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Local SEO in 2015

SEO, Local Search 18th Feb 2015

Hi. It’s been around about a year since we last spoke about local SEO. So today I’m going to look at some of the updates that have occurred since we last did a video on this subject and give you some of the top-level information that you guys need to understand and know is going on from an online business point of view.

So the main update that we’ve seen with local SEO has been the now infamous Pigeon update from Google. Now this went live in the United States around about I think it was June/July 2014, and as you can imagine, with all Google updates, people were expecting big things from this, big changes mainly on the back of the impact that the likes of Penguin and Panda had. The Pigeon update was more to do with providing you with even more local results than you had before. So for example, if you were searching for a localised term or a term that had local intent within it, the information that you were given back by Google was going to be even more focal to the area that you were searching from. Now this went live in December in the U.K., and the impact that we’ve seen to date hasn’t been that big. But we are starting to see that the results are starting to slowly scroll out, and we are starting to see the impact that we were seeing in the U.S.

So as I’ve mentioned there, the idea is the information that you’re going to receive is going to be far more local to you than it was before. So for example, if we were searching for dentists in Fareham, what you would find, particularly in Google Maps is that the dots would probably be sprayed all over the place within the Fareham area, whereas if you do it these days, you’re going to find that those dots are going to be very centralised to the area of Fareham and to the area that you’re actually searching from. If you remember, Google now knows exactly where you’re searching from based on your IP. So the idea is that the information is now going to be far more local than it was before.

The other change that we’re going to start seeing as well is the change to the seven-pack or the five-pack in the local results, where you would see the local listings more often than not towards the top of the search results. These are now going to start being brought down to only three results. So as you can tell, making sure that you’re locally optimised is going to be more important than ever before.

What we’re also going to start seeing are profiles like Yelp and Yell.com, these are now going to start ranking far more highly than they used to. If you go back three or four years, they used to rank well within their own right, and then that kind of got taken away, and now it’s going to come back into play. So making sure you’ve got these profiles verified and on these platforms is now highly, highly important.

And the other change that we’re also going to see is the change to your Google+ profile page. This now comes under the umbrella of Google My Businesses, and this is like a central point for where you set up your profile now within Google+.

So first things first, what should you be doing in 2015 to make sure that you are found locally? Well, if we go back to the on-page optimisation, it’s still very important that all of these elements are still looked at and still optimised as they were a year ago. So you need all the relevant local information on your site. You need it marked up with schema. So we’re looking at things like the name of the company, the address of the company, and the phone number of the company, and these need to be consistent across all profiles that you have online. If you make any changes to any other profiles with the way that your address is set out, then that’s going to cause conflict of interest, and you might not get the citation or the strength that you need from these external profiles.

Make sure that your Contact Us page is completely up-to-date as well and has all the relevant information there. If you have landing pages on your site, because you’ve got various different locations, then again make sure that these are all unique, they’re all relevant to the area that you have, and make sure that you have the individual addresses for these physical locations as well.

As I touched on there as well, the profiles are very important. You still need to make sure that you’re on the likes of Yelp and Yell.com. Make sure these profiles are completely filled up as much as you can and make sure that you verify them as well. So nothing’s changed there. Make sure as well that they’re all branded up.

But if we go back to Google Platforms, and it used to be Google+ Places, and then it used to be Google+ Business, and now it’s Google+ My Businesses. So this is now kind of like the focal place that you need to set up your profile, and this will kind of manage everything that you’ve got within Google+ if you like. Not much has changed with regards to the information you need to add to these profiles. It’s still all the relevant information. You still need to fill in all the fields that Google provides to you, because the more information you give to Google, the better this is going to be for you guys.

So what we’re looking at is making sure that your company name is consistent with the one that you’ve got on your website. Make sure the description is filled out and is optimised and is relevant to what you’re offering. Most importantly, make sure the category that you add your profile to is highly relevant to the one that you are trying to focus on. Don’t go for a very, very generic one. If you can really boil it down into the exact category that you are relevant to, then make sure that you do that.

Phone number, again, make sure that is consistent with the one that is on your website. Make sure this is a local phone number as well. If you’ve got a business phone number like an 0845 number, make sure that the local one, if you’re going for your local audience, is also present and make sure that’s on your Google My Business profile.

You’ve got the option to add your opening hours as well. Make sure you add that. Again, that shows that you’ve got an actual genuine presence there, as does adding photos as well. This gives also the human side of things. It also gives a very visual side of things, and this, again, gives Google more information about you.

And you’ve also got the option as well of adding a virtual tour. So if you’ve got an online shop or you’ve got a physical shop, do the virtual tour. If you’ve got the kind of capabilities to do so, you can add that to your My Business profile as well.

Also, make sure that you verify it. Make sure that you link it up to your website and make sure those two are connected, because without that, Google probably isn’t going to give as much information to the end user as it would if you’ve got a verified profile.

So the main changes to the local SEO for 2015 are keeping an eye on the Pigeon update. Be aware that the information that you are now being given is highly targeted to the individual who is searching. So, of course, this makes it harder for you probably to rank if you’re on the periphery of where the person is searching from. But if you make sure that all your boxes are ticked and you’re doing everything that you should do for local SEO, then you’ve got a better chance of appearing in front of them.

Be aware that Google+ you’re now looking at Google My Business profiles. This might have already been updated for you. You might already have a generic one set up because you’ve got the Google Maps profiles or the Google+ local profiles, but do go in there. Make sure that you manage these accounts and make sure you update them.

So keep an eye on those and fingers crossed you should start appearing for your local audience.

Andy Williams
About the author

Andy Williams

Andy Williams will be giving you useful insights into local search and the overall SEO landscape. Andy has over 10 years experience in the SEO industry including 2 years as the in-house SEO consultant with a leading Web Design company.

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