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Powerful Strategies To Increase Your Local Business Online Visibility

In Conversation with Jens Rhoades

For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Jens Rhoades, president of Floodlight SEO who has been a respected leader in the digital marketing industry for 20 years.
Jens divulged his vast knowledge of how businesses can optimize their local SEO strategy — offering detailed tips and strategies sure to help businesses increase their online visibility.
Tune into this episode for some profound insights!

Having a review that said things went wrong, but they made it right. That’s actually a stronger review than everything went perfectly right.

Jens Rhoades
President of Floodlight SEO

Hello Everyone my name is Ranmay, your host for tonight at e-coffee with experts. Today, we have a very special guest, Mr. Jens Rhoades, from Floodlight SEO. We are really pleased and honored to have him on our show tonight. Mr. Jens is the president of Floodlight SEO and has been in the digital marketing industry for more than 15 years now. Today we are going to discuss more about SEO local strategy and we are anticipating hearing a lot of insights about that from Jens. So, before we move forward, I would like you to introduce yourself to our audience today, and we’ll pick it up from there.

All right. I am Jens Rhodes and I have been doing this since 2003, so I guess I’m going to have to update over 15 years to 20. But yeah, it’s been a long time since I’ve done it before. Before I was in Internet marketing, I was a high school English teacher and one of the things that I taught was media literacy and propaganda. How people make other people think and do what they want them to. And one day I took a sick day and I was bored by 10:00 in the morning or so and started looking around, just playing around on the internet, and came across an ad for how to make money online with little ads. It was just a course on Google AdWords and affiliate marketing. So I just did what it said, and by the end of the day, I’d made like $9 in commissions and I thought Wow, this is amazing. I started down the affiliate path and then things kind of grew from there. Within a few months, I was making more as an affiliate marketer than I was as a teacher, and then a few years into that. I started working with clients just because as an affiliate marketer, you don’t get as much social interaction, you don’t feel as good about what you’re doing as you do when you’re teaching. But with client consulting, you help people and make their lives better. It’s psychologically much more enriching so I’ve been doing that ever since.

What change do you see in the behavior of local businesses these days?

If you take a long view, the changes are almost always more and more willing and eager to take their marketing online. When I started the challenge was convincing a company that they needed a website and then taking it further into SEO. You know, they had to be taught what that was even. Now, everybody knows that they need a website, to the point where even companies that don’t use their websites at all have a website. They know what SEO is. The problem is there’s just a glut of bad companies out there that do SEO or claim they do. And so, and the trick really is standing apart and not getting painted with that same brush because everybody who owns a business, receives dozens of emails every day, every week about SEO and how to do it. So, it’s changed from this thing, Nah! Stay away from me, that’s not good stuff. There’s some of that but everything is getting easier and easier to sell because people know they need it and they might not like that they need it, but they know they need it because they know, that’s where they go to look for goods and services as the Internet. So, it’s very easy to convince them that if they’re not there thinking that they need to be. More recently, COVID and the lockdowns have changed businesses a lot. A lot of businesses have trouble finding the people to fill the jobs because for a long time, people were getting unemployed and it was a good package for them. So, it was a trick to do that and it hasn’t recovered in a lot of industries. Like, right now in America, there are more jobs and more people working in America than there have been at any time in the past. So, unemployment is really low, but you still have this problem, especially in like the trades were.

People are just not able to find people to work for the crews, it’s a challenge. And so, for a while, the conversation was going in a direction where, like the normal conversation is, we can get you more business, and in the response to that was, that’s great, but are you going to get me guys to do the work? Because I can’t handle any more business than what I currently have and so that’s easing up a tiny bit now, thankfully. But in some niches, it’s still really hard. There are still going to be winners and losers so SEO was still pretty essential for that.

The awareness has increased overall during all these years but again, retaining them it’s a difficult task if you’re not up to the mark in terms of delivering the results that you promised at the time of getting them onboarded.

Yeah, retaining clients is actually the most important thing for an SEO company, at least for my company it is. I’m not a brilliant salesman, I’m just not and so when I get a client, I have to keep them for a long time. Otherwise, I wouldn’t stay in business. So, I’ve got clients that have stayed with me for over a decade, and the only reason that happens is that I don’t have long-term commitments. If ever you want to part ways, that’s very easy to do. So, I have to perform otherwise I’d be out of business.

