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    Where Should You Focus On A New Local Website?

    Starting from scratch as a new business in terms of SEO can be a bit overwhelming. If you’ve done any reading into SEO and how it’s done, nearly every article out there will tell you it takes time. But if you’re going to do something that doesn’t provide instant (or quick) feedback, how do you even know if you’re doing it correctly?

    In this article, we’re going to cover what we do when starting work for new businesses when trying to take over a specific locale. IE this article is perfect if you’re a local service-based business looking to local SEO as a way to grow.

    So what are we going to talk about? 

    We’ll talk about keyword research, how to set up your website for success, IE making sure our content is optimised, and how to create the correct content. We’ll touch on link building and how we can approach it if we’re a local business with limited funds. However, there will be a more in-depth guide to link building in the future so we won’t dive too much into that for now.

    Let’s get into it.

     

    Keyword Research For Local SEO

    Doing keyword research for a locally-based business is usually quite simple, we’re looking to rank for something like INDUSTRY + LOCATION, or SERVICE + LOCATION. There usually are a lot of opportunities to break down individual services, and we’ll want to create content for those services down the road. 

    So how do we find what we want to rank for?

    We can do this in a number of ways, most of the ways we use here at Arken are going to be with tools that are quite pricey. But you can do it just as well with free or potentially cheap tools. A quick way in which we can do this is by looking at our competitors. 

    What types of services do they offer? Are they focused on a specific service?

    It’s great if we can get a tool that will then tell us the keywords they’re ranking for, and we can just grab that as a good base to go off. But if we don’t have that, we should look at the services they’re offering, do you offer the same services? More? We’ll need to tell our customers what we can offer. 

    If you’re just beginning in SEO it can be more helpful to understand that search tools are not 100% accurate, there are plenty of terms we rank for our clients that supposedly get 0 searches a month, yet they gain clients every month from these terms.

    Here are some tools we use:

     

    Keywords Everywhere:

    Not a free tool, but a fantastic tool for finding keywords in bulk, and it’s pretty cheap. $10 for 100,000 credits, which you’ll be doing pretty well to use all of those up when looking for keywords for your local business. If you’re doing keyword research for enterprise clients, this post probably isn’t for you.

     

    Ahrefs:

    Again not a free tool, in fact quite expensive but it does a great job of displaying all the data you need. You can import a competitor and just grab their keywords. 

     

    Google:

    The only free option on the list, but google does a great job of telling you what it wants. Whilst you’re not going to get search volumes, that really isn’t all that important because you need to take those numbers with a massive pinch of salt anyway.

    In the video below, I go ahead and do some keyword research for an accounting firm. Rather than break down each step I thought it would be more useful to actually SHOW you what I do when it comes to keyword research for a local client.

     

    Setting up your site for success: On-page SEO for local businesses

    There are a few things your website needs to do to have a chance of ranking for anything, it needs to be crawlable ie; Google can actually index your site. You also need to have content that matches the intent of the searcher, going back to our example you’d need to be an accounting firm if you wanted to rank for accounting service-related keywords.

    You can no longer write a blog post about a term and hope to rank, you need to be what they’re looking for. You can imagine how much better this is actually for the user experience.

    When we’re planning our content we need to do some work to make sure we can actually match the intent of the searcher. Google does a good job of telling us this, if you’re searching for your keyword and Google only lists products but you’re offering a service, chances are you aren’t going to be able to rank for something like that. Although that shouldn’t happen a lot when dealing with location-specific searches, it can still happen.

     

    How do we optimise our content?

    With most things in SEO it depends on a lot of factors, but we’re going to cover our checklist that covers us most of the time. Often we won’t always tick everything on the list, but it’s a good baseline to start.

    Below is a simplified version of the checklist all of our content goes through:

    • Are we able to match the intent of this search?
    • Can the primary keyword be used in the URL (if not already indexed)?
    • Is the content the correct length?
    • Is our main keyword near the front of our title?
    • Is our title “click worthy”
    • Can we add a variation of our main keyword in our H1? (It’s worth noting that sometimes Google will rewrite our titles, so if we don’t want Google to do this sometimes we will use the same H1 as our title)
    • Is our URL short?
    • Primary keyword in first 100 words?
    • Supporting keywords in H2?
    • Have we placed anchor-rich internal links?
    • Can we link to external sources that improve our content (not competitors obviously)?
    • Do we have enough images?
    • Are we tracking our main keywords (more for reporting)?
    • Are we over-optimised (this can easily be done so make sure it reads well)?
    • Triple-check spelling & grammar errors
    • Is our page scannable (have we broken it up enough)?

