5 Local SEO Tools, Strategy, and Optimization Tips From Greg Gifford

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5 Local SEO Tools, Strategy, and Optimization Tips From Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford is a well-known local SEO and strategy expert and is currently the Director of Search and Social at AutoRevo. I’ve asked Greg some questions below about local search, including strategy, what tools he recommends, and how it can differ for businesses with multiple locations.

Greg is a speaker at the upcoming SEJ Summit in Dallas on March 31st. The conference ticket cost is being covered by our partner, Searchmetrics.

Searchmetrics delivers enterprise SEO and content marketing analysis, recommendations, forecasting, and reporting for companies who want potential customers to find them faster.

Want to attend? We still have a few spots open – so if you are in the Greater DFW/Houston area and want to learn from Greg and other great speakers, sign up for an invite now. If you aren’t in the Dallas area, don’t lose hope! The SEJ Summit will be at five other locations this year: Chicago, London, NYC, Miami, and San Francisco.

SEJ Summit: Marketing conference in Dallas Texas 2015

Even if you can’t come to our Dallas event, you will learn something here. Below are Greg’s tips about local search:

1. Your SEJ Summit session is about enterprise local search. Can you tell us three takeaways audience members will be able to bring home from your session?

I’ll be talking about three important areas of local search that most enterprise businesses tend to have issues with. They also happen to be the three most important signals in Local Search, according to the annual Local Search Ranking Factor study.
  1. Takeaway 1 is site content: I’ll cover how enterprise businesses need more local content on their sites, and I’ll explain how to optimize site elements to provide a better local relevancy signal.
  2. Takeaway 2 is links: I’ll talk about how enterprise businesses need to get more links to their local content pages, and how they need to pursue more links from smaller local websites.
  3. The final takeaway is citations: I’ll explain how citations play into local rankings and show the areas that enterprise businesses typically miss.

2. Do you think businesses need to pay for advertising (on Yelp, for example) to get more visibility in local results? Or is it possible organically?

Increased local visibility is definitely possible organically…we see it all the time, and we’ve done it for businesses all over the country. While it’s a bit harder for enterprise businesses to scale out local content, local links, citations, reviews, and social, it’s still the best route to pursue for visibility.
Depending on the vertical, potential customers will ignore the big sites and go right for the high-ranking local sites – plus, showing up in the map pack, the carousel, or the new three pack will always be the best way to get more eyeballs.

3. What is the top mistake you see businesses making when it comes to local search strategy for multiple locations?

The lack of local content on the site is by far the biggest mistake. As you look at sites with more and more locations, you tend to see less and less good local content. Unfortunately, after the Pigeon update last summer, on-site content is more important than ever before.
Businesses absolutely need to figure out how to add more unique, useful local content to their location pages and websites in general. There’s no substitute and no workaround…it’s the reality of the new local landscape.

4. How is local search strategy different between enterprise and small businesses?

The basics of Local Search are the same – the difference comes down to scale. Enterprise businesses typically have one large site that includes a single page for each location. Small businesses have a website that’s entirely dedicated to a single location in a single city. There’s much more local relevancy because there’s more local content.
Small businesses are also able to make fast decisions and quick changes. If something needs to change on their site, they can just jump on the site and make the change. When an enterprise business needs to make a site change, multiple departments are involved, and the turnaround time is extended.

5. Can you recommend any free or paid tools for marketers wanting to increase their local search strategy presence?

Moz Local is a great free tool to take a top-level look at the major citation sources for any local business. For more advanced citation work, I’d recommend Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder or BrightLocal. BrightLocal also has some great Local SEO tools in their package that can help gain insight into local visibility and analyze competitors.
It’s also important to use a link analysis tool as well, so Open Site Explorer, Majestic, or ahrefs are vital tools as well. SEMrush is great for keyword research and competitor analysis, especially for any business that does PPC. It’s also important to keep abreast of all the updates in the local space, so follow the local columns in Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal and keep an eye on the Moz blog.

Thanks for the SEJ mention and your thoughtful insight, Greg!

Have your local SEO efforts been successful? Let us know in the comments.

Remember, you can still see Greg speak! Spots are still open for our upcoming SEJ Summit in Dallas on March 31st. The SEJ Summit will be at these other locations later this year: Chicago, London, NYC, Miami, and San Francisco.
Kelsey Jones
When she's not editing and scheduling posts, Kelsey Jones manages the Marketing Nerds podcast and moderates SEJ Summit conferences and Marketing ThinkTank webinars. She has... Read Full Bio
Kelsey Jones
Kelsey Jones
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  • Gugulethu

    That’s a really good interview, indeed content is king and a lot of local businesses miss out on that. I would also like to add that local directory submissions do help improve rankings for a local biz.

    Reviews also play a big role instead of buying ads on yelp, a local biz can get sponsored reviews that will play a big part in the long run. Including Google+ Page reviews from the Google+ community.

    Social signals also play a big role in improving rankings so more content posted on social media sites will definitely increase engagement and help with SEO. Finally I also recommend local businesses to spend time on SEJ to stay updated.

    This is good interview and people who’ll be at the SEJ Summit in Dallas will definitely learn a lot. Great stuff.


    • Gugulethu

      If you can’t approve my link then please remove my comment. Thnx!

    • Gugulethu

      You removed my link but kept my comment, that’s really unfair so if you can’t approve my link then please remove my comment. Thnx!

      • Jelski

        Searchenginejournal are not allowed to spam here.. so if you comment here is to gain links, better go to forum sites and you can spam there as long as you can! I think they remove your link is because they detect that your site is a SPAM!

  • Danny

    All SEO I work on is Local SEO so I found this article super helpfull. THANK YOU!

  • Myles Anderson

    Great piece Greg – sage words as always. Thanks for mentioning BrightLocal

  • Jacelyn Richards

    Obviously Kelsy nowadays even local SEO itself is becoming really difficult to get ranks in the first page of Google organic search results page. With such difficulties the posts like this provoking the insights for local SEO is a much needed one. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Joy Sekhar

    This is really helpful blog post. I have noted couple of points and will implement them on my food blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Joy Sekhar

  • Adi

    I don’t know how to start use SEO, but just look html structurs on my website and then give natural contents to make increasing my web for seo. isn’t right?

    but, your best article althought i don’t really understand (cause my english is not good ^_^) about it give me a new something about seo. So, thanks a lot of (y).

  • Sérgio M

    Great tips, some of them already follow, but others will be of great value to my business.

  • rahul choudhary

    Clearly Kelsy these days even local SEO itself is getting to be truly hard to get positions in the first page of Google natural list items page. With such troubles the posts like this inciting the bits of knowledge for local SEO is a greatly required one. You rock for offering.

  • Michael Smith

    I think for the enterprise, local promotion does not matter more while if you are dealing with the small business whose target is local market, then you have to think about the PAID promotion on the site like YELP.

  • Kapil Pal

    Thanks Kelsey,
    This is valuable stuff but I found 3rd & 4th points are like cherry on the cake!

  • Kathleen Garvin

    I loved Greg’s presentation in Dallas. This is a nice Q&A!