LocalIf you were hoping that Moz Local would provide a cost- and time-saving solution to audit, control, and monitor major search listings and make simple changes to your local profile landscape, you’re in luck. Moz Local does a good job of providing your business’s information to top tier data providers, aggregators, and social profiles all in one place.

Assuming you can create a .csv correctly and upload it, you should find that managing these listings is much more efficient. Furthermore, you may find that by submitting to these top-level aggregators, lower tier citations may be created by scraper sites that are sourcing data. It will also help you create a roadmap for what you need to do in terms of optimizing each profile that currently exists.

On the other hand, if you are hoping for an all-in-one, “set it and forget it” local SEO solution, you can just “forget it.” There just isn’t a plug-and-play solution for local optimization. Like good organic SEO, it takes active effort, some technological know-how and real engagement in your market. I still believe the Moz Local offering is worth its cost if you are getting started in local or are having trouble with your listings. However, a full local optimization strategy has many parts.

Much like any optimization strategy, there are many different aspects that require you to get your hands dirty. If you are considering or currently using Moz Local, here are a few things that you can add to your local strategy to give yourself a competitive advantage in this constantly shifting marketing channel.

Additional Profiles

Top-level aggregators are vital for the distribution of accurate geo-data. Moz Local focuses on the widely accepted top 4 aggregators. However, the number of local profiles that you can audit, create, and monitor is limited to 5 additional local profiles and 4 additional social media profiles.

Having complete listings on those local profiles is important, but to get an edge in a competitive local market, you may find value in joining more communities that have a local intent. You can find niche networks that allow you to create profiles and engage with communities. These will provide higher authority for your NAP references and can even become a source for quality traffic.

Merchant Circle, Kudzu, and Mojo Pages are local communities that allow you to connect, post original content, engage with others interested in your industry, and increase the value of your business in the local digital landscape. There is no shortage of references for local profile options, and you can even create your own industries list with creative queries of the search engines.

Duplicate Listing Resolution

There are two types of listings you should be aware of. Moz is focused on determining duplicate profile listings within the aggregators, social profiles, and local profiles. This is an important step in the process of local optimization, and we recommend that as well. Confusion of the NAP listings within these resources can cause diminished trust in the correct listing. Think of this like a canonicalization issue that can be cleared up to increase authority of the correct domain.

The other problem area can be within the Google+ local business listings. Creating duplicates and handling removal is a tricky little mess that Google runs into. There are many different views on what drives duplicate location creation and the best methods for removal. Automation can create a listing by sourcing data from inaccurate NAP listings. In other cases, a business may be attempting to show up in multiple areas without actually having locations there. These are often created from business location changes or human error.

Removal can prove to be a long, arduous process. Options include cleaning up inconsistent or inaccurate citations, managing the removal through Google Map Maker or the Google Places Dashboard, and consolidating the duplicate listings through your Places Manager.

Manual Profile Management

Manual ManagementIn order to complete any profile, you will need to log into the now created listing and upload new images if they aren’t hosted on your site. You still need to go onto the publisher’s site in order to handle other specifics to that site, such as commenting, reviewing responses, and reaching out to other members of the community. Just be prepared to manage your accounts outside of the .csv and Moz Local dashboard.

Ongoing Management and Engagement

This is an important and often overlooked aspect of local listing optimization. Some of the other profiles that you have created should be updated with new content and monitored regularly. This might include Trip Advisor, City Search, Dex Knows, Merchant Circle, Foursquare, or any other profile that has an industry-specific category. These profiles, just like your website, benefit greatly from relevant, unique content posted regularly. You should think of them as the content pages that are providing link value. With more activity and fresh content comes more authority associated with your local results.

