiles completely, and update them all at once when something inevitably changes.
The makeup of your audience and connections may also play a role in how well established you are as a regional authority; this plays into both the size and composition of your demographics. For example, a Houston-based business with 10,000 active Houston-based followers will generate a higher local authority than a Houston based business with 100 active followers from around the country. The key here is to find followers that are within your region who are also extremely active. The more engaged your brand is with the community, the better.
You can also improve your authority in the types of stories you share on your company profile pages. Because you’ll need to write articles with some relevance to your region anyway, you can simply share the articles you’ve written as a way to get more regional titles into your newsfeed. You can also scout for other local news via local news channels or followers within your region. Share the ones you think are interesting with your own commentary, and stay active by responding to people who comment. Show off the fact that you’re an integral part of your community.
Sharing on social media works both ways. It’s therefore quite valuable for you to get your own content shared by other influencers in your geographic area. For example, if you update your site with a new press release, try to get it published and syndicated on the social media outlets of your local news providers. If you write a new blog about the state of your industry in your geographic region, seek out an individual authority and ask him/her to share the piece with his/her followers.
Hashtags are a fast and powerful way to immediately associate yourself with a given event. In your city, there are probably dozens of local events going on at any given time, each with its own signature hashtag. Get your company involved with these local events, and be sure to use the appropriate hashtag when you post about it. Not only will this help increase your visibility on social media searches for that hashtag, it will also make your posts more relevant in Google’s eyes—especially thanks to the new Google-Twitter tweet indexing partnership.
Traffic is a major indicator for domain authority—the more people you have perusing your website, and the longer they spend on it, the better you’ll fare in search ranks. Having a larger number of more active local followers on your social media profiles means more active, engaged people on your site—and those people will mostly be from your area. This will tell Google that you’re a major local authority, and that local residents appreciate your site.
Finally, remember that the reviews you receive on local directories like Yelp play heavily into your overall rank. The more reviews you have and the more positive those reviews are, the higher you’ll appear in local searches. Use social media to encourage people to write reviews about their experiences—just don’t solicit them directly—and gradually, you’ll see your repertoire of local reviews growing both in size and in quality. In turn, your local ranks will grow.
Once your social media strategy is geared toward increasing your local relevance and visibility, you should have no problem climbing to the top of the SERPs for your city. With more people relying on local and mobile searches than ever before, the increase in your total traffic should be substantial.