What is Local SEO?
Local SEO = I want local online shoppers to find my website!
Let’s unpack that.
Did you know that 46% of all searches on Google are LOCAL?
Meaning – 46% of all people who ask Google a question want Google to give them a local business in the search results.
Because Google wants to give their “clients” (people who search) what they want (so they keep coming back), Google created the “Local Pack.”
We are going to show you how to make your website appear in this prime online real estate.
To attract the RIGHT shoppers (local insurance shoppers) at the RIGHT time (when they’re looking for insurance!).
How to Optimize Your GMB Profile
The next few videos will show you how to setup your Google My Business Profile to be found and loved by (read: optimized for) Google’s algorithm.
At the end of each section, complete the listed action before moving forward.
This will ensure you set everything up properly!
What “optimization” actually means
What is Optimization?
It’s the magic you have to work on your website in order to make Google very likely to include your article as one of the top results whenever someone searches for that keyword.
Did you catch that?
You don’t just “optimize your site” or “optimize an article.” You optimize your website or an article FOR a search.
Got that? for a search.
So, first! And most importantly, you have to ask yourself a question.
You have to ask yourself: what searches do I most want to rank for?
And I can’t answer that question for you. Only you can answer it.
But let me help provide you with some direction. What is the type of business you most want right now? Do you have an insurance niche?
ACTION: Before you move on, PICK 1 LINE OF BUSINESS (whether personal or commercial) that you want to rank for.
How to activate your GMB profile
There are 3 steps to activating your GMB profile:
Step No.1: LIST YOUR BUSINESS
Listing your business means telling Google that your business exists.
If you see your business appear, awesome. Often, Google will be proactive and try to locate where businesses are and who they are so that online shoppers can find them or you in Google Maps and correctly navigate to the right location.
If you don’t see your business appear, don’t worry. Just add your business. Make sure you type in your address exactly how it appears on your website or business card.
Now Google knows your business exists.
Step No.2: CLAIM YOUR BUSINESS
Once your business is listed – whether Google added it for you or you added it – you have to claim it.
Claiming your business means telling Google that you specifically are the owner of a business in that location.
If the address, the location has never been claimed before, go ahead and claim it yourself.
If the address, the location has been claimed before, then Google will ask you to contact them directly (you’ll need to negate the other business’ claim on it). It might take a few days to hear back from their Local SEO team, but they’ll get things sorted out for you and direct you as to what the next steps will be. This is just a security precaution. Google doesn’t want someone claiming a bunch of locations.
Remember that whatever gmail you use to claim that location ”“ is the gmail that will be your login and primary point of contact in the future. So, if you don’t want it tied to your personal gmail account, make sure you use a business gmail.
Now Google knows that you own a business in that location.
Step No.3 VERIFY YOUR BUSINESS
This is the most time-consuming step because it involves snail mail.
Once you’ve claimed your profile, Google will mail you a secret verification pin in the mail. Once you enter that pin into your GMB profile, you’ll have officially completed the activation and setup process.
Technically, you’ll be able to access a limited GMB profile after you claim your business. Limited meaning you won’t be able to fully complete your profile, but you should be able to update a few things like your contact information and hours of operation.
After you complete Step 3 and verify your business, complete the checklist below when filling out your profile.
- Complete your profile 100%. Profiles that are fully completed will be prioritized in Google’s Local SEO algorithm.
- Pick a profile picture that is likely to be clicked. We have seen that high quality, clear images of buildings and/or people have a higher click-through rate than images of logos.
- Properly categorize your business for what it does. For example, if you have an insurance agency that specializes in construction and non-profit insurance, “construction insurance” and “non-profit insurance” would be accurate categories. Google recommends selecting the fewest number of categories, but don’t let that hinder you from selecting multiple categories that suit your business.
- Business name, business address and business phone number.
- Hours of operation.
- Interior images of building.
- Hire a pro to do 360 tour: https://www.google.com/streetview/hire/.
- Images of staff
ACTION: Before you move on, ACTIVATE YOUR GMB PROFILE.