Okay, great. Since we’re talking about selling, right? So, before getting a client onboard or if you’re pitching, what is the back-end homework that you or your team does in terms of the research, and their visibility online? So how do you go about preparing a pitch or really getting them on board? What does the entire process look like?

Well, we do some technical analysis, obviously, as we look at the competitive landscape. The strength of the people that are winning right now compared to the strength of the clients or the prospects at that point having signed. Yeah. And then, we compare them just so that we kind of get an idea of where they’re at, where they want to go, and how tough it’s going to be to get there, and once that’s kind of figured out, we can use that and combine that with the keywords that we want to go after. And we have an all-keywords approach. A lot of SEO companies are like, we’ll do a 10-keyword package or 15 keywords, and that seems false to me, I distrust it. It doesn’t seem realistic to me. If you do SEO for those ten keywords you could rank for more keywords just by having the right content on the page because all of those links that come in and all of the work that goes into the SEO, it’s kind of like a tie that raises all of the keywords, all of the boats and so it seems like wasting time, wasting money to artificially extract that. But the other thing we do to kind of prepare for it really is some research to determine if we should be working with the company or if SEO is indeed the right solution. Because one of the things that we’ve been hitting now is that people come to us and they want SEO. But we look at their site, we look and there are things they need to kind of take care of before SEO and that really becomes a benefit to them. And so because we know more than them about this whole thing. It kind of falls on us to say, you know, pump the brakes there. It’s time for you to do this first, this first, and this first. Then you come back and then we’ll talk about SEO because the worst thing that you can do is sell to somebody who shouldn’t buy. Right. And so, because we know more, we kind of have to be the people that decide that. Otherwise, it’s a bad situation. It’s unethical. These people need help and they don’t know what they don’t know. And so, you know, sometimes the answer is not SEO for you, not now. But the other thing we look at is its reputation. We do some research on it. We read the reviews. We do some analysis if they’ve been written about to see if there are any complaints about them, rip off reports or scout and the whole point of that is what we do to make sites more popular. It’s just like the whole point of what we do. We just make them more popular. We have a bigger deal and they make more money. But there are some companies that are just bad and it is not good to spread them out more and make them more powerful if they’re not providing a good service. I’ve done that a few times, and it’s got to be because, like I was working with this one company, I won’t name but they were a renewable energy company that sold windmills to farmers.

Okay.

And their whole business model was, you go out and you ask. They went out and sold it. They went to farmers and they said, okay, now let’s put up a Windmill on your property. You’ll own it 100% and it’ll generate this much electricity and you’ll get checks from the government because of all the surplus that you sell back. And your entire operation here is going to be basically free. They’re not going to pay any energy for any of it. They’re sold to a whole bunch of farmers. When I found out I stopped working with them. But I found out a few months after that their business model was actually to go and sell to the farmers and then take the money and use it to buy expensive cars. They put up one windmill to show that they had the ability to do that. And even that one didn’t work. When I think of all the people that my marketing hurt, that’s a tough pill to swallow. And so it kind of behooves us to do that due diligence and make sure that we’re working for people that should be worth it.

The businesses should be legit.

Yeah.

Right. But it’s very important, one of the earlier points that you mentioned, kind of brings me back to my experience in terms of dealing with clients. But, you know, you first of all, educate them, and then after that as well we want our online business at the end of the day. But what we can do as the experts from space is to educate them and then make their final call is their thing. But we should at least educate them. And the fact which you mentioned, I am sure a lot of businesses are taking this up seriously. But, you know, we have a long way to walk before we achieve that complete transparency. Doing marketing SEO for legit businesses. That’s a very good point that you’ve raised and a very good example actually, farmers buying that because of your marketing. So yeah, that’s a very good point, I really appreciate that. Great. So, since we’re talking about local SEO, what do you feel is the most important, local search ranking factor if you were to name one?

