How effective are PBNs in search engine optimization

Local SEO: Never so easy - no matter how effective!

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  • Local SEO: Never so easy - no matter how effective!
Hans Jung

Hans Jung is a business economist, technical SEO and works at One Advertising AG as an SEO consultant. In addition to the on-page optimization of shops and company pages, his interests lie in the perfect use of WordPress. Hans Jung has also made a name for himself on this topic with a series of lectures at conferences, including WordCamp and SEO Campixx.

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Local search engine optimization, wasn't there something with Google My Business? Local SEO now includes much more. Those who fully exploit the optimization potential on-page and off-page improve the ranking of local companies and branches and at the same time operate powerful marketing. Hans Jung's contribution explains in detail how effective local SEO works. Above all, he also goes into the top local ranking factors, optimization measures on your own website, local yellow pages as well as relevance and trust signals at the local level.

What does local SEO bring? If you still ask yourself this question, the following numbers should give you food for thought:

  • Half of all people looking for information with a local reference, such as the location of a shop, its opening times or the way to get there, will be there by the next day at the latest. And of all searchers, 18% become customers within a day (see Google study, free PDF
  • Local search queries not only have a high conversion rate on Google: 85% of all people who searched on Yelp become customers of a company positioned there within a week (source: Nielsen 2014,

A good findability via local search queries, whether via Google or other platforms, leads measurably to new customers and more sales. For regionally active companies there are some optimization possibilities in order to attract the attention of potential customers. This article goes into detail about this.

Location as a ranking factor

While a few months ago the (supposed) city center was the decisive factor for ranking Google, it is now the actual location of the user. The rankings vary greatly within a city depending on the GPS-supported location. If you want to test the effect from the comfort of your sofa, you can use apps for Android that manipulate the GPS location and thus fool apps into a different location.

The main advantage for regionally active companies: The competition for customers becomes so much easier because there are simply fewer competing companies in the local area. Even the second best result still attracts enough attention from the customers in the immediate vicinity.

A few months ago it was very difficult for anyone who runs a hairdressing salon in Munich-Haidhausen to be visible to customers who are only looking for “hairdresser” in Munich. In the meantime it looks completely different and the hairdressers in Haidhausen are prominently displayed in search queries from the district - individual SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) with highly relevant entries for each street block are created (see Figure 1).

The three most important criteria for local rankings:

  • relevance
  • Distance to the seeker
  • Notoriety

Different challenges depending on the company structure

In corporations with locally operating branches or branches and central administration, Google My Business entries are easier to manage than in other corporate and sales structures in which the individual businesses are managed by independent businesspeople, for example. The goal from a group perspective should be data sovereignty over the local entries, so that if the owner changes, the signals that have been developed so far can be used by the successor and are not lost. Contractual regulations create clarity here and define responsibilities.

One solution could be to transfer the Google My Business profiles to the group, which guarantees the data quality via API. As an editor, the retailer is granted access to his entry so that feedback and reviews from customers can find their way directly to the person responsible and have an impact.

Success measurement with local rank tracking

Local ranking queries and continuous tracking of the visibility development are mandatory when optimizing in Local SEO. In the meantime, some providers have also discovered the tracking of local search results pages as a topic and have included the function in their software suites. As with the generic visibility index, the values ​​determined for the local rankings are only approximations, as the results for the districts and each street are different. Overall, a rough direction can be determined in order to measure the effects of the measures.

OnPage optimizations in the source code of your own site

The first step to optimize for local search queries takes place on your own site. This ensures that the site can be used with mobile devices, that the local relevance is visible in terms of content and that the company data is prepared in a structured manner.

Mobile friendlyness

Since 80% of local search queries are carried out via smartphones or tablets, the landing pages should also be optimized for these devices. On the one hand, Google's mobile-friendly test provides information; on the other hand, simple rules apply that are increasingly relevant for desktop PCs: no Flash content (which iOS and Android simply don't support) and responsive design that adapts the display of texts, buttons and forms to the respective screen size. Pagespeed Insights is also helpful, as it highlights elements that are too tightly positioned for users on mobile devices to enable accurate navigation (see Figure 2).

