How Difficult is Local SEO?

28 replies
This is killing me, because it's really difficult to get a straight answer.

I am just going to list my questions that hopefully someone can answer, I have a meeting with a potential client tommorow and I am really stuck...

1. How can I determine, as a general rule, how long it takes a website to rank for local search terms? (To give context, my local area has about 150,000 people, so monthly traffic for niche keywords like 'dentist geelong' goes for about 150-350 searches per month maximum).

2. What is the best way to outsource/do SEO for this level of competition? Could I realistically expect to get page 1 rankings using just Fiverr gigs? What do you local SEO'rs do?

As you offliners know, the big selling point for our business is 'Getting page 1 of Google', this is what business owners understand will get clients. So there it is, how difficult is it/what is the best way to get local page 1 rankings in the context of my town size?

Dying for answers guys, help is greatly appreciated!
#difficult #local #seo
  • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
    First getting page one of google may or may not bring in clients.

    It depends on what search terms you're talking about and if the kind of people searching will also click through to a site then take some kind of action that ends up in them being paying customers of the business.

    That can be quite a complex process and the ranking of a site on google for various keyword phrases is only a tiny part of that overall process.


    Just to complicate things more what do you mean by "getting to page one of google".

    When you talk about local SEO for most results there will be google's organic rankings and there will be Google Places.

    And also what keyword phrases do you mean when you talk about getting to page one.


    One of the biggest SEO secrets is that you can target multiple long tail low competition keyword phrases that suggest a prospect is looking to buy something you have to sell...

    And with those longer tail keyword phrases it might only take you 1 day to 1 week to get ranked on the first page...possibly in the first 3 or 4 rankings on google's organic search results.

    Target a few dozen keyword phrases like that dedicating one page of high quality content for each keyword phrase and you might get some traffic that produces sales.


    On the other hand if you start out by trying to target high competition short keyword phrases and you try to get a site just by using backlinks to the site then you might never get on the first page of google or it might take you years.


    And we're still talking about google's organic search results...not google places...which requires a different strategy altogether and can take some time to get rankings (in some cases it can take several weeks just to verify a google places listing for a business before you really get serious about getting "citations" to improve the site's rankings).


    As you might be discovering from my post here...the reason you're not getting a straight answer for your question is because there is no straight answer.

    If you described a very specific situation...the keywords you'd like to rank for, the site of the business, it's current google maps and organic google rankings...then we might be able to give you a more specific idea of what's possible.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh
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    • Profile picture of the author angelacat
      Originally Posted by AndrewCavanagh View Post

      One of the biggest SEO secrets is that you can target multiple long tail low competition keyword phrases that suggest a prospect is looking to buy something you have to sell...

      And with those longer tail keyword phrases it might only take you 1 day to 1 week to get ranked on the first page...possibly in the first 3 or 4 rankings on google's organic search results.

      Target a few dozen keyword phrases like that dedicating one page of high quality content for each keyword phrase and you might get some traffic that produces sales.


      On the other hand if you start out by trying to target high competition short keyword phrases and you try to get a site just by using backlinks to the site then you might never get on the first page of google or it might take you years.


      And we're still talking about google's organic search results...not google places...which requires a different strategy altogether and can take some time to get rankings (in some cases it can take several weeks just to verify a google places listing for a business before you really get serious about getting "citations" to improve the site's rankings).
      I agree with you, for ranking high in google search results, At very start of a site, you should choose keyword/phrase that has lower competition. Then after you get some traffic or good ranked article. You may try to refer to big target.
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  • Profile picture of the author payoman
    Andrew,

    I will try to be as specific as possible with these questions, and they are actually aimed at your personally :

    1. What do you pitch to clients you will do for their business specifically? (IE "I will get your website on the first page of Google within x months, first ranking of Google places with x months etc").

    2. What are the variables involved in determining a timeframe for the results you promise?

    3. How do you complete the SEO process? (IE You outsource the work, you submit articles, you do citations etc)
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    • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
      Originally Posted by payoman View Post

      Andrew,

      I will try to be as specific as possible with these questions, and they are actually aimed at your personally :

      1. What do you pitch to clients you will do for their business specifically? (IE "I will get your website on the first page of Google within x months, first ranking of Google places with x months etc").

