Given the current state that we’re in, Local SEO is more important than ever. So we must learn what building a successful local search campaign looks like. And to do that, we have to go through the entire process from start to finish.
STEP 1:Keyword Research
First and foremost, what we do is proper keyword research. It includes doing the competitor analysis where we can identify what your competitors are doing, what has been working well for them, what keywords they are targeting for, and how they are targeting those keywords. It’s really important to figure out what’s working and what’s not when you’re identifying these keywords. And this phase is really the most crucial phase because it’s going to lay out the groundwork for the rest of your campaign going forward.
These keywords will determine how you make decisions on what’s working, what’s not working, so if this part of the strategy is messed up, then the entire campaign is going to be messed up.
A lot of times when we speak to clients, we tell them that a certain keyword is a perfect keyword for them. If you get right for this keyword, your business will be great. But when we conduct our research, we find out that there are not many people searching for that key term. And it comes as a shock. But data doesn’t lie. So it’s really important that you do your due diligence and research efficiently to identify the ways that people are searching for your products or services. Also, you will have to check which of those keywords have the highest search volume that you can use to make a return on your best game.
When you’re building out a campaign, it’s also important that you are focusing specifically on the area that you service. A lot of people don’t know that one can geo-fence their campaign without actually having a specific geo fencing type of mechanism. You can do that by adding a local modifier.
For example, if I am selling SEO services, and I want to create a local campaign strictly in the Philadelphia area, I must target keywords like SEO Philadelphia or SEO services in Philadelphia. Although these keywords don’t have high search volume as the term “SEO”, they still have a decent search rate and help me target the audience who I want as a client and who I want to reach out to me.
That said, by adding these different local modifiers and being more specific, your conversion rate is going to be much higher because you’re targeting a more specific person.
You can use a lot of different tools to identify what these keywords are. My personal favorite is SEMmrush. However, that is a paid tool. Luckily, there are other tools you could use for free like Ubersuggest, Google’s Keyword Planner, which is through the AdWords platform. However, unless you are an actively paying campaign, they don’t give you great data on the search volume of keywords. So I would recommend if you do have the money, go for Semrush, else Ubersuggest, or Keyword Planner.
STEP 2: Planning the content strategy
Once you identify the list of keywords that you want to focus on, it’s important that you determine what your strategy is going to look like. So what pages are you going to target that would help you in the overall campaign?
It could be pages that already exist on your website or the ones that you might have to create. It all depends on where you’re currently ranking, what you’re not ranking for, and what keywords make sense. The goal behind this keyword mapping is grouping these keywords that are relevant.
For example, if I’m targeting SEO services throughout the Greater Philadelphia area, I might have different landing pages for SEO Philadelphia, SEO Bucks County, SEO Montgomery County, SEO Berks County to target those specific people in those specific areas. Or I may even break it down by service, let’s say, SEO Services Philadelphia, Web Design Development Services Philadelphia, Pay-per-click Services Philadelphia. The idea is to identify what is the best strategy for you. A lot of that can be dictated by identifying where you’re currently ranking, for the keywords you’re targeting.
Keyword mapping also helps you to avoid Keyword Cannibalization. So, if you’re targeting two or three or more pages for the same keyword, then you’re telling search engines that you have different pages, that are all relevant for the same key term. But Google and other search engines don’t understand which page is more relevant? As a result, instead of ranking well for one page, you end up ranking poorly for every page. And that’s not going to help you. Unless you’re on the first page, and even in the top five results, you’re probably not going to get much traction.
STEP 3: On-page SEO recommendations
Once you’ve identified what pages you’re going to be targeting, it’s important that you move on to the next step, which is identifying how you’re going to target that specific page. This is called On-page SEO recommendations.
It’s everything that you’re going to do within that specific page to build as much relevance as you can with Google search. It includes the meta title, the meta descriptions, headers, content, internal linking, and all other things that play a role in making sure that you’re ranking as best as you possibly can.
