Webinars
December 17th 2020

How to Build an Effective Local SEO Strategy (Webinar Highlights)

13 min read

Adam Steele, Founder and COO of Loganix, and MarketMuse Co-founder and Chief Product Officer Jeff Coyle take a dive deep into local SEO strategies that can help put you on the map.

These are the highlights, you can view the entire webinar here.

Jeff Coyle: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to another MarketMuse content strategy webinar. I’m so excited about today’s discussion how to build an effective local SEO strategy. The person who just exemplifies this is Adam Steele. He’s the founder of Loganix. Thank you for joining us, Adam.

Adam Steele: [00:00:19] Hey Jeff. Thank you for having me.

Jeff Coyle: [00:00:20] Let’s get into the discussion. What would you see as, if I’m just starting out or if I’m an SMB and I think I’m doing it right. What are the things you need to be thinking about for, local SEO success today? And that’s, 20 20, it’s so different now. I’d love to know a little bit more also about how you’ve seen that evolve over time.

Adam Steele: [00:00:41] So to answer your first question, I would focus on your onsite and that could be your content. It could be your onsite optimization. Then I would focus, if you’re a local based business with an address. And there are plenty of local business spaces, businesses without address. But if you’re one with an address, then I would focus on Google My Business.

On-Site Optimization

And I would focus on the basics. But take advantage of all the features that GMB or Google provides because they help. And then I would focus on your link building for most businesses, unless you’re let’s say a Miami personal injury lawyer. For most people, they aren’t in a space that competitive and thus just focusing on the basics and putting the majority of their budget and time in the basic is more than an enough. And Those basics have more or less been true for 10 years.

Jeff Coyle: [00:01:39] And we’ll talk about competitive landscapes and some strategy for competitive analysis and competitive cohort profiling and local, I think a little bit later. And that’s definitely in the more advanced section of these space, but it’s really important to know. But as far as on-page, one thing that we talk about a lot is making sure that you’re targeting the persona and making sure you’re connecting to user intent profiles, making sure you’re connecting to the geography, but taking those things into mind and really having high-quality content.

How do you talk to a business who’s never written any content?  What do you do in that situation to get them thinking clearly about onsite optimization?

Adam Steele: [00:02:17] Generally, and this too has been, I believe always true is look at what is working presently.

I think there’s a lot of people that will approach SEO as this big complicated thing. And they’ll go read this blog and that blog and it just, it’s more than they need to learn. And it can be really confusing, and they can get lost in the weeds and discouraged and all those kinds of things.

And somebody with a little bit of experience in this thing, I generally just defer to what is working. I will search the keywords that I care about and that we typically don’t have to do too much keyword research to understand. Your core keywords that your business should rank for in Google and see what’s working.

See how the average piece of content is written in the top 10 results. Is it super long? Is it super short? Is it super in depth? Is it a little bit more fluffy? Those kinds of things will guide my decision-making. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel or write something that is super long and not necessarily needed, just focus on what Google is, because what is ranking is what Google is trying to tell you works. We don’t have to be geniuses to see that. For me, I tend to just focus there. And with a lot of folks, especially local businesses, what I see is they hear that blogging is a really important thing and they just go to town on it. And I find that can be a good thing if it’s baked in good research and understanding of the space and you’re taking advantage of those long tail keywords and things like that.

There’s a lot of good that can be do that can be done. But 90%, maybe more of the cases that I see, are just writing because they were told they should write. And none of that blog content gets seen because the site is quite low authority, it doesn’t rank, there’s no distribution, there’s no link-building done for it.

And so, what I find is people they thin out their effort. And if they had just taken that effort and just focused on one or five pages on their website, they would have been a lot better off. So, I tend to tell people to focus on some of the more important pages if they don’t have a content strategy and that sort of thing.

Jeff Coyle: [00:04:28] Yeah. There, you said it’s really about having that content strategy and making sure it connects to the audience that you focused on. And what are they worried about? Who’s the, how are they likely finding you. They’re not potentially finding you with just your favorite keyword and the location.

They might have challenges, might have problems. And I think you often, like you mentioned, you have two people that they shoot for the universal and they try to blog content on their favorite thing, as if it was universally focused. And they’re not thinking about what somebody who’s connected to the area or somebody who’s truly an expert on the topic would have read to show them that you’re from here, show them that you have this target area or this target market.

So, I think you said that it really is to say, “don’t try to build a lot of weak stuff.” Yeah, build the best thing that would clearly connect you to your audience, clearly connect you to your area, and we can get into more detail about that. But I think that’s a really great place to start for on-page.

Good Link Building

Obviously there’s a billion different philosophies on link building, but for somebody in a, a local based, market or a small business, or even mid-size regional, how do you think about link building now and has that changed over time?

Adam Steele: [00:05:43] It’s certainly changed over time in that what I understood to work and be good quality has changed over time. Both with the algorithm and with my own education in the space. For an SMB or somebody who’s, maybe got a newer website or a website still in that early growth period.

I tend to point them towards their existing connections. Lotta folks don’t think about all the businesses that they are connected to, whether it be a supplier or whether it be the shop down the road.  And if they don’t have those connections, make those connections.

In today it’s a little bit trickier. You’re not going out to local events so much right now. But, a lot of these events have gone online and so there’s still a lot of opportunities to meet other complimentary businesses, both local and otherwise.

It could be a restaurant and your glass shop. It doesn’t have to necessarily be another glass shop. No. Another glass shop is probably not going to have linked to you. But you can think more broadly than that. A link from another local website is incredible. Those are so hard to get even for somebody who’s been doing it as long as I have. Those are hard links to get, and those are links that I probably can’t get because I don’t have those relationships.

