If you are a small to medium sized local business owner (or a marketing manager) ready to invest in SEO services, there are six main buckets your SEO agency should include in the strategy. These include:
- Google My Business
- Building Local Citations
- Schema for Local Businesses
- Building Location-Specific Landing Pages
- Local Blog
- Link Building
When it comes to local SEO, these points are crucial to cover. More so, they need to all run in alignment to achieve the same goal of attracting local buyers and converting them to revenue.
What You Should Know About Digital Marketing Going into 2019
Over the last few years, the way consumers shop for goods and services has changed dramatically. Therefore, any digital marketing strategy will need to align with the way your customers consume information relevant to making purchasing decisions.
Most of your customers will come from online searches. In 2017, digital ad spend outpaced television commercials for the first time in our history. For the record, 500 digital marketing agencies were surveyed in 2018 revealing that more than 40 percent of SMB customers partnering with SEO agencies decided to add paid media to the strategy as a way to attract and nurture more customers alongside organic search. Think about this. Then consider the fact that of these surveyed agencies, an average of 62 percent of their client’s revenue came from organic traffic. SEO is THE WAY to grow your business in 2019, and (for most local businesses) investing marketing dollars in organic and paid media will garner a greater return than TV, radio, or old school tactics.
Why Invest in Local SEO?
Hey, it’s a valid question to ask. Because local SEO is a process and discovering which strands of the organic strategy are paying off can be challenging for those lacking the right teams and tools, the need for organic search can be unclear.
First fo all, SEO makes your business credible. When companies rank well in Google, there is a perceived semblance of credibility that strikes the core of your buyer’s purchasing mindset. Various studies reveal that more than 85 percent of all Google clicks occur on organic, non-paid links as opposed to PPC links. The reason for this is that organic results coincide with credibility, as searchers know the company didn’t pay to be there.
SEO is also a long-play for saving money in marketing. As the initial investment is felt up front, once the process unfolds SEO is extremely cost-effective because the CPC (cost per click) is significantly lower than paid traffic. While business owners pay for paid media clicks whether or not the person converts, organic clicks are free once optimization is at its pinnacle.
SEO is also highly sustainable. Unlike paid media traffic, organic traffic doesn’t vanish the instant you stop paying your SEO agency. Investing in SEO is a process that takes time to play out, and historically it has helped support businesses in times of a downed recession or famine, as well as through a booming economy.
SEO also garners a significantly higher return on investment than PPC or paid media. When companies with longer sales cycles invest in inbound marketing with advanced CRMs that offer dialed in tracking analytics not accessible through Google Analytics, ROI can be effectively tracked. And when businesses have this technology, SEO can reveal data that can be used for optimization purposes to cut cost even further by focusing the marketing budget on areas most likely to convert.
Finally, SEO helps local businesses stay hyper competitive. On average, our local clients will see results from two to six months to get on the map and compete head to head against other brands. As long as the SEO agency has a powerful strategy that establishes the site firmly in the organic results, and that ranks keywords and search phrases for target buyers, the strategic advantage of investing in SEO pays off as a huge win.
Businesses are run in a Google-centric world, and this article will give insight as to how each of these six SEO buckets will help local businesses hit their growth goals.
Local SEO and Google My Business
If you haven’t already done it, you will want to log into the Google Business portal using your same email address for Google+, and add a location with the blue arrow found in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen (just follow the step-by-step directions what will be given).
If you are new to this, you will likely need to claim your business. Google will send a verification code to your physical address through the mail. Once you get the letter from Google, enter the code to be an official owner of your Google My Business (GMB) Page. Once you have done this, don’t just let it sit there as it. You will want to optimize it so that local searchers can find you.
In order to do this you will need to tweak every GMB field along with your Google+ page to let the search engine know that your business sees value in taking advantage of all the opportunities they provide one with that helps empower local SEO. These will include:
- Editing your hours of operation, phone number, address and categories.
