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The Local SEO Guide for 2019 is Here!

This Ultimate Local SEO Guide covers everything you need to know to boost your business in your local area and make more sales.

Introduction to Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 

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 Here it is:

The Ultimate Local SEO Guide for 2019

The Problem:

Your business is not #1 in Google Search and you want to get there, but:

Local search results are changing more rapidly than ever.

Too many Gurus are out there recommending “magic methods.” Even worse, their methods may make Google de-index your website, making it unfindable when your customers search for you online!

Lastly, you don’t have the time and unlimited resources to know what really works. You need someone you can trust, someone that has a proven strategy to follow.

The Solution:

We Simplify Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for You.

This Proven Method gives you a strategy that you can take action on (Step by Step) to higher rankings in Google. Imagine being at the top of the search results when someone searches for your product or service. Since 93% of searchers click on the top 3 results, and 29% of those click on result #1, you will have a tremendous advantage.

Definition: What is SEO?

Local SEO is a branch of SEO that specifically deals with search engine optimization for local businesses. In the beginning of Google Search, small sized local businesses were at a HUGE disadvantage. Now Google gives priority to local businesses with localized search engine results.

Pro Tip. In fact, you have to key in special characters to get search result from another town. You can use isearchfrom.com for this.

Starting an effective Local SEO campaign will allow your business to appear on Page #1 of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), both in the Local “Snack-pack” and the organic results.

If you are a local business that wants to get seen in search engines and acquire more customers, you have to comprehend Local SEO.

Without a Local SEO program in position your business will not be able to take advantage of the local web based demand for your products or services.

Why do I need to do this “SEO stuff?”  Because it’s an exceptional opportunity for you! 90% of websites are NOT optimized. That gives you a massive advantage as a business owner should you optimize your website, especially for local SEO.

Further, after your investment of time and money (nothing is free), you can establish a permanent advantage over your competition. And after that, your search rankings, traffic, and profits from search will be basically free.

You should know that hyperlinks to your website and on-page SEO factors still play a huge part. The main difference is that the kind of links you’ll want to obtain will be different.

Before you go ahead and commence getting links, you need to do some “head” work and set the foundation required on your website to make certain that you’re able to get the best possible results, especially if you want to rank inside the local “snack-pack.” (top 3 results)

Step 1: Keyword Exploration

Keyword Exploration for local seo made by Excalibur Websites

You need to know what your customers are looking for. In addition, you may have some “vanity” keywords that you would like to shoot for, maybe words or phrases that your biggest competitor commands currently, that you want to take away.

We are able to study what your competitors are doing and “steal” their keywords and phrases, and use them to our advantage!

First, simply make a quick list of straightforward keywords that explain your services. For example, a restaurant might choose “Italian restaurant,” “Italian food,” and “Best pizza in Monterey, California.” Carry on until you have a relatively thorough list.

Now, sign up for a complimentary Google AdWords account.

You don’t need to create any adverts or give Google your credit card number, but an AdWords account provides you with access to the free Google Keyword Planner Tool. This useful tool lets you input your selected key phrases to see how much traffic they generate. You may also use this resource to get ideas for related keywords that you may not have thought of.

After using Google Keyword Planner to generate suggestions, you are ready to finalize your list, and filter it down. All keywords can be generally classified into 2 basic categories:

Research-oriented Keywords

Research-oriented keywords reveal that a prospect is in the initial part of their purchasing cycle.  The person may want your services eventually, but not right now. For example, “what kinds of pasta are there” probably suggests that the prospect is just starting to wonder what Italian food is all about. Or, a person exploring “how to make chicken Marsala” may well not want to order Italian food this evening.

Research intent keywords should not be your main concern, since they do not generate quick conversions to purchase. However, they are great for your blog and article marketing to help you achieve greater rankings in search. These blog posts introduce you to potential prospects who might recall you when they are ready to make a purchase. By doing this you are “top of mind” whenever they’re thinking about buying.

