Local SEO: Key challenges and tips from #ClickZChat

In previous ClickZChat sessions we’ve largely covered content and platforms, but seeing as it’s a Twitter event held by both ClickZ AND Search Engine Watch, it seemed only right that we spend some time looking at search in more depth.

This week we took to Twitter for an hour to ask our followers for their local SEO challenges and solutions. Here’s everything we learned:

Question 1: What are the biggest challenges you face when optimizing for local search?

  • SPAM

Several users (Including me) mentioned spam being a much bigger issue for local ranking, with maps being particularly open to abuse, and Search Engines slower to act on this than in other cases:

  • Citations

Many people also felt that citations were a hassle for a variety of reasons.

  • Resources

Indeed, the issue of keeping up to date was seen as a major challenge. Data is often fragmented and many organisations with several locations do not have the time or resources to roll out best practice – or even standard practice – to all location listings, with local stores and outlets being left to fend for themselves:

This issue is compounded when you consider the lack of SEO expertise on site. In many cases it simply isn’t considered an issue.

With that said, it was also felt that this state of affairs meant there were big opportunities for those businesses that are getting it right, with small changes making a big difference

Q2: What are the absolute essentials for a decent local SEO presence?

This is where those quick wins we mentioned really come into their own. As our own Graham Charlton mentioned, not enough businesses are taking time to claim their Google Business listings:

Of course, once you do start claiming listings, you need to have a consistent data structure in mind. Google will focus on listings that are formatted correctly in multiple locations:

Once you have your listings in order, there’s also a big case to be made for (you guessed it) content. While there’s no doubt that technical optimisation plays a huge part, it is worth remembering that with so many local searches taking place on mobile devices, user intent is the primary motivator.

  • Reviews

This of course brings us into the realm of reviews, a hugely important component for local business. Even if you lack the resources to optimise your listings properly, this can still make you stand out to a certain extent:

Finally our very own Andrew Warren-Payne mentioned this useful list from Moz, very helpful if you want to get organised:

Q3: What one local SEO tip has proven the most successful for you?

We had a rush of great suggestions to this question, so I’ve pulled them into a quick reference list of ‘Golden rules for Local SEO’ for you:

1: Build on your past success
Leverage existing product content. Marketing reaches across the isle to customer success. ‪#SEO improves ‪ via @colincrook

‬2: Be as focused as you can on the needs of the local customer
We created separate web pages for each of the locations, with unique content & optimised them with local keywords – @anshikamails

3: Good local SEO takes time. Make time to maintain it
Build citations. An oldie but a goldie. https://www.brightlocal.com/2013/09/11/top-50-local-citation-sites/ – @Lexx2099

4: But just doing what you can will help

In some areas, just the basics of listings and data are enough if your competitors aren’t up to speed. ‪#ClickZChat – @gcharlton

5: Remember that Google services are linked together. Focus on the bigger picture
Google business page creation and posting in G+ page. – @shaileshk

Be sure to publish FROM Google+ TO OTHER platforms.. ‪#ClickZChat – @steveplunkett

6: Get your data in order

Site 1st with NAP for all locations, Category, Description, Social, reviews, schema & repeat in citations ‪#ClickZChat ‪#ClickZChat – @rajnijjer

7: And make sure you never stop learning

SEO changes so fast that it’s hard for anything to be easy! :p Best advice: stay aware & current on industry trends! – @hilph

8: Remember why people are searching in the first place

And of course, we can always rely on Search Engine Watch’s editor to chime in with some useful advice…

That’s it for this week. A huge thank you as always to everyone who took part. We’ll be holding another chat this Wednesday at 12 noon Eastern Time.

For more on Local SEO, check out Graham Charlton’s handy list of 30 quick and easy SEO tips for small businesses.

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