Founder and President at Whitespark
Darren founded Whitespark in 2005 as a web design and development company, however, his passion and curiosity for all things local search led to a shift in focus in 2010, and ultimately to what the company is today. These days, Whitespark specializes in local search software and services and is one of the most respected and cited in the industry.
Darren has been working on the web for over 19 years and loves everything about local SEO. He leads research initiatives such as the Local Search Ranking Factors survey and the Local Search Ecosystem. He is a regular contributor to search marketing publications, and speaks at conferences around the globe.
Tactic that has had the biggest impact on Darren’s success
Get qualified leads on autopilot
Result if you follow the steps in Darren’s session
Getting prospects that are most likely to buy in to you and spend less time doing so.
Full session with video, notes, audio and discussion inside EHQ Club. Learn more
Expert session snapshot
That local pack is driven by five primary things. So there is, first, obviously, you have to have a listing on Google, you’re not going to rank in a local pack unless your business has a listing on Google and some businesses aren’t eligible for listings.
Let’s say you run an e commerce store. You don’t really focus on you know, local businesses. You’re getting business from everywhere. You’re not really eligible for a listing, it’s not what the local results are for. So you have to be eligible and you get your listing on Google, then you have to support it with a foundation of what are called citations.
So citations are business listing. So because for example, yellowpages.com, yelp.com, Facebook, you know, your listing on super pages, there’s all of these sites out there that are specifically about getting your business listed. And so you’ve got to have listings across all of those sites.
If you’re brand new business, you’re in a beautiful position where you don’t have to worry about your information being accurate, but that is a factor. So if you’ve established your business, you have all these listings out there where the information is inaccurate, then you have to clean that up and make sure that everything is accurate, and you want to be distributed.
In the business listing citations realm, there’s like two factors. It’s like just being listed and being accurate. Another huge factor in local results are reviews. So you want to make sure that you’re getting reviews on Google, your customers are leaving you reviews on Facebook reviews, on Yelp reviews on Yelp.
So when you’re getting reviews from a variety of sources, that also really helps your rankings, tells Google that you are a prominent and popular business.
The fourth thing is your website. Your website should be optimized specifically for local. And so it doesn’t take much, you have to have a lot of good content on your website to really write about every product and service and go into detail about that. And make sure that you’re optimizing, you know, the few things by mentioning your city and missing those specific key phrases and key phrases related to your primary key phrase.
So as long as you have that good topical relevance and lots of content, those are really the key things you can get into the weeds with some technical SEO, but I’m not going to get into those weeds.
And then the other, the fifth factor is links. Is anybody linking to your website? So getting a lot of people a link to website. So this is, you’re getting into more traditional SEO things rather than specifically local SEO, but getting people a link to your website. There’s another huge factor.
So those are the five things. And then I think what we could do is we could look at each thing individually. We’ll talk about how do you do these specific things.
Yeah, that sounds great. I think that’s a really good overview. And there’s a few things to be thinking about here. And it sounds like you know, you’ve got to have a lot of content on your website, and maybe a few other things that is going to take more than, you know, just a one-off setup as well.
Yeah. So maybe I’ll just kind of go through them one at a time. I’ll talk about the, you know, that one specific aspect. And then you let me know if you have any questions, and then we’ll go to the next aspect.
So starting with the Google My Business listing. So Google, you just go to Google My Business, create an account and register your business and then you’ll have to verify it.
So typically, that’s by phone verification. They’ll call your business manager. It gives you a pen, you put in there and now your business is verified. Now you have a listing on Google that you can actually optimize.
There’s not a lot you can do to optimize, the real main thing is choosing the primary category properly. There are lots of categories you can choose in Google. And so that primary category is the big thing that will actually affect your rankings. And so it’s really important to choose that one properly.