I just took part in a short webinar last week on Local SEO and specifically how it pertains to our industry. I was amazed how much I learned, some of which may not be known by many on this site. The webinar speaker runs a seo consulting firm specifically for the green industry.
Every year, a bunch of the brightest people when it comes to LOCAL SEO get together, and rank what google is looking for to place your site higher. This year, they ranked 90 factors from the most beneficial to less beneficial. This report can be seen here: http://www.davidmihm.com/local-searc...-factors.shtml
I will explain the first few most important ranking factors for 2012:
GET A GOOGLE PLACE (local) PAGE NOW!
If you don't have a place page, according to this report, you will not get the results you want.
Google is focusing very heavily on local results. Several years ago, Google unveiled their "local search" feature. They have blended your google places page and your organic website listing into one.
There was a recent discussion on this forum where someone said that these places results were not the same as organic ranking. According to google, this is not true. They have blended the two together. This is further explained here: http://searchengineland.com/new-plac...to-local-53990
Google places is so relevant to your local seo, the top 3 ranking factors have to do with your google places page.
- Physical Address in City of Search (place page) - in other words, if someone types in "lawn care spring city, pa" in google. My google place page address must be in spring city, pa to show high in the rankings. If you service multiple cities outside your business city, people may have a harder time finding your site in those cities.
- Proper Category Associations (place page) - Pretty simple. Is the business category you listed on your place page relevant to the search.
- Proximity of Address to Centroid (place page) - This might be a little confusing. Basically, the closer your business street address is to the center of your business city, the better. For example, If your business is on the outskirts of Atlanta, GA but your mailing address still falls in Atlanta, you will not rank as high as a business in the center of atlanta.
Those are the top 3. Here are some more very important factors:
- Quantity, Quality, and Consistency of Structured Citations - Structured Citations are in reference to websites like Yelp, Manta, Angie's List, Yellowpages, etc. These websites allow you to create a free profile for your business. The quantity of structured citations is important but don't go overboard. I would have no more than 15 structured citations. Then comes quality. Choose the sites that are well known like yelp, yellowpages, manta, etc. There are hundreds of lesser-known structured citations that won't really help your seo. Do the big, well-known ones and you'll be good. Finally, consistency of your information is crucial to your seo. For example, make sure your Yelp address, phone number, website, email, etc. exactly matches your yellowpages address, phone number, website, email, etc. If you are inconsistent, it really hurts your credibility to the search engines.
- City, State in Places Landing Page Title - Basically, the webpage that a visitor will go to from your places page should have your city and state in the page title.
- Quantity of Native Google Places Reviews (w/text) - Basically, the more reviews you have on your place page, the better your seo.
- Local Area Code on Place Page - Essentially, the phone number on your place page should contain the area code that your business in located in. Sounds like common sense but may be overlooked. 1 800 numbers may not help your seo.
Looking into the future:
Get a Google+ page for your business! Experts suggest that Google+ will have a much greater impact on local seo in the years to come.