What sets Local SEO apart from general organic optimization?

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I'm going to show my noobness here. I see Local SEO talked about as if it's different than regular SEO, but I don't really understand why. Here's what I've always thought:

You're going to do your regular SEO stuff like:
  • On-Page SEO
  • Links / Social
  • Technical SEO
But then you're going to add on extra work like:
  • Setting up Google My Business
  • Getting Local Citations (Name / Address / Phone Number)
What else is there besides that to get into the map packs and rank for local personalized searches? Is it truly that different or is that it?

I guess this is the Local SEO 101 noob edition thread.
 

JasonSc

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Getting in the map pack vs ranking organically is 2 different things.

Ranking organically for local intent searches is very similar to ranking for any search term. Strong on page, good content and backlinks. The difference is the backlinks. Backlinks from other local entities have more weight then "big boy" links. I would take link from local pizza shop over a link from a reputable news agency that isn't in the pockets of link buyers.

Ranking in maps is totally different. While strong on page is key, citations and GMB come more into play. It use to be the company with the most citations wins. The weight citations have in GMB ranking has diminished over time. I don't have my list handy, but there is about 20-30 big citations you want. Then from there its all about niche relevant citations.

Also the challenge with citations is getting them indexed. Manually building them is the way to go. Putting unique content and photos on each one goes a long way in getting them indexed. Using automated services such as Yext is not ideal.

Your GMB needs to be completed as much as possible. Photos, descriptions, hours, posts etc. Also the age of the GMB seems to be a ranking factor.

After all the above is done, ranking in maps get a little gray. Maps use to be like YT videos, you would do a bunch of map embeds and send links at the embeds. Since the update in March (I think), the embeds have do not work as well. People also use to do PR and embeds with custom my maps, but again this is not working as well as it once use to.

Myself and other people are doing some testing to see what really moves the needle now, but we haven't found the silver bullet, yet.
 
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@JasonSc So for organic it's all the same but focus on local backlinks. For maps it's the citations and GMB stuff.

I did read @DKurtz.me say something about map embeds and linking to them, with press releases being the easiest way to pull it off.

All in all, Local SEO doesn't seem to be that different. Kind of like ORM. You rank a ton of stuff the same as you do normal SEO and then add on trying to get some content removed or outrank it with more content on the same domain. Not enough to warrant a bunch of discussion, which is why I guess I never see anything substantial being said. I know it's still young, not quite infancy but still young enough to have exploits like you're talking about finding.

Thanks for the run down.
 
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Local SEO (in terms of raising a location's position in the map pack) is a topic I'm pretty familiar with. I can speak to some of the broader trends in the industry currently.

One thing worth noting, and why it seems so closely related to ORM, is that review content, quality, quantity, and velocity are all heavily taken into account. It's literally "reputation management" in that responding to reviews, all of them, is a great boost. It shows Google there is someone tending the light at the end of the tunnel.

Directory listings + NAP consistency also play a large part, as does engagement with the GMB buttons for calling and driving directions.

Yelp will penalize you for review solicitation. Most others frown on it, of course, but they are still wayyy behind Yelp in terms of monitoring and penalizing.

Demand and awareness are growing rapidly as struggling retail locations attempt to compete with Amazon and try to capitalize on searches with local buying intent. And as voice search grows, mobile/local buying intent searches are skyrocketing.

One of the biggest factors is still distance, though. And there hasn't yet been a reliable way to track buyers all the way to conversion, but the amount of buyers with cash in the wallets, looking to buy right now, in-store, and skip the webpage is verrry tempting once retailers understand how the heck it all works, or at least why they need it.
 
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