The 5 Essential Elements of Local Search Marketing

video-42Mark: Hi, I’m Mark Steinbrueck and this is Kurt Steinbrueck, we’re with OurChurch.Com. In this video, we’re going to cover the topic of 5 Essential Elements of Local Search Marketing.

We’ll talk about the differences between local search marketing and SEO, doing it on a national level. So, there seem to be some pretty big differences. Why don’t you talk a little bit about those?

Kurt: Yeah, there really are, these are two different animals. There are some similarities between the two, but they’re different. If you don’t know the difference and distinguishing characteristics, you can really mess things up.

The first thing when you’re doing local optimization is actually a similar thing, which is:

On-page Optimization

Similar to the regular national SEO, you’re going to be dealing with the content, dealing with some tags, and getting the keywords in there. One of the differences, though, is that you’re going to make sure that you’re going to use what they call local modifiers. This is…you want to make sure that you’re using your town, your city name, the state, things like that in your keyword phrases.

There are also some tags that have been developed for geo-tagging a website and that just tells the search engine, this is where this organization is located.

So there are some differences, but a lot of it’s the same as the regular optimization.

The next thing is:

Local Listings

Local listings are things like Google Maps, Bing Maps. There are also local review sites. So, this would be Insider Pages, City Search, and things like that, where people are posting reviews about companies and organizations. Then there are Yellow Pages. There’s YellowPages.com, Super Pages, and a few others that are out there. These local listings are helpful, because they help to establish you as a real organization. Believe it or not, a lot of people create fake organizations because they’re trying to rank well locally with their national company. Right? So Google and Bing, they want to make sure that you’re a real organization that you’re really a local organization and this is one of the ways that they do that.

Mark: So it’s to prevent organizations that are nationally-based from being able to target the cities of Phoenix or Atlanta or Tampa or New York. They want to make sure that you actually have a physical location there within that city.

Kurt: Exactly. Exactly. So, these listings do that for them. They also serve the benefit or providing different places for people to find you. If someone’s searching in the Yellow Pages, you’re there. If someone’s searching in Google Maps, you want to be there. Also, those listings show up in the search engines. So now, someone searches for whatever it is, whatever your keyword is, and even if you show up…your website shows up in the top ten, you may have four or five other listings that are these other local listings. So, you’re dominating those search results.

Mark: So there are multiple benefits of doing that.

Kurt: Yeah, there are a lot of benefits for that.

Citations

Citations really are just mentions of your organization with your contact information, your address, maybe a phone number. It doesn’t have to have a link, but it can. The local listings actually serve as citations. They are an example of citations, but they’re not the only kind. If you’re mentioned in a news article or someone blogs about you, things like that, and they mention your organization name and contact information, that’s going to count as a citation. Citations work kind of like links with the national SEO, where it helps to build the authority of a site.

Mark: Gotcha. Well, you mentioned links and I think that’s the next one that we’ll talk about.

Kurt: I did. And:

Links

Are still important. Citations work kind of like link, but links also still benefit. So, you want to be doing some link building, putting out content, things like that, to draw people to link to you, maybe even directories and some things like that. Especially local. If you have organizations in your city, you want to see if you can get them to link to you, Chamber of Commerce, those other companies, their organizations, things like that.

The last thing is:

Reviews

Reviews are kind of a touchy subject, but reviews are very helpful when it comes to local SEO. The more positive reviews that you have, the better you’re going to rank, generally speaking, there’re limits to it. But you want to be getting at least 10, 20 positive reviews. If you can get up to hundreds, that’s great, too.

One of the benefits of reviews beyond just the search rankings, is it helps with people. When someone is looking for an organization, whatever your organization is, if they come across your listing and they see a dozen people with glowing reviews about you, that makes them a whole lot more likely to actually take the next step, whether that’s showing up at your location or contacting you, whatever it may be.

On the other hand, if they see some negative reviews or there are no reviews at all, they’re less likely to actually take that next step.

Mark: Yeah, and those positive reviews are things that I know a lot of organizations desire, but I’ve also heard people that are concerned about just doing reviews at all. They’re worried about getting negative reviews. What kind of things can you say to that as far as people’s apprehension to doing reviews at all because of the concern of negative reviews?

Kurt: Yeah, I see that a lot, too, and it’s a legitimate concern, but something you have to consider is that unless you’re not on the web, it’s going to happen. If you’re going to get negative reviews, not paying attention to it isn’t going to prevent them from being posted.

Mark: Certainly.

Kurt: Really, what it is, it’s really more of a fear of finding out there are negative reviews about you.

Mark: Right.

Kurt: So negative reviews-hopefully they won’t happen to you. If they do, there are things that you can do about it, but just trying to avoid being out there is self-defeating. It’s not going to help you.

There are things that you can do, though, for the negative reviews. Like if you’re a company and someone posts something about an experience and they say, “Hey, I don’t like what they did,” and I’ve actually seen this happen-contact them.

Mark: Right.

Kurt: Pay attention to the reviews and contact them. Say, “Look, I saw your review. I’d like to help you through this. I’d like to know what the problem was and see if we can’t fix it.” I have actually seen where people posted something, you know, a scathing review, and then a few posts down you see, “Hey, these people contacted me and they made everything better and I really love this company now, I appreciate how they took that initiative.” It turned a negative into a positive.

Mark: Right.

Kurt: That really takes it a step above just positive reviews because now people can see that even if they have a problem with you, they know that you’re going to address that and you’re not just going to shoo them away or ignore them.

Mark: Yeah. And I think that’s probably the bigger underlying reason for reviews is that it does give you an opportunity to see areas of improvement. If there is something that your organization needs to make improvements on, granted, you probably wouldn’t want to have a negative review for that, but maybe there is something that needs to be addressed.

Kurt: Better to know it than have person after person getting frustrated and leaving and you not knowing why.

Mark: Exactly.

Kurt: So, it does help with that. I’ve also, just a real quick example, at my own church, we had posted something, it was actually part of a blog, but someone had commented on it and said, “You know, I went to this church and these people weren’t very friendly and we didn’t like it.” Which we didn’t like to see, but we actually weren’t aware of it, because we weren’t paying attention to this page, that’s a bad thing, we should’ve been, but we weren’t, but other people were. So some of other members-

Mark: Other people within your organization.

Kurt: Yeah, within the church, other members saw that and they started to respond in a loving way and they said, “Hey, actually this wasn’t our experience at all, we really enjoy this church and here’s some of the things that we’ve enjoyed about it.” A good half-dozen people responded to this one person, and then the last post was from someone who had never been to our church who said, “I’d really like to visit this church when I’m in the area because of the way that the members have responded to that person.”

Mark: So you were able to take a negative and turn it into a positive.

Kurt: Yeah, and it wasn’t even the staff or anything like that, it was just the people involved in the organization that did it for us.

Mark: Great.

Kurt: That was great.

Mark: So the five essential elements of local search marketing:

  1. On-page optimization,
  2. Getting local listings,
  3. Citations,
  4. Links, and
  5. Reviews.

Putting all those things together can put together a very effective local search marketing program.

So, Kurt, I thank you for your time and your expertise and we thank you for taking the time to watch this video. If there’s anything that we can do to help you accomplish your mission or your goals online, please fill out the form below to request a free, no-obligation consultation.

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Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as .

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