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Tag: local

Odd Relationships in Local Search


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One of the first things you notice about Google Maps and the rest of the local search zoo is that usually there’s no single, isolated reason one business outranks another.  Rather, all kinds of factors come into play: some obvious, some less obvious, lots of maybes, and some that probably nobody knows about.  But I’d go a step further and say you’re in a much better position to get some solid rankings if you know how some factors tend to interact with each other, often in unpredictable ways.

You can’t look at local search ranking factors in a vacuum.  Google sure doesn’t seem to.  Now, it’s not a bad idea to work on your local SEO with a big checklist.  That can get you far, especially if you stick with it.  You only run into trouble when you seem to have done exactly what your strongest competitors have done – and maybe you even did it better – and you still come up short and have no idea why.

So the first thing to know is certain ranking factors seem to have relationships to each other.  The second thing to know is those relationships often are strange.  Not quite Hollywood strange, but counter-intuitive enough to elude most people most of the time.

Now’s probably a good time to stress that these are just my observations.  Granted, they’re based on my having gotten my local SEO overalls grimy for about 71 Internet years, and I’ve seen these phenomena pop up again and again.  I often explain these points to clients and others, and put them to the test all the time.  So I’m confident that you’ll observe at least some of the same things I’ve observed (if you haven’t already), though you may observe different things and draw different conclusions (which I’d love to hear).  In any event, it’s always possible that one phenomenon I think I understand is in reality something else.  Also, I don’t claim to be able to explain everything perfectly. I’m just sharing my lab notes, and hope you put them to use in your local market.

Anyway, here are some of the many odd relationships between ranking factors that pop up in Google’s local search results (Maps + organic):

1. The lower the density of local competitors for a search term, the more geography you can rank in.  Put another way: the more specialized your offering is, the wider service area you can realistically rank in.  That’s simply because for more-niche search terms Google needs to harder to turn up relevant results nearby, so it needs to look farther afield.  That’s true both in Google Maps and in the organic results.

2. The lower the density of local competitors, the faster you can expect to rank for a given search term.  Kind of an intuitive point – of course Google’s less picky when it’s got fewer choices – but business owners lose sight of it all the time anyway.  That’s one reason when you open a new business or a new location you should focus on smaller, more-specialized terms, and on a tighter geography rather than on your whole service area.  You’re not biting off more than you can chew, and are more likely to get some visibility / customers on the sooner side.

3. The stronger the backlinks profile a site has, the higher likelihood that new content on that site – or GMB pages pointing to that site – will rank well early on.  Why is that bigger companies can create a Google My Business page, or add an unremarkable new page, or blast out a so-so blog post, and have it outrank most competitors right out of the chute?  Not necessarily after a day, but maybe after a few weeks – and in any case way sooner than you got any good rankings.

Whenever I see a business that’s visible quickly and without spamming, I almost always find a link profile that’s better than competitors’.  If your GMB page or “service” or “city” page or blog post (or whatever) is attached to a domain with good and relevant links, especially if you’ve earned them over the course of years, you’re more likely to get some solid rankings sooner, even if that exact URL on your site doesn’t  have any links specifically pointing at it yet.

4. The more good links you have, the more forgiving Google is of bad links.  (This phenomenon isn’t specific to local SEO, but rather is omnipresent in SEO.)  Most sites that have been around for more than a couple of years have some shady-looking links, often that the owner of the site doesn’t want and had no hand in creating.  There are always ants at the picnic.  Google seems to know that and take it into account.

The bad news is that’s probably why some bigger brands and organizations often get away with schemes like buying links, setting up a network, or jamming exact-match anchor text into links whenever it can, even if a smaller or newer business would get penalized if it tried to get a foothold that way.  Often the more-established companies have enough decent links that Google looks at the big picture and concludes that the company isn’t completely reliant on the schemes.  If a new site or one without many or any good links tries some scheme and 80% of its links already look fishy to Google, then of course that plan invites trouble, because at some point it’ll just be too much.

Meanwhile, a more-established site could get away with getting the same shady links, because those links might account for 5% of its haul.  Fair?  Maybe not, but that’s how it always seems to go.

The good news is that to the extent you have some links that took a little effort to get and are from relevant sites, then you don’t need to worry much about penalty if you’ve got some junk links in the mix.

5. The more you develop your homepage – which is usually your GMB landing page URL – the greater the range of terms you can rank for on the local map.  As I’ve found for many years, not only are you most likely to rank well on the local map if you use your homepage as your GMB landing page URL, but your homepage also is most likely to rank for a big bucket of search terms.  Other pages on your site tend to rank for a smaller, more closely-related groups of terms (if you play your cards right).  For most businesses, the homepage tends to have most or all of the good links.

That means a few things.  One is that’s probably why so often your homepage will outrank other pages on your site for terms you want those pages to rank for.  The other is that your homepage tends to have just enough link oomph to rank for at least some of the terms you want for, as long as the content is relevant.  That’s where most business owners trip at the 5-yard line: their homepages are lean on info on the services and service area, and read more like brochures.

6. The better your site performs organically, the more likely your GMB page is to rank well (somewhere, for some terms you care about).  Most of local SEO is organic SEO with a few twists.  If you’ve got several sites and aren’t sure which one to glue your GMB page(s), my suggestion is to pick the one that gets the most visibility in the organic results, preferably for locally relevant terms.  (By the way, that’s why some people get mileage out of the old tactic of using a page on a BIG domain – think Facebook or Yelp or Google Sites – as their GMB landing page URL.  That GMB page piggybacks off of the prominence and link mojo of that domain, and Google’s too unsophisticated or lackadaisical to do anything about it.)

7. The more you’ve worked on your local citations, the less likely you are to see any benefit from further work.  Especially if you’ve got other factors already working in your favor, and especially if your citations are a total mess, you can see a bump your Google Maps / GMB rankings after you’ve squared away your listings on the basic sites.  Beyond that?  Not so much.  Many business owners do some work on their citations, see a little boost, and think, “Cool!  I worked on 20 listings and saw results, so I’ll crank out 200 listings on other sites and should get 10 times the results.”  It never works out that way.  There’s a point of diminishing return in citation work, and in my experience once hits it real fast.

8. The better a page performs already, the more easily you can get it to rank for a related term, or in a nearby area, or both.  I can’t explain it, but time and time again I’ve noticed a “snowball” effect in which you identify a page on your site that already ranks well for certain local search terms, you add a bit of content that’s at least loosely relevant to the terms that page ranks for, and sooner or later that page ranks for those new terms, too.

