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How To Create a Local SEO Strategy

Local SEO can skyrocket a business’s traffic, leads & sales if done correctly.

For optimal local SEO results, you need to be visible at the top of both Google’s organic search results, and Google Maps.

However, most local businesses have mediocre success in either Google’s organic, or maps results, and rarely do businesses get to (and stay in) the top 3 positions of both.

Failing to rank #1-3 in both Google’s organic search results and Google maps can greatly hinder your sales, and force you to pay for Google Ads.

In this blog post, you will learn how to create a local SEO strategy that will rank your business’s website and Google Business profile in the top 3 positions of both Google’s organic and maps search results.

What is a local SEO Strategy?

Local SEO is an SEO strategy that focuses on local search results within Google. This includes both Google’s organic and map search results.

Being visible in both Google’s organic and map search results can significantly increase the number of leads a business generates online. 

Local SEO applies to any and all search results that contain a map with 3 listings appearing underneath it (also known as a map pack).

How do I know if I need local SEO?

You will know if you need local SEO if:

  • You are a local business and are not generating leads with SEO
  • You are paying for Google Ads but do not receive organic traffic and leads
  • You need to lower your customer cost-per-acquisition
  • You rely on word of mouth

If you’re not sure whether local SEO is right for your business, consider these three factors:

1) Do you have a physical location that customers can visit?

2) Do you provide services to customers in a specific geographic area?

3) Do you want to improve your visibility in local search results?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need local SEO.

Local SEO vs SEO: What’s the Difference?

Local SEO helps customers find businesses in their area. It takes into account factors like your location and the keywords people are using to search for businesses like yours. Local SEO techniques include Google Business management, citations and business directories, local keyword research, and mobile-friendly design, and page speed optimization.

Regular SEO focuses on attracting website visitors regardless of their location. The SEO techniques used for regular SEO include keyword research, on-page optimization, blogging or content marketing, link building, and technical SEO.

How does local SEO work?

Local SEO works by optimizing your website for Google search, optimizing your Google Business Profile for Google Maps, creating citations by submitting your business to local directories and improving your website.

Is local SEO paid?

Local SEO is not paid. You can do local SEO yourself for free, yet most businesses outsource it to an SEO company.

Is local SEO free?

Local SEO is essentially free if you have the wherewithal and do the work yourself, however, time is money.

If you are managing a business do you have time to manage your local SEO?

How much should I pay for local SEO services?

Generally speaking, you should pay between $500-$2,500 for local SEO services per city or Google Business Profile.

However, the price you should pay for local SEO can vary depending on:

  • How many Google Business Profiles You Need To Manage
  • How many cities you are targeting (1 brick-and-mortar storefront vs regional or national service areas)
  • Do you want to bundle your local SEO with Google Ads?
  • Do you require content writing services such as regular blogging?
  • How many backlinks do you need to build on a monthly basis?
  • How many citations or business directories do you need
  • Do you need website maintenance?

How to create a local SEO strategy

Follow the steps below to create a local SEO strategy that focuses on increasing traffic, leads & sales for your small business.

1. Local SEO Strategies start with keyword research

Local Keyword research doesn’t have to be a long process, however, it is important to organize keywords to plan keyword targeting accordingly.

The local keyword research process should be broken down into 3 steps:

  1. Build a list of “Seed Keywords”
  2. Use a keyword research tool
  3. Organize, and plan your keyword targeting

Build a list of “Seed Keywords”

Create a table that lists your product(s) or service(s), and the cities that you operate within. Be sure to include synonyms or variations.

Here’s an example:

Services and or ProductsCities
Accounting, Accountant,Accountants, Bookkeeping, Bookkeeper, Tax consultant, tax consultants, tax consultingLos Angeles, LA, New York City, NYC

The keywords under the “Services and or Products” are our “Seed Keywords” that we will input into a keyword research tool to:

  1. Find more keywords
  2. Get the search volume data

Use a Keyword Research Tool

In order to continue, you will need a keyword research tool, we recommend using either Ahrefs or SEMRush.

Input the seed keywords from the “Services and or Products” tab into your keyword research tool of choice, in our example, we are using Ahrefs.

Select “phrase match” to uncover all the potential keywords that derive from our seed keywords and filter the results to only include keywords that:

  1. Include your city (it is best to do one city at a time)
  2. Have a minimum search volume of 10
  3. Are only used to find a company, product, or service (not general information like jobs, salary, data, etc)
  4. Export keywords to CSV
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for each city

Organize, and plan your keyword targeting

The last step in our local keyword research process is to organize, and plan the keyword targeting.

A common mistake is not targeting keywords (or groups of similar keywords) with individual pieces of content.

The best way to organize your keywords and plan your keyword targeting strategy is using a Google or Excel spreadsheet.

Steal our Keyword Targeting Template

Google Sheet template
Automated On-page checks
On-page SEO template
Video training

Get our SEO strategy template

Start by importing the CSVs that you exported from your keyword research.