      2. What are the variables involved in determining a timeframe for the results you promise?

      3. How do you complete the SEO process? (IE You outsource the work, you submit articles, you do citations etc)


      1. I start by asking a lot of questions and listening.

      I want to find out what's important to the business owner, what the highest net profit products and services are.

      I want to know who I'm dealing with and what kinds of things motivate them.

      From there I'll make suggestions based around the information I've collected until I strike on something that gets the business owner excited.

      It could be as simple as a lead generating report on a website with email follow up an creating content that's used in multiple ways....both as content on the site to send prospects to for email follow up changed into articles, press releases, online video etc and submitted to the other sites for traffic and backlinks.

      When the business owner gets excited about an idea I expand on it, establish the potential value of it to them (by getting the owner to estimate what might happen in each step of the sales process...if we get this many people to that site how many do you think will sign up for the report etc etc) and tell him how much he'll have to pay to get started after comparing it to his potential profit.

      I never make any promises about being number 1 on google or first page because I think that's a load of BS.

      Business owners don't want to be first page on google....they want real sales and profits.


      2. Since our focus is on producing real sales and profits I'm looking for feedback from the client that they've made some sales from what we did.

      If they're not making sales I might do something else as a goodwill gift or if I'm confident wait longer for results.

      It varies a huge amount from job to job.

      You might start with a client who has some traffic and just improving the site means they make sales immediately.

      Or you might be doing SEO where the keywords you have to target are really easy and you might see some traffic inside a week.

      Or you might realize this is going to take 2 or 3 months before you see anything.

      No two projects are the same.

      Cookie cutter solutions really aren't appropriate in this business (at least in my opinion).


      3. At your stage starting out I would make suggestions based on what I knew I could do myself and do all the work and keep all the money for myself.

      These days I refer most clients on so I don't do anything except meet a prospect and recommend them to someone else.

      I'm not really looking for personal clients any more and want as little ongoing work for myself as possible.

      It's different when you're starting out.

      Kindest regards,
      Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author ImDanHoward
    Payoman,

    First you just need to find out what they are wanting and listen to their problem and then solve the problem, but sometimes what they are wanting is not what they need.

    You really can't guarantee placement on Google because of them always changing their algorithm, but you can offer to get them mass visibility on social platforms where potential customers and clients are looking for them i.e. Google Places, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.

    I good way to rank for local terms fast is with video. You could create a short professional quality video using Animoto and submit to YouTube or other video networks using Keywords in your Title, Description, Tags and throughout the actual video if possible.

    Citations of local directories help for Google Places, and articles are always good to drive some traffic back to wherever.

    Just a few thoughts. Hope it helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author attorneydavid
    honestly you should be able to rank a town with 150k really easy.
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    • Profile picture of the author ryanmckinney
      Originally Posted by attorneydavid View Post

      honestly you should be able to rank a town with 150k really easy.

      What if the top 6 listings have very sharp "SEO'rs" , will it be easy then?

      No.

      The easiest way to gauge is to check the competition of the top 3 or so , and see how well they are optimized to be in that position.

      I have bought a domain, ranked it, in a large city (700k) for niche + city, in under 10 days.

      I have taken a clients site, relatively new (6 months old) and ranked it in 3 cities, for 10 keywords, in about 2 weeks. Again, large cities.

      On the flip side I bought a domain and tried to rank for niche + city (150K), and it took 3 months to the top 3. Why? the competition had good SEO work done, it is not the size of the city, its the competition and SEO work in place already.

      Ryan
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      • Profile picture of the author n_touch
        Originally Posted by ryanmckinney View Post

        What if the top 6 listings have very sharp "SEO'rs" , will it be easy then?

        No.

        The easiest way to gauge is to check the competition of the top 3 or so , and see how well they are optimized to be in that position.

        I have bought a domain, ranked it, in a large city (700k) for niche + city, in under 10 days.

        I have taken a clients site, relatively new (6 months old) and ranked it in 3 cities, for 10 keywords, in about 2 weeks. Again, large cities.