So let’s say you’re a dentist and you’ve got a page that’s mighty visible for “cosmetic dentist” or a similar term.  The chances are good you could get that same page to rank for the term “dental veneers” or “teeth whitening” (or both) with less strain than you could get separate, dedicated, more-targeted pages to rank for those terms.  I’ve found this most likely to work on pages that tend to be broad, like the homepage, “state” pages, and sometimes “service” pages.  It can help widen the variety of terms a page ranks for in the organic results, and in some cases it can widen your visibility in the 3-pack / Google Maps.  Often it’s not that hard to branch out if you attempt it on a page that already does OK.

9. The more reviews you get, the easier it is to get more reviews.  That can be a good thing or a bad thing.  When you’ve got many negative reviews, people are more likely to pig-pile you.  Or, when you’ve got many good reviews, the people who become your customers / clients / patients are more likely to have picked you because of your strong reviews, and are predisposed to write you a review when the time comes.

10. The longer Google Maps spam is around, the harder it is to get Google to correct it.  I don’t know if that’s because older spammy GMB pages tend to have piled up more reviews (which do seem to help spam stick around), or because the business is more likely to have listings on the sites that Google uses to confirm the info it has on a certain business, or because Google has enough behavioral data on the GMB page (what terms it ranks for, who clicks on it, where those people are located, etc.).  I suspect its some combination of those factors, plus some factor(s) I wouldn’t even guess.   In any event, there is a sad “fake it ‘til you make it” reality that benefits the slickest spammers and well-meaning unintentional rule-benders alike.

11. The faster you get good rankings, the more likely your rankings will swing up and down.  It’s nice if you saw a bump just from changing the name of your business and/or Google My Business page, or moving to a different address, or doing basic work on your local listings and site.  But that may also mean your competitors can knock you off with similar ease.  Or it may mean that for one reason or another you’re in one of Google’s test buckets, in which it rotates seemingly random local businesses into the results, presumably just to see who clicks.

I’m not saying that poor results mean you’ve got a brilliant long game that just hasn’t worked out yet, and I’m not saying that sometimes stubborn problems don’t  have simple solutions.  Quick wins may lead to lasting gains, and you’ll take all the good news you can get.

I’m just saying this: easy come, easy go.

To what extent have you noticed those kinds of interactions?  Do they seem to have helped or hurt you or your competitors?

Do you think something else is going on?

Any other “weird relationships” you’ve noticed between ranking factors?

Leave a comment!

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Local Quizness – What Happened in Local SEO in March?


The world of local marketing never stands still, and staying on top of the trends can take its toll. 

That’s why we created Local Quizness – a monthly quiz to help you recap the biggest stories affecting local businesses and marketers. Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions – and rest assured you’re aware of the news that matters most.

Happy with your score? Share this on Twitter using the hashtag #LocalQuizness!

If there are any you missed, check out all the links below:



10 Common Local SEO Myths Debunked


There are many strategies and tactics that you can implement to help your business increase rankings in local search results. But for every well-known and proven ranking strategy, there is an equally well-known unproven strategy masquerading as an effective local SEO tactic.

In today’s Whitespark Weekly episode, Darren is busting 10 common local SEO myths! Stop wasting your time implementing these tactics in the hopes of positively impacting your rankings!

Video Transcript

Hey there, Darren here with another way Whitespark Weekly video. These videos are to help you understand local SEO, give you optimization strategies, and keep you up to date on the latest in local search. If you’re new here, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter. We will send you an email every time we release one of these videos. Never miss an episode and get awesome helpful content delivered to your inbox.

Today I want to talk about the top seven local SEO myths that need to die – they need to go away, people need to stop talking about them – and three other ones that I think are likely myths, but I’m still testing. I think that they’re myths. I don’t think they help rankings but we’re going to talk about them. Let’s get into it. What’s the first myth?

Myth #1 – Setting a Service Area in GMB Impacts Rankings

The first myth is that people seem to think that if you set a service area in your Google My Business listing, on your profile in your dashboard, it’s going to have an impact on your ability to rank in all of those areas.

No, it doesn’t. It does not. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, this has been tested to death by many people, it doesn’t have an impact on rankings. The only thing that has an impact on is this little drawing on your Map. Google will say this is the service area that you serve. That’s all they do. That’s the only impact it has. You can go ahead and set anything you want in here but it doesn’t help you rank in those areas.

So spread the word! Tell everybody, tell your mom, tell all your friends. It does not impact ranking at all. Don’t do it anymore. Well do it if you want to draw that nice little red outline, but it doesn’t impact your rankings in those areas.

Myth # 2 – Keywords in the GMB Description Impact Rankings

This is a big one. Oh my gosh, I hear this all the time, “Keywords in the Google My Business description impact rankings.” People think this will work and think Google gives me this field for the description so I’m just going to stuff that with keywords, like this company with the description “Miami plumbing company, Miami plumbing company, emergency water repair serving Miami, and nearby areas, water pumps, water heater repair, plumbers, commercial residential Plumbing Services”. Anyway, they go on and on with all the different services. You see this quite regularly in GMB listings. They are wasting that space because Google does not look at that field for ranking purposes. I’ve tested it. So many people have tested this. Put whatever you want in there, Google does not consider it for ranking.

The best thing to do with this field is to use it as sales copy. You want to convert somebody reading it, get them interested in your business so that they pick up the phone and call you or click to your website. Make sure that you’re using this field for conversion purposes, not for ranking purposes.

Funny thing happened. Actually, I want to talk about this. Brodie Clark tweeted this back in February, that Google added a section to their guide, Google is propagating these stupid myths. They added this section:

“It’d be easier for the customer to find your listing on Google if your description included Harry’s NY Pizza in Dublin, CA” instead of only “Harry’s Pizza in CA”

Local SEOs’ minds were blown!

They were like, “Oh my God! Google is saying it’s a factor.” And everyone was like, “No, it’s not. We’ve tested it.” Product Experts Joy Hawkins and Ben Fisher spoke up. Lots of people were talking about this saying, “Oh no, Google, take it back, take it back.” They did roll it back soon after, because it isn’t a factor. Even though Google may have said that, you generally can’t trust Google on their ranking advice. They rolled it back the very next day. Now this whole document that Brodie was referring to has been completely rewritten. It doesn’t even touch on anything like that. A little bit of hubbub happened in the industry when that came out.

Myth #3 – Keywords in Owner Responses to GMB Reviews Impact Rankings

The next myth is that keywords in owner responses to GMB reviews impact ranking. Keywords in reviews? Yes, beauty! You want those. They definitely impact your ranking.