Why you need N.A.P.s
To put it shortly, consistency is key.
Google looks at whether your N.A.P. is consistent across different platforms and websites.
When it is, you get a thumbs up from them.
When it isn’t, you get”¦.well”¦you know what you’d get.
That means stick with 1 main phone number, 1 main agency address and spell your business name the same way every time.
Keywords, keywords, keywords
Keyword = anything that is typed into a search engine’s search box.
“Relevant Keyword” = keywords that are closely related to your main keyword and for which you can rank your content.
Step One: Sign Up for Adwords.
Step Two: Access Keyword Planner.
Step Three: Peruse list of relevant keywords and find a few that work best for your content.
ACTION: Before you move on, FIND 3 RELEVANT KEYWORDS.
What to do about multiple locations
Should you create a GMB profile for each location your business has? Or should you add locations to your main GMB profile?
I always tell people this is a business decision first and a Local SEO question second.
If your locations are separately branded (maybe you acquired an agency through a merger) and there are no plans to have these locations adopt your branding, then each agency should have its own GMB profile.
If your locations all fall under an umbrella brand, then they should be added to your main GMB profile.
Watch the video above to find out why.
How to Create Citations Correctly
The next few videos will show you where and how to create citations that will give your Local SEO presence a big boost.
Why Google loves citations
First, what is a citation?
A citation is a reference of your business’ name, address and phone number (aka NAP). They usually include: website, hours of operation, description, categories and logo/photo. Additionally, some sites link to social media properties, videos, reviews, maps and a way to showcase your products or services.
There are 3 big categories for citation-building.
Local Business Data Sites: Local business owners and marketers can create citations on a variety of important local business data platforms which exist to publish this type of data. Core platforms include Google My Business, Yellow Pages, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, etc.
Industry-Specific Sites: These are websites that are specific to your unique industry and geography. Like chamber of commerce websites or the websites of professional associations and guilds.
The Wider Web: Supplementary citations can either be built or earned on a wide variety of publications, including blogs, news sites, apps, maps, government databases, and more. You can either intentionally develop these citations for your business, or simply earn them based on merit and public interest/sharing of information.
Local citations significantly influence two scenarios relating to local businesses:
Local citations can either positively or negatively impact local search engine rankings. The number of citations your business builds up, the accuracy of the data they feature, and the quality of the sites they exist on all influence rankings. Basically Google amasses a whole bunch of data from every place on the web about each business. If what they encounter is accurate, the search engine trusts the validity of the data, which is believed to strengthen the business’ chance of ranking well. However, if the data search engines encounter is inconsistent, this trust is eroded, lessening ranking opportunities.
Local citations can ALSO either positively or negatively impact consumers. Accurate citations help people discover a local business, which can result in web, phone, and foot traffic, culminating in transactions. Inaccurate citations, however, can misdirect customers, leading to loss of reputation and revenue.
How important are citations? Well ”“ a company called Moz surveys the Local SEO community every year to see what they’ve discovered about the evolution of Google’s Local SEO algorithm and what factors the community should concentrate on to rank well. They published a report showing the most important ranking factors for 2021. Citations, which have been on the list since the inception of GMB profiles, were the 4th most important factor.
So are they important? Unequivocally.
Citations vs links
Big Takeaway: citations are not links and links are not citations. Links can often be worth more “SEO juice” than citations. But citations are foundational to any healthy Local SEO strategy.
There are 3 types of links you can have:
- A link to your own content on your website: these types of “internal links” help Google crawl your website more efficiently.
- A link to someone else’s content on your website: if you link out to high quality, popular content, these links help give your content some credibility. A little Local SEO boost.
- A link to your content on someone else’s website: These are the macdaddy of links. They’re often referenced to as “backlinks.” Because you now have a link living out on the internet that links back to your website. So ”“ backlink ”“ these guys will give your Local SEO a big boost.
Focus on incorporating links 1 & 2 into your content when you get to Chapter 4, On-Site SEO.
What a citation tracker does
Big Takeaway: a good citation tracker will help you efficiently find the citations you need to build in order to beat your competitors.