        On the flip side I bought a domain and tried to rank for niche + city (150K), and it took 3 months to the top 3. Why? the competition had good SEO work done, it is not the size of the city, its the competition and SEO work in place already.

        Ryan
        Excellent response. Also keep in mind that it is not just the time that it is going to take you to rank them, but I can guarantee if the top 3-5 have some SEO work done and it is a keyword that is valuable to them, you will be facing competition when they see you coming. You want to make sure that you are setting up right from the start so when you pass them, you can stay above them, and not just barely keep your head over water.
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        • Profile picture of the author ryanmckinney
          Originally Posted by n_touch View Post

          Excellent response. Also keep in mind that it is not just the time that it is going to take you to rank them, but I can guarantee if the top 3-5 have some SEO work done and it is a keyword that is valuable to them, you will be facing competition when they see you coming. You want to make sure that you are setting up right from the start so when you pass them, you can stay above them, and not just barely keep your head over water.

          Yes, as soon as you get in to their stomping grounds, good SEO companies are going to get ticked and take it personally, and ramp up their SEO.

          Obviously, these are the well optimized sites.

          For people sitting nice and happy in the top 3, just by "luck", nothing to really worry about.

          You can always look and tell if someone competent or not is doing the SEO work of your competitors, and I let my clients know and understand it is an on-going battle, and that is part of the reason you will need to pay me every month.

          I like the line: "but I can guarantee if the top 3-5 have some SEO work done and it is a keyword that is valuable to them" <--

          Ryan
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        • Profile picture of the author tryingtomakeit
          I am just getting started with blogs in niche markets to monetize and flip, can your services help me with this?
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  • Profile picture of the author krikkod
    I always tell clients it will take 4-6 months which gives you more than enough time to actually rank them.

    The beauty about this timeframe is that it gives you enough time to stuff up if that happens and still manage to bring in the results you need.

    More than likely though you will bring the rankings in sooner and if you do that it just makes you look all the more gangsta.

    TIP: I normally go for the immediate suburb first which is typically the quickest to grab, and by quickest i mean anywhere from a couple weeks to 2-3 months.

    Once you do that you must tell the client - this will give them more confidence in you, so you can then start expanding into other territories which should be the neighbouring suburbs or the city itself which is typically the biggest.

    I normally wont go for the city one though within 6 months - for 2 reasons.

    1 - Getting them to rank highly for the immediate and surrounding suburbs is more highly targeted to them then getting them ranked for the city is. So the ROI on SEO for them is quicker, which means they love you more.

    2 - Ranking for the city can take longer than 6 months in some cases because you are competing against every business in the entire city not just the suburb. Therefore there SEO could be very strong and difficult to overcome within your first 6 months.

    Trust me though, focus on the immediate and surrounding suburbs first within those 6 months and that customer will surely stay with you for longer than 6 months, at least thats how its been in my experience.
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    • Profile picture of the author AussieT
      Originally Posted by krikkod View Post

      I always tell clients it will take 4-6 months which gives you more than enough time to actually rank them.

      The beauty about this timeframe is that it gives you enough time to stuff up if that happens and still manage to bring in the results you need.

      More than likely though you will bring the rankings in sooner and if you do that it just makes you look all the more gangsta.

      TIP: I normally go for the immediate suburb first which is typically the quickest to grab, and by quickest i mean anywhere from a couple weeks to 2-3 months.

      Once you do that you must tell the client - this will give them more confidence in you, so you can then start expanding into other territories which should be the neighbouring suburbs or the city itself which is typically the biggest.

      I normally wont go for the city one though within 6 months - for 2 reasons.

      1 - Getting them to rank highly for the immediate and surrounding suburbs is more highly targeted to them then getting them ranked for the city is. So the ROI on SEO for them is quicker, which means they love you more.

      2 - Ranking for the city can take longer than 6 months in some cases because you are competing against every business in the entire city not just the suburb. Therefore there SEO could be very strong and difficult to overcome within your first 6 months.

      Trust me though, focus on the immediate and surrounding suburbs first within those 6 months and that customer will surely stay with you for longer than 6 months, at least thats how its been in my experience.
      Mate, what do you do to rank them for the surrounding suburbs?