But what doesn’t impact ranking is for you to respond to those reviews and be like, “Thanks for using our best plumbing service in Denver.” That doesn’t help. Adding keywords to your responses? Nope, it’s not a factor.

I heard this tip and I was like, oh my god, it’s so smart. We know keywords and reviews work. Why don’t you just put keywords in the responses and so I was really excited about it. I tried it and t was just… sad trombone. Nothing happened, it fell flat, zero ranking impact.

I love this tweet from Jason Brown.

By all means keyword-stuff the heck out of your replies to reviews (and this is a great example), but it doesn’t work, it doesn’t do anything… so don’t do it. Just make your responses like you were speaking to a human that had left your review and tell them how thankful you are for their review. Just kindly respond to them. But do not stuff it with keywords because they will not help you rank.

Myth #4 – Using a Call Tracking Number Negatively Impacts Rankings

Some people seem to still think – still, to this day! – that adding a call tracking number to your GMB listing can negatively impact your rankings. No, it does not! You just have to do it the right way. If you keep your regular number in there, then it’s no problem. The primary number becomes the call tracking number so that anyone that goes to your listing will call the tracking number and you get it tracked in your tracking software – wonderful!

Myth #5 – Paying for Google Ads Impacts Rankings

People seem to think paying for Google Ads impacts rankings. I’ve seen this a few times where they’re like, “Well, I want to rank better in the local results or even the organic results, if I pay Google advertising, they’re probably going to help me rank better.” That’s not the case, it doesn’t work. You might see it sometimes, like in this example here.

And that’s true. You can’t buy your way into the results, well actually you can, you buy your way into the ads and it works actually quite well. You can rank number one, you just have to pay for it. But it doesn’t impact your actual organic rankings.

Myth #6 – Ranking #1 is All That Matters

Alright, next up, ranking #1 is all that matters. Some people put so much effort into ranking at the top that they don’t think about the optimization opportunities. I just did a video about this recently and what you find is that sometimes the business ranking #1 gets less leads and calls than the business ranking #4, if the lower ranking has taken the time to really build out their GMB listing.

So it’s not all about rankings. That’s a myth.

Myth #7 – It Takes a While to Rank in Local Results

How long does it take? Some people think local rankings can take a really long time. I see people out there saying “two months”, “three months”. How about one day? How about like 20 minutes? It’s so fast. It’s like, you set up a Google listing, the moment it gets verified you have the ability to rank immediately. This business was ranking like the day that the listing went live.

Now typically, you’re not going to rank around the whole city. Typically, you only rank within your own immediate area, which is the case here. But you can rank the day that your listing goes live. From that point, you’re going to start with a small radius, and you’re slowly going to grow it as you work on your website, get links, get more reviews, build out your business listings, and all that stuff that you need to do.

Now onto three more “Likely Myths”… I’m calling them “Myths”!

Myth #8 – Geotagging Images Impacts Rankings

This is probably the most prolific myth, that I think is myth. I’ve never seen any evidence to back up the claim that if you stuffed keywords into the EXIF data of images and geotag it with your location, that your listing will rank better.

Prove it to me. Please, somebody. Somebody prove this. I’ve never seen any evidence to back this up. I’ve seen a lot of people touting this advice. And I’m not buying it until I get your proof. I’ve tested it. I haven’t seen anything. I’m calling it a myth. It’s a myth. It’s out of here.

Myth #9 – Embedding a Google Map on Your Website Impacts Rankings

Embedding the Google Map of GMB listing. This is kind of like an old school local SEO thing. It’s been around forever that you need to embed a map on your page, and it’ll impact your rankings.

There are many reasons to embed a Google map on your website, but the act of doing it on its own is not a ranking factor. Brian Barwig wrote a really great post about why you should do it. There’s lots of good reasons to do it. It offers many, many benefits. I encourage you to read this post. But what I’m saying is that the act of doing it is not a ranking factor on its own. You’re going to drive more driving directions. You’re going to get some engagement on your listing, through the embed. There’s lots of good reasons to do it, it makes it easier for your customers and so do it. But it’s just not a ranking factor on its own.

Myth #10 – Google My Maps Impact Rankings

This one… I’ve seen this mentioned quite a bit in Facebook groups, where people are selling this crazy stuff called “My Maps rankings”.

This guy will do 5,000 Google Map citations for GMB ranking. What this is, is you go into your Maps account and create your own custom My Map. People are building out like 5,000 points and putting your business all over here… I don’t even know what this even is. But I’m telling you, it doesn’t help rank. This is crazy stuff. And I’m calling it “likely” because I’m going to test this. Like, what is this crazy stuff? There’s no way this is helping them to rank.

I’m going to try to dispel this myth with some of my own tests. I’m running one right now. Once I have conclusive evidence, then I will shoot it down. But this one is kind of funny to me. Look at this crazy map that they built. Anyways, I think this is a myth. I’m not calling it yet. But likely this has no impact on your rankings.

That’s all I got for you today. I hope this was helpful. Hope it dispelled some of these myths for you. Please stop wasting time on things that don’t help you ranking, and please help spread the word. You could share the link to this video anytime you see someone mentioning these things. Hope that was helpful.

What are some common local SEO myths you’d like debunked and gone once and for all? Share them in the comments below!



What % Of Google SERPs Show Local Packs?


One of the operating theories here at LSG is pretty much everything is going “Local,” but we never were really sure by how much, until today that is.

Behold the Local-Pack-O-Meter!:

Local Pack-O-Meter

Over the past year, we have been building some pretty cool business intelligence tools for our clients often using massive amounts of keyword ranking data from Traject Data. During a discussion, Traject casually mentioned that they had info on SERP features for something like 60M U.S. search queries. While tools like MozCast have their own versions of a SERP Feature tracker, these are typically only for a relatively small number of keywords (1,000 for MozCast). When we heard “60 million” we thought that could give us a much more accurate picture of what the SERP real estate looks like for the entire country. One LSG hackathon later and the Local Pack-O-Meter was born.

The L-P-O-M doesn’t only report on Local Packs. It also reports on nine other SERP Features including Knowledge Graphs, PAAs, Images, Shopping Boxes, Job Packs, Ads, Related Searches, News & Brand Carousels. Perhaps we should have called it the SERP-O-Meter?