Also, there are several research-oriented phrases that can entice people looking to buy. Specifically, cost-related phrases will help you to attract people who are looking to employ your services or purchase your products.  Words related to the “pizza prices” or “cost of an Italian dinner” will assist you to get found by people who are carrying out pricing research.

In addition to the Google Keyword Planner Tool, you should use Ubersuggest.

Pro Tip: Also take a look at the autocomplete box in Google search.

An internet marketing agency will make use of even more comprehensive (and expensive) tools to fine-tune our customers’ keywords for maximum effectiveness.

Pro Tip – don’t go for any keywords with a difficulty of 70 or greater. You’ll spend too much money and time when you could very well get better results from other keywords.

Buying-oriented Keywords

People searching for buying oriented keywords would like to buy your product or service right now. For example, a person that searches for “pizza Monterey” likely wants a pizza delivered as quickly as possible.

Your preliminary focus should be on buying -oriented keywords, since those are definitely the searches that are more likely to produce leads and customers for your business. Incorporate those keywords into your homepage written content (words), and make service pages for them (or a menu page for restaurants). Your homepage should be focused entirely on your #1 most important “buying-oriented” keyword. And then every one of your service or product pages should be optimized for keywords related to your other secondary services.

Step 2: Keyword Optimization

Keyword Optimizaiton for Local SEO and internet marketing consultant

Now that have chosen your keywords, move on to integrating them into your website for optimum optimization. You need to independently optimize for them in two places-your Google My Business page and your website. Here are the steps:

Google My Business

Think of your Google My Business page as a smaller website that will show up in the right side of Google local internet search results. It offers a quick snapshot of your business that is appealing and informative to your customers.

The important point to recognize is that Google prefers to show Google My Business pages for many local searches. Google realizes that when people are looking for a pizza restaurant, they want to see nearby results, and Google shows the results (Google My Business listings) with a street map showing the business location, above the regular website results.

In order to get ranking on the first page, your Google My Business page ought to be fully completed and completely accurate.

Follow these tips for an effective listing:

  • Claim and verify your listing: First, claim your page and submit it through the Google validation process. Google will send you a postcard and you will have to enter a code into your Google My Business listing to verify it. You will know this is achieved when you see a checkmark as well as the word “Verified” next to your company name on your profile page. For example, view Excalibur Websites’ page here and you can see that it’s verified.
  • NAP: Make sure that your company NAP (name, address, and phone number) are up to date, and are the exact same across your Google My Business profile, your website, and other web based listings. You can check accuracy and consistency of your NAP with MozLocal. If you possibly can help it, don’t use an 800 number, use a local area code for your telephone number.

Pro Tip: You can do a further check of your listings using Yext.

  • Categories: Google categories must be focused on services rather than results. For example, an Italian bistro might choose Italian restaurant and fine dining, along with any additional services such as catering. Have a maximum of 3 categories total.
  • Business Description: Your description is a brief summary of your business that closes with a call to action, and should be a maximum of 200 words. An Italian restaurant might try something similar to this: Gianni’s Italian Restaurant brings you top quality pizza, pasta, a specialty dishes to you and your family in Monterey, California. Voted #1 tastiest menu by Monterey Reviews. Call (phone number) to make a reservation and find out about our specials today!
  • Hours: Make sure that your hours of operation are accurate and are identical on your website and any other locations on the web.
  • Images: Images help to humanize you to prospective buyers, and can increase buyer engagement. Add some photographs of your shop exterior (so people know what your place looks like when they show up. Also add some pictures of the inside. You might add a few photos of your employees (smiling) at work, and even your satisfied customers (with approval).

Pro Tip, put in some customer testimonials here. They furnish “social proof” and are great at driving people to pick up the phone and call or visit your store.

NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)

Consistency is the name of the game. To follow the Ultimate Local SEO Guide, you need to make certain you have your full NAP on your websites and every other location on the internet. You must use the same details when you talk about your address on other websites (i.e. local citations). If you don’t, then Google will think it’s yet another business.

