How to Develop a Local SEO Campaign from Scratch

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Most businesses wish they had more visibility and more traffic for their business through search engines. Google alone processes more than 100 billion searches every month, and businesses in almost any industry can benefit from getting a higher position. The problem is, SEO itself is intimidating to those unfamiliar with the strategy, and national SEO is so crowded and competitive, you’d need a massive budget (or practically unlimited time on your hands) to earn a significant rank.

How to Develop a Local SEO Campaign from Scratch

The ideal alternative to this catch-22 is a local SEO strategy. Google’s local algorithm is actually separate from its national algorithm, designed solely for “local” searches (those including geographic indicator keywords or those processed on a device with location services enabled). Working locally means you’ll have to face less competition, making it easier to get your way into the precious “top 3” local positions. It also is somewhat less intensive than a national SEO strategy.

If you’re building a local SEO strategy from scratch, follow these quick steps to success:

1. Ensure all your onsite company information is accurate and up-to-date. The most important information for Google’s local search algorithm is your NAP—your Name, Address, and Phone Number. This is the locational information Google deems most critical, so if any of that information on your site is obsolete or inconsistent, expect to have a hard time ranking. Even a minor inconsistency, such as an abbreviation of a name in one iteration with a full spelling in another, can be enough to trigger a significant effect. Go through your site and ensure this information is featured prominently in all the key areas (home page, contact page, and footer for sure), as well as accurate.

2. Run a quick onsite optimization audit. Your onsite optimization matters for local SEO almost as much as it does for local SEO. Run a quick audit to see if there are any areas that require your attention. For example, ensure all your pages have descriptive, accurate title tags and meta descriptions (while you’re at it, include a handful of geographic indicators like your city and state name). Make sure you have a complete, visible navigation and a sitemap submitted to Google. Ensure all your content loads properly, with no 404 errors, and ensure your site is considered mobile friendly.

3. Establish a robust social media presence. Google checks social media platforms for supplementary information about various companies—it even pulls in some forms of social content, like tweets and Facebook posts. Ensure your business has claimed as many of these profiles as possible, especially on the major players in the field. All your NAP information should be accurate and up-to-date on these profiles as well, and you’ll want to fill out your company information as comprehensively as possible. Don’t leave any fields blank; the more information you can offer, the better. Even if Google doesn’t pick it up, a third-party directory might.

4. Correct any NAP inconsistencies you find in third-party directories. Third-party directories can be your best friend or worst enemy in the local SEO sphere. Google relies on these directories to inform its understanding of various businesses. For example, if it thinks your business has a certain name, address, and phone number based on your site, but it’s listed differently on a third-party directory, it registers an error and it could cause harm to your ranking potential. Check your profiles on as many third-party directories as possible, and clean up your NAP information if you find any errors.

5. Claim more profiles on more third-party directories. There’s no shortage of third-party directories out there. The major players, like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and UrbanSpoon, are treated with the most weight in Google’s algorithm, but don’t rule out the effects the smaller players can have. Claim your business profile on as many of these third-party directories as possible, and always keep an eye out for more.

6. Encourage and monitor local reviews for your business. The quantity and quality of reviews your business receives on these directories influences how authoritative your company is seen to be. Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to encourage all your customers to leave reviews (and optimize your service to ensure the best reviews possible). Then, monitor your progress, making up for any bad experiences while reinforcing positive ones. Just don’t buy or influence reviews directly—doing so is a violation of Yelp (and many other companies’) terms of service.

7. Write great local content regularly (and build links). Like with national SEO, local SEO depends on your ongoing efforts. Write great, relevant, appropriate content for your business that’s locally relevant. For example, you could write up an analysis of the local market or cover an upcoming event. It’s also good to attract inbound links, especially from authoritative local sources—the more high-quality backlinks you have pointing back to your site, the better.

Like any national SEO strategy, your ultimate success is going to rely on your ongoing commitment to holding your ranks. It may take a few months for your changes and new content to get you into one of those top slots, but you’ll have to keep working indefinitely as long as you want to stay there.

Prioritize developing great content, earning better backlinks, and always optimizing your reviews on local directories. With enough time invested and enough satisfied customers, you should have no problem earning and maintaining a top local position.


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