I am going to complicate things a little bit. It kind of depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. For a lot of companies, maps are where it’s at Google Maps, because, whenever you do a search for let’s say a local plumber or a chiropractor, you get that map packed with the three local ones. And the most important factor to me is proximity. Google, every time they make an algorithm change to the Google local algorithm, it weighs proximity and more and more. When Google maps came out, it used to be able to relatively easily dominate an entire metro with one listing in Google my business, our Google business profile, or whatever they’re calling it now. So, every time they come up with an algorithm change, the proximity and the radius of where you can rank in that map because there are only three of them. It’s just lower and lower and lower and lower. And it’s on purpose because they don’t want that to be dominated by one company. They want that to show what’s near you. So, if you’re a local business, that can pull a lot of content, a lot of business from your immediate vicinity, think like a five-mile radius, then Google Maps is going to be incredibly important to you and right now the thing that’s moving the needle the most for Google Maps is reviews and that’s annoying. Reviews used to not matter so much; it wasn’t a ranking factor at all. If there are people watching this who talked to me years ago and they hear me say that reviews are now the biggest ranking factor, they’ll probably be like you said, reviews weren’t a ranking factor and that’s true. I did say that. I was very wrong or it’s just the way it is. Google is continually trying to make ranking factors based on things that you, the market, or you, the business owner cannot control. That’s where everything that they’re moving is going. So, every time they come up with a change to the algorithm, it’s a signal that the business owner or marketers have less control over it than they used to. Like when we started doing SEO, if you wanted to rank for a keyword, all you had to do was put that keyword on the page a million times and Google would read it, say, oh, wow, this is a Minneapolis plumber,5000 times. It must really be about a Minneapolis plumber. It just trusted us and it was dumb. And we were greedy. Then obviously that stopped working because Google got wiser. Then it was like, oh, okay, well, we could make a billion links that all have Minneapolis plumber as their anchor text, what the link says and Google would be like wow, that’s amazing and that would rank us and then they take that away. Now it’s more about what the pages that link to you, what they say and what are the links that come to them say. You can see where Google is going with this and know that you can kind of anticipate what’s coming down the pipe next. It’s just where the things that are in our control and how they can look at things that are outside of our control. Then ultimately, how can you get that control before they make what you’re doing currently obsolete? So, back to the question, the most important thing right now is proximity, because that’s out of your control. The businesses just are where they are and reviews because that’s out of your control unless you’re willing to make fake reviews, which some people are, but it’s hard to get them to stick. I know a lot of guys who wear a black hat of SEO. They’ll generate a lot of fake reviews for their clients and they’re having trouble because Google is getting smarter and smarter about that. But ultimately, the way to do that really is just to automate your review-getting process. Make sure that everybody gets asked for a review. Ask them to be specific and what you had them do because the more specific they are, the more they go into depth about what you did for them, and the more that you’re going to get the real semantically related reviews to your goods and services into your reviews. And that’s going to flip that switch. So, that’s huge. Aside from that, clearly listing all of your services and having that be mirrored on your site so that Google can see that there’s a high correlation, making sure that your name and address, and phone number are matching across all of your properties and the way to do it is to go to Google and to enter in, your name, address, and phone number and make your Google listing because Google is going to have a specific way to do it. And it’s not necessarily the way that the post office does it listed and it’s not necessarily the way that you would be listed. And so, but in the end, if you want to change it to what you want, it’s just going to revert back to how Google wants that format to be for that address and so get what they say and then propagate that across all of your other properties. Put that on your social media, put that on your website, and put that on all of your citations so that it matches exactly because Google doesn’t like ambiguity. And so, and aside from that, one of the next things that are really important right now is the user interactions. Do people interact with your theory list? Do they do the search? Do they pick you? Do they click on the thing? Do they click to call? Do they click for driving directions? Things like that. There are ways to spoof all of that, but it’s very, very complicated and a little bit risky. So, if you’re working with somebody like if you’re working with your own kind of listing that you own for your business or for a lead gen property or something like that, you can play kind of a little bit fast and loose with that because if it gets penalized, you know it’s yours. You know, like you’re presumably aware of the risk and you’re tolerating it. But if you’re working with somebody else’s business, then unless they’re very aware of the risks-to-reward ratio. You have to play it safe with them. Not ranking quite as high is much better than ranking super high and then having it all taken away because you broke Google’s terms of service. Do you know what I mean? That’s their livelihood. We can’t mess with that.

Right. So, picking up from what you mentioned, reviews, obviously are very critical and important for a local business, more so. Any strategy that you follow at Floodlight, to help your clients get more reviews?

