SEO for Local Businesses
We are currently accepting an extremely limited number of local search engine optimization clients, but want to help any small business that needs it. With the local SEO roadmap below and some diligent work, anyone can get more customers for their local business using Google Maps Pack and Website SEO.
Website SEO doesn’t have to be overly complicated. SMBs aren’t competing with Amazon, they’re competing with other SMBs. Implement this plan to make your local website SEO better than your competitor’s.
Local SEO Roadmap
This document outlines the basic steps that need to be taken to put a local brick and mortar business in a position to win as many or more customer opportunities than their competitors do from organic google search. The two primary traffic sources are: 1, Organic traffic to the business website 2. “Maps pack” traffic to the business google my business listing.
Google Maps Pack SEO Strategy
The overall strategy is to understand the factors that Google uses to rank websites for each of the traffic sources we are looking to influence and take steps to improve our optimization score for each of these factors.
Local SEO Tactics
Local brick and mortar business needs to have a somewhat different tactical implementation of SEO than ecommerce or online lead generators. The first step in any successful organic SEO campaign is to implement the Google tools you’ll need to measure your current traffic generation and keyword rankings.
- Google Analytics – Install the pixel on the site. Ensure key stakeholders have access, synch with other google tools
- Google My Business – Create the listing, ensure core data is accurate, review initial traffic report, share access, synch with other google tools
- Google Search Console – Complete site ownership verification, synch with other Google tools, share access
- Google Ads – Create account, set up billing (if client directed), synch with other google tools (whether or not you run ads, having this in place allows for better keyword research and provides other benefits). This provides the shell in which to build a campaign if desired. Campaign setup and management are available via a separate engagement.
Website Traffic Baselining & Measurement Standardization
Once the above tools are in place, you can collect baseline data to learn more about the current traffic and visibility of your website and Google My Business listing. At this point we will create standard dashboards and shortcuts which you can view on demand to help measure progress against the organic traffic and keyword ranking goals.
Keyword Research & Traffic Estimation
The next step is to generate keyword targets. We’ll work with you to generate some initial keyword ideas that are highly relevant to your products, services and problems you help your customers solve. Once you’ve got a basic keyword list (usually 15-25 keywords), we’ll use the google ads keyword tool to get traffic estimates and expand this list with any new keyword opportunities we find.
Content Gap Analysis
Once we’ve defined the keywords that we want to rank for and evaluated the current search engine visibility for those keywords, we will create a roadmap of the content we’ll need to produce in order to improve the website ranking for the target keywords. We’ll then produce a content calendar to schedule a rollout of the required pages over time.
Google My Business Page
The Google My Business page is extremely important for generating local SEO traffic. There are 3 main categories of elements which need to be reviewed and implemented.
- Core business data (Name, Address, Phone, Hours, Website URL)
- Business generated content (staff images, location images, videos)
- User generated content (reviews and ratings)
Core Business Info
It’s critical to standardize your core business information. Ensuring that the exact same information about your business is shown across the web is a key element to building citation authority. Google uses the number of times it finds the same information on different websites as an indicator of how relevant and authoritative a business citation is. Use this document to draft and confirm your information.
Business Generated Content
Get good pictures of your leadership team. Front line staff pictures are also good. It’s good to include a photo of the storefront from the street. A few pictures of the areas customers will visit is also recommended. Videos are great to include as well.
User Generated Content
The most important part of user generated content is user reviews. There are many strategies for the best way to request user reviews. This process needs to be customized for each business, but will involve some combination of asking customers to write you a review on google at the point of service, via follow up email/sms, or in some other way.Businesses with 0 reviews will almost never rank for high traffic queries. Having the highest number of reviews or the best start rating won’t necessarily cause you to get the best ranking, but having a similar count and quality of reviews as your competitors for the space is a critical element to capturing traffic.
For a full discussion on NAP please see this blog post. This short version is that we’ll use the information you’ve confirmed as correct, and submit it to the local business data aggregators. There are hundreds of business listing website on the internet, so rather than spend hours manually creating listings on as many of them as possible, we submit the information to 4 major data aggregators, which are where the vast majority of the local business listing website get their data. In 2020 we are recommending that clients use BriteLocal’s aggregator submissions service, which costs $60/yr. It is recommended to maintain this account in subsequent years to avoid being downranked by Acxiom and Neustar Localeze. More on that from Moz Local (a more expensive alternative to Brite Local) here. This process will post your data to all major internet directories, usually in 60 days or less. Individual directories may take more or less time to accept and publish the data.
Conclusion & Additional Options
Putting this set of strategies and tactics in place will provide a solid foundation up which to build any future digital marketing efforts. In low to moderate competition markets, executing against this plan alone will be enough to generate a stream of organic Google traffic that will provide customers and revenue long into the future. In highly competitive markets, additional tactics may be required to build the necessary authority and relevancy required to earn non-paid Google traffic. These tactics might include link building, PR, social media marketing, and website performance upgrades. The best way to determine whether or not your business will become successful relative to your goals using just this standards compliant, reasonably low effort set of strategies and tactics is to put it in place. Since implementing the best available measurement tools for Google organic traffic was step 1, at the end of the 90 day engagement you will have the information you need to understand whether the best next step is to build a more aggressive campaign or if you’ve done enough.