The Beginner’s Local SEO Playbook

Beginner's Guide to Local SEO Solutions
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Are you in search of local SEO solutions? Do you realize you need to up your online marketing game, but think you don’t have enough marketing budget? Have you thought about trying local marketing, but afraid to make the leap?

If you answered yes to any of those questions (or something similar), then you are in luck. First and foremost, local SEO solutions do not need to break the bank! Importantly, many of the low hanging fruit does not require significant expertise or time.

From managing your Google My Business (GMB) listing to asking for reviews, many local business owners already know about some of the key factors that local online marketing addresses. However, for some, previous work with unqualified consultants or ineffective paid search campaigns have scared them off to SEO activities that they can control and manage. Fortunately, local SEO best practices are continuously tested and companies can start slow and expand with their comfort level. As a result, the following offers a local SEO playbook that will help evaluate your current efforts and jumpstart new activities.

Generally speaking, local businesses can rely on three main local SEO pillars.

  • Local Citations (including GMB)
  • On-Site Content (including long tail keywords)
  • Reviews (including a slow and steady flow)

To help digest these local SEO pillars, the following will tackle local citations’ impact on hyperlocal marketing and act as part one of a three part series. The subsequent posts will tackle on-site SEO and its impact on local online marketing and the series will finish up with examining reviews, along with next steps to find the right local SEO solution for your needs.

Local Citations Remain the Unknown Key to Hyperlocal Marketing

Local Citations Jumpstart Hyperlocal Marketing

Although reviews get the buzz, Google also views local citations with the utmost importance. So, what are local citations?

Local citations are important because Google looks to confirm accurate company information. At a high level, local citations ensure the company name, address and phone number are exactly the same and is one of the more important ranking factors for local service companies.

As noted, citations list your company information on as many applicable sites as possible. Beyond Google, other well known citations (or directory type sites) are Yelp, Facebook, BBB and LinkedIn. For some industries, like HVAC, sites like HomeAdvisor or Angie’s are critical to ensure you own your business profile. Generally, these marque sites are well known and every business should already control them. However, the key to local citations is simple, but requires time and a little attention to detail.

What does this mean?

Companies must list the exact same information. For example, if the company address is 123 Main Street, then list 123 Main Street on your GMB profile, along with Facebook listing and Yelp/LinkedIn pages. Do not list 123 Main St because that is not the exact same. For companies that have been in business for a while, there may be multiple addresses as firms expand or move to a better location. Additionally, companies accrue a fair amount of numbers while testing different marketing activities. As a result, ensuring the main number or a local citation number is listed on all profiles requires some attention to detail.

Additionally, hyperlocal marketing means expanding beyond the well known citation sites. Fortunately, software solutions, such as Yext, automate business listings on many sites (most of which business owners are not aware of because they are too busy running their company). The added benefit of a solution like Yext is the software searches for duplicate listings that pop up over time and will remove them from the directory site. As a result, the automation cleans up your local citations, which improves your hyperlocal marketing in the eyes of Google. Plus, listing your company on so many well-ranked sites generates a decent amount of backlinks, which help your overall SEO foundation.

Google My Business (GMB) Optimization

Google remains the key entity to keep happy during any hyperlocal marketing efforts. As a result, the GMB listing holds a special spot while conducting local SEO reviews. These activities aim to accomplish the following:

  • GMB optimizations help potential customers find business by increasing eligible GMB categories.
  • effective GMB optimizations help:
    • increase in map views.
    • increase in impressions.
    • increase in phone calls/direction requests (as applicable).

Additionally, effective GMB optimization relies on some standard SEO activities. For example, leverage some keyword research to update your business profile. Also, leverage all of the options (or as many as feasible) that GMB allows. By adding products, services, photos and more, then you control more of what a potential customer sees when your company shows up in search results. Finally, Google continually iterates on GMB, so keep an eye on any updates that may impact your business.

Hyperlocal Marketing in Action

To help showcase how local citations and GMB optimizations impact business performance, our agency (All Points Digital) wants to share some client results.

In April 2021, our team implemented various Google My Business optimizations to help a high end/luxury auto body shop find new customers. The core optimizations included updating GMB categories, adding and creating services based on monthly search volume, and adding target keywords to applicable descriptions. The results since implementation vs. previous year speak for themselves.

From April 2021 thru July 2021, the changes show that users are far more engaged with the GMB listings. Plus, the listings received more visibility in SERPs. The pre vs. post optimization periods of April-July 2021 vs. 2020 analysis:

  • 14% increase in phone calls
  • 60% increase in direction requests
  • 286% increase in total search impressions
  • 292% increase in direct search impressions
  • 1,443% increase in branded search impressions
  • 243% increase in discovery search impressions
  • 324% increase in total views
  • 396% increase in views on maps
  • 209% increase in views on search

Interested in learning more about about hyperlocal marketing or other local SEO solutions? Stay tuned for the next pillar in the local SEO playbook about on-page SEO.