You can also use Google markup (a schema.org standard) found in Google Search Console to organize your NAP to provide the search engines all they need to display your company information correctly.

Here’s a quick summary of what you need to do:

  • Add an extended, unique description that includes links.
  • Choose the appropriate categories for your business.
  • Upload as many photos as you possibly can.
  • Add a local telephone number to your listing.
  • Add your business address.
  • Upload a great looking profile image and cover photograph.
  • Add your business hours.
  • Start obtaining reviews from customers.

Step 3: Website Optimization

Website Optimization for Local Search Engine Optimization SEO

Start with your Home, About, Contact and Services/Products pages, which are considered your main pages, and optimize them for the selected buying oriented keywords. Later, you will optimize your blog, and other pages, for your research oriented keywords. Follow along and see what to do.

First, Your Home Page

The most important element on the home page is the 55 to 65-character title tag, which happens to be roughly equivalent to a book’s chapter title. A restaurant’s home page might use a title tag like this:

Italian Dining in Monterey. Best Pizza, Pasta, and Italian Food in the City.

Next is the meta description, which needs to be 100 to 150 characters long. This is what individuals read in the search results to decide whether or not to click on your link. Describe your primary services, and end with a call to action. For a restaurant, it might look like this:

The Grotto Italian restaurant provides both great Italian food and delicious meals for couples, and young families, too. The Grotto was voted #1 for the best service of any Italian restaurant in Monterey, California. Ideal for any special occasion. Call (phone number) today to book your reservation. Great prices.

Then, ensure that your H1 tags are in line. These provide Google with an essential description of your services. They must be succinct and easy to read, and should include the heart and soul of what your business is about.

Pro Tip: Use only 1 H1 Tag per page.

Here’s an example H1 for a restaurant:

The Pasta Factory- Italian Restaurant in Monterey, California.

Finally, consider your page copy (content, as we call it). It needs to be 1,500 words in length or longer, well-written for humans to read with your primary keyword used about 3% of the time. Offer some background information on your company, briefly describe your main services, and end with a powerful call to action.

Also, make sure you have a call to action “above the fold” on your home page. This will help increase conversions and sales since it’s very easy to contact your company, without scrolling down the page.

Pro Tip, if you use H2, and H3 tags, you must first use at least one H1 tag.

Products/Service Pages

Each of your main products or services should have its own separate page. Optimize each for a buying oriented keyword, following the same steps that you used for your home page.

For example, if you’re a restaurant with a large menu and many services, you’d want to have a separate page for each time of day you serve food (such as a lunch menu and a dinner menu. If you have a wine list, come up with a separate page for that. Each of those pages ought to be optimized for the service keyword in addition to the location, in this case, Monterey.

Here is an example:

Lunch Menu for The Grotto Italian Restaurant.

Dinner Menu for The Grotto Italian Restaurant.

Wine Menu with Fine California Wines to Enjoy at The Grotto Italian Restaurant.

What if I have More Than One Location?

If you have multiple locations, make a page for each location. If they are all in the same state (California, for example) keep them one 1 website.

Pro Tip: If your locations are in different states, have a separate website for each state.

Similarly, if you provide services at your client’s locations, we advise making a Service Area section on your website, along with a page for each community or location in your service area.

Each page’s title tag could then have the service keyword and the geographic keyword associated with your primary service and the town, like the examples provided earlier.

NAP on Every Page

Earlier, we pointed out the importance of having accurate and consistent name, address and phone number (NAP) information for your business online. One essential step to take is to get your NAP listed on every page of your website. You can add your company Name, Address and Phone number in the footer of every page on your site.

Pro Tip – Do not put your NAP on landing/sales pages. Landing pages are 100% geared toward making a sale.

Website Reviews

Local reviews have a big influence on your rankings, so you’ll want to invest some time acquiring them. Some internet marketing agencies like Excalibur Websites now provide Reputation Management services which do a great job of getting these reviews for you.