Here are a few things we have noticed so far with this data:

  1. The % of Local Packs over the past year has been pretty consistent. It’s currently at ~36%. So a little more than one third of all Google searches have some kind of local intent. That’s a lot of “pizza near me” searches. BTW this is pretty close to what Mozcast shows (41%) so good on you Dr. Pete!
  2. People Also Ask questions have been the fastest growing SERP Feature over the past year, growing from 25% in May 2020 to now 41% of all SERPs in Feb 2021, so start answering those questions:
    Percent of People Also Ask Questions In SERPs
  3. Another interesting trend is February saw a relatively big increase in the presence of both Google Ads and Shopping Boxes. Looks like someone is trying to goose the next quarter’s earnings?

Percent of Google Ads In SERPs
Percent of Shopping Boxes In SERPs

We hope you find this v 1.0 of the Local Pack-O-Meter useful. If you have any ideas of how to improve it or additional data you’d like to see, please let us know.

And big props to our TechOps rockstars, Bryan Heckler, Sam Capeheart, and Tingbin Huang for creating this and sharing it with SEO community.

Check out the Local Pack-O-Meter here.

 

Seed Audiences: the Most Practical Way to Make Blogging Work for a Local Business


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For most business owners and others who try it, blogging is a frustration factory.  The way they go about it, it’s a time gobbler, a grind, and a disappointment until they give up – 47 blog posts and 0 new links, 0 visitors, and 0 customers later.

What’s wrong with the way small / local businesses blog?

I’ll be the last one to say blogging isn’t effective.   It sure can be.  This blog is a vital organ of my business, and that’s true of some of my clients’ businesses, too.  But certain pieces need to slide into place first, preferably on the sooner side.

The big trouble is that blogging (as it’s commonly done) is at best a tough way to earn links, build an audience, and pick up local rankings for semi-competitive terms.  As in it’s ineffective at all 3 most of the time.  Why?  One issue at a time:

  • Your post probably won’t get links because (paradoxically) your site probably doesn’t have much of a backlinks profile at the moment and won’t help you outrank posts on more-established sites, and because it’s unlikely you have an attentive following in your email newsletter or on social media. For any or all of those reasons, people won’t find your post, and so nobody will link to it.
  • Even the few people who stumble across your post probably won’t find your other posts relevant, or find them at all. Even if they notice that you have other posts, they may not have an urge to read those posts now, and (usually) won’t have an occasion to return to your site.  So you’re left with one visit per reader, rather than months or years of return visits per person.
  • Even if a blog post ranks for a certain term you care about, it will be crowded out by and need to compete with competitors’ homepages, general directories, and industry and local directories. Those competing sites and pages tend to rank for a wider variety of search terms, whereas you’ll be lucky if your post ranks for a couple of terms you care about.  You’ll find it hard or impossible to replicate a success, and you’ll find you need to work too hard for too little.

If it’s much tougher sledding than you expected, you won’t stick with it to the point of seeing any benefits.

You might have tried or considered a swing-for-the-fences approach, in which you write giant posts that involve a lot of research, design, and maybe outreach.  That kind of approach has worked for some local business owners, and may work for you.  But the odds are long.  It’s not likely to work out the way you hoped, in which case it was just a big waste of time.

You’re in a bind.  You want to or think you need to blog.  You don’t want to skip trying to make it work only because it’s tough, but you also don’t want to go on a fool’s errand.  So what in tarnation are you supposed to do?

In my experience, there are only two practical ways to give your blogging mission a high probability of success – by which I mean it helps your business become more visible to the local people you’re trying to reach:

(1) Maintain a long stream of quick blog posts on niche, specialized, almost obscure topics – like on the kinds of questions only a few of your customers/clients/patients ever ask you – and crank out a lot of those posts month after month.  The idea is this: on any given day, maybe 10 people search for an answer to the geeky little question you write about.  But your post is the only one around that meets that exact need, so by Gum that post will capture every last one of those 10 searchers.

Shopping for food in March of 2020 - image courtesy JonathanRozek.com

(2) Or you can start with a “seed audience.”  That’s my term for an early, small group of readers, all of whom are people you already know to one degree or another.  Those people form a core or nucleus – a seed – of what will grow into a bigger audience over time.

If you want your blog posts or other “content” to help you get more local customers/clients/patients – directly or indirectly, sooner or later – a seed audience is what’s most likely to work.  Let me explain more.

Who’s your seed audience, and what are you supposed to do for them?

Your very earliest readers will probably be a motley (Crüe) crew of people, all with different relationships to you.  To some extent that’s out of necessity, because you don’t have many other would-be readers yet.  But the mixed bag of people also happens to be useful in this case, because you’ll get a better sense of whom your audience can be or should be, and whom you should focus on.  You want feedback from various people.  Your seed audience should probably be some combination of these people:

  • Past customers
  • Current customers
  • Leads
  • People who refer customers to you, or vice versa
  • Partners
  • Employees / staff
  • Recipients of pro bono work
  • Yes, maybe even friends and family – especially if anyone is involved in anyone else’s business or profession
  • Other people you think may be interested

Either you keep a list of specific people to send your posts to individually, or you whip up an email newsletter (like with Mailchimp or Aweber –  or consider Tidings) and invite them to join it, or do both.  Preferably you do both.

In either case, your action item is the same: look for opportunities to direct those people to your blog posts – posts you’ve already written and posts you haven’t written yet – at a time they would find your information helpful and welcome.

If you don’t read any more of this post and don’t need more of my color commentary, just do that one thing and your blogging will be much more likely to bring you visibility / links / customers.

What does the seed audience do for you, exactly?

First of all, you need to do something for them: send them a blog post that answers a question they asked you, or that helps solve a problem you know they’ve got.  You can send them posts you did years ago, or new posts that you know to be dead-on relevant to their problems or goals.  Keep in mind that the seed audience consists of people who (to varying degrees) already know you.  This is the equivalent of the old-school practice of mailing newspaper clippings to someone.  Except those clippings are bits and pieces you wrote.

