Effective location-based SEO (local SEO) can have a substantial impact on your digital marketing success comparable to any other core marketing.
For a business that has a physical location, or many company premises to optimize for, the value of dominating your local online space cannot be overstated.
The same can be said for companies functioning and servicing within specific geographic areas that are core for company revenue and related success parameters.
There are many misconceptions about local SEO; for example, local SEO is only for small businesses, or that local SEO restricts total visibility online.
It’s important that, when looking to outsource your local SEO, you ensure your expectations of an agency and the deliverables you receive match your local SEO aspirations.
I hope this column will help.
SEO Agency Fundamentals
Whether it is local SEO deliverables or enterprise-level SEO services, any established and effective search marketing agency will provide the fundamentals expected as specialists in their field.
Typically, this would include:
- A clear set of objectives unique to your immediate, medium, and longer-term requirements.
- An action plan that reinforces what the priorities are and when key milestones will occur.
- Access to data and the building of a larger data ecosystem for insights and action-taking.
- Agreed and consistent ways to communicate, report on progress, and reinforce what is being delivered for your investment.
- Iterative improvement from the ongoing application of expertise and evidence-led decision-making.
- Direct access to key staff working with you to achieve your local SEO goals.
- Simplified and relevant ongoing support and feedback to enable agility and pivoting of approach to maximize new opportunity and react to changing threats.
- Proactive and effective customer care enabling collaborative working, or full outsourcing dependent upon client requirements.
There will be other priorities that may be unique to business circumstances and areas of increased perceived value to your current requirements, and these can be added to the above agency fundamental expectations where applicable.
As a tip, one thing to avoid in your expectations is a small set of very specific and localized SEO keywords to focus on.
These will be the five or ten you may look at on your mobile phone every week and curse the competitor who ranks there.
Whilst you may have some keywords more commercially important than others, please do not restrict your focus (and that of any agency you decide to work with) to solely focus on a handful of terms.
Consider the end goal of these terms and what you wish to achieve through local SEO success.
There may be thousands of relevant and highly effective search queries, plus many new and unique ones being discovered every day in your data.
You don’t want to lose sight of these and their potential value by having a blinkered focus on just a few.
If it’s easier to move away from standalone keyword goals, consider the topic rather than the term. This can be far more useful to measure local SEO gains.
Strong Technical Performance
Regardless of your local SEO goals and objectives, every local SEO campaign should factor in the website’s 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 non-optimized metadata.
- Slow load times.
- Crawling and indexation of core content.
- Duplicate content.
- Thin content pages, redirects, and soft 404s.
Add to the above a practical emphasis on:
- User experience including Core Web Vitals.
You may want to factor in broader items historically associated more with bigger entities and brands, as well.
This could include providing easy access to information through the site architecture, and digital simplification to enable the user to get to their endpoint as easily and effectively as possible (including broader conversation rate optimization principles).
It is not enough to provide expert industry opinion and localized content on a website with the expectation to dominate local SEO.
Any competitive local SEO campaigns should ideally be fueled with data (evidence backed) content at levels of quality and volume much higher than you may expect for local-orientated SEO campaigns.
The creation of content may be delivered by you in-house or outsourced to a marketing agency. But regardless of the approach to output, the dovetailing of data, local SEO experts, and leveraging of your unique industry insights is paramount.
It is this combined approach that will provide a competitive advantage, and enable you to consistently create the best of breed content, that has true standalone value both within the local niche and for broader brand and authority building.
From an agency, you should expect them to lead the local SEO content strategy and approach, providing ongoing recommendations using all available and relevant data sets to justify the; priority, focus, purpose, and ongoing impact of content being generated.
You would expect content to be created to leverage the value and metric success of existing content you have on your website.
You would also expect a consistent focus on new opportunities to ideate and implement new content reflecting the new data sets, and changing needs of your core business audience.
As with any comprehensive content strategy led by SEO, you would want to cover a range of user intent, focus on the actual value provided, and look throughout the spectrum of the information seeking and buying cycle.
Whilst this would be skewed towards local SEO, that does not restrict the impact.
Pertinent topic areas important to the business will likely have wider appeal and opportunity to grow site trust, backlinks, and perceived relevancy beyond the local demographic.
Local Authority And Trust Building
Local authority building is a mainstay within local SEO and a necessity for gaining ground within your online niche.
There are a number of consistent threads to this including:
- Local brand building with PR and local media publications.
- Business entity and relevant local and regional directory sites.
- Links and mentions of the brand, company, and key staff in community and business forums.
- Supporting local events, and sharing of expertise (and often resource, charity support, etc.).
- Content promotion and placement (both local content and topical business products/services content).
Outside of the citation and link aspect of authority building is the deeper expertise, authority, and wider trust signal gains.
This includes in no small part the management, optimization, and ongoing growth of reviews and engagement through Google Business Profiles (for every business location), formerly Google My Business.
This includes (but is not limited to) search and maps optimization, profile completeness, promotion of content, and answering questions from your audience.
The more proactive you are with generating positive reviews as part of your combined business and agency focus (including targeted location-specific reviews), the faster you will see gains in your perceived online authority and local SEO results.
This needs to 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 truly embedded within the local community.
For some sites and brands, this may be many local communities, spanning a number of geographically dispersed regions, whilst for others, it may be a single location and a number of miles surrounding it.
Either way, the ability to enhance your website community focus through audience-aware content hubs, free community resources, and tools, and ideally local user-generated content, the better.
This will naturally tie into social media interaction, engagement, and promotion, as well as social listening and audience building, by a genuine understanding of their wants, needs, plus pain points.
And more importantly how your people/experts/staff, brand, and products/services can positively impact them.
Businesses will have an array of bespoke requirements for their local SEO and the deliverables expected from an agency.
Some of these will be based on filters applied tied to previous experiences, and often lessons learned.
There are, however, a number of key standard expectations which you should always consider, as outlined above.
- 12 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Local SEO Agency
- 5 Key On-Page Optimizations For Local Organic SEO
- Local SEO: The Definitive Guide To Improve Your Local Search Rankings
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