Customer Review Strategy

Engaging with your customers in person, asking happy clients to talk about your business, and making your preferred review channels easy to find are things you will need to do outside of Moz Local’s capabilities. This means actually connecting and communicating with your clients. To increase responses on review sites, develop a page on your site dedicated to your top review channels and mention this on your thank you page, in email outreach, in your customer service footer, and on loyalty coupons. Make sure you stay within the T’s & C’s of channels like Yelp or Facebook since they have different requirements for what you can and can’t do for a review.

Our favorite review channels are:

  • Facebook, Foursquare – If you have a local address listed, Facebook will automatically apply the ability to leave a review as well. People that follow your brand often have a positive opinion of your business. Leverage that by making sure loyal customers know they can spread the word about how great your business or service is by logging on to leave a quick review.
  • Google+ – We can’t deny that this profile is what you are optimizing for with local listings. Google won’t trust any source more than theirs, and they are constantly improving the system, from places that only have sourced reviews to the Zagat review system integration to the connection of verified Google+ accounts. It’s been a constant movement toward a more authentic review system. This should continue, and your business should be ready when the value of those reviews increases in the future.
  • Customer ReviewYelp – Follow their review policies since they take strict action against violators. Yelp ranks very well, and having the top listing in your category can drive significant traffic from SERPs. The number, quality, relevancy, and frequency of reviews all play a part in where you show up for a particular search in Yelp and the authority that the profile will provide to your local maps listing.
  • Secondary sources – Google applies a value to your listing if it is left on a trusted source. CitySearch.com, Kudzu, Merchant Circle, YP, Superpages, and Insider Pages are all excellent secondary review sites. You may find category specific review sites that are important to gain reviews on as well. Menuism, Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon, Open Table, Dealer Rater, Avvo, and Martindale are good industry-specific review sites for restaurants, car dealers, or lawyers.

A few other important items to keep in mind with reviews.

  1. Legitimacy matters. Do not spam your site with fake reviews if you have a long-term vision of building a successful listing.
  2. Aim for frequency over ratings. The frequency of reviews is more important than the actual rating of the review. This supports the idea that, rather than avoiding reviews due to the chance of gaining a bad review, you should be providing a good service and asking all customers for reviews.
  3. Follow the terms. Familiarize yourself with quality guidelines for sites like Yelp, Google+, Foursquare, and Insider Pages. While you can’t offer incentives for reviews with some sites, you may be able to with others.

Local Citation Building

A good citation, much like a good link, is associated with a high quality source and could drive relevant traffic and support applied value. Using tools like Yext to view how consistent your citations are is vital to your campaign.

Taking this one step further and conducting your own manual citation management is important if you have references on other websites that are outside of the top-tier sources, aggregators, and scraper citation sources. This may involve searching all past phone numbers, business names, and addresses that have been associated with the company and creating an outreach spreadsheet to tackle inconsistencies one by one. It will take an investment of time that can be streamlined with a technological process that standardizes the project.

Conducting outreach to ensure that your business is accurately listed in as many relevant sites as possible gives you an extra edge here as well. Continue this process by being part of the community and giving them reason to mention your business with strong content marketing.

On-Page Local Optimization

You must have standard best practices for your website to optimize its authority in local search. To assist in the process:

  • Create dedicated location pages.
  • Prominently feature NAP info.
  • Optimize titles and descriptions.
  • Mention landmarks that may be helpful to your customers.
  • Link out to other relevant local businesses.
  • Geo-tag photos.
  • Optimize images with local alt attributes.
  • Use schema for reviews, events, and other applicable structured data.

Technological Advantages

Using some smart tech on your site and your Google+ page can boost your rankings quickly. To get a head start on the optimization and conversion processes, consult with a professional to figure out how to properly optimize your business categories, images, street view tour, service area, and additional details.

There’s a lot that goes into optimizing locally, and as a business owner it may not be your first priority to engage in local profile communities. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact us to start developing a custom strategy for local SEO. Our staff is here to discuss the ways we can take the work off of your plate and make it easy with our streamlined processes.

Top left image attribution :“Say ‘Cheese’!” by mukumbura is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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