Google+ Local Optimization Tips/Tricks To Improve Ranking

Colan Nielsen

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Jul 19, 2012
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Hi Folks,

I was thinking it would be great if we could start to share some of the things that we do for our clients Google+ Local optimization to improve ranking.

I think it would be great to collectively share some of the things we are doing.

I don't expect that everyone would want to share EVERYTHING that they do, but I think any tips can help!

I'll start. A couple things we do include:


  • If the listing has no Map Maker history, give it a "poke". You can do this by hitting "edit" and submit without making any actual edits.
  • Report competitors with "Edit Business Details". For example, if there is a listing that is ranking well that has the city name in the listing's title (violation of Google's quality guidelines) or if the listing has a keyword in the title and the keyword is not part of the businesses name(also a violation).


Thanks!!
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,438
Great topic Colan! Thanks for starting it!

So doing a poke will get it into MM? Makes sense but never thought to do it!

I'll put some thought into this and come up with more, but there is one best practice tip I think many miss AND it drives me crazy AND I've been meaning to post it, so I'll go ahead and mention here.

In my training I liken the local algo to a kindergartener playing a match game. She often gets confused my little things that look similar but aren't (resulting in merges) OR sometimes totally misses the obvious and can't make a match (resulting in dupes). So you really have to be careful with data and try to feed her EXACT MATCHES.

OK so we all know how important it is to have MATCHING NAP on every page of the site, right? And I believe phone is the 2nd most important part of NAP. We also know that sometimes the reason Google knocks you out of blended so you don't rank in local is due to confusion if she can't match up the site and G+ Local page. This can be due to dupe confusion BUT can also happen if NAP does not match. So for instance the local # is on the G+ page as it should be but all that's on the site is an 800#. Sometimes she gets confused and can't make the match.

SOooo when I research problems, I copy the phone # off the site and plug it into maps to find the G+ listing. VERY OFTEN if the phone on the site is formatted as 555.222.1234 or 555-222-1234 Google can't read it in maps and comes back with gibberish asking me if I'm trying to find something in Turkey. And she sure as heck can't read the phone number right if it's listed on the site as 555-TopPrice (3674586).

Here's what happens when you search for my phone with dot format. She can't find me.
(The kindergartener can't make a match.) :p But if you use standard phone format I come right up.

Might seem like a tiny thing, BUT if we do everything to try to rank and miss a little formatting thing like that, that causes G to get confused and drop the listing out of blended, it's kinda of a big thing in my book. So just be sure phone #s are ALWAYS in standard format (555) 222-1234.

(Not certain it impacts ranking directly but definitely could impact 'trust' in the listing AND break the match in blended - which in turn def does impact ranking!)

I'll think of more later today when I can, but anxious to get some tips from the community!

Your turn! :)
 

Eric Rohrback

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Oct 3, 2012
Messages
1,006
I like to put review badges or "write a review" buttons on client's sites. Since the link is going to the G+local page, do you think that helps ranking or at least helps connect the right information since there is a direct link?

In any case it helps drive viability to the page and helps people not only see reviews, but gets current customers to write a review too.
 

mborgelt

Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2012
Messages
473
Here are a number of things you can do and a number of tools you can use:

* Completely optimize the listing (make sure you have created videos, have also optimized the photos, have selected the correct categories to trigger the correct searches. Blumenthals Olean NY & Bradford Pa- strong support and a personal touch. Web Hosting, Design, e-commerce, Macintosh Support- Google Places Category Tool - Google Categories - Google Maps)

* Take those videos you have created and place them at video sharing sites with local information (NAP and other information) in the description of the video sharing sites

* Take those photos and place them at photo sharing site. Make sure you leverage the local information where possible and link to your website where possible.

* Build citations - Looking at your competition and where they have gotten citations is a great place to start - Free Local Citation Finder Tool - MyLocalCitationFinder.com or Edmonton Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Web Design | Whitespark

* On page optimization - Make sure your site support these locations with location pages. Make sure those pages have hcards and other markup language. Make sure your NAP is consistant throughout the website

Here are a couple of tools I have built that I use to research and find issues with my clients listings:

Free Local Analysis - Free Local Search Analysis - Google Places Optimization- Checks issues with your listing, your on-site optimization and off-site optimization. You can also compare your listing against the competition.