It’s worth mentioning that this doesn’t just mean Google reviews. You’ll also want to focus on getting reviews on your Yelp page.in addition to other local directories.

To start, you’ll want to capture any easy reviews by asking your current customers for reviews. You could incentivize them for their time (maybe a discount, etc.), but usually it’s sufficient to just ask them for a review.

Pro Tip: create a page on your website that gives instructions to your customers on exactly how they can review your business (i.e. yourwebsite.com/review-us/). You won’t believe how effective this is when it comes to getting in contact with customers, especially the non-technical ones! Make it as easy as possible for them to leave a review.

Step 4: Actively Ask for Reviews

Ask for Reviews with the help of Internet Marketing Consultant

Online reviews are important for 2 reasons. 1. they let Google understand that you have a reputable business. 2. They provide social proof to help potential customers give your company a try. Note that Google My Business reviews are considered the most important for improving your Google rankings.

The best way to get reviews on your Google profile is to send your customers a direct link to exactly where they are able to post a review. We recommend sending your customers an email with that direct link. The only problem is that Google doesn’t make it super easy for you. You have to create this direct link yourself. Since many company owners don’t know how to do this, you can put yourself at a big advantage.

Search for your company name, and you will see a Google My Business profile preview in the top-right of the search results. You’ll see the grey “Write a Review” button toward the bottom of the listing. Click on that link, and then copy the full URL in your browser. This is the link you want customer to click on. Embed the hyperlink in your email, and say “Click here to leave us a review. Thank you!”

People are generally eager to share information about a good business and they love to give their thoughts and opinions, so this can ensure a steady flow of recent reviews.

Pro Tip:  It’s very help full to suggest what the customer will say in the review. If you don’t they’ll say something like “You’re great!” which is OK, but doesn’t really say much.

Make suggestions, give examples to help them. For example, “I tried many other companies to solve my problem and none helped. Luckily I found (your company) and they were (super-fast/friendly/provided great value/were very fast). If you want the best, go to (your company).

Now, let’s move on to some finer points

Factors affecting Local SEO Rankings

Local SEO still uses some pretty old school SEO tactics. There is still a large emphasis given to the on-page content in the local search listings, so it’s important to provide valuable content to your website visitors.

Here’s a quick summary to save you time and keep you organized:

  • Add your city and relevant keyword, to your page’s title tag.
  • Add your city and relevant keyword to your page’s H1 tag.
  • If possible, add your city and a relevant keyword to your page’s URL.
  • Add your city and a relevant keyword to your page content.
  • Add your city and a relevant keyword to Alt Tags for the images on the page.

In addition, it’s extremely important that your website is mobile-friendly. This is becoming even more important with Google’s mobile search update.

Here’s what Google said on November 4, 2016:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.”

Step 5 of The Ultimate Local SEO Guide: Use Local Link Building Strategies

Backlinks boost local SEO

Compared to standard SEO campaigns, local SEO relies much more on links from other local websites which are really relevant to your business. It’s less about obtaining links from high authority websites (although that obviously helps) and a lot more about getting hyperlinks from websites local to you that are talking about similar things to what you do.

These are the best ways to build links to your website for local SEO.

  • Go to Meetup.com and search for a list of local events highly relevant to your business. Find individuals putting on events that have websites and contact them about sponsoring you.  If they accept, you’ll get a link from their website and a link from their Meetup.com page. Eventbrite is yet another up and coming resource for boosting your local SEO.
  • Run your own meetup or event and get links to your website from the local event page.
  • Sign up to HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to get quoted in local periodicals (huge potential for authoritative links).
  • Line up interviews and columns within relevant online publications.
  • Enter to try to win local awards (you can get a backlink even if you don’t win).
  • Write a Top 10 Best Businesses of Your Type Blog Post (Pro Tip: leave out your biggest competitors).
  • Use Ahrefs to conduct link research and capitalize on any new opportunities that your competitors have gained.
  • Offer scholarships (you get links from local universities). Edu links are valuable to have!