How to use a citation tracker
ACTION: Before you move on, CREATE A LIST OF CITATIONS TO BUILD (how many do you need and where will you build them?)
How to Generate Reviews
The next few videos show you how to generate reviews and how many you’ll need to be successful.
Why Google loves reviews
Big Takeaway: reviews are important”¦..to online shoppers”¦.and in turn to Google.
Good strategy vs bad strategy
Bad Strategy: sending out a mass email asking for reviews.
Good Strategy: including a Review Ask into a pre-existing internal process (like an on-boarding campaign).
Leave the bad strategy in the dust. Run with the good strategy. Drink a beer.
Why On-Site SEO is Crucial
The next few videos will walk you through how to optimize content on your main website to really accelerate Local SEO success.
Why on-site seo
Big Takeaway: The more authority you can build on a certain topic or niche through great content, the more likely Google will rank you well in their Local SEO 3-pack.
You can learn everything you need to know about optimizing a piece of content in our upcoming SEO sprints (launching in February).
But here’s an abbreviated guide.
1. Make a list of questions online insurance shoppers would ask Google about your target keyword.
2. Write a comprehensive answer to each question and include any visual aids, like infographics/pictures/videos.
3. Optimize your content before publishing
- Organization. Keep a well organized website not only helps shoppers navigate it, it also helps google crawl it when their bots are indexing your page. Organize questions underneath a main topic. For example, you could have a “homeowners insurance” tab on your main menu and underneath it list the different homeowners insurance questions. This is what that looks like to Google’s bots. It’s a series of subpages grouped under one page.
- Put your keyword in important places. Not every piece of text bears an equal weight to every other piece of text on your site. As a bot crawls your page, it’ll pay more attention to areas like the URL, the title, subheaders, any text that is bolded, italicized or includes a hyperlink. So, make sure you take the opportunity to include a keyword or relevant keyword in those areas to maximize their potential SEO juice.
- Sprinkle your keyword throughout your content. Honestly, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to this one as you’ll most likely do this anyways as you explain the answer to the question at hand. But just make sure that it sounds natural. You don’t want to be so focused on incorporating the keyword that you make the paragraph or content sound stiff and awkward and hard to read.
Facebook Live Insurance Agent Article Review
ACTION: Before you move on, CREATE 1 PIECE OF CONTENT FOR YOUR BEST KEYWORD.
SEO matters for Local SEO
What you’ll find as you progress through these workshops and become more and more invested in digital marketing is that everything is intertwined.
Digital Marketing strategies rarely act in isolation or as silos.
What you do on social media affects what you do in SEO which affects what you do for Local SEO.
Remember that Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Apple, Bing, Yelp, etc etc all work the same way.
They are all looking to highlight websites that provide the BEST experience to their consumers.
Because the happier they can make their consumers, the more stable their business becomes and the more opportunity for growth.
So, always keep the consumer in mind.
Let’s imagine you’ve perfected everything in this workshop ”“ dotted all your I’s and crossed all your T’s – but your website looks like it’s from the 1990s
. Ask yourself: “am I really providing the BEST experience to my online prospects that’s within my reach?”
They’ll land on my great looking GMB profile, but then come to a terrible website.
Does that count as “BEST?”
Even things as mundane as site speed and whether your website is mobile do have an affect on Local SEO.
I say this not to scare you guys ”“ I say it because I want you guys to learn how to REALLY crush it online.
None of these workshops are a quick fix, none of them are an overnight strategy, but all of them will bring you guys awesome results if you put in the work and stick to it.
Long story short….
You’re officially done with the Local SEO sprint
Heck. To. The. Yes.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this workshop, Google is always making changes, adding new features, etc. IF you’d like to stay up to date on Local SEO, this is the best online publication you can sign up for: https://searchengineland.com/library/channel/local.
They recently published an article on how Google is bringing video into the GMB landscape: https://searchengineland.com/library/channel/local. So, stay tuned on that front!
IF you have any questions, thoughts, concerns, ideas, gifs, etc that you want to share, hit us up on the Facebook Group.