Local Research Resources - http://www.51blocks.com/online-marketing-tools/google-local-toolbox/ Create hCard, KML Files and GeoTags all in one form submission.

Citation Research - Free Local Citation Finder Tool - MyLocalCitationFinder.com or Edmonton Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Web Design | Whitespark - It doesn't look that pretty but you can research the citations of the top 10 results for a given keyword in a specific area.

Keyword Tracking - We have built a tool that tracks both local and organic positions for your keywords. MKR (soon to become http://www.MySEOLabs.org) or Places Scout - Automated Local SEO Software Tools and Solutions.

Remember that the local algo is now using more of the organic ranking factors to rank the local packs.

Hope this helps!
 

Linda Buquet

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Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,438
Thanks Eric and Michael for taking time to share.
Great stuff!

Keep the tips coming and then I'll 'stick' this post if it turns into one of the most helpful and I think it will!
 

Colan Nielsen

Administrator
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
3,296
* Take those videos you have created and place them at video sharing sites with local information (NAP and other information) in the description of the video sharing sites

* Take those photos and place them at photo sharing site. Make sure you leverage the local information where possible and link to your website where possible.
Amazing tips so far!!

Which video and photo sharing sites to do you use?
 

Nick.SEOSpark

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2012
Messages
361
  • Report competitors with "Edit Business Details". For example, if there is a listing that is ranking well that has the city name in the listing's title (violation of Google's quality guidelines) or if the listing has a keyword in the title and the keyword is not part of the businesses name(also a violation).


Thanks!!
Thanks so much for all of these tips! Very much appreciated.

Colan, would you mind elaborating a little bit on this tip? When you "edit business details", do you then select "business name"? What do you normally enter in the box?

There are a lot of competitors who have done this in some of our clients markets.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,438
I've reported spammy listings too. I just tell it like it is and back it up if I have facts.

I just say something like: This appears to be a fake name or keyword stuffed name or city does not appear to be part of the real name. (Depending on situation.) Then I may go on to say: Based on the business web site the real name appears to be "XYZ" and that's also how they are represented all over the Internet, or that matches the way they are listed on the BBB or Chamber or whatever.

Then always check the follow up box and then you'll get a report when it's done. Normally I find edits like that get done in a couple days, but I have not done one recently.

Don't think I've ever reported one like that specifically to help my client rank but would if it was an issue. I've just reported a few in the wild that were blatant violations when I had time and they were always taken care of quickly.
 

Jason Kamara

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
28
Great tips already! Let's keep them coming. Here are a few I came up with on the commute home from work. They haven't been tested in isolation so I can't say definitively which ones, if any, are effective on their own. Nevertheless, here they are:

1) Check your robots.txt and sitemap.xml carefully if you are using Wordpress. If you are the only author on your blog, disallow access to your /author/ directory since these post will be the same as your regular monthly archive (resulting in duplicate content). You can do the same with /tag/, /archives/, and any other directory that will result in duplicate content being indexed.

Joost de Valk has written volumes on the subject so check out some of his articles for detailed information. I've neglected to do this early on on some sites and had to clean up the mess in Google Webmaster Tools later on. Similarly, make sure that you have included images and videos in your sitemap and checked to see that you haven't excluded any portions of your site from being indexed.

2) Another Wordpress tip for larger sites: Put your NAP, office hours and special offers, along with the corresponding markup in a sidebar widget if possible to ensure that the information is consistent, loads quickly and displays properly across different device/browser combinations.

3) This probably goes without saying, but just in case: Use the site: command to check that your URLs are indexed properly and that there aren't any canonical issues.

4) In Webmaster Tools, check the health of your site often. If you've made changes to titles, meta descriptions, etc, fetch those new pages as Googlebot and submit them to the index. This seems to expedite changes getting indexed. I've seen changes on a small site happen within 24 hours on Google.ca. Since many of our sites aren't indexed as often as larger, non-localized site, this can be helpful.

