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local SEO

Tips for Attracting Local Clients

Marketing Podcast with David Mihm
Podcast Transcript

Perhaps the hottest area in the world of search today is local. I’ve been writing about this topic for about ten years, but Google is finally taking it seriously.

The reason? Plain old AdWords search revenue is starting to shrink and Google is looking to monetize the map and local listings as the next frontier. In fact, they never actually want you to leave the SERPs and are using your website to inform their results with knowledge rather than send traffic.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is David Mihm. He is a digital marketing expert for small businesses, co-founder of GetListed.org, and founder of Tidings. He and I discuss local search trends and why Google may not ever want you to leave the search engine results pages.

Mihm was instrumental in the development of Moz Local and served as Moz’s Director of Local Search Strategy. He has been invited to present on Local search marketing at every major industry conference, including the BIA/Kelsey Group ILM Series, LSA, StreetFight, MozCon, SearchLove, and multiple SMX and SES events.

Questions I ask David Mihm:

  • What’s going on in local right now that people need to know?
  • Should we optimize for Google’s 3-pack?
  • Are we coming to an age where fewer people will land on websites directly?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • What you need to know about snippets
  • Why everyone needs a VPN
  • What you need to know about the trend of blending organic and paid search

Key takeaways from the episode and more about David Mihm:

Looking for an awesome WordPress tools for your business? Look no further than Thrive Themes and Thrive Leads. They are packed with features that will not only make your website building life easy, but will make your entire website convert more of your visitors into subscribers, customers & clients. Click here to learn more.

This week’s episode is also brought to you by ActiveCampaign. This is my new go-to CRM, ESP, and marketing automation platform. With its low cost, any size of business can use it. Starting at $19/month, you can keep track of your clients, see who’s visiting your website, and follow-up based on behavior. Learn more here.

local business

How to Create Local Content for Local SEO

Pre-internet days, it didn’t take a lot for local businesses to notify a prospect that they are located in the same city. Handing them a flyer with business details and an address was pretty much a giveaway as to where you did business. Running an ad in the local daily newspaper or the Yellow Pages was how you got found in your town.

Times have changed. Search engines are one of the primary ways that people find nearby products and services. In this digital era, it’s not always so obvious where your business is located or who it is that you serve, and this can be a real challenge for local business owners.

While there is a growing list of local SEO tactics that you must implement, one that often goes unnoticed is the use of local content. You must genuinely put in the time and effort to create local content to alert website visitors where you are so that you hit your ideal clients in town, not somebody located across the world.

The problem I often see is that many local business owners either aren’t aware of how much effort goes into making content to make their business known locally online, or they’re aware, but just don’t know where to get started. So, instead of playing the guessing game, below are some helpful hints that could help to point you in the right direction.

Creating local content

I’ve said it often, and I guarantee I’ll continue to say it. . . Content is no longer king – It’s air.

Yes, it’s that important for your marketing. Without it, the ability to get discovered and rise above your competition in search engine results pages becomes significantly harder.

While the majority of your content can be general and focused on your audience and how you can solve their problems, it’s important to sprinkle in some material that also focuses on your community. When doing this, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Embrace the community beyond what you sell – Show that you are involved and know what’s going on in your area, whether it’s supporting a local sports team or discussing neighborhood news and events. Talking about community, customer, and employee-related local news is a great way to mix up your local content in authentic ways.
  • Develop case studies that address the different neighborhoods you serve. Show that you’ve had successes in the areas of people you’re trying to reach.
  • Write about local things that people care about – Don’t just write about what you’re interested in. Write what your audience would be interested in.

One important thing to keep in mind throughout your content development is intent. What do you intend to accomplish with every piece of content your produce? It’s easy to get spammy if you just list a bunch of random local content, so tying it into your business is ideal. Remember, if you want to use content as a tool to drive local traffic then you have to make it useful and local.

A good example of a piece of local content done well was by my client, Jackson Tree Service. They wrote a blog post titled, St. Louis Suburbs Giving Citations for Unkept TreesThis post was educational and helpful for members of the community, but it also tied into their business effortlessly.

Now, you don’t necessarily need to develop all the content on your own. Having local guest bloggers and contributors post on your site is a great way to add content, while also expanding your audience to the contributor’s audience as well.

In addition to blogging, don’t forget to incorporate local content across the rest of your website:

  • Use the names of your city and suburbs across your site pages.
  • Add your NAP (name, address, and phone number) to the header or footer of your site so that it appears on all pages.
  • Add a Google map so that people can see exactly where you’re located and the areas that you serve.

More than ever, your website is at the core of how you get ranked and found locally online. Make sure that your content is tailored specifically to the search results you want to show up in.