As long as the posts (or other content) you share with your seed audience is timely for them, over time the people in your seed audience will help grow your audience in several specific ways:

  1. They are one of your best sources of ideas – between the questions they’ve asked you, concerns they raise, what you know about their situations. If what’s in your head is the only source of topics to write about, pretty soon you’ll run out of topics to write about.  See what’s in other people’s heads.
  2. They’ll provide your earliest shares on social media, when nobody else will (because nobody else knows about your posts yet).
  3. They’re likely to send your post to people they work with, or to their friends or family.
  4. They’ll give you feedback on your work, especially if you ask.
  5. You’ll get great keyword ideas, just by paying attention to how they describe what you do, how they describe their challenges and what they want, etc.
  6. Depending on exactly who’s in your seed audience, they may be more likely already to have some buying intent. So not only is there a chance they might hire you for something if you sent them a helpful post at the right time, but it’s also possible there are other people exactly like those people (e.g. past customers or leads).  In that case, consider focusing more of your posts on that little part of your seed audience.
  7. They may give you an early and merciful clue as to whether you should continue blogging at all. If after a while you can’t engineer your posts to be useful to people you already know, it’s not as likely you’ll figure out what kinds of perfect strangers your posts are meant to help if your audience gets bigger.  You need to know at least roughly what kind of person your posts are supposed to help.

How do you develop a seed audience?

This one’s as simple as it sounds: you email your posts to anyone you can, whenever the topics that you wrote about have come up.

You can also point people to your post if the topic comes up while you’re on the phone (or Zoom) with them.  That assumes, of course, that it’s a post you’ve already published, and that it’s named in such a way that you can tell someone the name of the post, and he or she can Google it and pull it up without much strain.

Consider creating posts for an audience of one.   Not in a creepy way, like, “I know what you’re thinking now, Bert.”  I’m saying if, for example, a past customer or employee asks you a stumper question, write a blog post on it.  Do some research if you have to.  Go to town.  Possibly give the person who asked you the question a shout-out or tip of the hat in the post.  I do that all the time.  In any event, send it to him or her (and ask for feedback), and send it to future people who have the same question or a similar one.  If nothing else, it’ll save you from having to answer the same question again and again.  More likely is that over time that post also starts bringing you some decent traffic and maybe even a couple of links.  That’s because it’s on a question or concern that someone actually has.

Get some practice at building an audience one person at a time.  Most will appreciate the timely post, many will stay tuned for more, and some people will bring others into your teepee.

By the way, I’ve found it extremely useful to keep a running list of posts.  That makes it quick and easy for me to send someone the link to a relevant post I did.

What are the alternatives?

With the exception of the one good, realistic alternative I mentioned at the beginning of this post (writing lots of quick posts on super-niche topics), the alternatives to the “seed audience” strategy have serious drawbacks.  Here are the common tacks business owners and marketers try:

Strategy 1: Swing for the fences: trying to write monster, “ultimate guide”-type posts.   This one is hard to ease into, harder to sustain, easy to burn yourself out on and stop, and runs contrary to most people’s naturally short attention spans.

Strategy 2: Hamster wheel: writing 17 unplanned, slapdash posts every month, sticking with it for 3 months, and giving up.

Strategy 3: “Build it and they will come”: the posts are solid, useful, and well thought-out, but you didn’t write them with a specific person or specific people in mind, and so you don’t send them to anybody.  You assume that just because you wrote it Google will find readers for it.

Strategy 4: Mass production: pay a third party to belch out posts that are so bad even you won’t read them – but that you’re certain will help your rankings because “Google likes fresh content.”  You need basic quality-control.

Can other approaches work?  Yes.  Will they work?  Probably not. With enough effort you can probably get any blogging strategy to advance your goals at least a little, but at what cost to the other things you need to accomplish in a day?  You can always tweak your strategy later.  For every one business owner who gets the skyscraper technique (for all its merits) to work, there are 20 who couldn’t make it work.  We don’t hear from those people much.  Also, what works for a marketing agency or for a non-local business has a good chance of not working for you – for your local business.

People who say you definitely should or definitely should not blog are missing the point.  Sure, you should have content that informs and helps anyone on your site, but who says that needs to be in the form of a blog post?  In most cases having very detailed “service” pages and other pages (and don’t forget the homepage) is your best way to do that.  Videos, too.

That’s why I’m working off the assumption you’ve already got your pages pretty much down pat, and that you want blogging to help you get even more visibility.  I’ve also assumed you don’t want it become your new full-time job.  A seed audience is the best way to go about that.

Recap

Again, the idea of the seed audience is simple: Make use of every opportunity to send your posts to people you already come into contact with.

Send a post whenever it’s helpful to the other person.  Pay attention to the questions and concerns of the people in your seed audience, and write more posts that help those people with those challenges.  I guarantee you there are more people like them, and in time those people will become your larger audience.

Preferably your seed audience includes past or current customers, but it doesn’t need to.

I find it very helpful to keep a list of posts (like this).

At first you grow your audience a person at a time, but eventually it’ll mostly grow itself.  That is when you’ll be able to draw a thick line from blogging to more traffic, links, customers, and other good stuff.  The big thing to realize is those are benefits you see after your blogging effort starts to work, not before you’ve gotten it to work.

A seed audience isn’t mutually exclusive with other ways you might grow your audience.  It’s complementary.  It will make your other plans more likely to work out.  Give it a try.

Side note

By the way, I speak from first-hand experience with the seed audience approach.  Not only because some of my clients have used it to good effect, but also because that’s how my blogging sprang up from the dirt.  My earliest readers were people who got my email newsletter (and those people had found me through a variety of odd little channels).  My earliest posts were simply what I thought those people would find useful.

To this day, half the reason I write many of my posts is so I can lay out a thorough answer once and simply send a link to the post every time that question or topic comes up again.  The benefits are too many to count.

Further reading

Should You Make It a Page or a Post? – me

8 Lies About Content Marketing You Probably Believe – Joel Klettke

Should a Small Business Have a Blog in 2021? – Colan Nielsen

Poll Results: Do Local Businesses Need Blogs? – Rosie Murphy

10 Bootstrap Ways to Grab More of Your Service Area in Local Search – me

Hit Blog Post but No Local Traffic or Rankings? 7 Ways to Make That Post Help Your Local SEO Effort – me

100 Practical Ideas for Small-Business Blog Posts – me

100 More Doable Ideas for Small-Business Blog Posts – me

What’s been your strategy for growing your audience?

What’s worked well and what hasn’t?

How have you been able to turn that blogging (or other “content”) effort into more business?

Leave a comment!

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Local Quizness March 2021 – What’s The Story in Local SEO?


How many of February’s biggest local marketing news stories did you spot?

Answer our quick-fire 10 question quiz to test your knowledge of last month’s news, and catch up on any stories you might have missed so you can feel certain you’re up-to-date on all of the news that matters. 

And, if you wanted to show off your score, you can do that over on Twitter using #LocalQuizness

To refresh your memory of February’s news, take a look at the linked stories below. 

We’ll be back soon with all of the news from March – keep your eyes peeled! 