In addition, research your competitors to see where they’re getting links. Tools like Moz Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs.com can show you where your nearby competitors find their links.

Now that the basic foundation of your local SEO backlink building is completed, you are ready for citations and more links. Both improve your online reach and enhance your Google search rankings.

Step 6: Get Some Citations from Directories

Get Some Citations from local directories

A citation is just a listing of your business NAP (name, address, and phone number) in an online directory. Popular options include general national directories such as Manta.com and yellowpages.com, general local directories such as your town’s Chamber of Commerce site, and directories that are targeted to your industry.

Local directories are a useful resource for link building, especially when it comes to building citations. The Ultimate Local SEO Guide recommends building about 10 citations per month.

Be careful to ensure that your NAP is identical across all of your listings. You can check the accuracy of your NAP using MozLocal.

For local organizations specifically, we’ve found that press releases can be a valuable way of building citations.

These citations don’t even need to be linked, as long as they’re referencing your business NAP consistently.

Also, consider the “real world” offline contacts you have with colleagues, partners and suppliers, and see if you have opportunities to get links from their websites.

Pro Tip: Do not swap links. Google may very easily penalize your website and even de-index you if you swap links.

You can use a tool like Advice Local to have a look at any already present citations you have and then update them so that they’re all exactly the same.

Pro Tip: You can also use the tool (Advice Local) to find out where your competitors have citations and add your own citations to those websites as well.

There are a number of ways to get local citations, such as:

Use a paid service called Synup and get them to find and upload local citations for you.

Go through the list of web directories the Moz website and manually send in your citations.

Use Yext to get a list of local citations you can get, and manually submit to those websites/directories.

Set up alerts through Mention or Google Alerts to track new mentions of your competitors’ NAP listing. Then add your NAP to these directories.

Bonus Section:

Local SEO by internet marketing consultant

Building backlinks can skyrocket your Local Rankings. You can also use a local internet marketing consultant to help.

Google thinks your site is a dependable and valuable source of information if it has superior backlinks. Links that point back to your site provide a form of third party affirmation or vote, that your site is worthy of ranking high in Google’s index.

The strategy is to create content that is useful for your business readers. Then get that content linked to by other websites.

Pro Tip: Infographics are amazing to get you backlinks, if you don’t know how, we can make one for you (and there is a big trick to it, that many other companies don’t know about.)

First: determine what kind of information your readers will like best and be most likely to share.

Wine drinkers read about wines, backpackers read about mountain hiking, dog lovers read about dog training. In every business niche, people are looking for content which is entertaining and educational. A wine aficionado might read an article with tips and tricks about wine tasting, while a backpacker might read about the latest in hiking boots, or camping stoves.

Look around your business niche and see which blogs are the most popular. Bookmark these blogs and come up with ways to write a better and more detailed article. Make sure it’s an article you can carryout well.

Pro Tip: In most niches, this includes internet marketing, the best types of shareable content are checklists, cheat sheets, lists, and infographics.

Second: Gather the data for your article.

After you’ve compiled your basic ideas for your article, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to find keywords and phrases to use in your article. You don’t need to guess! One of the great things about our digital world is that we can rely on data to aid our decision making. Now, start writing your content/article based upon these findings.

Pro Tip: Make the article about one (1) main keyword ideas or topic. That will certainly make it easier for Google to rank your article higher.

Third: Publish your WordPress blog page (it is a blue button that says “Publish.”

Your blog is still a way for you to get some backlinks. If you create high quality content (blog posts) that are interesting and educational, then when people share your content, they’ll be linking back to your blog post.

By publishing regular blog posts you will drive traffic to your site and build up your backlink profile. Executing one or two posts per thirty day period shows users that you’re an important resource of expertise. If you can post weekly that’s even better. But it’s important to be consistent, and keep it at for the long haul (12 months at least).

