This SEO guide is written for two different audiences.
For those of you who are true beginners, it is a true step by step guide.
For those who are experienced but may be having trouble with local SEO and use it as a reference guide.
- Know Your Competitive SERP Trends
- Match Your Client’s Goals to your SEO Efforts
- Map Your target keywords and Create a Content Strategy
- Master the art of Chunking
- Testing and Evaluating SEO Results
Local SEO is completely different the national SEO.
Google takes into account local first before anything else.
What I’ve noticed within the SEO world is a tendency to focus on national search engine optimization tactics and try to apply them to Local SEO.
The biggest problem with this is that your client doesn’t care about being number one for a keyword nationally.
A local small business or even a regional mid-size business located in New Jersey may love getting traffic from California but if they have no way to deliver a product or service to that region then all of the right things that you have obtained for them have been for naught.
I have seen examples where a client gets excited that they have four or five thousand more visitors coming to their website, but when you actually take a look at what they have obtained traffic-wise in Google Analytics, you will often find that only a small fraction of that traffic had any return on investment potential.
This can be damaging not only to the relationship you have with your client but also to your SEO strategy as you will be encouraging higher bounce rates on content that doesn’t apply to that potential client in California.
Don’t overthink the situation because it’s bound to happen. It is just a good thing to keep in mind in planning your SEO.
The Bad News.
I found a flaw in Google and there are many but one, in particular, is absolutely annoying.
Google is great at delivering local results first.
The problem is unless you’re killer at your schema game, regional businesses will suffer in their local SEO efforts.
I was always told it was better to receive the bad news first.
The simple truth is there are no good affordable local SEO tools for small business.
You will spend more time and more effort trying to localize your SEO content-wise than you would if it was a national campaign.
The Good News.
If you take the time to master schema you can create a Content strategy that delivers excellent results and Google is getting better and better all the time.
Once you’ve actually gotten down the SEO strategy for regional service Industries and local brick-and-mortar businesses the formula can be applied across the board regardless of the client type.
I’ve heard it said that SEO is not rocket science, but you may need a rocket scientist mindset in problem-solving to really knock it out of the park for your website.
You need to know when to break the rules and when to follow them, and you have to constantly be aware of your competitive space.
If you apply the fundamentals which we will get into in chapter one, you will find yourself ahead of the pack.
Chapter 1 -SEO is Warfare
One thing I always tell my SEO clients is that all business and especially SEO is genuinely warfare and should be treated as such.
We are all competing for number one and while there are rules to the game you have to have a killer instinct and an even better strategy to win.
Strategy in war is more important than tactics.
Often when interviewing a new client, I find that they doubt the capabilities of SEO.
But when reflected upon accurately it’s usually that the firm’s they hired has focused on tactics instead of strategy.
I have attended hundreds of seminars, read thousands of Articles, books, and guides and watched thousands of videos on SEO over the last 10 years and the one thing that I always find is missing with only a few exceptions is an understanding of strategy over tactics.
Sound tactics can still fail given any number of random events.
However, I have never known as a reliable strategy to fail given the time and space to be appropriately implemented.
In practicing SEO, we often find ourselves racing against the clock trying to please a client and usually that’s where we make tactical mistakes.
Our real job is in effectively communicating with our clients the real world scenario that they are up against and convincing them to dedicate both the time and the budget necessary to accomplish their often unrealistic goals.
When we get a client on the same page as we are strategically we win, and they win, and the ROI can often create relationships that last a lifetime.
This article will focus on creating a sound strategy that is always guaranteed to win.
More importantly, it will give you an outline that allows you to communicate effectively with your clients without getting into the tactical details and the day-to-day B.S. that indeed they have no interest in and they will not take the time ever to understand it.
The Lean SEO Approach
Efficiency is critical to search engine optimization.
Before we begin getting into the details of a strategic plan for SEO, we need to make sure that a lot of time is not wasted in analysis paralysis.
I have watched other companies and even my own employees get caught up in studying way too much and over-analyzing situations that just need an immediate solution.
and the lean approach are an easy way to make sure you stay on track in accomplishing your objectives.
Not everyone knows what lean or Six Sigma is and when I took the course for the first time, I had no idea how important it was to strategy in SEO.
Six Sigma is a set of management techniques intended to improve business processes by significantly reducing the probability that an error or defect will occur.
In essence, it’s a way to create efficiency and eliminate waste from any process.
Any SEO will tell you that the majority of issues the encounter come from wasted time and efforts.
When you apply the principles of Six Sigma to SEO, you find that there are always more wins than losses.
FORM, STORM, NORM, PERFORM
Process management for Lean SEO.
FORM. Forming an Objective.
The first thing you want to do when creating a new strategy for SEO is FORM an objective. Remember always that these goals should be all ROI based. Your client may love having his ego stroked by being number one for any given keyword but the truth of the matter is your client will fall in love with you if you can make him money. So the first thing you want to do is create a simple objective that generates Revenue. Find out what generates your client the most profit. Also, find out what is his bread and butter. Forming an objective around these two as opposed to creating a broad-based strategy will narrow your focus to an achievable goal and the desired outcome.
