3 Keys To Success For Local Search SEO

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Most web professionals are quite familiar with global search. Search marketing for global search can be boiled down to a two part formula: anchor text + authority.

Local search is different. I’ve been dabbling in local search for a few months now, trying to get my feet wet for the supposedly iminent arrival of mobile search domination. In the process I’ve learned three main things.

1. Anchor Text + Authority Matters, But Less

My experiences with local search indicates that when it comes to geographical specific search, anchor text and site authority (including age) still matter. However, I’ve also come to the conclusion that you can’t rely exclusively on these two factors.

A local site can be kicking butt in terms of it’s overall backlink portfolio but still losing the ranking battle. This doesn’t mean that you should abandon traditional link building techniques. If you can win the authority + anchor text battle, it could just be the tie-breaker in an otherwise close match. However, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got a few other orders of business taken care of.

2. Local Groupings

I’ve found that one of the most important things you can do in local search is to study which sites your competitors have local link groupings. A local link grouping would be a page on the Internet where all or most of your competitors get incoming links from. If you’re fighting from behind against well-aged, well-positioned competitors, a fundamental task of local search is to “tie the ballgame” so to speak, by getting your the web site bundled into local link groupings.

Let’s say that you are competing for the region “Point Pleasant rentals NJ.” Your first task is to carefully study the backlinks of the all the sites on the front page of Google. Identify the backlinks that your competitors have in common. Aggressively try to get links on all the same pages. Even consider creating new “Point Pleasant NJ” groupings by making Hubpages or Squidoo pages. Make sure to cluster together the sites that are normally clustered together, but also sprinkle your site into the mix.

3. Address Citations

When it comes to local search, one of the most important things you can do is to build the quantity of references around the web which contain some or all of the following information:

A – Business Name
B – Business Address
C – Business Phone
D – Business Website

Wherever you have access to the html code, it can also help to bracket your business address with the [address] [/address] tag. Each citation that you get around the web on reputable websites counts in favor of your legitimate membership in that geo-location. The sites with the most citations associated with a location are going to be considered to be the most important web sites for that location.

Places to get citations include: Google’s Local Business Center, Yahoo Local, Yelp, SuperPages and infoUSA.


To dominate local search I would suggest first leveling the playing field (via Groupings and Citations). Once you’ve done this, you can then use your established skill in authority + anchor text development for getting the upperhand.

Recommend Resources On Local Search

Ryan Caldwell
Ryan Caldwell, along with many other things, is currently working with a good friend to build a web hosting review site that actually matters and helps users (rather than simply pimping the highest paying affiliate). It's a big challenge (lot's of competition) and a long road ahead, but the path will be marked by the concepts in this post. One of the things we intend to do to "make the site matter" is to produce annual hosting awards that web hosts actually care about, by maintaining clear editorial separation from revenue considerations.
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  • http://www.krug.tv David Krug

    Also one thing to remember about local search is on site information. I have often seen people leave out Local Identifying information on their own websites. For example. If you want to sell Rubix Cubes in Dallas Texas. Make sure your website in its Title says Rubix Cubes in Dallas Texas, and not just Rubix Cubes. So many people over look this and it’s often fatal.

    • seattleinspector

      Is anchor text the same as back linking?

  • Ryan Caldwell

    Just read Graywolf’s excellent guest post on local business reputation management. Excellent, relevant points: http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2009/02/using-directories-for-search-engine-reputation-management.html

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com Nick Stamoulis

    Basically targeting all your local search terms like you would your national ones is a good approach. Basic principals still apply except you will want to focus also on all the various local areas online you can target as well.

    • http://www.insegment.com Boston SEO

      While so-called on page optimization results in appropriate keywords, visually pleasing graphics, and tags, it is only half of the battle in the war for generating high traffic to one’s website. The other half, off-page optimization, can be accounted for by following the steps in this article -backtagging links with an HTML code included on local grouping websites.

  • http://www.saltwebsites.com/ Fletch

    One short warning: The address tag is not necessarily correct to use for its immediately apparent use, addresses in general. It’s actually for listing the contact information of the author of the specific document, i.e. page, being viewed. This means it’s not really correct to use it for the local search optimisation applications described above.

    That said, there are some informed people who choose to intentionally rebel against the W3C spec and use it for all addresses, e.g. http://www.onderhond.com/blog/work/address-tag.

  • PeterWyspianski
  • http://www.smtusa.com @brentnau

    Don’t forget about being closest to the Centroid of the city. This factor has become less important, but none the less a factor when all things equal.

    Also consider “Address Citations” as the backlinks for local search.

  • Janet McNally

    Would you please email me at your convenience? I’d like to talk with you about your article. Thank you.

  • http://www.universalbusinesslisting.org Chris Travers

    It was good to see the address citations referenced, but remember in Local Search, the major Web sites account for a lot less of the traffic. You have to consider more of the online yellow pages, 411 directory assistance, vertical directories and even GPS navigation. UniversalBuinessListing.org delivers to all the major data providers, sites and alternative outlets for a small annual fee designed to be used by individual businesses or SEO firms.

  • http://searchengineoptimizationguru.blogspot.com/ steve


    the address tag is recommended by google for the address specification.. however it is..
    123 any st. yourcity, yourstate zipcode

    which is different than xhtml specs which include a degrading span tag for street, city, state and zip.

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    Thanks for the nice tips and i am currently working on seo company utilize your tips.

  • http://www.agent-seo.com/ Agent SEO

    I agree with all those tips. By correctly utilizing places like Google Maps & Yahoo Local, you have a great way to enhance your natural rankings.

  • http://www.giveawaylegalforms.com Legal Forms

    Great article! I was especially interested in your comments about: “Wherever you have access to the html code, it can also help to bracket your business address with the [address] [/address] tag.” This makes a lot of sense and I will keep it in mind for future referrence. Thanks again.
    Frank legal forms Website Owner and Blog fan.

  • http://www.haircarehints.com Hair Care

    You’ve put a new light on the subject (and much food for thought) about using Anchor Text as a local marketing tool. Danielle – Professional hair care Stylist.

  • http://www.shortex.com/ Shortex

    Thank u very much for Sharing a information

  • http://www.onlineinternetfaxing.com/ Online Internet Faxing

    Stop the press where is the section about reviews? I’ve seen these make huge differences in local search rankings if the particular local phrase has the ability to review the people who rank. Sometimes offering advantages to clients who write positive reviews makes for a great trade off in long term local search strategy. Including local search searched internationally (such as bed and breakfasts and accommodations). Cheers.

  • http://www.eraserve.com Eraserve

    This was good info, I did not know about the tags.

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Jenny

    It also helps to article market for your specified regions. Companies that specialise in ‘Flooring Oxford’ should make sure their articles are based on this area as well as including the product or service they are trying to push.

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  • http://www.apollogsales.com Paul Dumas

    It will be curious to see what Google Caffeine does to local search. In theory, it looks like it may make it more difficult for a new small business without a comprehensive SEO strategy to even get into the conversation.

    It would be a shame to see Google become more like Yahoo! when it comes to local search results, but who knows?

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