5) I'm a big fan of Pinterest. Even if you're optimizing a site for a plumber, you can still create Pinterest boards showing what certain plumbing parts look like, how to tell when components are faulty, flooding damage, and other images that provide valuable information. You can then share your pins on Facebook, Twitter, and G+ to get more exposure. I spend very little time on Pinterest, yet it sends higher quality referral traffic than Facebook in some cases. It isn't hard persuading clients to jump on this social network because it doesn't require regular updating and few, if any people use Pinterest for customer support.

6) While I've only started learning about video SEO, I can say that it is certainly effective for generating sales when done properly. For local clients, it's an easy way to get a colorful video thumbnail and a rich snippet on the first page of the SERPS. Google simply loves YouTube (big surprise) and indexes and prioritizes videos over most other content. Creating a basic video, uploading it to YouTube, and optimizing the title, description, thumbnail, etc is relatively easy and can bring in some quick wins.

I used the nifty little video scribe tool I learned about in this forum to create a video that landed on the first results page after 4 days (for primary kw + city). Not only that, scraper sites scraped the video and provided free backlinks to the video with targeted anchor text (Thank you content thieves). My client is in a small city of 230,000 and his niche isn't too competitive. But his domain was only registered a few months ago and the website completed a month ago. So I was somewhat surprised by the quick results.

Link to the video scribe tool thread:
http://localsearchforum.catalystemarketing.com/local-search/1303-local-videoscribing-amazing-new-local-business-idea.html

Link to the video I created in one weekend:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUj4l1PebuA

Alright, it's time for dinner. I hope this was helpful :)
 

Linda Buquet

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Whoa Jason I am SOOOOO THRILLED someone took my VideoScribe idea and ran with it!!! Just beaming! Great job on it too! Wow, just impressed!

Thanks for all the other great tips too!

I'm going to wait til tomorrow when more are online and then want to post a copy of your video in the Videoscribe post and talk about the great results you are getting.
WAY TO GO!
 

Nick.SEOSpark

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2012
Messages
361
Amazing tips so far!!

Which video and photo sharing sites to do you use?
Just want to second this - - I'd also be interested to know what video sites you use to share?

We have a client who's just got a video shot and would love to benefit from sharing as much as possible.

-----

This is shaping up to be one of the most useful ever. I'll have a go at contributing some:

Have a Great Review System - Use Phil Rozek's Google Review Handout as a system for getting reviews the easy way. Train your clients on how to use it. Make sure they understand not to get too many at once (waves of reviews) and that they get customers to fill out on their own computer.

With Citations, use as many photos as possible - It gives the citations extra weight

Optimise images - Most people remember to put the alt tag on, however, make sure the file is named correctly (example city-keyword.jpg).

Track Local Rankings Properly - Use a tool like Places Scout to track local results accurately. Other systems, such as SEOMoz tend to specialise at tracking organic so will not be as effective or accurate.

Are your clients holding an event? - In which case, see this thread about link building with local events from SEOMoz - You can even suggest to your clients that holding an event (even if it's small and informal) is a great idea. When you get quality links for the events (see that thread), it will also help with publicity.

------------

Hope that helps, and once again, would love to know more about the video sharing websites?

------------
 

Colan Nielsen

Administrator
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
3,296
Colan, would you mind elaborating a little bit on this tip? When you "edit business details", do you then select "business name"? What do you normally enter in the box?
If I come across a well ranking listing with a spammed out title, I would do an "edit business details" on the title to try and change it to the correct business name, based on the business website. AS Linda said, not necessarily done to improve ranking, but help clean up the playing field.
 

Nick.SEOSpark

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Joined
Aug 4, 2012
Messages
361
Thanks Colan for the additional info as it's something I've never done before. I'm certainly not knocking it as it seems like a fair thing to do for the reasons we have stated.
 
Joined
Dec 25, 2012
Messages
88
@jason you are amazing man! I have always had trouble ranking WP sites and I do believe it is because of duplicate content issues! Funny, it is so user friendly that I forget to do a lot of the things that I would do for a typical html site.

