Effective location-based SEO (local SEO) can have a greater impact on the success of your digital marketing than any other basic marketing.
For a business with a physical location, or several corporate buildings to improve, the value of taking control of your local online space cannot be overemphasized.
The same can be said for companies that operate and serve in specific geographic areas that are central to the company’s revenue and related success criteria.
There are many misconceptions about local SEO; For example, local SEO is only for small businesses, or local SEO restricts overall online visibility.
It is important, when looking for local SEO outsourcing, to make sure that your expectations of the agency and the output you receive match your local SEO aspirations.
I hope this column helps.
SEO agency basics
Whether it be local SEO output or enterprise level SEO services, any well-established and effective search marketing agency will provide the essentials expected as professionals in their field.
This usually includes:
- A clear set of goals It matches your immediate, medium and long term requirements.
- Business plan reinforcement what Priorities and when are the milestones it will happen.
- data access and Building a larger data ecosystem To gain insights and take action.
- Agreed and consistent ways of communicatingreporting on progress, and enhancing what is being delivered for your investment.
- Iterative improvement From the continuous application of experience and evidence-based decision making.
- Direct access to key personnel Work with you to achieve your local SEO goals.
- simplified and Ongoing support and relevant feedback To enable agility and move approaches to maximize new opportunities and respond to changing threats.
- proactive and Effective customer service Enable collaborative work, or fully outsource as per client requirements.
There will be other priorities which may be unique to business conditions and areas of increased perceived value to your current requirements, and may be added to the above agency core expectations where appropriate.
As a tip, one thing to avoid in your prospects is a small set of very specific keywords localized for SEO to focus on.
These would be the five or ten that you might look at on your mobile phone each week and curse the competitor who ranks there.
While you may have some keywords that are more commercially important than others, please do not limit your focus (and that of any agency you decide to work with) to focus only on a few terms.
Consider the end goal of these terms and what you would like to achieve with local SEO success.
There may be thousands of relevant and highly effective search queries, as well as many new and unique ones being discovered every day in your data.
You don’t want to lose sight of these things and their potential value by narrowly focusing on just a few.
If it’s easier to get away from standalone keyword targets, consider the topic rather than the term. This can be more useful for measuring local SEO gains.
Strong technical performance
Regardless of your local SEO goals and objectives, every local SEO campaign must take into account website health, user experience, and overall technical ability to perform.
Traditionally within local SEO, this would focus on topics such as:
- Broken links and content.
- Duplicate, missing, and unoptimized metadata.
- Slow loading times.
- Crawl and index raw content.
- Duplicate content.
- Thin content pages, redirects, and soft 404s.
Add to the above a practical focus on:
- User experience including Core Web Vitals.
- Mobile compatibility.
- trust / https.
You may also want to include broader items more historically associated with larger entities and brands.
This can include providing easy access to information through the architecture of the site, and digital simplification to enable the user to reach their endpoint as easily and efficiently as possible (including broader conversation rate optimization principles).
It’s not enough to provide industry expert opinion and local content on a website with the expectation of dominating local SEO.
Any competitive local SEO campaigns should ideally be fed data content (evidence-backed) at levels of quality and volume far above what you might expect for locally oriented SEO campaigns.
Content creation on your end may be delivered in-house or outsourced to a marketing agency. But no matter the output method, pooling data, local SEO experts, and leveraging your own unique industry insights is crucial.
It is this combined approach that will provide a competitive edge, empower you to continually generate the best content, which has real standalone value both within the local niche and to build brand and broader authority.
From an agency, you should expect them to drive your local SEO content strategy and approach, while making ongoing recommendations using all available and relevant datasets to justify; The priority, focus, purpose and continuing impact of the content being created.
You expect the content to be created to increase the metric value and success of the content you have on your website.
You may also expect a steady focus on new opportunities to present ideas and implement new content that reflects new data sets and the changing needs of your core business audience.
As with any comprehensive SEO-led content strategy, you may want to cover a range of user intent, focus on the actual value delivered, and look at the spectrum of the information search and purchase cycle.
While this would skew towards local SEO, that does not limit the impact.
Related subject areas that are important to business are likely to have a broader appeal and opportunity to develop site trust, backlinks, and perceived relevance outside of the local demographic.
Local authority and confidence building
Building local authority is a mainstay within local SEO and a necessity to gain ground in your online niche.
There are a number of consistent threads for this including:
- Build a local brand with PR and local media publications.
- Business entity and related local and regional directory sites.
- Links and mentions of the brand, company and key employees in the community and business forums.
- Supporting local events, sharing experiences (and often resources, supporting charities, etc.).
- Content promotion and placement (both local content and topical commercial products/services content).
Outside of the aspect of citation and association to build authority is deeper experience, authority and broader trust gains.
This largely includes the management, improvement and continuous growth of reviews and engagement through Business Profiles on Google (for each business site), formerly Google My Business.
This includes (but is not limited to) optimizing search and maps, profile completion, content promotion, and answering your audience’s questions.
The more proactive you are in creating positive reviews as part of your combined business and agency focus (including targeted site-specific reviews), the faster you will see gains in your perceived authority online and local SEO results.
This should be through Google Business Profiles, Bing Places, and other established and trusted third party review sites.
Content and social media
You need to look at how you and your agency can enable your website and brand to become an integral part of the local community.
For some locations and brands this may be many communities, covering a number of geographically dispersed areas, while for others it may be a single location and the number of miles surrounding it.
Either way, the ability to enhance your website’s community focus through audience-aware content hubs, free community resources and tools, and local user-generated content, the better.
This will naturally relate to social media interaction, engagement and promotion, as well as social listening and audience building, through a true understanding of their wants and needs as well as pain points.
Most importantly how people/experts/employees, brand and products/services can influence them positively.
Companies will have a detailed set of local SEO requirements and expected deliverables from the agency.
Some of them will depend on the filters applied associated with past experiences, often lessons learned.
However, there are a number of key standard expectations that you should always keep in mind, as described above.
- 12 questions to ask when hiring a local SEO agency
- 5 major on-page improvements for local organic SEO
- Local SEO: The Ultimate Guide to Improving Local Search Rankings
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