Best practices for local content

Link building and keywords

Keyword research is a huge game changer when it comes to local SEO. Be sure to add local keywords to the text used to link back to your site from places like LinkedIn or in article directories. Be sure to also add local keywords in the internal links on your pages as well.

Link building from external sites has changed over the years, and it’s now much more about quality than quantity. Getting inbound links from core businesses in your community, such as chamber directories, tourism directories, and local strategic partner pages, can be huge and a big win for your business.

On-page elements

Be sure to optimize your pages and posts with local keywords in the following areas:

  • Title tags
  • Meta description
  • Body copy
  • Anchor text (linking to other content)
  • H1 tags (Usually your headline)
  • Bold and italics tags
  • URLs
  • Alt text in images

Use rich snippets

By using rich snippets, you can help Google find geographic information, information about people in your business and reviews of your products and services. They essentially help users find your website when it references a local place.

Don’t forget about reviews

Reviews are a form of content that many local business owners neglect. While you need positive reviews for social proof, you also need them as a pillar of your local SEO efforts.

You must put consistent effort into getting reviews. Even a business with raving fans needs to work hard to get reviews from happy customers. The key is to ask often and make it as easy as possible for happy customers to log in to the sites that matter, such as Yelp and Google, and leave a review.

You can repurpose these reviews into other forms of local content on your site as well.

Make creating local content a priority. By continuously putting time towards it and striving to make it better, you should start to see the rewards come in.

Need more local marketing tips? Check out our entire Guide to Local Marketing

missing the boat

Why You May Be Missing the Boat When It Comes to Local SEO

If you own or work for a local business within your community, you simply can’t ignore local SEO if you want your business to stay competitive. People need to be able to find you in local search results, and businesses near the top of the search engine results pages don’t show up there by accident. They put in the time and effort to make sure they get found.

If you have started implementing local SEO tactics but still aren’t where you want to be in search results, you may be missing some key elements. Below are a few common reasons businesses may be missing the boat when it comes to local SEO.

You’re ignoring the importance of on-page elements

On-page factors are important for SEO in general to make sure you get found online, but there are a few things you really need to be paying attention to when it comes to local search. If you want to reach local prospects and customers, you should include the name of the city or area your business serves within your page title and meta description. This will help notify both Google and prospects of where you are. Including your location within your website content is important as well. Be sure to also include your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on the homepage of your website as another area that can alert Google where you are located.

You’re not paying attention to your citation profile and inbound links

The majority of consumers use search engines to conduct local searches, but many businesses don’t claim a single local business listing online, which is a problem.

Google relies on hundreds of data aggregators and directories to help them keep all the local businesses straight. Getting your listing right on search engines is essential. If you’ve moved or changed your name, address, or phone number (NAP), or just listed it in numerous ways across a bunch of directories, there’s a good chance Google isn’t sure which listing is accurate, which can hurt you in terms of getting found online.

Google wants to send people to the right physical address. I’d recommend investing in a tool like MozLocal to see where your business stands. If you find that there are a few inaccurate, inconsistent and incomplete listings use MozLocal, BrightLocalWhiteSpark or Yext to clean up listings and get rid of inaccurate duplicates.

In addition to being listed on directories, such as Yelp, make sure your business is included in local directories, such as with your chamber of commerce or tourism associations, as well.

Your Google My Business listing isn’t optimized

While Google My Business is technically a listing, it’s a big one and comes with its own set of optimization requirements. It is imperative that you pay attention to, claim, and optimize your Google My Business Listing. To get everything set up, visit google.com/business.

Unfortunately, there’s a chance you may have some cleanup to do. Confirm you only have one listing for your business and that it’s the one Google thinks is yours.

Once the right listing is claimed, take full advantage of the real estate and linking options available. This is essential for your business to show up in the desired Google 3-pack for local searches.

Your Google My Business Listing must be optimized and include the following:

  • Solid information including a description, business hours, and so on
  • An accurate category
  • Photos or videos
  • 5-star reviews

Note the exact way your NAP appears in the listing. Whatever is listed as the NAP on the listing, you’ll want to use it consistently on your website and across all directories and online mentions. If you don’t have a location customers or clients can visit, you can hide your physical address as you’re setting up your Google My Business listing.

Online reviews aren’t a priority to you

Google sees reviews as one of the elements that help determine what businesses show up in the 3-pack, but as you may be aware, reviews aren’t always easy to get. Even a business with loyal and satisfied customers must work to get them.

The key is to ask often and make it as easy as possible for happy customers to log in to the sites that matter and leave a review for you, such as on Google My Business listings and Facebook. You can always repurpose these reviews in other areas such as in email newsletters or on your website.

Tools like GetFiveStars and Grade.us can help automate the process of review collection to help lessen the burden on you.

If you run a local business, it’s important to make the steps above a priority. You may find that local leads drawn from organic search can become your most effective lead generation channel.

