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Yelp SEO Campaign Highlights 8 Local SEO Best Practices

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Are you missing an opportunity to fully understand and take advantage of the impact of local on search engine rankings? A new whitepaper from BrightEdge shares insights into how Yelp.com optimizes for local and highlights best practices for marketers.

Yelp is a local review site with more than 30 million user-generated reviews and active communities in 15 different countries. Their reviews range over a number of verticals, including restaurants, retail, hotels and travel, real estate, education, and more. In the second quarter of 2012, they averaged 78 million unique visitors per month.

yelp-vertical-average-variation-in-rank

BrightEdge recently looked into search results across the travel, retail, auto rentals and other verticals, across five major cities. At that time, they noticed a high variation in Google search results in different locations. Based on that result, they estimated that brands “could boost traffic and revenue by as much as 30% if they close the gaps in SEO performance by ranking at the same level as their top city on each keyword across all five cities.”

Yelp’s Local Challenges Universal for Marketers

Optimizing pages for different locations isn’t easy; the challenge begins when marketers try to get an accurate snapshot of their visibility across multiple locations. SEO technology may deliver keyword ranking data at the national level, or marketers may try to qualify search terms by using the name of specific cities in their queries.

These methods don’t tell the whole story, though. BrightEdge notes, “When we compared Google results page for the search term 'burgers new york' to the page people who are actually in New York see when searching with the term “burgers” we found stark differences in rank performance.”

Yelp’s challenges are unique given the sheer size of their website, the volume of reviews and other pages they have to optimize, and the fact that they rely on ranking locally by their very nature.

Local Search Tips

Based on Yelp’s SEO campaign, BrightEdge gleaned the following local search marketing best practices:

  1. Use software that allows you to monitor rankings across multiple locations and compare local and national results. You can try to work around this visibility problem on your own, but it’s time consuming, inaccurate, and not scalable.
  2. Identify gaps and prioritize opportunities to improve your SEO across locations. Focus on cities with lower performance and identify keyword opportunities to maximize your efforts.
  3. Identify and correct landing page misalignments. These are situations where the highest ranking page in one location is targeting another location, which can be frustrating to users who click through to information that doesn’t match their needs.
  4. Understand how origin locations (where in the world people are searching from) affect the SEO performance of your popular pages.
  5. Once you understand where your pages show up locally, drill down into off and on-page SEO factors in each location to optimize for that geo.
  6. Register local businesses with search engines; fill out the online form for that engine and complete the confirmation by mail.
  7. Use online local communities like Yelp and Google+ to claim your business listing. Go deeper, into smaller local portals and community sites. Wherever possible, add photos, business hours, and other information to fill out the profile.
  8. Create local-specific landing pages to optimize for searchers in that location or searching with that location name in their query. BrightEdge recommends that “each page should be tailored with content that is specific to that location and that content should be compelling and refreshed regularly.”

Local and mobile advertising is projected to reach $24 billion in 2016. Clearly, the opportunity is huge for those who are able to overcome the challenges and discover areas of weakness to improve upon.

“Increasingly we are hearing that our customers need more robust and scalable local search insights,” said Jim Yu, CEO of BrightEdge. “We are thrilled to be able to work with Yelp, a leader in local services for both consumers and business, to share insights about best practices for local search.”


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