Most of the small businesses we work with don’t have huge marketing budgets, so they need affordable local SEO services. But navigating the complex landscape of search engine optimization for small local businesses isn’t easy.
Either the strategies are too confusing, or the budget required to get results is (way) too high. Or both.
That’s usually a recipe for a hopeless business owner/manager. Many who find themselves in this spot either:
- Walk away and give up on the idea of ever ranking a website on search engines
- Invest in cheap (and very questionable) tactics that ultimately can get them penalized
Getting on the first page of Google too often feels like a pipe-dream. Especially for people in ultra-competitive markets.
And that’s where we were with one real estate agent (in Florida). The thought of getting on page one of search results organically seemed out of the question. As a result, the client dished a lot of money into some very expensive Google Ads.
The problem with ads is that the second you stop paying for them, they go away. So we wanted to build some natural rankings that would stay there.
The good news?
We stayed focused, with a limited budget, on some key SEO strategies that ended up driving some pretty nice results.
That was an ultra-competitive market with tons of hardcore competition. So if we can see these kinds of results there, then it’s absolutely possible to do it on other niches as well.
Let’s take a look at what happened…
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IMPACT OF LOCAL SEO SERVICES THAT GET YOU ON PAGE ONE
If you can get onto page one of the search results, then that can drive a significant amount of traffic. And those are potential customers who are actively looking for what you have to offer!
Better than that, if you could get into one of the top three positions, then that’s even better! Studies have shown that approximately 62% of search engine traffic goes to websites ranked in the first three positions (33% to position one, 18% to position two, and 11% to position three).
Our studies have also shown that the quality of traffic coming from organic (non-paid ad) search results is typically higher quality (more time on site, lower bounce rates, etc) than traffic coming from the paid ads.
Basically, not all traffic is equal.
And generally speaking, higher quality traffic is more likely to convert into a lead or customer (considering your website is built to optimize for conversions).
Local SEO has some unique factors as well. It’s not just about targeting keywords. You also need to drill down to geographic locations. You can’t just add keywords like “[your niche] near me” on your web pages and expect it to flood in the traffic who are looking for you.
And that’s where most business owners stumble.
Getting the right mix of the right tactics is important. Oh, and without breaking the budget, pretty please.
WORKING IN A HIGHLY-COMPETITIVE NICHE
As we worked out the strategy with this client, generating leads was the single most important desired result. Part of the downside of a great SEO strategy is that it just doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build the reputation on search engines required to get and stay on page one.
Truth be told, they didn’t have time to wait for the organic rankings to come.
So they made a large monthly investment ($2,000/mo+) in Google AdWords. The results weren’t always fantastic. But they were results. Enough to justify the investment.
We just wanted better rankings and higher-quality leads.
That meant that we needed to establish a high level of local credibility online.
Being a real estate agent in Florida is a tough market too. There are literally thousands of them in the local area, and every one wants their website to rank on page one. Standing out in a market like that is certainly a high order!
Building Authority and Momentum in a Competitive Niche
The initial baseline report at the end of December showed a very low volume of total keywords, especially those on the first page. Just one term ranked on the first page, and there were only six total keywords on the first three pages. And while there were other terms ranking on pages 4-10, the overall volume was still pretty insignificant.
The September report (nine full months later) showed a very different picture. We increased the number of keywords ranking pretty significantly:
- Page 1 results increased from 1 to 10 (a 900% increase)
- Pages 1-3 results increased from 6 to 82 (a 1267% increase)
- Pages 1-10 results increased from 81 to 505 (a 523% increase)
While the total volume of terms appearing on the first page of search results still isn’t overwhelming, this definitely shows a trend of increasing opportunities to get found. Those 72 keyword results on pages 2 and 3 are great low-hanging fruit, ripe for boosting onto the first page!
The momentum was building. And even with just a few keywords ranking on page one (for some pretty high volume search terms), we started seeing some of those leads flowing in.