Thanks again for the tip man, I am looking at WP differently now.
 
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
440
Jason:

Great tips...can you expand on these two? Specifically, how do you disallow these directories...like the specific line of code you need to include in the robots.txt file?

And how do you include images and videos in your sitemap? I've never heard of that before.

Travis Van Slooten

1) Check your robots.txt and sitemap.xml carefully if you are using Wordpress. If you are the only author on your blog, disallow access to your /author/ directory since these post will be the same as your regular monthly archive (resulting in duplicate content). You can do the same with /tag/, /archives/, and any other directory that will result in duplicate content being indexed.

included images and videos in your sitemap and checked to see that you haven't excluded any portions of your site from being indexed.
 

Jason Kamara

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
28
@jason you are amazing man! I have always had trouble ranking WP sites and I do believe it is because of duplicate content issues! Funny, it is so user friendly that I forget to do a lot of the things that I would do for a typical html site.

Thanks again for the tip man, I am looking at WP differently now.
I know what you mean. The simplicity of Wordpress made me less vigilant when doing technical SEO. Now I don't even think about link-building until the site is getting indexed properly. Glad I could help!


Whoa Jason I am SOOOOO THRILLED someone took my VideoScribe idea and ran with it!!! Just beaming! Great job on it too! Wow, just impressed!

Thanks for all the other great tips too!

I'm going to wait til tomorrow when more are online and then want to post a copy of your video in the Videoscribe post and talk about the great results you are getting.
WAY TO GO!
Thanks for sharing that great tool, Linda! I know how expensive custom scribing is, so I was curious how robust that application would be. For now the image library is a bit limited, but it does a decent enough job with imported artwork. I certainly wouldn't complain for the low subscription price. I really do recommend it for anyone considering a value-added service that produces quick results.


Jason:

Great tips...can you expand on these two? Specifically, how do you disallow these directories...like the specific line of code you need to include in the robots.txt file?

And how do you include images and videos in your sitemap? I've never heard of that before.

Travis Van Slooten
(1) Disallowing access to specific Wordpress directories (the same syntax as non-WP sites)

Code:
User-agent: * 
Disallow: /author/ 
Disallow: /archives/ 
Disallow: /tag/
Disallow: /feed/
# There can be quite a few directories to exclude depending on your site structure.
# You may also want to exclude access to admin and code directories for security reasons.
There was a thorough SEOmoz post written about Wordpress site setup, sitemap configuration and robots.txt editing. It's a good start, though I caution against using the Yoast plugin to generate your sitemap if you want to include videos. You can purchase a separate Video XML plugin from Yoast which will give you an entirely automated solution if you have a large number of videos.

This post includes more complete information about robots.txt setup for WP.

(2) Including video and images in your sitemap:
You cannot manually edit the sitemap created by the Yoast SEO plugin. You can disable it and exclude a few directories, but that's about it. If you are working on a small site that isn't updated often, it's easier to just create one using a free sitemap generator and then add in the directives for videos and images.

I should mention that the Yoast plugin does automatically add your images to the sitemap. You can check out what is included by checking: http://www.yourdomain.com/page-sitemap.xml (or /post-sitemap.xml) and viewing the source code in your browser. However, I haven't found a way to manually edit this code. If you want to include complete information on video and images in your sitemap, it's probably best to disable the XML sitemap in the plugin settings and just create your own. Here are resources for doing it yourself:

Including Images: Google's documentation is surprisingly useful for this. Remember to include the geo_location tag.

Including Video: Depends on hosting platform. I recommend checking out posts and slide decks by Phil Nottingham of Distilled. He truly is the master of video SEO. Here's a post he wrote yesterday on the topic.

Travis:
Thanks for the local citation resource you posted on one of the threads. I used it as a starting point for one of my clients in Canada. I'm actually working on something similar using Google Docs.
 

Adam Zahler

Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2014
Messages
16
Just found this thread and wanted to say thanks for the info people have shared. This thread has now joined a bunch of other valuable bookmarks I have made from this forum!

Cheers
 

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