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Advanced local search: reviews, offbeat citations, and PPC integration
  • Nov 23, 2020
  • 2 minutes

Advanced local search: reviews, offbeat citations, and PPC integration

I'll cover some advanced tips and tricks that will help you as a business owner get a leg up on the competition. Before we begin, let's summarize the three most important elements in the local ranking algorithm that make or break your chance at being included high in the so-called "7-pack" of local business listings:

  1. Citations. These are the lifeblood of your listings and act like votes of credibility for your business. Citations are to Local SEO, what inbound links are to organic search engine optimization.
  2. Reviews. The search engines are still largely indifferent to the positive or negative sentiment of user reviews on your business listing. However, you can be sure that your prospective customers won't be. Having a healthy number of reviews is a definite ranking factor.
  3. User Content. User Content refers to the addition of extraneous user-generated content such as Google's MyMaps feature to your business listing. You can find user content at the very bottom of your Google Places Page.

Advanced Citation Building

I've got three golden tips for you to build citations that your competitors won't build, can't build, or don't know to exist.

  1. Build Off-Beat Citations. Include your full business name, address, phone number, and URL on as many online sites as possible. Unstructured citations can appear from any web page on the Internet that contains this data.
  2. Build Citations that Appear as Enhanced Content. Add pictures to sites such as Panoramio, and consider setting up an inexpensive webcam as a citation.
  3. Research and Replicate your Competitor's Citation Profile. Do this the old fashioned way by using Excel to record all the common citations your competitors have. It's easier, of course, to use nifty tools like Whitespark Local Citation Finder.

Creating a Review Building Program

If your competitors happen to be just as savvy as you are at building the right citations, then it comes down to your business being able to provide better customer service -- and then asking your customers for the right reviews.

Here are three tips to remember when creating a review program:

  1. Get reviews from as many sources as possible. This means going beyond reviews on Google Places to business profiles on sites, such as Angie's ListYelpBrownbookMerchantCircleShopCity.com, etc. Eventually, these reviews will get indexed by Google Places and will help you rank better.
  2. Incentivize reviews and ask customers to leave reviews. I don't see a problem in offering a customer a coupon or incentive to leave a review if the customer had genuinely enjoyed conducting business with you. Adding calls-to-action and making it easier to add reviews are effective ways to increase traction with customers.
  3. Respond to Negative Reviews. Google Places has recently launched a feature that allows business owners to respond to reviews left on their Google Places page profile. Use this feature wisely and abide by Google's review response policies to keep your place page in good standing.

Integrating PPC with Local SEO

Have you noticed PPC ads that have an address and map associated with them? To stand out from the crowd in your local service areas, associate your Google Places account with your Google AdWords campaign to boost click-through rates, and attract more qualified customers. To enable this "ad extension," simply go into your Google AdWords campaign settings and associate your Google places account with the particular campaign you're working on. 

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