Keyword combination with location

Good texts for local SEO have a regional reference, and this is also reflected in the various places on the page:

  • Title tag,
  • Hx headings
  • and IMG alt attributes

lead the respective keyword in combination with the location. Texts tailored to the location also appeal more to users who recognize that this is not a higher-level corporate page, but a location-specific business or services that are offered at this location.

Branch pages per location

The pages are completed with “NAP” data, the company name, address and telephone number - the latter ideally labeled so that they can be called on the smartphone with a click. For up to a handful of branches, the footer of the website is well suited to this, and the opening times can also be added. In the case of other branches, it is helpful to have a separate page for each location, which lists all of the branches located there. This avoids a large number of very similar pages, each with a branch, and customers can see at a glance at which branch and at which opening times they can use the services. A Google Maps map with pins including a company logo rounds off the overall picture. The bots read the structured data with the local business information:

Code sample

<itemscope itemtype=””>
<p itemprop=”name”>Firmenname</p>
itemtype = ””>
<p itemprop=”streetAddress”>Adresszeile 1</p>


<p itemprop=”addressRegion”>Region</p>

ZIP code <p itemprop=”telephone”>Telefonnummer</p>
<p itemprop="openingHours" content="Mo,Tu,We,Th 09:00-18:00">Montag-Donnerstag 9-18 Uhr</p>
<meta itemprop=”latitude” content=”LATITUDE” />
<meta itemprop=”longitude” content=”LONGITUDE” />

Pages (see Figure 3).

Danger: The Federal Network Agency withdraws local telephone numbers if the companies do not have a location on site and the calls are forwarded to a central office (!

Consistent entries in local business directories (NAP)

As a foundation, the NAP data (name, address, phone) are set on their own page, but the key to success is consistent data on other pages and local directories as well. This includes Google My Business as well as the yellow pages and Yelp.

Google My Business

Corporations should own the entries in their branches and branches and ensure that they are named strictly (Figure 4). Alternatively, a contractual regulation is sufficient to guarantee that the profile will be transferred to the successor and that the user ratings for the location will be retained in the event of a change of manager.

Even though Google accepts multiple categories for a local business, only the one category that the business specializes in should be specified here. Complete information about the business including opening times and a narrow local customer catchment area help to be positively taken into account in Google Maps entries. Professional photos are inviting and convince users. In order to provide consistent NAP data, individual call tracking or 0800 numbers are dispensed with here - and with all other entries.

Last but not least, it is checked whether the own district corresponds to the one in Google Maps (Figure 5). For those cases where local rankings are still not enough, Google has provided helpful information (

Yelp, Apple Maps, and Bing Places

On devices that use operating systems other than Android, the search results are not primarily fed from Google. Here it is important to first enter and confirm the transactions in Yelp before entries are created in Apple Maps or Bing Places, because both pull the master data from verified Yelp entries. As with Google My Business, full profiles have a positive impact on visibility.

List Local, Omnea, Uberall and Yext vs. local yellow pages

Services like List Local from 1 & 1 promise positive SEO effects at the push of a button for around 50 euros per month. What has been advertised intensively over the last few weeks via blogs and influencer marketing is somewhat reminiscent of SEO spam emails that promise links from 100 relevant directories and top rankings for little money. In terms of quality, the directories contained in the packages fluctuate greatly and the visibility of the better ones is only a fraction in a two-year comparison.

Sometimes big names like are advertised here. Their business directory is provided by, as is that of, GMX, and others. The page 1 rankings can be counted on one hand. Business directories such as and, which based on the company's address are in England, but cannot show any noteworthy rankings neither there nor here in Germany, are questionable.

The situation is different with locally relevant business directories such as, which occupy top positions in highly competitive search queries such as “real estate agents”. Such city-specific portals cannot be booked through the aforementioned providers.

The entries in navigation systems are of interest to potential customers. It is up to you whether you book via the services or use the time and make entries in relevant local business directories manually.


If you want to check the entries of your customers in various directories without the seller reporting there the next day, you can use the site.

Strengthen local relevance and signals of trust

In addition to test reports from independent bodies, positive customer ratings are the strongest signal of trust to potential new customers. Together with brand advocates from the region, they create relevance for customers and search engines. Local marketing measures strengthen the effect and also call the company to mind via offline channels.