Keep the following columns and delete the rest:

  • Keyword
  • Search Volume

You can keep CPC and keyword difficulty, which you can use later on to prioritize the content you need to create, although it is not necessary.

Referring back to the seed keyword table we created earlier, you will want to organize the keywords into groups (pages) by service/products for each city:

Services and or ProductsCities
Accounting, Accountant, AccountantsBookkeeping, BookkeeperTax consultant, tax consultants, tax consultingLos Angeles, LANew York City, NYC

Here is an example of pages that could be created:

  • Accounting Los Angeles
  • Bookkeeping Los Angeles
  • Tax Consultant Los Angeles
  • Accounting New York City
  • Bookkeeping New York City
  • Tax Consultant New York City

The next step is to plan out the on-page optimization for each page:

  • Title tag
  • H1 tag
  • URL
  • Content sections (not 100% necessary)

If you’re having trouble at this stage or would like to complete it faster (and better) check out our keyword-targeting template below:

If you have a lot of content to create and you need to prioritize, you can sum up the search volume, CPC, and or keyword difficulty for each group of keywords and get a sense of which pages are more important than others.

2. On-page Optimization for Local SEO

When it comes to local SEO, you need to set your on-page optimizations in a specific way that is optimal for both Google’s organic and map search results.

We have to implement on-page optimization best practices for Google’s organic search results, while also providing your business local information for Google’s map search results.

3. Google Business profile management

Google Business is a powerful tool that can be used to drive leads for your business if optimized correctly.

It is important to fill out ALL the details in your Google Business profile,\ completely and extensively.

Add every single detail that Google gives you the optionality to include.

Google Business Checklist

Below is not a complete Google Business checklist, but rather a checklist of the most important details to optimize:

  • Business Name – try to include Local keywords if possible
  • Categories
  • Address or service area
  • URL – (Important) Add the URL of the appropriate city page
  • Description – fill out the description completely, and include multiple keywords
  • Photos – upload as many photos as you can, include keywords in filenames and embed coordinates in EXIF data
  • Services (if applicable)
  • Products (if applicable)
  • Google website – Build a Google Website from inside your GMB profile. Fill it out completely, add in keywords where possible.
  • Posts – Routinely add posts to your GMB profile, 1 x per week is optimal.

4. Local citations & business directories

It’s important to understand that Google wants to send its users to legitimate businesses that are established.

When a business’s NAP is cited across multiple local business directories it shows that the business has been operating under the same business name, address, and phone number over a period of time.

Make sure that before and after building citations your NAP is consistent across all properties including your website, Google Business profile, previously created citations, social media profiles, etc.

Submit your business to generic business directories within your country, you can use this list from Brightlocal to find the top 50.

After you have submitted your business to the top 50 in your country, you can go a step further by submitting your business to “niche business directories”.

Niche business directories are specific to a specific industry.

You can find niche directories by using search operators on Google:

  • Industry “add site”
  • Industry “add URL”
  • Industry “add website”
  • Industry * directory
  • Industry inurl:directory
  • Industry inurl:submit.php

Local SEO Tools

There are a handful of tools that will help you save time while planning and executing your local SEO strategy.

Although they are not 100% necessary, if time is more valuable than a few hundred dollars per month then these tools are for you.

Ahrefs or SEMRush

Ahrefs or Semrush is pretty much the same in terms of features and price.

Get proficient with one and stick with it.

These tools can help you with:

  • Competitor analysis
  • Keyword research
  • Website audits
  • Backlink analysis & research
  • Keyword & content gap analysis

A Good Keyword Tracking Tool

I check keyword rankings multiple times a day, and I love it.

A good keyword tracking tool keeps me up to date, and can even motivate me to improve my SEO.

There are a number of tools out there, it really doesn’t matter which keyword-tracking tool you use.

Find one that you are comfortable with.

Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio integrates with many different APIs that allow you to pull in SEO data from multiple sources.

This is a great way to get a birds-eye view of your SEO performance.

You can set up custom dashboards to suit your needs.

Local SEO Checklist

Below is the complete local SEO checklist:

  • Title tag – Local keyword in your title tag
  • H1 tag – Local keyword in your h1 tag
  • H2 tags – Local keyword in at least 1 x H2 tag
  • URL – Local keyword in URL
  • Image filename – Local keyword in at least 1 x filename
  • Image alt tag – Local keyword in at least 1 x alt tag
  • Image EXIF data – Embed longitude and latitude in image EXIF data
  • Content – Local keyword mentioned multiple times throughout the content
  • NAP – add your business’s name, address and phone number (not sitewide)
  • Schema data – Add local business schema data (not sitewide)
  • Google Business map embed

Final Thoughts on Local SEO

A local SEO strategy’s main purpose is to increase a small business’s traffic, leads & sales.

In order to achieve this, the local SEO strategy should focus on ranking in both Google’s organic, and map listings.

It takes a combination of keyword research, on-page optimization, off-page optimization, and Google Business management.

If you get all those things right, you are well on your way to increasing visibility in Google and driving leads and sales for your business.

If you need my help with your local SEO strategy you can book a call here.

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