STORM. Keyword Brainstorming.
If you have researched your client properly, you will know enough about this industry to begin the hunt for keywords. in the process of brainstorming no idea no relevant keyword phrase is rejected. I have seen keyword list with 10000 different keywords on them. I have watched hours and hours of time being wasted trying to reduce those keyword lists before other SEO factors were considered. Below are five keyword tools that are pretty popular in the SEO world:
- Google Keyword Planner (Free)
- MOZ Keyword explorer
- Keyword Tool
- KW Finder
Once you have all the possible keywords phrases from your favorite tool you want to export them into your favorite spreadsheet program.
Most of these keyword tools will give you several factors that you want to pay specific attention to.
These will become important for the NORM section of Form Norm Storm Perform.
NORM. Norming or Normalizing.
Norming is where we actually take all of our wonderful keyword ideas that we want to work on and formulate practical achievable goals that we can chunk into smaller tasks.
Many SEO’s calls this keyword mapping.
Keyword mapping involves planning the content along with the keywords based on difficulty and a number of other factors.
I like to do this process a little later because I’m going to be coming back to the Storm keyword list and revamping my strategy based on the results that I am achieving on SERPS.
So, for now, we’re going to take a look at the factors then make up a great normalized list.
Before I mentioned there are several factors that keyword tools deliver and below we will discuss a few of those factors.
I will begin with the data-driven approach Which will increase the probability of getting effective SEO results.
The First Factor is Google AdWords Cost Per Click. You will quickly notice that specific keywords cost more on average than others.
This is a quick indicator that people are willing to spend more money on those keywords.
It becomes evident that those are the keywords you want if they are relevant to your client.
These are the keywords that other companies have found converts, so organize your list by filtering for the highest cost per click in AdWords.
From here you can take those keywords and group them.
The Second Factor is keyword difficulty.
Keyword difficulty is a remarkable factor to take note of because it takes a keyword you may be looking at for pay per click and it ranks it by difficulty from 0 to 100.
A keyword with a difficulty of 0, which I can’t imagine finding, would be the easiest to Rank for.
A keyword with a difficulty of 100 would be the most difficult to Rank for.
The higher the value the harder it is to compete.
Once again remember these factors are taking into consideration a national level.
Don’t be immediately intimidated by the score that’s given.
Remember we haven’t taken a look at what your competitors have done yet. Below is a little guy that can help you determine what to go after.
The third Factor is search volume.
On a national level, this is one of the greatest tools ever.
Because we are talking about local SEO, it can become difficult to determine if a keyword is right for your Marketplace.
In these cases sometimes we have to use common sense I many times it comes down to experimentation.
Also, it is important to remember higher search volume doesn’t always mean conversion.
For example, I had a company that was selling hyperbaric chambers.
Of course, it would be great for them to right number one for the word hyperbaric chambers. When you take a look at the search engine results,
most of the results word definitions medical journals and the like.
At that time the keyword search volume for “hyperbaric chamber” was over 6,000 searches.
But the search volume for “cost of a hyperbaric chamber” was only 30 searches per month.
Being that my client’s products cost several hundred thousand dollars which would price it out of the normal consumer’s ability to purchase, I had to factor in that ranking for hyperbaric chamber would generate a lot of waste of traffic.
Yes, it would be a great goal for the future, but ranking for cost of a hyperbaric chamber right now could generate sales that made my client very happy.
The Fourth Factor Is not data-driven.
The fourth factor is becoming your client’s client’s client.
I’ll repeat it become your client’s clients’ client.
I cannot stress how important this really is especially to SEO and more importantly to local SEO.
so in this instance will use a roofer.
we’ll call our client Joe’s Roofing.
Our clients’ client would then be people interested in roofing.
Now there are probably three or four different types of people that are going to be purchasing a roof.
The first one has a damaged roof in need of repair I believe they may need to replace it.
The second one has an aging roof and knows they need to replace it but is looking at cost as much as aesthetics.
The final client only cares about aesthetics which is our Dream client.
They’re truly looking to upgrade their home and make it more beautiful, whether it’s to sell it or for their enjoyment.
So now we have our clients client.
So what is our client’s client’s client?
The simplest way to describe your client’s client’s client is to call it the motivating factor the cause them to purchase in the first place.
It is not the product but the emotional and mental satisfaction that is achieved by crossing it off your to-do list.
The bragging rights and the sense of accomplishment that comes from getting what you want.
I won’t get too deep into neuroscience for SEO, just know that the motivating factor is the most important one.
You have to get inside your client’s client’s client to know what content is right and what keywords to go after.
Just knowing that you’re selling to your client’s ambition their motivation and their biochemical need for satisfaction ensures keyword choices and your content choices are on target.
PERFORM. Time to get to work
Now that we have an efficient methodology it’s time to complete the task that we have in our strategy.
Performing is simply doing all of the things that we have chunked into our Norm phase.Always set an ETA for any task you have to complete.
The more efficient you become at the living on time the more predictable the outcomes of your SEO will be.
I know that seems like a stretch but believe me after over 10 years in this game you realize that planning is everything.
When you have a great plan the one time that you strike gold can feed your company for years, literally.