Customer ratings

When it comes to customer ratings, you shouldn't make yourself dependent on one provider, but encourage customers to leave their opinions on different services. Depending on the industry, Google My Business, Yelp and TripAdvisor are suitable for this. Depending on the situation, this can be done after the purchase via e-mail or a business card, which is presented at the checkout. It is better to ask dissatisfied customers for personal feedback in order to avoid negative reviews in the portals.

Use customer ratings for local reference

In the case of corporations and chain stores in particular, the customer ratings can also be used to generate individual content with a local reference on the branch pages. Although an automatic mechanism is possible for this and ready-made solutions for various CMS are offered, the reviews should not be published without prior checking - in order to prevent illegal content and targeted manipulation.

Local influencers / opinion leaders

The opinion of people who are respected or involved in the district or the community is particularly important. Here it is a good idea to find points of contact and support their actions or projects. Further influencers or brand advocats can be identified through a targeted customer survey. To this end, the customer is asked open questions such as "How did you hear about us?" and the answers are recorded in a table. Over time, patterns can be recognized here and marketing activities can be expanded in a targeted manner.

Become a local opinion leader yourself

Local daily or weekly newspapers and district magazines offer themselves in different ways for self-positioning. Editorial contributions often reflect multiple perspectives on a topic or allow local experts to have their say. If you have good contacts with the local press, you can place your own name here. The buzzword content marketing can also be used in the local environment: representative surveys on controversial topics in the district or top 10 lists with the best cafés appeal to people.

Local Marketing

Local marketing can also be used for search engine optimization: street festivals in the district, youth sports teams and partnerships with other companies as well as the Chamber of Commerce can support local SEO as link sources.

Local links through events, sponsorship and partnerships

Spring and district festivals often offer opportunities to appear as a sponsor and to be remembered by the neighborhood. It is similar with theater performances and other cultural events - new types of events such as meet-ups should also be taken into account. If this results in link options, so much the better.

Overall, the local reference of the company must be established and made visible both via the content on the site and via the external signals.


Sponsor local meet-ups. The Google search helps here (Figure 6) "This group has no sponsors yet." Munich

Cross check: The top local ranking factors

Factors that make up success in offline marketing are now congruent with the most important local ranking factors relevance, distance and awareness:

Top 10 local ranking factors according to 2015.

  1. Domain authority of the page
  2. Incoming links quality and authority
  3. Name of the city in the title of the Google My Business landing page
  4. CTR on the SERP
  5. Current products / services relevant to the subject of the domain
  6. Diverse inbound links
  7. Geographical relevance of the domain page content
  8. Physical address in the city from which the search query originated
  9. Quality / authority of the structured citations
  10. City in most or all of the title tags



The relevance of a company and the local branches is made visible by OnPage signals for both customers and search engines. The local reference in the title of subpages makes the local relevance visible in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and increases the CTR (Click Through Rate) on your own page. Reviews from other customers convey trust and convince potential customers of the services.

It is helpful for the off-page signals to use the strong domain of the group and to strive for links from the Chamber of Commerce for the branch sub-page - garnished with local links for the variety of links and regional reference. Because where the quality of the backlinks counts, you won't win a prize with PBN-like company directories in local SEO either.

Distance to the seeker

Similar to real estate, the location is one of the most important criteria. The proximity to the city center or the hippest district does not matter, however, but the proximity to the customer and the number of competitors in the neighborhood. The realities of the market environment have meanwhile been transferred one-to-one to the digital. Proximity to the customer pays off and creates new market gaps online that can be exploited.


Local marketing measures promote awareness among potential customers, and this is ideally reflected both offline and online (through local backlinks and mentions). Influencer and content marketing are also potent means of attracting attention for your own company in the local environment. Here, too, offline and online marketing have aligned and ideally strengthen each other.

Conclusion: Local SEO pays off twice

Adjustments in the Google algorithm and the multitude of alternative, specialized search engines are opening up more and more locally operating companies online access to potential customers in their environment.It has never been easier for these companies to reach their target group online and get them noticed. The nice thing about it: Measures from offline marketing now have a positive effect on visibility on the Internet and online strategies such as content marketing can also be used in traditional marketing. Local SEO pays off twice through the synergy effects: Marketing budgets are used more effectively and sales through new customers are increased.