Fourth: Promote your bog posts

Use social media like Twitter and Facebook to get the word out about your articles. You can also send out emails, and even pay for digital advertising, or “boost” your Facebook posts. Over time, you will determine which channels get the best results. If you are writing blog posts that your followers find useful, then you should start getting momentum with people sharing your articles and linking back to it. As you get more sophisticated you can incentivize people to share your content. Start a contest by using RaffleCopter, for example.

Fifth: Straight out ask for a link back to your website

Search out similar websites and contact their owners. They might be willing to share your content and provide you with a backlink because it causes them to look good to their audience, and they are always looking for more articles to use on their blog. Contact the website owners to inform them you have a great blog post their readers will love. Ask for a link back and say that it will make your day. You may have to contact many websites and blog owners to get accepted. Don’t be concerned, it’s basically a numbers game. It can take a lot of time, or you can hire an Internet marketing consultant to do it for you.

Step 7:  Track your Gains with Digital Tools

Track Gains in Local SEO using an Internet Marketing Consultant's help

Use Google Analytics to track your results with Local SEO. This way you know what’s working, and what’s not, and you can fine tune your efforts to continually get better results (and save money and time!).

Keep track of these important measurements:

Page Rankings

Nowadays, the search results that Google shows you are customized depending on your location. So, we advise using RankRanger to obtain accurate measurements that are not biased based upon your location. Rank Ranger provides up to date data on your search engine optimization efforts, and tracks your Google My Business page in addition to the pages on your website. You need accurate measurements to improve your rankings. Remember, what you can measure, you can manage.

Volume of Website Visitors

To track your website visitors (traffic), use Google Analytics (free).

We recommend keeping an eye on organic search traffic trends on a long-term and short-term basis. For example, you should review the long-term trends in your visitors over the past month and year, and also compare the most recent month to the prior month. Also compare last month’s data to the same month’s data a year ago.

This way, you’ll  find out if your visitors are growing over time, and you’ll also discover how each month compares to previous months. And if you have a seasonal business, it’s important to be measuring against the identical month in the prior year versus the previous month.

Sales Prospects (also called Goal Completions)

Finally, it’s critical to track the leads you’re getting from your website. To achieve this, it’s mandatory to put together goals in Google Analytics. If fact, Google Analytics is rather useless unless you set up a few goals.

For example, you’ll want to set up goals to track when people opt in to a contact form on your websites (by tracking how many visits you get to its “thank you” page).

If you are tracking goals in Google Analytics, you can track how many prospects you’re bringing in from your website search engine optimization efforts, and you can see which pages are the most favored, so you can tailor your message to your audience, and help them become customers.

Conclusion to The Ultimate Local SEO Guide:

Well, there you have it, an actionable guide that if implemented can boost your Local SEO for your business.  Implement these steps, and soon you may have more customers than you can handle.  Your SEO problems will be solved, and you can focus on running your business, serving customers, and creating profits!

Let’s summarize.

Step 1: Keyword Research

Step 2: Keyword Optimization

Step 3: Website Optimization

Step 4: Actively Ask for Reviews

Step 5: Use Local Link Building Strategies

Step 6: Get Some Citations from Directories

Step 7:  Track your Gains with Digital Tools

Written by Jeff Berry. In addition to being a prior military secure (secret) communications officer with OVER 15 YEARS of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Internet Marketing experience, he has FORMED, OPERATED, and SOLD 4 successful businesses.

AT EXCALIBUR WEBSITES, WE KNOW THINGS ABOUT THE INTERNET THAT THE AVERAGE “WEB DESIGN AGENCY” AND “INTERNET MARKETING CONSULTANT” DOES NOT KNOW (AND WILL NEVER KNOW) ABOUT HOW TO USE THE INTERNET TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS FAST.

Get the unique advantage of Excalibur Websites today. See our products to help you skyrocket your business growth and profits.   Or call (415) 656-8081 to set up a free 15 minute consultation.

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