The challenge of local SEO

Local SEO tips and tricksLocal SEO – A little more than a year ago, I never worked on that kind of SEO and let me tell you, it can be quite a challenge.

Why am I talking about local SEO all of a sudden ? Well, I’ve been working on a website for a Montreal electricity company lately and what better than being positioned #1 in the local SERPs ? A while ago, I had to do the same for a local company in Miami and I managed to make the website be in the first results with a few tricks found online on “specialized” blogs.

Never forget one thing in my honest opinion – Google likes Google. Matt Cutts will never say it out loud but I think the more you use the services provided by Google, the more you’re likely to get a better position in SERPs. Or at least way more visible, even for the city + keyword combination.

#1 Focus on citations and directories
Don’t focus too much on the backlinks. Backlinks are way harder to get for a local company than it seems. In my opinion, citations are much more important. Think of all the local directories in your region/city that could help you be present locally. Or newspapers that are talking about you because you just opened, stuff like this. Google Places or Yelps for the US are a must of course but it is possible to think much more ahead of this.

#2 Tell Google where you’re geographically located
This is an easy but important step. This consists of creating 2 separate files to tell Google your exact location, a KML file and a XML. The KML file will have all the information about your business, name, address, phone number and even a description. It’s easy to create in a few easy step online along with the XML file and for the Miami company I worked for, it was really efficient since the website gained several important positions in the SERPs. I strongly recommend having it. It might be difficult though if your company is located near the big city you’re targeting (and this is the case right now for the Montreal company). I have the feeling that Google shows a lot more businesses that are located near the downtown area, rather than the ones a bit further.

#3 Open up a blog related to your business
Here too, it’s easy as long as you make sure to update it regurlarly enough and with interesting content for the users. This way, you will have fresh content linked to your site through your homepage for example and it could be a nice help to get ranked.

#4 Do you have nice stuff to show ?
I’m sure you already heard about Google’s photographers. Basically, these photographers are not employed by Google but are accredited to make pictures of the inside of your business. They are usually numerous if you live in a big city. It has a cost of course, but if the competition hasn’t done it, be the first and enjoy the visibility and nice presentation in the SERPs.

#5 The reviews
Oooooh, the reviews. Users tend to look at them a LOT when using a new service. As far as I’m concerned, I’m doing it on a daily basis. Be sure to tell your customers to leave reviews about your services. Easier said than done, I know. I’ve myself been in this position and you have to be careful. Most of the clients will leave reviews on Yelp, although it’s also possible to do it via Google. Just make sure everything is clear for the client if he really is inclined to do it. When I worked for this local company in Miami, the reviews here again helped a lot to be more visible in Google.

I really hope to make it with this new “local” challenge. Hard but not impossible :) . Have you ever faced difficult challenges when working on local SEO ? What are your tips and tricks ?

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