The best part is that the approach consisted of some simple and affordable local SEO services.
TWO Affordable LOCAL SEO SERVICES THAT GOT US THE RESULTS
We focused on what I considered two “must-have” tactics that I believe every small business should be doing. This helped us keep the budget as low as possible, but still gave us some on-site and off-site pieces that drove the results we were going for.
ELEMENT #1: Content Marketing (a.k.a. business blogging)
Every month we would produce two strategically-developed SEO blog posts. We would do one 500-word post ($97) and one 1,000-word post ($173). These helped us develop the keyword breadth on the website itself.
ELEMENT #2: Local Citation Link Building
After running a full citation audit, we would add/update ten online business directories (i.e., Yelp, BBB, Thumbtack, etc), ten geotagged photos, and ten social profile links every month ($197).
So for less than $500/mo we were building links and developing a core of content on the website with a focus on high-value, local search terms. We did this consistently, month after month, without fail. And consistency is one of the keys to building momentum with search engine results.
Element #1: Blogging for Local SEO Results
Blogging is one of the best ways to create some keyword authority on your website, but few know how to do it effectively. A few key elements to making this work well are:
- Start with keyword research. It’s important to look for current trends in the user’s search behavior. And you’ll want to focus on terms that provide a good combination of higher search volume and lower competitive density.
- Build on competitive content research. Once you have your target keyword, then you’ll want to evaluate other similar content out there to see what’s getting others ranking for similar terms.
- Write for the users, not for search engines. Crafting good, useful content is what search engines want. Think about building a great resource that helps people, and it’ll pay off with the search engines too.
In this example (above), we targeted “selling waterfront property” to attract the kinds of potential sellers the agent wanted to get listings from.
As you build a library of useful content like this on your website, you’ll be creating more entry points for visitors to come through.
Element #2: Local Citation Link-Building
Links are what drives the Internet. And a good link-portfolio for any website will feature a variety of types of links from several different places.
Generally, things like guest-post links and contextual links can help you build a strong base of keyword-focused links. And that’s a great thing! But when the budget is limited, then you’ll need to focus on the stuff that drives the biggest geographic impact possible.
That’s where local citation link building comes in. With this strategy, there are three things we focus on to build the local push we want:
- Local and business directories. The biggest of these you’ve likely heard of is Yelp. And there are thousands of others that exist and can have listings for your business. The trick here isn’t thinking about the traffic that they may (or may not) drive. But the location-based links back to your website from (generally) high-authority websites is a big deal.
- Geo-tagged photo posting. Adding images with geo-location factors on image websites is another tactic that creates location-based links, signaling areas you want to show up in for searches.
- Social profile posts. This is a little bit different than just your standard Facebook or Twitter posting. But there are similar sites where profiles and links can be created to provide an additional layer of references.
The result is a regularly growing and diverse set of links with a geo-focus. It’s not as strong with the keyword factors, but it’s great for the location factors.
Do this, along with a strong Google My Business profile, and you’ll be setting up all of the right signals for search engines to know where you’re at.
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Implementing Affordable Local SEO Services
Your local business doesn’t need to suffer in obscurity! Getting found in a local search isn’t that difficult if you’re doing the right things. But consistency is the key. Results won’t happen overnight with just one or two months of trying these strategies.
And depending on how competitive your niche is, you might be able to get away with a smaller budget (for less competitive niches than Florida real estate agents). You could also see better results faster. Regardless, the bottom line is that we’ve seen this strategy work over and over with lots of clients.
The key is to stick with it, follow the data, and keep building based on what the data is telling you.
With a strategy like this, you’ll build strong rankings that will drive substantial traffic to your website. And that traffic is likely to be more highly qualified and motivated to connect with you.
If you have any questions about how a plan like this might work for you, or just need a little coaching along the way to make sure you’re doing it right, then grab some time for a quick chat. We’re always happy to help!