Your meta title and meta descriptions show up in Google’s search results, refer to the presentation. These are two of the most powerful things when it comes to your On-page SEO optimized optimizations. Through your meta title and descriptions, you are sending signals to search engines that these are the keywords that you should be found most relevant for. And, these are the keywords that you want this page to rank for. So it’s important to include the keywords that you are targeting throughout your meta title and descriptions, your headers and the content.
No one wants to have a lot of content on their website and no one wants to read the entire content. But unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. Because the only thing that matters is what Google says, and Google wants content, and they want good content. Refer to the presentation. Here’s an example of what we have as headers and content. The headers are the bolded blue, and the content is just below it. That said, it’s important to identify the keywords you want to target, have a huge search volume, and are really important for you. Once you do that, Google that key term. Who are the people that are showing on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth search? How much content do they have? What’s their content strategy? What is keyword density? In other words, how many times are they using specific keywords or phrases throughout that content? And that’s going to be what you want to replicate or even go a step beyond that and do better because the goal is to beat them out. So you have to go above and beyond and that’s where the competitor analysis really plays a role. SEMrush also has a very good and helpful competitor analysis tool when it comes to content, which is why I really like that tool.
STEP 4: Internal Linking
The last thing is internal linking.. By internal linking, we’re also sending proper signals to search engines that this landing page is really relevant for SEO services.
That’s the idea behind a proper internal linking strategy! You have to make sure that you’re passing what’s known as Link Juice or SEO Power throughout the entirety of your website so that all your pages rank well, and Google is indexing and crawling all these pages.
Moving on, a big question that we often get is how can you target multiple locations when you’re running a local campaign?
To be honest, it’s not that easy. You have to make sure you are unique in your content and deeply research the target areas that you want to hit. This is important because the content that the user is going to land on should be specific to them. That’s the key when you’re creating a hyper-localized campaign. It’s very difficult to write about the same exact thing over and over again for all the different locations that you’re targeting.
So an easy way to do that is to think as if you grew up in this area. This is the area that I serve. I know what people in Bucks County want to hear when I talk about SEO Services. I know what business owners in Montgomery County are missing, and what their pain points are. So I have a specific thing that I believe is the pain point that hits that specific user, and I am going to talk about it. Because these different landing pages will pop up when that specific user is searching for your product or service.
I don’t have the same landing page for people in Bucks County, Philadelphia, Montgomery County. I have a different landing page and a different landing page experience for those three different groups of people. So that’s a big thing that a lot of clients don’t always understand. And it doesn’t always have to be so spammy or in your face. In other words, you don’t need to have every single landing page in your main navigation; it’s not necessary to do so.
In fact, you should have landing pages that are accessible, relevant, and make sense for the user. And that’s how you avoid things like doorway pages or getting any type of penalties from Google.
Backlinking is one of the most complicated things to do when it comes to local search, and also one of the most important ranking factors for SEO. You will be quickly penalized by Google if you’re not doing the right things. So what we always recommend for backlinks is stay away from anything that’s paid. If it’s any type of paid service, it’s probably bad. The best way to build your backlink profile is to utilize press releases, business citations, local bookmarks, local directories, micro directories. These will help you build your backlink profile and do it effectively without getting yourself into trouble.
A local citation is like a billboard or business card but on the internet. It has your business name, website, phone number, address, and the services that you are offering. And that’s what is going to build relevancy, and trust with search engines.
When you have the same information all across the web, from all these different resources, that acts as a big trust factor when it comes to search engines, and you will be rewarded for that.
There are several different tools or local citation builders that you can use to monitor these things like Yext, White Pages, Whitespark. I personally don’t use them. According to me, if you’re doing it yourself, you’re probably okay.
Some of the main local business listing sites are Yellow Pages, Yelp, Foursquare, Superpages, and it’s very easy to get these types of links. Another tool that you can use to monitor what your backlink profile looks like, is Majestic. It is a partially free tool. It helps identify if you have any toxic links, but also understand how strong your backlink profile is. Majestic.com uses these metrics known as trust flow and citation flow.