Yeah, okay. So, the way to do it is to automate it because people hate asking for reviews, and the reason is that we’re scared. Like, I don’t want to ask you for a review because what if you don’t really like me? What if you don’t think it was great? And that hurts my ego. Just the idea that I could ask you and you could feel like I don’t want to do that. That hurts my ego to the point where it shuts it down and you aren’t able to do it. Very few people can overcome that kind of thing or they have to have a lot of confidence in themselves and, you know, like a kind of natural salesman. They can do it a little bit better, but most people can’t do that just because their ego gets in the way. So, the way to do it is to completely remove yourself from the process. So, what we do and there are a lot of systems that do this, but what we do is we have a system where our clients enter the names, cell phones, and emails of all of their clients when they’re done doing the work and you just enter their information and then you’re done. Then the system takes care of everything after that and it emails and texts them, says, hey, thanks for working with us and we’d love to get your feedback. People have no problem giving feedback, that’s not a big ask. So, it takes them to a page and they say, how would you rate us on a scale of 5 stars? Then what we do is, let’s say the client has a 4.2-star rating, right? Well, we don’t want to have anything that’s a 4-star or under get put out publicly, because even a 4-star review, which is pretty good, it’s going to take that 4.2-star review rating and drag it down a little bit. But if they have like 3.5 Star review rating will allow 4 stars to go through and so you would say, okay. How would you rate us? And let’s say they’re random 5 stars. Then they’re redirected to a page that says, Great, it would mean the world to us. If you give that feedback publicly. Here’s a link to all of our review sites. Then they can go do that and get reviews from people who like them. And then if it is, let’s say they get a 2-star review. Right? Well, then that goes to a page that says, Oh, no. We always try for a 5-star experience. Tell us what went wrong so that we can fix it and make sure it doesn’t happen to somebody else. That way, if somebody had a bad experience with you, you might not know that. Right. And the problem is they’re going to go and vent their spleen publicly because that’s what people do, people complain. In the absence of a system, the only reviews they get left more than half the time are going to be bad reviews even for a good business, because that’s just human nature. If they get what they expected, they feel no compulsion to tell the world about it. But if they didn’t get what they expected in a bad way, well, then they want to tell the world because they’re on a crusade to save the world from your bad business, even though they might be crazy. Then what happens is happy reviewers get asked to be left publicly. Negative critical reviews get private feedback that then you can address and turn it around so that it can become a 5-star review because half the time though, they have a legitimate concern and you would want that to be fixed as the business owner. That’s just how people are. We are proud of our businesses. We want them to be right. So, that’s what I would say is our strategy for getting reviews. It’s important because I think how people make decisions is really simple. I don’t care what you have. If they need a thing like they need a plumber, they need a chiropractor, they need whatever it is. Somebody is going to get paid. Somebody is going to get that job. So, all you have to do to get that job is to get in front of them and then show them, yeah, we do that thing that you need and then put enough evidence in front of them that other people have made the decision that they’re thinking of making and look back on it positively and they thought it was a good experience because we don’t know anything about the stuff we need. Like, I don’t know enough about plumbing to hire a competent plumber based on plumbing knowledge. I just don’t know enough about the human body to hire a chiropractor based on their strategies. All I know is I need what I need. These people made the same decision and did it. So, reviews change the color of your stars. They do. They just fix it.

Right. So, you filter it and make the business owners aware in terms of where there is a problem, what to do in terms of taking those correction measures, and then probably push them back to the public forum in order to get them a good review.

Yes, because everything comes down to that. Having a review out there in the world that said things went wrong, but they made it right. That’s actually a stronger review than everything went perfectly right. At least have a mix-up, you don’t want to have only everything that went wrong and then they made it right. But, you know, having a few of those sprinkled in is gold because everybody knows that things go badly. We don’t live in a perfect world. So, if you’re dealing with a company and you can see that, okay, when things go badly, what can I expect? Oh, well, they’re going to make it right. This is also why when you get reviews, positive or negative, it’s important to respond to them. When you respond to them, just acknowledge, like if it’s a positive review, it’s easy. You just acknowledge that it was a joy to work with them and you’re really happy that they’re happy. Done. But if it’s a negative review, even if it kills you, you need to fall on your sword, even if they’re not in it on your sword. Because the tendency is to want to defend yourself because you didn’t screw up. They just had unrealistic expectations or something like that. But you can’t do that because you’re not doing this for the person that leaves the review, you’re doing this for the people that are reading the reviews. A person who doesn’t know anything about what’s going on here doesn’t know the situation and doesn’t know the people involved. If the review seems to raise real issues with the service or the product and you respond defensively, then that shuts people down. They want to know that they’re going to be taken care of if things go badly and so if you respond with, oh, no, I’m sorry that it went that way, that’s not supposed to happen, give me a call so that we can make it right! You don’t want to get into details of how you’re going to make it right, because that’s just a bad idea. But if you can do that, own up to it, as things can go well. Call me. We’ll fix it. That’s how people want to be taken care of when things go poorly on their job. That’s how you do it.