Google Review Attributes, Local Link Building & UTM Tagging Guide for GMB


What metrics should we focus on for local link building?

  1. Relevance
  2. Linking Root Domain

Don’t focus on overall link numbers, but rather increasing the number of linking root domains. Yes, your industry can be competitive, but by targeting and going really deep on relevance (both topical and geographical) you can outrank some pages that have more linking root domains.

For local link prospecting you can pretty much ignore Domain Authority (DA) and focus on relevance instead by identifying relevant prospects, both topically and geographically

What about nofollow links? For local link prospecting, don’t exclude nofollowA lot of link builders won’t put a site on their prospecting list because they know they don’t provide follow links. HUGE MISTAKE.

If you acquire local links, even with no-follows, they do have an impact overall and they do something else: generate customers and leads. 

Anchor Text – For local link prospecting, don’t obsess over anchor text. Where you can get it, great, but don’t stress about it overall. Brand and “junk” anchors are fine. Don’t remove a prospect from your list just because you can’t optimize anchor text. 

Scale – For local link prospecting, you can’t scale and you don’t need to scale. Think hyper-local, geographic and topical relevance.You don’t need to be getting thousands of links in the local context in order to beat competitors.

Must Link – For local link prospecting, don’t ignore linkless citations. If you can get the link get it, but don’t dismiss sites simply because they have a no link policy. 

$$$ > Traffic > Rankings – Your links can generate revenue, customers, leads, sales, and traffic. Money and traffic beat rankings every time. 

Target Audience Local Link Building 

Build out your target audience persona, prospect link targets like you would buy media. This will help you build out a list of sites where your customers will actually go.  

Think about this in the context of local awareness, interest, and consideration. Local news and events are the money makers. Start building relationships with journalists, go in and comment where you can, get active in your community. Whether you’re speaking, participating, or sponsoring a local event, link these topically-relevant local events. They can really move the dial from a link building standpoint. 

Local Directories (both industry and geographic specific) – Make sure your information is accurate. 

Who: Demographics + Psychographics 
Where you can find patterns in terms of age, socioeconomics, etc. – what keeps those people up at night – think about this, as it will tell you where these audiences spend their time online and what sites they are looking at.

What Are They Searching Locally? 
Go super hyper-local: neighbourhood, specific areas, and streets. If you’re focused on super hyper-local areas, that’s where you’ll see bang for your buck within the radius of the search area for your business location. 

What Ranks Locally?
The best indicator of whether Google thinks something is relevant or popular is if Google ranks it themselves. Find the different sites that rank locally and put them on your prospect list. The most relevant type of link you could get would be from a competitor that does the exact same thing as your business. Obviously they aren’t going to want to link to you. But think about tangential businesses, what about other businesses that don’t compete with you? 

Dive deeper into the results, go beyond the first page and you will start to find options.

Best Local Link Building Tool: Google 
Use advanced search operators such as inurl and intitle to prospect for links. For example:

[something your target audience might also search for] + inttitle:[hyper-local geo-modifier]

For the hyper-local modifier, you want to go deep like the neighbourhood or street. 

Second Best Local Link Building Tool: Maps
Put your own business address in and start to look at all the different businesses around your physical location. The proximity of getting local links from businesses that are in your own area makes a big difference. Ideally they are also topically relevant. For example, a Personal Injury Lawyer can get links from rehabilitation businesses or ancillary services clients might be using locally. 

Leverage Google Maps by using your own address, zooming in and looking around. Think about:

  • Who are the businesses around me?
  • How could I work with them to get a link?
  • What are my options and what are the businesses that could link to me?

Hyper-Local Content Marketing For Links

  • Topically relevant content.
  • Scholarships in the traditional sense may be dead, but if it’s local across the target audience, topic, and local to your area that can be a solid win.
  • Guest Post can be powerful if it’s a real local blogger, locally and topically relevant.

When you focus only on Domain Authority for your local link building campaigns, you’re going to end up missing out on opportunities that are both topically and locally relevant, which are both way more important and stronger signals/factors when it comes to earning links as a local business. 

Pro Prospecting Tip: Doing your prospecting through Google – Gyi loves to use the MozBar (a Chrome/FireFox extension) that allows you to export all the Search Results into a CSV. If you tack on a little parameter &num=100 to the URL after you run the search, you can get all 100 search results exported in a spreadsheet and work through that, rather than drilling through the results.

Local link building is a grind – embrace the suck!

Re-framing is critical and will help you during all your link building campaigns. If you hold yourself accountable for topical and local relevance, the list isn’t as long as you think.  It’s not about going out and trying to get 100s of linking root domains, it’s about trying to get like 25 solid ones. Spend the time getting to know the business or site you’re trying to go after. From an email outreach standpoint, if you’re cold emailing you’re not going to get a lot of traction, take the time to develop rapport with the business to get more positive and engaged responses to your outreach.  

In local you don’t need the volume, you need to be relationship-focused and locally-focused. 



Where to Be in 2021: Conferences & Events to Improve Your Local Marketing


<br /> Where to Be in 2021: Conferences & Events to Improve Your Local Marketing – Whitespark



7 Phases of a Local Business Reviews Campaign That Makes It Rain


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https://www.flickr.com/photos/theocrazzolara/49941261186/

Even people who do a solid job of getting online reviews tend to make the process tougher than it needs to be, because they do the right steps in the wrong order.  That can mean unnecessary trial and error, frustration, wasted time, wasted money, and more bad reviews and fewer good reviews than you might have had otherwise.

Whether you’re the business owner, an employee, or a third party, you have a choice as to how you sequence your work.  Examples of good steps that can trip you up if you do them at the wrong time include offering customers a choice of multiple review sites, asking them to upload photos or go into detail, and using software or other tools to lighten your lift.  Good ideas?  Maybe, but the effectiveness depends on the timing.

What’s the least-bad order of steps?  Here are the stages that my clients have had the most success with, and so here is the basic 7-phase process I suggest you try if you want more and better reviews for your business:

1: Dissect what you’ve got

Where have people reviewed you so far? Is there a review site they seem to gravitate to?  How many of your reviewers (customers, clients, or patients) did you ask for a review, and how many wrote one spontaneously?  So far, who seems most inclined to write a review – the happy customers or the unhappy customers – or is it such a mixture of people that you just can’t tell?  Is there one service, product, treatment, or other offering of yours that seems to make people want to review you?  You get the idea.  Lots of ways of looking at what’s in the net.  You may want to spend 10 minutes scribbling down all your observations, big and small.