Citation flow is the total number of links that are going back to your website. So what does that number look like? How many people around the web are talking about you and linking back to your website?
Trust flow is what determines the strength of those links linking back to your site. And when you divide the trust flow by the citation flow, you get the trust ratio. Generally, you want to have a trust ratio over point two five (.25). The closer you are to one, the better.
Google My Business is another important piece when it comes to local search. It’s something that a lot of businesses don’t know how to take advantage of.
All you have to do is Google “Google My Business”, claim your profile, add in all the information you want, and utilize that profile. It’s very easy. It’s simple.
Fill out as much information as you possibly can — your name, address, phone number, service areas. You can also include the company’s description, the services that you’re offering, make daily posts, set up daily promotions, and make specials.
For example, refer to the presentation. The screenshot to my right is the new COVID-19 update that lets clients know if you are still open, or if you’ve been forced to close down. It’s a very powerful tool.
All these different posts and promotions that you put on Google will be visible if your Google My Business page appears on the search. The user can see those and it can be very powerful. So take pictures of your office, products, or the different projects you’ve worked on, and upload them. This will help build trust with the user and you’ll be more likely to convert into a customer.
A big part of Google My Business is reviews. It’s also the hardest part. It’s difficult to get them, stay on top, and respond to all of the reviews, whether good or bad.
A lot of people make a big mistake by only responding to the good reviews and ignoring all the bad ones as if they never happened. That’s not what users want to see. Bad reviews are going to happen; it’s natural. In fact, it makes you look more real to the customer. If someone has all five-star positive reviews, they almost seem fake, especially if you’re getting your friends and family to write them; who just give you the five stars and don’t write anything with it. So it’s really important that you respond to every review you get.
If you get a good review, say thank you so much and try to sprinkle in a keyword or two that you might be targeting because that’s going to help build some more relevancy with search engines. In case of a bad review, say, “We’re sorry, you had this bad experience. Could you please let us know what we could do to help you with this issue.” You want the user to know that if they move forward with you and something goes wrong, you’re going to do everything you can to make it better. That’s what users really want to feel; they want to feel comfortable.
You can also take advantage of a paid local platform, called Google Local Service Ads. It’s fairly new. It differs from Google AdWords. Let’s see how.
Number one, it’s only available for specific industries. For example, the locksmith industry. Second, it’s not a pay per click program. It is a pay per lead program. So you only pay if someone calls you.
There’s also a reimbursement program. In case someone calls you, and they’re asking questions irrelevant to your business, or it didn’t make any sense how they found you, or it was a mistake click, Google will reimburse you for that click (only if you can prove that you had a legitimate faulty call). It all sounds too good to be true, but I have had a considerable amount of experience with Google managing my clients, local service ads, and they have reimbursed. They also have a little Google guarantee, as you can see on the right (refer to the presentation). This is another big trust factor when it comes to users. Because people think Google is everything, and if Google says it, it must be true. So if you have a Google guaranteed checkmark and you’re showing up, that’s something really powerful for Google.
The tricky part is going through the background check, which is required for all businesses that enroll in Google Local Service Ads. It does take time to go through the process and get your profile set up.
I have a couple of clients who are trying to enroll, and they’re facing difficulties in getting the background check because things are so backed up right now.
When you go through the background check, it’ll ask you for two pattern checks. One will be a personal background check of the business owner, and the other of the actual business itself. Now, you’re supposed to get a background check for not only yourself or your business, but all of your employees. If you sign up for this, do not say that you have employees. Rather, say you are the only person. In this case, you will need one background check for you and one for your business. Otherwise, it’s going to be a tiring process getting a background check from all of your other employees. It’s not worth it, trust me when I say this.
So that concludes everything that we do at SEO Locale for local SEO and what our strategy looks like. The entire process from A to Z. That’s everything that I would recommend.