    Doing all (or most) of the above will put you as a good starting point. There is a lot of testing that happens in SEO, we’re rarely ever done after we press publish. 

     

    Other points to keep in mind:

    We shouldn’t be targeting the same terms with multiple pages, doing so means we’re essentially competing with ourselves which usually means none of our pages will rank.

    Here’s what that looks like:

     

    How we know we’re creating the correct content?

    For our service pages it’s actually quite easy to know the content you need to create. Just look at what google is ranking and you’ll be given pretty much what you need to compete in the SERP. But once we’ve created our homepage and service pages what do we create then? Are we done with the content?

    Unless you live in a pretty remote part of the UK chances are this alone won’t be enough to compete when it comes to SEO. But even if it were, your customers are much more likely to want to do business with a company that keeps its website up to date and publishes more content. 

     

    So how do we know what sort of content we should be creating? And why exactly should we be adding more?

    I’ll answer the second part of this question first. If it was as easy to rank on Google (or any other search engines for that matter) just by filling a homepage, and some service pages with content couldn’t anybody do that? 

    How do we show expertise not only to our visitors but also Google? By producing content that answers our potential customers questions. Doing so does a few things, it keeps our website up to date, it builds more pages which allows for more internal links, and it adds to our topical authority.

    I won’t go too in-depth about what topical authority is, but put simply Google will trust a site that writes more (Good, it needs to be good!) content than a site that doesn’t write any supporting content.

    We will have another article that covers this more in-depth down the road.

    So what sort of content should we be creating?

    There are a few ways we can find out what people want to know. We can of course use tools that have a keyword research element, but failing that there are a few free ways in which we can plan out some content.

    We can use Google’s PAA (people also ask). Have you ever noticed something like this when searching on Google:

    To get this to show up all I searched was “local SEO” and it showed me a bunch of questions that I might be interested in. We can simply create content around those terms as an easy way to get started.

    Another great overlooked method is to simply listen to your clients, chances are if you’re being asked questions repeatedly by clients then there are potentially hundreds of others searching for the same questions that you can build content around. 

    We don’t need to over complicate things are this stage.

     

    Link Building for local SEO

    As a new business it’s going to take some time to rank, but we still need to give ourselves the best chance at success down the road. We’ll need to build what we call foundational links to begin with, at this stage we’re not looking to build a full outreach campaign where we get into editorial links.

    This guide is just for those just starting out with a fresh website/business. So the list below is there we always start:

    • Have you reserved all your socials?
      • Twitter
      • Facebook
      • Instagram
      • Youtube
      • LinkedIn
    • Are you listed in relevant directories?
      • Yell.com
      • Clutch.co
      • Construction.co.uk – If you’re in a relevant industry

    At this stage there’s no need to overcomplicate things, we’re setting ourselves up for success in the future and building a good solid base of natural links is a great way to start. 

    We will have further articles that cover the monster that is link-building in the future.

     

    Google Business Profile

    If you want to appear in the maps for your terms than this is a step that you CANNOT skip. We’re not going to cover everything to do with your GBP in this article (expect one soon) but we’ll cover some of the basics to get you on the right track.

     

    Setting up your GBP:

    You’ll need an address to get a verification card (if it’s your first location), so you’ll need an address within the local area to do this. It helps a lot if you have an address within the exact location you want to rank. 

    If you prefer you can have your address hidden and still show within a specific area, but you’re at a disadvantage this way. It’s much more compelling to click on a listing that has its address visible.

    Make sure you fill out as much information as you can, if you skip this you end up losing out in terms of generally being attractive to potential customers.

     

    Ensure all information is accurate

    As you’re going through the process of filling out your Google Business Profile you need to make sure that all the information is as accurate as possible. Ensuring you’re using the best possible category for your business, and the terms you want to rank for. 

    You can make sure you’re using the correct category by searching for the terms that you want to show up for, and making sure you see businesses with the same category as you’ve selected.

    Make sure your business name is accurate and the same as you’re known elsewhere. We’ll want to make sure we have something called NAP (name, address, and phone number) consistency. This ensures wherever our website is featured the same (correct) information is used. This will help when it comes to ranking, and also just generally pointing people in the right direction of your business.

    Avoid the temptation to force your keywords in your company name, whilst it has been proven to increase rankings you can actually get your profile removed altogether by doing this. 

    We’ll be creating a full guide on the Google Business Profile ranking factors within the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for that.

    Doing all of the above is going to get you off to a great start, and whilst there is a lot more to local SEO than this, it will give you a great base to work off. We’ll be following up with a much deeper explanation of each section in the coming weeks.

    Until next time.

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