Whether you are looking to improve the visibility of your business, or help others improve theirs, having an understanding of how SEO (Search Engine Optimization) works is essential. Why? It allows you to optimize your business so that it shows up in search engine results and puts your brand in front of people looking for your services.
By becoming a local SEO expert, you can take your business from where it is now, to where you want it to be.
This easy guide was made to give you the information you need to improve your lead generation and customer retention. I’ll show you how to utilize techniques that are working now in digital marketing.
I’ve also included strategies that I’ve personally created and tested over the years. Local SEO industry tactics that I’ve learned and know that work from applying them to real life businesses during my Digital Marketing Career.
Here is what you will learn from this Local SEO Guide:
- How to get clients within your own community.
- Discover and master over 200+ Local Search Engine Optimization factors that you’ll need to rank you and/or your clients on the FIRST page of Google. Don’t worry, it’s easy!
- Discover how to rank any local business on the 1st page of Google within 3 months or less, using my Local SEO Marketing Strategy.
- Learn what Google’s search engine likes.
- Master how to optimize your web pages according to Google’s SEO practices.
- Learn why we do SEO and why local Businesses need it – or they will one day close (The Amazon effect).
- Master easy Local Search Engine Optimization techniques.
What is Local SEO
Local SEO marketing involves techniques of local search optimization.
Local SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the method that website owners use for search engines like Google and Bing. Additionally, local businesses need Local Citations. Local citations are simply where your company is mentioned on other websites and places found on the Internet. Local citations are used heavily in helping you to rank in local search results, and tell it what your website is all about.
Yet, Local SEO is just the beginning. Local businesses also need a strong social media presence. For example, restaurants use social media techniques on platforms like Instagram to show specials, events and engagement objects like videos to create a strong social media presence.
Local SEO Techniques
If your customers are local, they need a local SEO expert like YOU. There are plenty of businesses that are offering what people want to purchase. Yet, as a local SEO expert, you can help businesses get ahead of their competitors. By putting them in front of potential consumers looking for their services. Here are a few techniques to help you do just that.
Step 1. Conduct Keyword research
The first step to ranking your clients’ websites on Google, is ranking each page of their website for a keyword per each individual page. Most local SEO experts don’t understand how to optimize websites for what Google likes. They don’t understand that a website is like a book. You have to plan and strategize how you’re going to write your content and you must give Google what it’s looking for, which is relevancy.
You see, Google’s number one objective is to give people who search online answers to their questions as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is why it’s crucial for you to do keyword research. It will give you what people are actually searching for online. I like to use SEMRush.com for keyword research. SEMRush.com gives me the keyword data and relevant keywords to what I am looking for. This allows me to have my writers create content in a way that will make the search engines see the services that are most relevant.
Use keyword research to find additional phrases that can serve your brand/community, and investigate your competition online for their keywords. Wherever you find a gap in your own content compared to the top-ranking sites, expand accordingly.
Use locally relevant content to rank higher in searches around the Local Pack. The Local Pack is what search engines show as the local businesses in the area related to your search location. Examples would include posts like “The 5 Best Restaurants in West Palm Beach,” which could answer long-tail queries such as, “What are the best restaurants in West Palm Beach.” This should be one of the SEO goals for businesses to appear since 93% of the local pack appear on the first page of Google. This puts local businesses at a major advantage.
Having content that’s locally focused can improve your reputation and range in your area. This requires more than doing a find-and-replace on the city name to create hundreds of basically duplicate pages. You can start with templates, but make sure you’re including enough customized text, images and data to be locally relevant.
Step 2. Complete a Competitor Gap Analysis
To get a more in-depth look at your competition, you’ll need to perform a detailed review. Examine their performance in every area in this checklist, then out-do them. The goal is to be the least imperfect with your local SEO. Get started by researching your competitors
How To Research Your Competitors:
Focus on looking at the top 3 sites website from the search engine results page. You only want to focus on thest because that’s where you want to eventually show up. The goal is to do everything they are doing. Find the flaws or what you might think is least imperfect and make your content better. The first thing I like to start is with onsite optimization. Here are the things I look for:
- Site speed
Think about it like this, Google spends 2 billion dollars a month to have their spiders crawl millions of websites. Their goal is simple, to organize all the information in the world and get the most relevant results for the person who is using their search engine.
A search is conducted and results come up within milliseconds. Imagine that! Someone conducts a search, it goes through Google’s algorithm and returns the most relevant results. This means the faster your site is, the higher you will rank. It’s one of over 200+ factors that Google looks at when giving the most relevant results. You can use wpengine.com or gtmetrix.com to see how your competitor’s website is performing and compare yours.
- Onsite SEO
Like I mentioned earlier, it’s all about being least imperfect. Onsite SEO is key to being relevant on Google. When Google returns the most relevant information, they look at different pages on the web and they see what they are about. So, making your webpages search engine friendly is crucial to getting ahead of your competitors. Make it easy for “crawlers” to index your website as quickly as possible. What keywords your competitors are using and how are they incorporating it into their content? The intent of the content is very important.