Remember, whenever a review is left about your business, positive or negative, it’s important to respond to it. It shows others reading the reviews that you care what your customers think and that you are willing to dedicate time to their own unique experiences and needs.

You don’t understand schema markup and are not using it

If you’re not familiar with schema markup, it’s a good idea to brush up on this topic so that you know how to use it. You should be conversational and knowledgeable on the topic, but you don’t really need to know anything about the underlying code to get markup right. Just visit Schema.org’s Local Business NAP generator and fill it in – the tool will produce the HTML code you need to add to your client’s site in place of their current address.

In a nutshell, search engines are trying to adopt a consistent markup protocol to help use HTML code to identify things such as businesses, reviews, addresses, movies and so on. However, few businesses are using this on their websites, and if they are using it, they aren’t using it to its fullest potential.

Here’s the thing, by using schema markup, you’re not being sneaky. Google actually wants you to use it because it helps them better determine what the content on your website is all about.

You’re not creating local content

When you create content, you need to go above and beyond to let local customers know where you are.

It’s easy to get spammy when a lot of local content is listed and this can hurt you, but you can absolutely talk about where you work. Consider creating specific pages with case studies for specific neighborhoods that you cater to. It’s important for you to use your blog to talk about local events, the community, your customers, and employee-related local news.  By doing so, you are able to mix up your content in unique ways.

Are you implementing all of the recommendations above? If not, identify the areas you need to work on and really try to optimize them. This should help improve your rankings in search engine results pages and properly compete with your local competition.

Tips for Attracting Local Clients

Marketing Podcast with David Mihm
Podcast Transcript

Perhaps the hottest area in the world of search today is local. I’ve been writing about this topic for about ten years, but Google is finally taking it seriously.

The reason? Plain old AdWords search revenue is starting to shrink and Google is looking to monetize the map and local listings as the next frontier. In fact, they never actually want you to leave the SERPs and are using your website to inform their results with knowledge rather than send traffic.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is David Mihm. He is a digital marketing expert for small businesses, co-founder of GetListed.org, and founder of Tidings. He and I discuss local search trends and why Google may not ever want you to leave the search engine results pages.

Mihm was instrumental in the development of Moz Local and served as Moz’s Director of Local Search Strategy. He has been invited to present on Local search marketing at every major industry conference, including the BIA/Kelsey Group ILM Series, LSA, StreetFight, MozCon, SearchLove, and multiple SMX and SES events.

Questions I ask David Mihm:

  • What’s going on in local right now that people need to know?
  • Should we optimize for Google’s 3-pack?
  • Are we coming to an age where fewer people will land on websites directly?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • What you need to know about snippets
  • Why everyone needs a VPN
  • What you need to know about the trend of blending organic and paid search

Key takeaways from the episode and more about David Mihm:

Looking for an awesome WordPress tools for your business? Look no further than Thrive Themes and Thrive Leads. They are packed with features that will not only make your website building life easy, but will make your entire website convert more of your visitors into subscribers, customers & clients. Click here to learn more.

This week’s episode is also brought to you by ActiveCampaign. This is my new go-to CRM, ESP, and marketing automation platform. With its low cost, any size of business can use it. Starting at $19/month, you can keep track of your clients, see who’s visiting your website, and follow-up based on behavior. Learn more here.

3 The Local SEO Playbook – Your Guide to Local Rankings

Look, if you’re a local business, meaning most or all of your business comes from customers living in your community, you must get very serious about local SEO.

Don’t worry, ranking locally for the kinds of things your prospects are looking for isn’t rocket science, but it does take a serious commitment to a handful of things.

In case you’re wondering if it’s worth the investment in such a commitment, let me share a few survey tidbits.

  • 98% of searchers choose a business that is on page 1 of the results they get.
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 77% of smartphone users contact a business after looking for local Information

And, I could go on, but I’m guessing you see the point – if you don’t rank well locally for the things people are searching for marketing will be a lot harder and a lot more expensive.

Here’s the good news – focus on these five elements and you can expect great results from local SEO and search. (The competitiveness of your industry may dictate your ultimate results.)

Optimize Google My Business

Google has a bit of a naming crisis when it comes to their local directory listings, but for now, you must pay attention to, claim, and optimize your Google My Business Listing.

Google My Business for local seo

If this is news to you go immediately to Google’s Free Business Listing page and find out if you can claim your current listing.

Many people created or had created Google+ listings and Google made a mess of how this became Google My Business so you may have some cleanup to do to make sure that you only have one listing for your business and it’s the one Google thinks is your business.

Once you claim the right listing you need to make sure you take full advantage of all of the real estate and linking options available to you.

This, by the way, is essential if your business is to ever show up in the coveted Google 3-pack for local searches shown above.