Great. We also test upon Google’s business profile, that is what they call it these days. So, how does the Google business profile help in boosting one’s ranking, what is your strategy in terms of optimizing any businesses?

Fill it out completely. You know, as much of anything that it asks for gets filled out because it’s important. Then we make sure that the content on the site mirrors the services and things that we talk about there. It’s important to amp up the review generation process. You can get people to interact with it. You can make links that you can send out to people like your appointments and hour. Here’s driving directions so that they click that and it opens up the driving directions and that sends a signal to Google. There are a lot of tactics for it, and it’s changing so fast that I’m hesitant to even get into the details. Not because it’s a secret, but because anything I say now in two months is going to sound really old to somebody in the know. The things that we do now are not the things we did five months ago. It’s crazy how fast that changes.

It’s an ever-evolving industry, and that’s why it is the way it is today.

Yeah.

Talking about citations, what are the best practices that you follow? Which links do you go after and how often do you do it?

For linking, there are these base citations that everybody gets and you want to get them too. The whole name of the game for SEO, especially in the early stages of SEO is just negating the advantages that the competitors have. So, you go through and you just get the normal citations that everybody gets and then you go after the hyperlocal ones, right? Like you want to be in the Chamber of Commerce. You know, if there are any websites about the community you want to get in there if you can, you like to get as many really local ones as possible. And then we do a backlink analysis on all of our competitors that are winning on page one and we kind of see where their backlinks are coming from and any commonalities between them are fair game for us to pick up too. Because if more than one person got a link from a place, then anybody can get a link from that place. So, we get a link from all of the places that have two or more commonalities between the top ten people. What that does is indicates the advantages that they have from those links, so that our client’s site is as important to Google as these guys. For example, these two sites over here might have a common link, and these two sites over here might have a common link but because we’re getting both of them that puts us above all of them because we’re getting all of the commonalities. We’re not just going after and getting the links of this one site. We’re getting all the links we can get from other sites. So, oftentimes that’s enough to put us up even above where they are just by doing that. We don’t even have to do anything crazy. Just negate their advantage and then kill it on on-site content. We talked about local business, Google my business and Google business profile. But if you’re in a business that pulls from a much wider area and you can’t really expect to get a lot of play from your immediate vicinity, then Google my business becomes less attractive. You’re going to pull a lot more from the stuff below the maps, the normal page. The way to do that is simply to make sure that you have content about all of the communities that you want to rank in and if you want to pull from 5-10 different communities, have pages about them. Have pages that combine those communities with the service because Google’s just matching what’s this page about, to the people who are doing the search. They can be doing a search for anything, let’s keep the plumbers and they are in, let’s say, Maple Grove, Minnesota. Google knows where they’re searching from and they know they’re interested in plumbers. So, they can take that information because these plumbers are in Maple Grove. This is a page about plumbing in Maple Grove, so let’s put it in there. You can do that even if you’re not in that community, you can pull clients from it. That’s fantastic for service businesses that want to pull from like an entire side of a metropolitan area. You just need to have the content and it can’t be thin content. It can’t be “We Proudly serve” and then list all of the towns because that’s weak sauce. It’s not enough to convince Google that you’re really about it. So, you have to do more.

Right. Talking about off-page activities, apart from citations, what do you suggest to your clients in terms of off-page activities apart from citations?

We do backlinks like the guest posts on blogs. We used to do private blogging networks that we would own and control. But we don’t do those anymore. We just saw the effectiveness of that decline, and so we jettisoned all of that before it became toxic.

And any tips for building localized landing pages. I’m sure you must be doing that. How do you go about that?