And I can’t say that I am a local glass shop and me reaching out, I am the agency of record for blah, blah. They’re not gonna want to talk to me. Creating those relationships and finding excuses to contribute in some way, your time, your effort, to their website, be it a piece of blog content or what have you. Look at what is already on their website. If they don’t have a blog, then you know you’re probably not going to convince them to all of a sudden to pay their developer or what have you to build a blog just to house your one blog post.

Have a look at what’s going on their website as it currently stands. Maybe they got a resource page. I would first exercise your own connections, both local relevant or otherwise, and see what can be done there. That’s square one.

Jeff Coyle: [00:07:47] I think it’s the most common mistake is not pulling the rolodex out of your pocket and seeing where you have aligning goals with other businesses. The easiest and best, most fun link building is business development. It’s partnerships, it’s your friends. Having people that have a lot of friends, people that have a lot of connections have a lot easier time.

And not asking for it like it’s a cheap link or something. It’s just really providing value and making it an obvious thing that this person wants to participate in. And in local, if they’re not writing a lot, like you just mentioned. If they’re not heavily focused on their site, actually making it still make sense.

Like almost like it’s a collaborative effort, or something that they obviously, even if they know nothing about SEO are going to go, “Oh, that makes sense for me. That makes sense for my business to publish.” I think you’ve nailed it. So many people get that wrong and they say the word SEO, or they say the word link in those asks, then.

Google my Business

No, do your best not to ask in that way. And I think you’re going to have a lot of success, because like you mentioned, if somebody is not focused on it, are they even gonna know what the heck you’re talking about, frankly? Talk about GMB, Google My Business. It’s kind of become the whale, and you can put a little bit of time into this and get a lot of bang for your buck. Or you can really spend a lot of time on it. And some of the best local successes I’ve heard over the past 18 months have had a huge, component of Google My Business. And it’s really, continued you asleep, changing, and the opportunities.

And there’s already a question that comes in, has come in about this, which I’ll leave till the end, cause it’s a little bit adjacent. But what do you do to make sure that your Google My Business is in place? And how much time per let’s say week or month, do your average client spend on this?

Adam Steele: [00:09:35] So I approach GMB a lot like I approach it, approach on-site optimization. So, what is happening in my particular space, presently, what’s working what stands out. With a business like Amy’s bakery, for example, it’s going to be quite review-rich. Reviews is going to be a big part of the strategy because your competitors, for them, it’s a big part of their strategy.

And so, you’re going to find that you’re going to have to put a disproportionate amount of time into collecting reviews. Because that is not only what Google appears to be caring about because you’ll have a look at who’s ranking top three in GMB for your keywords, bakery, city name. But you’ll also, that’s not only what Google is looking for, but it’s also what your users are looking for that particular type of business or that particular type of, search.

So, I’m looking at the search engine result page or SERP and figuring out what stands out. Because you look at a personal injury business, for example, you’re not going to have that same thing. I know it’s going to be a very different search engine result page because it’s a very different type of business.

You’re not going to see, 40, or I can’t read how many reviews are there, but you’re not going to see the same amount of odd reviews on a business like that typically. So your strategy, and if you, all of a sudden, you feel you have a hundred views and every other business has one.

That’s going to look a little bit weird as well. Look at what is obvious and what is working and start from that. There are a lot of basics in GMB. Just making sure that everything is filled out is pretty simple. There are a lot of really great beginner’s guides for this online.

So you don’t have to look too far and for GMB, I, for a lot of businesses, making sure that those basics are taken care of, not participating in this spammy stuff. Put your business name on your listing. Don’t try and sneak in keywords in your business name because that’s what you’re seeing other people doing or because maybe you don’t know better. It’s a very short-sighted strategy and it generally will catch up to you in a lot of niches. Just getting the basics. And then beyond that, I always encourage folks to take advantage of the extra features that Google provides. Whether that’s Google posts or what have you, take advantage of their features because they’re there for a reason.

And they do, in fact, influence even in some small way the algorithm. So, they’re there for a reason, take advantage of them. I wouldn’t put like a disproportionate amount of time necessarily into those unless you see your competitors, and not just one competitor, but more than one competitor. You see some sort of a trend they’re putting a disproportionate amount of effort into those features.

Jeff Coyle: [00:12:29] Yeah, absolutely. I think that what you’ve nailed, and I’ll just summarize it. You’re really examining what the norm is and whether you standing out from the norm is going to provide a ton of upside or it’s just gonna look weird. So, I think that’s where you’re coming up with that strategy and how much time you spend. If you’re posting in other places, there’s no reason not to cross posts on GMB.

It’s just an awesome way to get free eyeballs and more value out of this listing. One thing that I’ve also found is that photos quite frequently just get them all. Get any photo that’s even worth a darn and post it as a photo. A lot of times that’s going to yield tremendous outsize returns. Because you can’t really predict on Google My Business, which posts are going to do well, and which ones are not. There’s just so much oddities in the mix of the way that they broadcast and they transmit. So, if you’re in a space where posts are doing well, and my videos are doing well, and you are jockeying reviews, make sure those three things are in tandem. Definitely there’s a lot of different post types as well.

So, thanks again, Adam. It’s really been a pleasure and lots of useful information. I think this is going to be one that people are looking at for local SEO success. Cheers.

Adam Steele: [00:13:47] Thanks Jeff.

Resources

Adam Steele (LinkedIn)

Adam Steele (Twitter)

Loganix (The company Adam founded)

Stephen Jeske

Written by Stephen Jeske stephenjeske