2: Shrink the goals and expand the efforts

It’s temporary, but whether you’re starting your push for reviews for the first time or this is Rocky II (or III or IV), the goal is the same: see what happens when you point everything you’ve got at getting your customers to complete the quickest, simplest review you can ask of them.

That means a few things.  One is that you designate a specific person to ask for reviews – preferably in-person and then with a follow-up email.  Another is that you put time into each email request, and tailor it to the person and to everything you know about his or her situation and what makes him or her tick.  Also, only ask for reviews on ONE site for now.  If it’s not Google Maps (which is usually what I suggest focusing on, at least at first), have it be Facebook or a site that’s big in your industry (where’s it’s usually easy to write reviews).  Send along instructions for how to write a review there, and a few days later send a friendly follow-up.

By the way, for a host of reasons I do not recommend you offer incentives for people to write reviews, but if you do insist on disregarding my advice, now’s the time to see what happens.  If nothing else, at least you’ll know that under certain circumstances some people will write you a review.

It’s OK if the reviews are terse at this stage.  Later on you can reviewers talking.

In general, now is the time to be as hands-on as you possibly can be, and to give people every single opportunity and reason to say yes.

3: Test big differences

It’s not yet time to fine-tune. Try something very different, even if what you’ve tried has worked out well so far.  Try having a different person ask for reviews.  Try sending people to different review sites.  Try a completely different email and subject line.  Try to follow up with a quick phone call / voicemail, instead of or in addition to the follow-up email.  Even try snail-mail.  Either you’ll discover something that works better than you expected, or you’ll find out what doesn’t work and that your original system was pretty solid after all.

4: Weave reviews into more of your marketing

Write friendly, thankful responses to them, for positive reinforcement (even if the reviews have developed a crust).

Send personalized thank-you notes/emails to people who reviewed you.

Stick certain reviews on your site.

Tell people on your site or in any ads (e.g. Google Ads) to check our your great reviews, 5-star reputation, etc.

Here you’ve got two basic goals: make sure just about everyone sees your reviews (at least the good ones!), and increase the likelihood that customers choose you because of your reviews, so that they’re predisposed to write you reviews later, when the time comes.

5: Expand your goals

If you’ve had some success in getting people to write reviews – even if those reviews are brief and only on one site – now’s the time find the edges. Get a little greedy.  Ask people who already reviewed you on one site (e.g. Google Maps) to review you somewhere else, too.  (They can just copy and paste their review.)  Ask reviewers to upload photos, if possible and appropriate.  Ask reviewers to go into detail – the more, the better.  If you’ve got repeat customers who reviewed you early on in your relationship, ask them to update their reviews to reflect everything you’ve helped them with since the 1.0 version.  Consider doing what little you can to scare up Yelp reviews.

This is when you want to find out what customers are willing to do and what’s a bridge too far.

6: Consider introducing some automation

This may have been your very first thought, and the first step you wanted to take: “I don’t have time to ask for reviews, so can’t I just use a reputation-management tool?”  Yes, now you can try.  Now that you’ve got a system that works at least OK, it’s fine to see if you can make it easier with software and still have it work at least OK.

But if you tried software right out of the chute, without knowing what works and what doesn’t, it’s likely that all you would have done is scale an ineffective system or automate failure.  And you’d have burned through your list of customers in the process.  Make it effective, then try to make it easy.  (If you’re at this stage, consider Whitespark’s Reputation Builder.)

7: Keep experimenting

It’s still worth repeating step #3 (the “test big differences” step) from time to time, but now is also a time to fine-tune your requests, try spacing out your requests differently, etc. To some extent you have no choice but to tweak, because the ecosystem of review sites change over time, the review sites themselves change over time, you get new customers, maybe you enter new markets, and you get curious (or inspired or greedy).  You’ll always need to stress-test your process.

 

In any event, you’ll never have it down pat, and you’ll never be 100% satisfied, and there will always be room to improve (which is either pretty frustrating or exciting, depending on your outlook). Word of the day: kaizen.

 

Relevant posts

How Should You Ask for Online Reviews? The Pros and Cons of Each Approach

The Ridiculous Hidden Power of Local Reviews: Umpteen Ways to Use Them to Get More Business

60+ Questions to Troubleshoot and Fix Your Local Reviews Strategy

Why Your Review-Encouragement Software Is a Meat Grinder

25 Hard Truths of Google Reviews

Is There Anything You Can DO to Get Yelp Reviews These Days – without a Public Shaming?

16 Reasons to Get Reviews on a Diversity of Sites

Why Send Good Customers to Crappy Review Sites?

The Perfect Stack of Online Reviews: How Does Your Local Business Measure up?

Who Should Ask for Reviews: Business Owner or Employee?

 

What’s been your process?  How well has it worked?

Any tips for any of the steps, or any phases you’d add to those 7 phases?

Leave a comment!

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7 Ways Local Businesses Can Improve Website SEO


Anyone who runs an online business needs to get to grips with search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of working to make your website rank more highly in results pages on search engines such as Google. There are a few strategies you can use to help your site rank better in local search results. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can improve your website SEO through simple WordPress improvements.

Why is ranking well for local search queries so important? According to Business Wire, 67% of Americans prefer to shop with local businesses where possible. Additionally, an estimated 46% of all Google searches have local intent.

Speaking anecdotally, I have seen the importance of local search results first-hand. 80-90% of the business for my web design agency, Lform Design, comes from within our home state of New Jersey. 

Website design makes a big difference in your SEO performance due to a number of factors that we’ll look at in more detail. Fortunately, with a bit of know-how, it’s not hard to create a local SEO-friendly site.  

Have I convinced you? Read on to learn a few easy web design and SEO-boosting tricks that can be applied to WordPress sites in order to give your business a leg up in local SEO boost. 

How Does Web Design Impact SEO?

Whether you’re building your own website or working with an agency, the sooner you get your head around the fundamentals of SEO, the better. Many website owners make the mistake of only thinking about SEO once their site is up and running. However, web design can have a significant impact on SEO if you bear it in mind from the start.

There’s one main reason for this: Google prioritizes sites that are user-friendly. Good web design makes it easy for both search engine crawlers and human users to navigate through your site. Therefore, you should prioritize navigability and user-friendliness at every stage of your website design process. 

Website design factors vary from page load speed to the domain name you choose. Each factor can all have a substantial impact on your SEO, for better or worse.  And, since online businesses and company websites can live or die by their SEO, you’ll want to make sure the impact is positive.

It’s worth taking a look at Google’s Core Web Vitals to learn about these factors in more depth.

