I wrote this eBook with business owners in mind. There is so much fluff out there on how to rank a business locally; Yelp and Google want to charge you thousands to get in front of local customers, and SEO agencies will charge you even more to optimize your website and build citations for you (I know; I’ve worked at several SEO firms).
What if you could do exactly what those SEO firms do for you for $17?
That’s the goal of my eBook; to educate you on everything I know about local SEO and to save you thousands.
Here are the first couple chapters of the book:
Hi there! I’m James Parsons. I’ve worked with hundreds of different clients through several different businesses to implement local SEO strategies (and fix ones that weren’t performing).
Not surprisingly, most local SEO strategies are based on outdated information, or are using basic SEO principles but executing them poorly (such as over-optimizing and creating pages that look unnatural to search engines).
In this eBook, I’ll cover several different local SEO strategies to get your website ranked for many different local keywords and locations, as well as common pitfalls that most business owners and webmasters run into when trying to improve the rankings of their website.
But first, some background.
Local search results are quite a bit different from regular search results that are not location-specific.
For example, if you’re searching for good places to eat Pho in Los Angeles, you might Google “Pho in Los Angeles”. Google realizes it is a local search term, and will try to deliver pages that actually have good information for people in Los Angeles looking for Pho. For example, reviews, hours, menus, physical addresses matching your Los Angeles query, comparisons, photos, and more.
The same goes for other local businesses. Take “Pool cleaning companies”; Google understands more about individual keywords and queries than most people realize, so the more you cover and the more you cater to individual searches, the more likely you are to rank for those terms.
The key is, and will always be, relevance. Put yourself in the shoes of your visitor, and focus first on creating great content that caters to their search and is more informational and thorough than your competitors. This is why sites like Yelp rank so well; they are very useful and informational (usually more informational than local company websites themselves).
Here’s a bad example of local SEO:
A local business is trying to rank for “Bee removal Los Angeles”. Their page for the “Los Angeles” location talks mainly about why they’re the best and why they should choose them; in other words, a long sales pitch of SEO filler content.
Instead, they should create content on that page that caters specifically to that area. For example, photos of bee removals in different areas in Los Angeles with captions, bees that are common/native to that area, maps and text illustrating the service area and locations served, an address to show that you have a physical location, and more. All of these are helpful to your visitors, and actually belong on a “Los Angeles Bee Removal” page.
Otherwise, it’s just a sales page for your bee removal business telling users why you’re the best, just like everybody else. These are the pages that are very difficult to rank well on Google; you will be fighting an uphill battle.
So, now that we’ve learned that relevance and content are the two most important factors when getting a local page ranked, let’s move on to the next chapter; pitfalls and outdated techniques.
The reason I want to cover pitfalls and outdated techniques is that you may be using some of these techniques that I’m about to mention, without realizing that they may be actually hurting your efforts to rank well. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve had clients argue with me that their efforts and content they’ve created was helping them, only to later find out that it was hurting the overall quality and rankings of their website.
Let’s start going down the list of things that no longer work after Google algorithm updates, or are common SEO techniques that are misinterpreted or skewed.
Pitfall #1: Hidden or low quality pages
I’ve seen people do all sorts of weird things trying to rank for long tail keywords. Avoid using hidden pages that aren’t part of their main site structure, pages stuffed at the bottom of their site, and having less than 500 words of content on a page.
Why you should avoid this: These are generally over-optimized and low-value pages that are created solely to rank for multiple terms on Google, and they aren’t fooling anyone; Google can spot these from a mile away, especially after the Panda algorithm updates.
Pitfall #2: Creating location pages in bulk
It makes sense when you first hear of it. “Hey, I can just create 100 pages of surrounding cities and SEO optimize each one to rank for hundreds of keywords, right”? Well, unfortunately this generally won’t work very well. Most people are more focused on creating the pages and targeting keywords than they are on actually providing real value for the visitors that will land on each of those pages.
Why you should avoid this: This is one of the very first things Google had to deal with when SEO started trending, and believe me, they are very good at detecting “location carpet bombing”. Unless you really work your ass off to make each of those location pages natural looking and full of value specific to visitors in that area (which is going to be very difficult, even for a master SEO), this is a surefire way to be slapped by an algorithmic penalty for over-optimized pages.
Pitfall #3: Paid directory services
I won’t beat around the bush on this one. About 99.9% of these paid directory submission services are junk, and some will actually get you in trouble with Google.
Why you should avoid this: They just don’t work as well as they used to. Don’t bother with them. There is only one paid directory submission service that I will recommend at the end of this eBook.
Pitfall #4: Over-optimization
People still try to cram a ton of keywords into their meta tags and content, and create over-optimized page URLs like this:
Why you should avoid this: This shows you know too much about SEO; the URLs are too over-optimized. Putting the keyword in your URL is trying to cram the idea that your site is relevant to that keyword right down Google’s throat. Most pages like these will never rank because they are over-optimized and Google is apprehensive to display SEO and sales content to visitors. Natural URLs and content written for humans will rank much better; we’ll get to that later in this eBook as well.
Pitfall #5: Thin sites
Perhaps the most common pitfall of the ones I’ve mentioned; sites that are “thin”. These sites generally have less than 10-15 pages and are very small and basic.
Why you should avoid this:
Google is most nervous of thin websites. Why? They can be created very easily by most webmasters and SEOs and uploaded overnight; 99% of spam websites are less than 10 pages, so you don’t want to be sorted into the same category as these guys. Larger websites with more content and pages (think ones with hundreds of blog posts) are created slowly over time with much effort and dedication; these pages are less likely to be created for SEO purposes, as significant time and energy has been invested to create a great resource for people on the web. They are more likely to be trusted by Google as you build content over time.
In the next chapter, we’ll cover how to properly optimize your website for your city (or multiple cities).
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