Make sure you have the right business category and subcategories chosen for your business.

Make note of the exact way your business name, address and phone number (NAP) appear. Exact meaning is is Street or St., is it Heating & Cooling or Heating and Cooling. Whatever you show listed as the NAP on your Google My Business Page, you’ll want to use consistently on your own website and across all directories. (More on this in a bit.)

Get markup right

Search engines are busy trying to adopt a consistent markup protocol to help use HTML code to properly identify things like businesses, reviews, addresses, books, movies and the like.

 

You can learn about the current popular markup for local businesses by visiting Schema.org.

Using proper markup for your address is kind of like handing Google your business card on a silver platter. It doesn’t look like anything to the naked eye, but Google spiders can be 100% certain what they are looking at when it comes to identifying an address on your web pages.

The good news is that you don’t really need to know anything about the underlying code to get this part right. Simply visit Schema.org’s Local Business NAP generator and fill in the blanks – The tool will produce the HTML code you need to add to your site in place of your current address.

schema for local seo

There are other things you can do with structured markup and you can read all about it here.

Clean up citations

So, you might very well be familiar with a few directories like Yelp! and Google Local, or maybe even an industry specific directory or two like Houze or Angie’s List, but you probably didn’t realize that Google relies on hundreds of data aggregators and directories to help them sort out and keep straight all of the local businesses out.

So, getting your listing straight on Google is essential, but if you’ve moved, or changed your phone, or just listed your details in all sorts of ways in business filings or Chamber directories, there’s a good chance Google isn’t sure which listing is correct and that’s not a good thing.

local seo ecosystem

Google use many data sources to try to get the most accurate picture. The image above from MOZLocal shows the interrelation of information sourced between data agrregators, directories, and search engines in the US.

The last thing Google wants to do is send someone to the wrong address when they search for a local business.

how directory listing relate to local seo

Above is an example of a local business that has multiple inconsistent citations online. The name is spelled out differently, there are three different phone numbers and at least two different addresses.

I’m certainly not picking on this business – In my experience, some sort of inaccurate data is out there for most businesses.

Use a tool like MozLocal and see just how bad this problem is for your business.

Once you determine there are a few inaccurate, inconsistent and incomplete listings use MozLocal, BrightLocal, WhiteSpark or Yext to clean listings and suppress inaccurate duplicates that often occur.

You might also want to check out this list of other local directories by city and this list of industry specific directories.

This step alone can do more for your local listings than any other aspect of local SEO.

Create local SEO content

This one should be obvious but it kind of isn’t.

If you think about it, when you create a brochure and hand it to a prospect that pretty much know that you work in their city. But, when you create content online, you need to go over and above to spell out where you do your work.

Now, it’s easy to get spammy listing lots of local content and that can hurt you as much as help you, but you certainly should talk about where you work and in some cases have specific pages with case studies for specific trade areas, suburbs, and neighborhoods.

Don’t forget to blog and post about local events and happenings. Using your blog to take about community, customer, and employee related local news is a great way to spice up your local content in very authentic ways.

If you have multiple locations you may want to learn about and adopt what many SEO folks refer to as content silos for each location – here’s a great primer on local content silos.

Focus on reviews

Reviews have become another important form of content. As the statistic cited at the beginning of this post suggests, people increasingly rely on reviews to make decisions about the products and services they purchase.

So, while you need positive reviews for social proof, you also need them as a pillar of your local SEO efforts.

Google factors review activity as one of the elements that helps determine what businesses show up in the 3-pack.

No, it’s not the only factor, but it’s an important one.


how reviews relate to local SEO

 

The graph above from a BrightLocal survey demonstrates just how important reviews have become in the purchase journey for local businesses. Just a few years go nearly 30% admitted they didn’t use reviews – today that number is 8%. Meaning – 92% of buyers regularly or occasionally rely on reviews when making a local buying decision.

Take a look at the businesses in the image above. Reviews are displayed and play a large role in what businesses are shown and for the consumer, what business are clicked. You must have at least 5 reviews for Google to display the review stars as a highlighting feature of local results – that alone makes it important to acquire reviews.

Reviews are harder to get than they should be. Even a business with raving fans must work to get those reviews from happy customers.

The key is to ask often and make it as easy as possible for your happy customers to log in to the sites that matter and leave a review. Sure you’ll take a glowing email testimonial from a customer, but far better to push for a Google, Yelp, Facebook or industry review. (Check out this list of important industry review sites.)

You can always repurpose these reviews in email newsletters, on your site, or even hanging up in the store.

Many businesses are finding that they need to make review collection a process rather than leaving it to chance. Tools like GetFiveStars and Grade.us can help automate the process of review collection.

Take some time and make each of the five steps above a priority for your local business and you may find that local leads drawn from organic search can become your most potent lead generation channel.