Backlinks are links from other websites to yours. Here is how it looks in action:
*Joel to Provide example*
These links are crucial to ranking above your competitors! Backlinks tell search engines what content is valuable and credible. Think of it almost like voting for your website. The more backlinks you get, the higher you will rank on search engines.
Yet, getting people to share your website on their page it’s much more than just having a website and having people link to it. You have to create useful content that is engaging and has people wanting to stay on your page. Create valuable content like infographics and videos that other website owners will like to share. Look at how your competitors are engaging with their audience and what they find valuable enough to share.
- The Content Gap Analysis
This concept is simple. Analyze your content against your competitors. I use SEOToolSet to help me analyze the title, header tags, # of times each keyword is presented, the readability of the article, and other important attributes that help with search engine optimization.
Step 3. NAP – Schema Format
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number and is important when ranking using Local SEO. Always make sure that your NAP is correct and listed consistently across your entire online presence. NAP is important because it helps search engines like Google validate that you are a legitimate business. It also ensures that you show up for geo-targeted searches.
The schema format is a part of your website that helps search engines understand it better. It’s basically telling the search engines exactly what your business information is. Here is a quick breakdown of how to optimize your Local SEO with schema:
- Don’t display your NAP in an image because search engines can’t crawl them.
- Include your:
- Company’s Full Name
- Company’s Full Address
- Company’s Phone Number
- List the NAP the same way wherever you put it online.
- List your company’s NAP in local directories and on your Google My Business Page.
Step 4. Reviews & Your Client’s Reputation
Online reviews are meant for the customers and potential prospects to interact with each other about a business. Over 88% of consumers trust online reviews. So, it’s important for businesses to utilize them to optimize their local SEO.
According Google My Business, “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.” However, you should pave the way for clients to leave reviews about you.
- Persuade Customers to Leave a Review
It’s important to have a review system in place to boost local SEO, but there is more to it than just telling people to post something online. One of the most popular things to do to grow your reviews is offering incentives. When you give customers some type of reward they are more likely to post reviews. An example would be 10% their next purchase or they will be included in some type of giveaway. Just be sure that it follows the guidelines for the website they are leaving a review on. You can also get their email or SMS information and thank them for being customers before asking them to leave a review.
Once you have the incentive or contact information, put the URL to your review page in visible places of your business like on tabletops, receipts, your website, anywhere you think it will be seen.
- Keep The System Simple
Don’t make it too complicated for people to leave reviews. You want to make the process as simple and quick as possible so they don’t have to think too much. If you want them to fill out a survey, make sure they don’t have to write too much and have more options to select an answer.
- Reply to your Customers’ Reviews
Replying to your customers reviews shows that you care. It also gives another type of incentive for people to leave reviews online, because they know it will be seen and read. That way, people won’t feel like they’re wasting their time. You are also increasing engagement when you respond to your customer’s reviews. This adds to your user generated content, shows the search engine review that your are active, and ultimately boost your local SEO. It’s been shown that businesses that respond to their customer’s reviews not only improve their local SEO but are more likely to be favored by search engines like Google.
Link Building and Local Citations
Local citations are the mentioning of your business on another website and will usually feature your NAP. Google uses local citations also called business citations to verify the legitimacy of a business. So, it’s important that your information is listed correctly. Local citations are commonly listed on review websites and directories like Yelp, Google’s Local Pack, Tripadvisor and Yellowpages.com.
Step 5. Building Your Local Citations
Have you ever had someone approach you, offering to increase your business’s visibility online? What most of them are basically doing is submitting your business information to tons of directories online. This can get overwhelming quickly and actually have a negative impact on your business. Initially, you want to find the most important directories to submit your information to. Even so, it can take hours to build your local citations making sure that they stay accurate and organized.
If you want to establish yourself as a local SEO expert and save tons of hours on creating local citations and link building, then using software like Brightlocal.com is going to add a lot of value to your SEO arsenal.
This software helps you create an effective strategy to build your local citations so that they show up on the first page of search engines. It keeps your local citations organized, accurate and local SEO focused, saving you hours on building your local citations. It’s easily scalable and let’s you submit multiple citations easily while keeping it all easily manageable in one place. Basically, it helps you work smarter and not harder.
Getting Started as a Local Expert
Now that you know how local SEO and link building works, what is your first move?
Step 6. Create a Contract
Create a contract. After a contract is signed and initial payment is made, send a company profile document to the client. They will need to fill it out and send it back to you. Here is the form my team and I created for our Digital Marketing agency – Think Freely Marketing Group.
Be sure to then create an account with the necessary software and review sites needed to start building your links.
After you get the company profile, here is what you do…. Put everything you just read about into action! Seriously, what’s the point of using all of the valuable information I just gave you if you don’t get out and use it?
Here at The HUB Palm Beach, we use a “Learn and Do” approach. Why? Because it’s one of the most effective ways to learn new techniques in order to grow your business. During each one of our workshops, we teach and then jump right into real life hands on activities so that people can start to apply what they learn instantly. So, I want you to do the same thing with the information I have laid out for you in this article. With my Local SEO Guide, you’ll be able to optimize your business so that it shows up in search engine results and puts your brand in front of people looking for your services.
By applying my 6 steps today, you can take your business from where it is now, to where you want it to be.