How to Improve Your Website Design for a Local SEO Boost

Fortunately, there are several ways to optimize your site for SEO, either at the point of design or by making amends later. Today, we’ll look at seven strategies that specifically relate to local SEO. 

Let’s get started!

1. Optimize Your Homepage

Perhaps the easiest way to optimize your website for SEO purposes is to start with the content on your homepage. This will be where most of your website visitors land when they first arrive at your site, so you must make sure it’s up to the task. 

Your homepage can achieve two important SEO goals:

  • Attract local searchers to your site
  • Keep them on your site longer, reducing your bounce rate

Your homepage should clearly tell your website visitors who you are and what you do. Since you are aiming to attract local searchers, you should be sure to mention your location prominently on your homepage. In addition, it should clearly signpost visitors to help them find the page they need on your site. 

Here’s an example:

Local website homepage example

This is the homepage for Palmer, an advertising agency in San Francisco (and one of the top Google results for the search term “ad agency San Francisco”). Notice how it clearly states what the company is and does, references geographical location in a prominent place, and contains a descriptive menu to help customers find whatever they need. 

2. Make the Most of Metadata

Meta tags are small bits of data about a web page embedded in the page’s HTML.

Sound complicated? Don’t worry, it’s fairly simple and you don’t need any coding knowledge. The easiest way to insert metadata on each of your pages or posts is to use the Yoast SEO plugin, available through WordPress.

Since you’re focusing on optimizing your site for local SEO, your metadata should include a reference to your business’s geographical location. This will tell search engines where you’re located and increase your chances of showing up in local results.

Here’s an example of how working with Metadata in the Yoast plugin looks: 

Yoast SEO Plugin Screenshot

Remember to optimize the metadata for each page on your website. If you have a blog (which you should!), then optimize the tags on each post, too. 

Remember though, tags aren’t just for search engines. Make sure you’re only using a select few tags to group information, rather than spamming them.

3. Use Local Business Schema

Schema, also known as structured data markup, is a kind of code that you can add to each page of your website to tell search engines what the page contains. There is a particular subcategory called local business schema that can have an impact on local SEO. 

Not sure if you have schema on your site? Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to check:

Google's Structured Data Testing Tool

You can add numerous different fields to your local business schema. At a minimum, I recommend that you add:

  • Company name
  • Contact information, including telephone number and business email address
  • Physical address
  • Opening hours
  • Company logo
  • A short description of what you do

You can always add more at a later date if you wish. You can also add schema to separate product or service pages. For local SEO purposes, you’ll likely want to focus on local business schema.

4. Ensure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly

When I started my custom web design and development agency in 2005, we didn’t think or talk much about mobile-friendly website design. In those days, few people had internet-enabled mobile phones. However, the way we use the internet has changed beyond recognition in the last 15 years. 

Approximately 10.5% of web traffic worldwide came from mobile devices by 2010. In 2020, that figure stood at around 50%. That means that mobile-friendly web design is no longer an afterthought or a nice-to-have, but an absolute necessity. By the end of the year, Google will have switched all websites to mobile-first indexing, which means the mobile version of a site will be even more important than the desktop version when it comes to search rankings. 

Mobile-friendly website design is particularly important for those businesses targeting a local market. Why? Because people are extremely likely to search for relevant local businesses using their mobile devices while they are on the go. What’s more, 88% of consumers who do a local search from a smartphone visit a relevant local business within 24 hours. 

The data speaks for itself: you cannot hope to promote your website effectively in local searches if your site is not optimized for mobile users. A high-quality responsive design will ensure your site renders well on all devices. 

5. Ensure Your Site is Fast and Easy to Use

Did you know that 40% of internet users will abandon a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less? That’s an enormous amount of traffic and prospective custom you’re missing out on if your website is slow to load! A slow site can also seriously harm your search rankings.

In the context of local SEO, a slow site can destroy your chances of getting a spot in the coveted Google 3-pack

Here are some of my top tips to help you speed up your site and keep your rankings intact: 

  • Choose a great, SEO-friendly hosting service. If you can afford it, dedicated hosting is a better option than shared. 
  • If you mostly want to attract local traffic, choose a local server. This will reduce server response time and speed up your site. Another option is to use a content delivery network (CDN). 
  • Compress images to the appropriate size. You can use a plugin like WP Smush to do this without losing image quality.
  • Optimize your site scripts and remove any that are unnecessary. Plugins like Asset Cleanup are great for this. 
  • Keep your content management system, themes, and any plugins updated. 

As a rule of thumb, I suggest aiming for a loading time of under 200ms for your site across the board. 

Top tip: You can use a free tool like Google Lighthouse to check your site pages’ load times and more key info.

6. Optimize Your Content for Local Search Intent

Creating a steady stream of great content on your website, such as through a blog, has a significant positive benefit when it comes to SEO. If you want to target local customers, make an effort to create local content

Here’s an example. I wrote this post on the Lform Design blog about the best web design companies in New Jersey:  

Local content blog

As a direct result of this post, Lform Design is now the first organic result on a Google search for terms like “best NJ web design”. 

Remember, you can also mention your geographical location in posts that don’t have a specific local theme, as long as it fits in organically. Here’s how we did it recently:

Local content example

This post is about web design amid the challenges of COVID-19. However, it was easy to include a reference to our specific location in a way that fits organically into the piece. 

7. Ensure Your NAP Data is Included

NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. In other words, your business’s contact information. Many businesses include their NAP data in their website footer, but you can go a step further than that. Why not have a separate “Contact Us” or “How to Find Us” page? If you have multiple locations, use a page for each location. 

Here’s how Figment, a design agency based in London, does it: 

Website NAP

NAP on a local business website

The company displays the full address of each of its locations in the website footer, and then also has a separate page for each. 

If you want to use NAP data effectively for local SEO, you must ensure it is consistent. How does your data appear on your website and in your Google My Business listing? It must be identical everywhere. 

Fortunately, Google and search engines have gotten smarter about NAP, recognizing that St. = Street, for example. If in doubt, cross-reference your website and listings with a list of accepted abbreviations

Conclusion

Robust SEO is vital if you want to run a successful online business, and never more so than for businesses targeting local customers. Since such a significant percentage of Google searches have a local intent, you’re likely missing out on a lot of business if you don’t put concerted efforts into local SEO. 

You don’t need to be an SEO expert to lift your business higher in the rankings, though. You just need to understand the basics and apply a few important strategies rigorously. Start with the tips I’ve laid out for you here and you’ll be off to a flying start.

Good luck!