The expert panel for the “Advanced Optimization Tips for Google+ Local” webinar provided all attendees with a wealth of local search tips. Topics discussed included the importance of GMB signals, Google’s latest guideline update, landing page selection, and increasing conversions.
The hot topic of this webinar was obviously going to be Google’s update to their guidelines which everyone weighed in on. Earlier this week, Google stated that descriptors in the business name are now a violation of terms. Panelist Phil Rozek pointed out that this could be very problematic for business owners who haven’t heard of these updated terms and will make citation consistency a nightmare for local SEOs. For the most part, the panelists widely agreed that anyone with a descriptor in their business name should just wait to see how Google enforces these new guidelines before making any serious or drastic changes.
Google’s guideline update also spoke on category selection. The group pretty much agreed across the board that as long as you use Google’s categories correctly, your listing won’t be in jeopardy. But how does one use Google’s categories correctly? Businesses should choose the most specific, relevant categories for their business. For example, a repair shop that only services transmissions should use the category “Transmission Shop” and not “Auto Repair Shop.” For more help on category selection, use Moz’s category tool or Mike Blumenthal’s category tool.
The “home page vs. city landing page” debate was also presented to the group. The answer, the group said, is situational and varies from case to case. For businesses with only one location, the home page should always be used. For businesses with more than one location, separate city-landing pages should be used. This is especially true if the site has a good internal link structure, as well as good inbound links.
Now what about increasing conversions? Susan Hallam says that using a strong AdWords campaign with your local search campaign is one of the best ways to increase conversions for local businesses. Nearly everyone else on the panel mentioned reviews as being a great tactic for all of the obvious reasons. Not only are reviews now a ranking factor, but searchers use reviews as a ranking factor of their own in using them to choose where they are going to spend their money. Having a fully optimized GMB profile also made the list. Quality photos, a good description, and responses to both good and bad reviews enhance the user experience of your GMB page.
These were the most important topics that were discussed in the BrightLocal webinar. While Google continues to throw curve balls, using the best practices and creating a great user experience are still moving the meter most.