Best practices for optimizing your Google Local Listings & location pages.

While local SEO has been around for years, its importance has continued to grow (especially alongside the increased amount of mobile searches being performed). The inferred intent behind many a search is that users are looking for a location near them. That’s why you may have noticed Google’s Local 3-pack occupying space at the top of results pages for general searches:

Local listings generated from a search for “food.”

Or a single listing off to the side, prompted by a more specific brand search:

Local listing generated from a search for “Starbucks arena district.”

These listings not only create visibility for brands, but also provide users with convenient, quick-hitting information directly within search results (including an option of clicking through to a website to learn more).

What about traditional organic results?

There are those, too — often linking to a brand’s on-site location pages:

Traditional organic listing for “taco shop near me.”

Although traditional results get pushed below-the-fold by way of Google’s local listings, they still play an important role in generating visibility, too. For brands whose listings do not show up in search results, the presence of a traditional results page is paramount. For those whose listings appear at the top of the SERPs, having a traditional result below doubles the amount of organic visibility and can reinforce the credibility of the local listing. And then there are always specific, long-tail searches that Google deems more appropriate for regular results as opposed to listings:

Traditional result generated from a long-tail search for “nutrition information for taco shops in Columbus.”

So the question becomes, with listings and location pages playing an important and interconnected role in local search, what can brands do to ensure they’re optimized for both? The checklists below can be used to help point you in the right direction.

DO YOUR OFF-SITE GOOGLE LOCAL LISTINGS INCLUDE:

  • Verification that you (or someone on your marketing team) are the business owner?
  • The official name of your business?
  • Business names that are formatted the same across multiple location listings?
  • A primary category that best describes what your brand offers?
  • A description of your business?
  • An accurate address, phone number and hours of operation?
  • A link back to your website (a location-specific page if multiple locations are available)?
  • Website links tagged with UTM parameters that will direct listing-induced site traffic into a specific Google Analytics campaign?
  • Timely responses to posted reviews?
  • Answers to questions that are asked?
  • Posts to help promote events, sales or special blog posts?
  • Authentic images and videos to support visual representation of your locations?

DO YOUR ON-SITE LOCATION PAGES INCLUDE:

  • Title tags and meta descriptions that include the appropriate city and state of each location?
  • Main headers that reflect the official name of a location, including city and state?
  • A location name, address and phone number that are visible above-the-fold?
  • A map of the location with an option to click-through for explicit directions?
  • References to nearby cities, intersections and/or landmarks to help users locate you?
  • Parking information?
  • Ratings and reviews?
  • Authentic images and videos to support visual representation of your locations?
  • Structured data markup?
  • Enough unique content to avoid duplication among multiple location pages?

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR BOTH LISTINGS & LOCATION PAGES

While the above checklists may have been created separately, remember that listings and location pages should work in relation to one another. Here are a few questions to consider to make sure your off- and on-site local efforts interplay nicely:

  • Are pieces of information displayed across both listings and location pages in alignment? This is particularly important for a business’ name, address, phone number and hours of operation.
  • Could the optimization of local listings lead to a reduction in organic traffic to location pages? In some cases, users may find the information they need within a listing, making it unnecessary to click through to the website. Google My Business metrics can be used to show how users are interacting with your listings.
  • Do your on-site location pages offer more information than what can be found within their local listing counterparts? Ensuring they do will help justify users clicking through to these pages and help prevent a high bounce rate.
  • Have you considered mining listing-based reviews and questions for on-site content topics? If enough responses exist, patterns regarding “must-know” information could emerge and be written for your website.
  • Are there search terms related to your location pages that indicate an interest in information outside of what’s found in a local listing?Optimizing for these terms and/or including the indicated pieces of information on-site could also help drive more traffic and engagement to your actual pages, despite highly visible listings that push down traditional results.

Ready to work toward local SEO dominance? Start with these checklists and I’ll see you in the SERPs!



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