How does a failing affiliate marketer get noticed as a service-area business? Andrew Scotland explains some of the challenges facing these businesses and offers tricks for how to approach your local SEO efforts.
Today, let’s talk service-area businesses (SABs) and local SEO. Because each and every time I discuss to a SAB, the essential thing — and pretty much the only thing — they would like to know is how to rank in the Local Pack in urban centers where they terribly lack a physical location.
I have always been sure I don’t need to tell you how, through the years, Google has made it much harder for these businesses to get ranking outside of their home cities. As the introduction of Google’s Home Solutions ads, it has recently been getting even harder.
Digital marketing TED-talking hipster types have been predicting the demise of the printing yellow pages for a long time, but you know what? A regional print yellow webpages publisher in Texas informed me he shows potential SAB advertisers an image like this drawn on a napkin:
This individual tells them something like, “Use SEO for your market but use our books for the adjoining markets.” And my spouse and I guess it works — he claims his sales have been up recently (although I suspect this individual was also spending some of his budgets on AdWords).
For those of you who are new here, Google’s Local Packs algorithm is a “trimodal” algorithm mostly based on the following three factors:
- Relevance (Are you a roofer?).
- Prominence (Are you a notable roofing company?).
- Proximity (Is your business’s physical location nearby the searcher?).
Service-area businesses outside of the searcher’s city are going to be fighting without one leg of the trimodal stool (proximity), and they must be super visible in order to outrank competition who are in the searcher’s market. That means getting links, reviews and other things Yahoo values — things that are usually alien to most service pros, who spend their days inhaling their customers’ dust bunnies.
In short: SABs can spend on a regular basis they want to prove Google My Business (GMB) pages and not get much for the hard work.
It’s even worse for multi-location brands. I suggest, they cannot even use mass volume GMB accounts. That’s how much Google seems to value them.
I really know what you’re saying to yourself: “Hey, that’s awesome, Andrew. Thanks for regurgitating my issues with GMB. Although what are you heading to do for me, Mr. SEO guru? Very well
Well, if you need Google organic traffic for your service-area business, you’ve virtually acquired two choices:
- Invest heavily in GMB/Local Pack rankings, and learn to have with paying to get punched in the face on a regular basis.
Which means making an investment in an aggressive but safe (or, shall we say, “less risky”) link-building strategy to your location pages, and going full bore on getting reviews from customers in your desired locations that point out the location name in the review… while simultaneously not looking like you appointed a team in Myanmar to spam Google reviews for you.
You may achieve rankings in other urban centers, but you’ll also experience a lot of movements — and those really Home Services Ads will keep popping you in the face.
- Carry out the basics right for GMB and give attention to ‘local organic’ results.
So why should Yelp, YP.com, Thumbtack, AngiesList and others have all the non-local Pack fun? Even though you don’t have a location in the researched city, chances are you have a location that is close — certainly closer than Yelp’s office buildings.
If you do the right things SEO-wise, you ought to be able to compete head-to-head with the big local directories in your marketplaces:
Have a well-optimized website with strong landing web pages for each and every city you provide. Populate these pages with a lot of unique and relevant content. Each of our Local SEO Ranking Elements Study last year demonstrated that location landing web pages with a lot of content tended to correspond with strong rankings.
If perhaps you are getting reviews, get those reviews from specific cities onto the kind of location web pages on your site. (And if you’re to not get reviews, you may want to get started on — our new Ranking Factors research coming out shortly has a lot to say on that matter.)
Mark up reviews and NAP info (Name, Address, and Phone number) with the Local Business schema. Make use of all of the organized markup at your convenience on these pages to make it clear that your business is linked to the target city. (In some cases, we have seen this as the tie-breaker towards your pages ranked.) After all, there’s a schema.org. May possibly as well make use of it, right?
If you are a single-location service-area business, you are likely going to desire a handful of backlinks to your location web pages apply the location and express you are targeting in the anchor text. Simply no need to overdo.
If you are a multi-location SAB, you still could use some links — but the combo of local citation links and possibly brand links might be enough to get you there (that is, presuming your site’s SEO is not FUBAR).
Additionally, if you are a multi-location SAB, ensure you have a crawlable store locator on your site. That means clickable links to each location from all of that other site. (Ditch that ZIP-lookup software — Google can’t spider it!)
In case you are really serious about ranking in the cities you service, consider opening a sales office in each and creating Google My Organization pages for them. (And be sure to staff them and have “onsite signage” at them to maintain conformity with Google’s guidelines.)
It may sound crazy and a royal PITADA, but if you think about how precisely much you spend on AdWords to get a customer, the RETURN ON INVESTMENT on opening a tiny office could look pretty good when compared to.
And if you aren’t really sick and tired of constantly getting knocked around by Yahoo, maybe it’s time to open a business with an actual location. My spouse and I hear local retail is pretty easy these times.
Source Inherited from Searchengineland