- Uploading geotagged photos of your business, its interior, products and staff
- Tag the images with appropriate SEO keywords
- Add a story about your business, products and services using your keywords along with topics relevant to your buyer’s needs
- Add your business name, address and phone number to your Google+ page
Many argue that Google+ no longer carries much weight. However, all of our local SEO clients who followed these tips saw improvements in their local ranking within a month.
In order to be found in local search results, Having a constant NAP (name, address phone number) in relevant online directories (make sure the directories are industry related or Google can view you as spam) garners citation data aggregators sending clear signals to Google that you are trying to make it easy for users to find you. Search for industry-related online directories where you can empower your geosearch presence through healthy citations.
Schema for Local SEO
Once your site is setup through Google Search Console, you can take advantage of the Scehma.org partnership with the search engine to markup your site with structured data. This is data made easy for Google to crawl and understand, and that gives the search engine vital information about your business, products and services, reviews, and who the ideal customers are.
Schema can be intimidating for even the largest organizations because it requires coding, or the right technology with custom plugins. There are tools that allow businesses to input their information into the necessary fields, but not having the right categories or keyword knowledge can be counterproductive. Many local businesses seek the help of SEO agencies to implement structured data. However, if you decide to do this on your own just make sure you use Google’s free Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure it was correctly added to the footer.
Specific-Location Landing Pages for SEO
If your business services multiple regions or cities, you may be tempted to build out a plethora of subdomains. Please don’t. There is a more cost-effective and simpler way to rank for various local searches: geo specific landing pages. Let’s say your business is based in Los Angeles (specifically Sherman Oaks). But you provide services to people from Burbank to Santa Monica, and from Beverly Hills to Encino. You can reach customers in multiple areas by adding a “Locations” link to your navigation bar with a drop down menu that reveals each location. Or if you want to keep a cleaner look on your site at the expense of “some” SEO results, you can place the Location Menu in your footer.
When writing these pages you will want to strive for a minimum of 1000 words, though 2000 words is ideal. The content should cover the following:
- Speak specifically to how your business meets the needs of those in the local region
- Include multiple geo-identifying references
- Contain unique URLs, page titles, H tags, meta descriptions and image ALTs
- Align your target keywords with all the above points
- Use your keywords in topics and within a context that speaks to your target customers
Finally, add a CTA to your local pages that take leads from organic traffic to your conversion pages, such as form submit pages, shopping carts, appointment requests, or quote requests. Aside from ranking these pages to improve your overall domain authority and send more traffic to your site, your ultimate goal is to generate revenue, so don’t forget to optimize for growth.
Blogging for Local SEO
Creating a well-structured blog is one of the best ways to ensure an effective SEO strategy. For local search, it can be a game-changer. First, you will want to use the topic cluster model and internal link your blogs to those that cover similar topics. You will also want each blog to link to your pillar page (the home page or primary product / service page). This will help distribute SEO juice through the site, and so long as your blog are geo-focused, help rank content for local buyers that will help educate them in their purchasing decision.
Finally, make sure your blog has compelling images that speak to your buyer’s pain points. People are generally more visual, and using the right visual content in a growth-driven SEO strategy will help to increase conversions.
When your local pages are full of all the required unique, optimized content points and you have started building out a blog all under the umbrella of Google Best Practices, the final stroke to the perfect local SEO strategy is link building. This is the process of earning links from other domains that point to yours.
Backlinks tell Google that your site is authoritative, so long as the links are healthy and come from ideal domains. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Make sure that at least 80 percent of all earned backlinks have the “follow” attribute so that SEO juice can be distributed.
- Some “nofollow” links are okay to have because they help Google believe that all your follow links were earned and not paid for.
- Make sure the topics and services on the referring domain relate directly to the topics and services on your site.
- The anchor text should be strategic and contain a main keyword
- Look for sites with strong domain authorities
- Look for .edu and .gov sites appropriate to your local areas
Once you have a great backlink portfolio that meets these guidelines, and your site has been optimized for local SEO, organic growth will spurt and your revenue targets will be in close range to hit on a consistent basis.
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