Okay. So, yeah, if you’re going to build a local landing page let’s say you combine the service with the location and so this page is about, let’s go to the dentist. This time teeth whitening in Edina, Minnesota. So, the whole thing is going to be about that. Now, at the top of the page, you’re going to want to put your call to action and either a button or a form to get their information. And you’re not going to want to put testimonials for that specific service. At the top of the page without even scrolling to see the content, they can see they do what I need, people have made the choice and thought it was good, and here’s how I get a hold of them. That’s all that people need to do for their due diligence and then underneath that, you have to write a lot of content about teeth whitening at a diner. You really do need to nail it. On-site SEO is becoming crazy important. If you look at the people who are winning, they are not doing the old style of on site where you just kind of said teeth whitening done and then wrote whatever you wanted to write. like there are semantic relationships that have to be put in there. It’s intense. We write that content and we put it down there and I would say. 1% of the humans who ever go to that page will read that content. But it’s there for Google. It has to be good enough that if a person reads it they’re like, okay, this is good and helpful. But it’s for Google, and most of the time people won’t even scroll. They’ll just be like, Yep, this is what I need. I’ll sign up and talk to the dentist.

True, since you actually give an example about dentists. My next question brings me to the fact that let’s say you have a dentist in L.A. and you know how relevant it would be to pick the content of that website and use it for a dentist in Philadelphia or any other region for that matter?

We don’t reuse the content like a lot of places that specialize in a niche, like, say, they only work with dentists, they kind of have a library of service pages, here’s our supporting pages, here’s our all of our pages. They just kind of plug in the dentist into that carbon copy of a website and that can work somewhat, but it’s still a pretty weak sauce. So, we want to make sure that the content is different between areas but other than that work is the same. You want to make sure that you have pages on the service content, you want to make sure that you have the location content, you want to make sure that you combine the content into very specific service, location-based stuff for that, you want to make sure that you have supporting content underneath that, that’s just kind of more informational because Google more and more rewards what they consider to be an authority site. If you want to have content and not just a blog, but pages that kind of reside as a layer underneath the pages if you want to rank. They are just there to make Google go, oh, wow, these guys are an authority, because then it’ll make the ranking pages. They’ll pay more attention to that and will reward that, even though it’s no better than if it was just standing there alone. So yeah, there’s a lot of stuff and it does apply to all of the things, which is kind of like I’m starting to go more into the concrete niche with like a new website and everything like that because it’s just so much easier to scale when it comes to picking a niche. We’re still taking clients from a wide variety of niches, but I’m going to go more aggressively after that one just because it’s just a smarter business move for me and I like working with concrete guys because they’re chill.

Nice. What’s your take on voice search?

Because that’s what the customers are like. I didn’t choose search and then sell search engine optimization because I knew search, I moved there because that’s where the biggest bang for your buck was. If I thought there was more benefit to my clients in Instagram or TikTok, that’s where I’d be. But search is where the money is because people aren’t like it, at least in the niches that I work with. They fill a need and people know that they have that and they need help. Like, they’ve got water where water shouldn’t be in their house. So, they need a plumber or their roof is leaking, or their teeth hurt. It’s like when people have that problem, they go to the search engines right now and type in what they’re looking for and where they’re looking for it. Then Google gives them a list and if you’re on that list, then you have a shot at that job and if you’re not, you don’t. That’s just that simple. Now people may ask why search? Because what else are you going to do? Stand out on your street corner and scream? I’m a plumber, hire me. It’s not going to work like that.

I was referring to voice search. What are your thoughts on voice search?

I think for some niches, I think it’s great for restaurants. Basically, if it’s something that’s really low due diligence or very emergency based. I think that voice search can be good and getting people into that is easy too. It’s not hard to get people listed with Alexa. But I think for things that require more due diligence, things that you want to see, reviews, things that you want to look at the pictures. Like if you’re wanting to get a house built, you’re not going to say, hey, Alexa, connect me to a House builder or a Home Builder. You’re going to need to see the houses and see if it works for you. For most of my clients, it’s not where the money is. But for some, yeah, I can see it. Like, if I owned a Chinese restaurant, I’d definitely be in the voice search. Right?

True. That is what it is mostly used for, to be honest.

Yeah, well, it’s for low stakes. I need this now, you know?

Right. Immediate need. When we talk about local SEO strategy, let’s if we have a business, which is spread across multiple locations, the city, zip codes, postcodes, whatever. How do you plan location and specific pages which will ensure that you’re not creating doorway pages or spammy pages for that matter? How do you go about building strategy for these kinds of clients who are based out of multiple locations?

