In the second instalment of the Where 2 Get It Marketing Glossary Series we are taking a look at Local SEO. While we write about local search quite a bit on our local marketing blog (see our 5 Tips to Help Your Business Dominate Local Search), in this series we aim to highlight key terms or phrases that may be familiar to many in the location-based marketing industry, but are perhaps more confusing to those with less of a technical marketing background. Local SEO is obviously a large component of an effective location-based marketing strategy. So let’s get started!
In order to build a glossary of terms that relate to local SEO, we must first define local SEO itself and explain how it differs from broader SEO. While a good local SEO strategy is built on the same elements that apply to broader SEO -- on-page factors, backlinks, robust social profiles, indexing -- there are a few unique pieces that make local SEO a bit more nuanced. For simplicity’s sake, we can break these nuances into three main areas which will then inform our list of local SEO glossary terms.
Local SEO hinges on the claiming of your business’ local listings on location-based platforms like Google Places, Foursquare, Yelp, etc.
One of the most important actors in boosting local SEO rankings is the number of citations your business has online.
Another important contributing factor to your business’ local SEO rankings is the quantity and quality of online reviews for your business on listing and social review sites like Google Places, Foursquare, Yelp, etc.
Let’s dive into some of these terms.
This term refers to exactly what it sounds like: literally taking control of your online profiles on all of the various online directories and review platforms. It’s as simple as this: If you do not claim your profiles on social discovery and review sites like Google Places, Foursquare, Yelp and even Facebook, then you do not own your brand’s online identity. Furthermore, if you do not own your brand’s online identity, you cannot expect to rank well in local SEO. For more information on why claiming is so important to local SEO rankings, check out “4 Reasons Why Claiming Matters and 3 Tips for a Successful and Sustainable Claiming Strategy” on our Local Marketing blog.
As you’ve probably experienced in your own web search activities, Google reserves a special section on search engine result pages (or SERPs) for local businesses that match a particular search criteria. In fact, often times these listings also include a map. Google collects data such as reviews, business hours, photos and more from local directories and various websites and combines this information with what you enter in Google Places during the claiming process.
A citation refers to any place online in which your business’ NAP appears in the same format that it appears on your business’ local listing. See below for a definition of NAP.
An acronym that refers to your business’ Name, Address & Phone number. As mentioned above, any place that contains your business’ NAP in the same format that it appears on your local listing is considered a citation.
Just for good measure, here are a few more technical terms.
Essentially, here is what this bias used to look like in practice: If a consumer searches for “burgers in Chicago,” Google’s results will be biased towards burger joints nearest to the center of the city, in this case Chicago. What does Google consider the center of the city? It’s easy to test; just search for the city in Google Maps and look where Google puts the pin!
While this is no longer a heavily-weighted factor in Google’s local search result algorithm, it’s still worth noting in order to highlight the importance of the other factors detailed in this article. Things like claiming local listings, ensuring accuracy of NAPs and having lots of positive reviews and citations constitute the organic ranking factors which have a more prominent effect on local SEO than centroid alone.
Schema Local Markup
Schema.org is an initiative launched by Bing, Google and Yahoo! to “create and support a common set of schemas for structured data markup on web pages.” By using Schema Markup, local businesses allow search engines to display important information such as hours, testimonials, reviews, and even menus easily in search results.
Keyhole Markup Language
KML, as it is often referred to, is a file format used to display geographic data in platforms such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile. Including a KML file on your website is a good way to ensure that your website is sending accurate and legitimate location signals to search engines like Google.
If you missed the first instalment of this series in which we looked at some high-level location-based and mobile marketing terms, you can read that here. Be sure to check back soon for the next instalment in Where 2 Get It’s Marketing Glossary Series!