Since 2004, Google has been prioritizing searches based on local results and stressing that businesses optimize for a local presence.
The idea is to connect small Mom and Pop shops, medium-sized chains and websites that cater to the local customer with users who have a high intent to purchase.
It’s no wonder that a simple search for [Local SEO] brings up many checklists that provide valuable information, including Search Engine Journal’s Guide for Local SEO.
However, enterprise companies that target a large audience pose a challenge in optimizing for local searches.
Sites like TripAdvisor with their Activities in Seattle page, Yelp’s Restaurants in Seattle, and Groupon’s Things to do Near Me page show us that enterprise sites can properly optimize for local searches.
The key is using the right signals, adding off-site optimization for local, and developing content that makes sense based on user intent.
Authoritative Document Identification Patent
In December of 2004, Google filed the Patent for Authoritative Document Identification that kicked off their focus on providing local searches with quality local content. The Abstract stating:
“A system determines documents that are associated with a location, identifies a group of signals associated with each of the documents, and determines authoritativeness of the documents for the location based on the signals.”
The patent uses four main signals that determine a location for a business:
- The page is associated contains a physical address with a legitimate phone number.
- The H1 matches the business name.
- The URL contains the name of the business.
- The page has many links pointing to it from a number of other pages and/or websites that mention the location and/or the business name.
In 2005, Google announced their Maps feature with a launch to mobile later in the year.
The goal was to continue to push for local results forcing websites to optimize for searches around countries, provinces, states, and cities.
In 2008, I optimized a website to save the breakfast sandwich at Starbucks using the four signals from a database of cities for people looking for Starbucks in their city.
The website was so successful that Howard Schultz named it in his book “Onward“.
A few years later, I began work at usedcars.com and discovered that the location-specific section of the site dropped considerably with Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.
Pages were developed for local searches of “used cars in..” plus each city.
Each page included the four signals: addresses and phone numbers of car dealers with mentions of “used cars in…” plus city.
Tiles of vehicles for sale in that location, special deals based on cars priced below KBB value and additional dynamically driven content supplemented the page for a valuable experience.
The project resulted in contributing to over 60% of the revenue for the business from SEO by the time my two years there were up.
Merging Search Results Patent
In March 2013, Google’s Merging Search Results patent was approved and applied in full effect forcing many sites to reconsider their local SEO strategy. The abstract:
“Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on a computer storage medium, for merging search results. In one aspect, a method combines search results responsive to a query that are obtained from a local search engine and a universal search engine such that the combined search results are ordered and presented in a way that emphasizes certain business entities in the results.”
With the authority results, the pages that have been chosen to be associated with the business entity in a local result will include the general and local page in local results.
The authority page of the business is the homepage of the business.
If an authority page ranks highly in both web results and local search results, that URL may be merged so that it only appears one time in the search result as a local listing.
For example, a project I developed while at Nordstrom, a user searching for Nordstrom in Seattle will see the local store page as the authority page in the search results and connect to the results in the local pack rather than the Nordstrom homepage.
With the patent, when the local search result is considered the authority page for the query and within proximity of the searcher, the combined results might then appear before other results in response to a query.
Since the release of the patent, users are accessing search on their mobile devices.
Google has placed an emphasis on more signals around “near me” and for general queries like “restaurants” or “shopping” assuming that users are expecting local results.
Claiming your business page on Google Places, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Groupon, and many other location-specific websites to add local link signals to your webpage are becoming increasingly important.
- For enterprise sites, services like Yext Local SEO and SweetIQ: Local Marketing Hub will:
- Manage local pages.
- Provide an interface to monitor and respond to reviews.
- Push the information out to the location sites (Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor and 40k+ more).
The Enterprise Local SEO Checklist for 2019
- Establish authoritative pages for each location.
- H1 should include the location name with business name (or topic).
- Content on pages should include addresses and phone numbers where possible.
- Local Schema around the local information:
<div itemscope itemtype=”https://schema.org/LocalBusiness”><span itemprop=”name”>Name Of Business</span><span itemprop=”address”>Business’s Address</span><div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”><span itemprop=”addressLocality”>City</span><span itemprop=”addressRegion”>State</span><span itemprop=”postalCode”>Zip Code</span><span itemprop=”telephone”>Business Phone Number</span></div>
- URLs should contain location and business name (where applicable).
- Using Yext or SweetIQ services will provide local signals from other location authoritative pages with inbound links to pages.
- Maps (preferably Google Maps) on pages with pin to address.
- Unique content from:
- Customer reviews.
- Location-specific products and/or services.
- Links to nearby location pages.
- Hours of operation (if applicable).
- Any events happening at location.
- Location description.
- Images of location (even better if location is in the text and alt text on the image).
- Sub pages with additional information.
- Internal links pointing to pages where mentions make sense.
Targeting ranking for local SEO can prove to be extremely successful for an enterprise company.
Nordstrom is leading the omnichannel experience with the latest technologies with the local project I started in 2018.
The initiative has the potential to drive hundreds of millions in increased revenue with even more potential.
Connecting online with offline activity users will be able to save products and find them on hold in the store to try on and purchase.
If your enterprise site doesn’t have a solid local SEO strategy it’s time to get something started.