The way to do that most elegantly, I think, is to treat all the locations as if they were almost a franchise. Take your homepage and you got your services page, that’s kind of about the whole like what we do. Then you have the locations pages and so then you go to a location page and let’s say it’s Austin. Then you want to have the page about Austin, Texas and it needs to have content that goes over kind of like your main services and keywords, but then you want to have services for each one. Service one, in Austin, Texas. Service two, in Austin, Texas. So, that you can have that there and they need to be well written. They need to be not just nonsense. It’s not going to work if it’s nonsense anyway or the thin content, even spun content, is less effective now than it used to be. Then you just go on to the next one. The next that he gets, it’s on the hub page of supporting content and that’s the most elegant way to do it because you’re going to want to probably start building out satellites from all of those main places depending on the service. You know, suburbs and things like that. Because if people search on a suburb location basis, then you want to have content based around that. Does that make sense?

Absolutely. Any tips or hacks that you want to share with our audience today regarding local SEO, given that 20 years of experience and all that you’re doing?

The main thing is something that we’ve already covered. SEO and marketing people make things complicated. I think it’s partly to justify our existence, what we charge and all of that. But I think when you break it down to its most simple, there are a few things that you need to do in order to have success. You need to get in front of people when they’re looking for you and the way to do that is to build out your content so that every service you do, everything that people talk about, and all the problems that people will type into Google, that there’s relevant content about that specific thing on your site. Make content about all of the places that you want to pull jobs from and then after that, focus on your reviews, just get as many reviews as you can because that’s what’s going to really move the needle for you. People do what they think people do and so if you can get more good reviews than your competitors, you’re going to win. It’s just that simple because when people look at those reviews and they go, okay, well, this company has 5-star reviews, but there are five reviews from six months ago, that’s worrisome. Oh, this one has 500 reviews and they are from 12 this month. That’s the safer bet, even if the number is 4.8 versus five. Just the sheer weight of that social proof is going to dominate. So, one of the things that I hear all the time from business owners is they just don’t know what to do. They hire people, they hire an SEO guy, a social media marketer and they do their jobs and everything. But what can I do? This is what you can do, reviews, get the reviews, and get it systematized so that it’s not you asking for the reviews because that’ll kill your ego and you just won’t do it. And so, you know, just have somebody else do it, have the receptionist do it, have your wife, have your kids do it. Just run the system. It doesn’t matter, just get the reviews and you’ll win. That’s how people make decisions. Have other people made this choice so get in front of them, if you need SEO for that? Ads also work for the short term. It’s kind of like a bridge to when the SEO kind of takes off because your bigger ROI is going to come from SEO than from ads. But if you need jobs next week, ads are the way to go, because SEO takes a while to ramp up. Just don’t give up and if you’re with a bad company or if you find a job with the company and it’s not working, it’s not SEO then that’s the problem. It’s the company you’re working with. SEO works like nothing else. I talked to a lot of companies that are like SEO doesn’t work because they had a bad SEO company and that’s a bummer for them because there’s a lot of money to be picked up if you just bend over and pick it up.

Great. Thank you, Jens. Before we let you go, we want to play a quick, rapid-fire with you. I hope you’re okay with it.

Sure. Rapid fire. Let’s do it.

Okay. So, what was your last vacation?

I took my wife to Portugal last summer. It was great.

Portugal is nice. And what did you do with your first salary?

I saved it up and bought a car.

What a car!

Yeah, I was 16, so I just kept it until I had enough to buy a really old car.

Oh, okay. Nice. That’s quite a way to spend your first salary. Your favorite sport?

I don’t care about sports. I don’t. No, I don’t. I’ve never been interested. I guess if I still had to say, I would say volleyball because my daughter plays Volleyball in school. That’s fun.

Nice. Where do we find you on weekends? We know that you’re doing a very good job on weekdays optimizing websites. Where do we find you on weekends, then?

Well, most of them are spent just kind of relaxing and hanging out with family and friends. Going to visit my parents or something like that. So, we don’t do anything overly exciting, that’s for sure. We just hang out.

Staying around with your family.

Yep.

Great. All right, then. I think we have to come to the end of our podcast tonight and we would like to thank you again for taking your time and sharing the valuable insights which you did during our conversation today. I’m sure our audience is going to love it and they’ll find it really useful and use this tactic. So, thank you so much and we would love to have you another time for another episode. It was really a pleasure having you over here.

All right. Well, thanks. It was a pleasure on my end as well. I hope it was useful.

Thank you so much. Take care.

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