      Do you build them anoother site with a local keyword rich domain or just add additional pages to the first site?

      Would love to hear your toughts on this
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  • Profile picture of the author Brenden Clerget
    I think the question was pretty simple: How difficult is local seo?.. Just a few things to think about.

    Short answer: Mostly, it's easy. Most markets have soft SEO, and most business owners haven't done any REAL seo on their site. (Real means SEO that we would consider hard to overcome, because they really don't know what they're doing, and neither does 'their guy')

    1. Depends on the market - bigger cities, it's harder, smaller cities, it's easier
    2. Age of domain - older the domain, better, younger domain, harder (not worse)
    3. On-page SEO - even though you're ranking places, organic seo plays a huge part
    4. Off-page SEO - Get some backlinks and relevant content linking into the site
    5. Citations - Local business listings + reviews on Google
    6. Complete the places page correctly and don't spam it full of random stuff. Get a relevant video on it as well.

    Equals

    Ranking for Google locally, in my opinion.

    - Brenden Clerget
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  • Profile picture of the author Saito
    I am curious how to ballpark HOW MUCH backlinking and from what types of links is neccessary to get on Page 1 for, say, my top 5 keywords with most competitors being PR X or lower.

    I know "it depends," but I'm sitting here writing up a business plan and do not intend to undermanage my pages or to pay too much for Fiverr gigs and linkbuilding services, or put in too much work to get the same result.

    I know that someone who has experience ranking several sites on Page 1 should be able to make an informed guess, but people with such abilities seem to be very rare. I even posted a thread offering to pay such a person for their time with zero response.

    Everyone says "4-6 months" but what about the number of links needed per month throughout those 6 months? Surely there is some way to estimate that in advance to plan your activities and budget accordingly.
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  • Profile picture of the author terrystanley
    I think direct mail is fabulous. I've used it for years to target customers. Unlike the internet where you have to search for something, direct mail comes to the customer and they see your offer even when they were not looking for it. It's sort of like acceptable spam.
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    • Profile picture of the author cjbwebs
      I appreciate everyone's replies in this thread.

      I own a brick and mortar business and I too am trying to capitalize on my local market through the internet.

      The only difference for me is I am literally the only local provider of my services in my whole state.

      Every other provider (and yes they do come here) is from outside my state. This is and has been my one of deepest hooks in selling my services.

      I am at arms length and to the small business owner (a percentage anyway) that is very attractive.

      Again thanks for all the comments
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  • Profile picture of the author maverick8
    Originally Posted by payoman View Post

    This is killing me, because it's really difficult to get a straight answer.

    I am just going to list my questions that hopefully someone can answer, I have a meeting with a potential client tommorow and I am really stuck...

    1. How can I determine, as a general rule, how long it takes a website to rank for local search terms? (To give context, my local area has about 150,000 people, so monthly traffic for niche keywords like 'dentist geelong' goes for about 150-350 searches per month maximum).

    2. What is the best way to outsource/do SEO for this level of competition? Could I realistically expect to get page 1 rankings using just Fiverr gigs? What do you local SEO'rs do?
    1: Every industry is different. And every location is different. You will be surprised at some in both ways. Some will be way more competitive then you would imagine and others will be easy. But dont forget your dealing with offline businesses who have terribly optimised websites. You are not blessed with sites that have been developed with search engines in mind. Some wont even be able to be crawled by the search engines and it your job to fix that. Some will other structural issues and you havent even started doing an of the "basic" on-page optimisations. Dealing with CMS's that wont even allow you to edit basic SEO element, and dealing with web designers that dont want to help you. Or will charge your client a fortune to make a solution for you. People who think offline SEO is only about link building are going to find the offline side of things very tough.

    2: if you had an offline business that you had built from the ground up over 25 years would you want fiverr gigs being built to your website? NO WAY IN THE WORLD. And what happens if your clients sites get penalized due to ****ty links? your client will be calling very fast and demanding you fix it right away. And you wont be able to because it takes time.

    People who think local search engine marketing is about buying fiverr gigs etc. i dont even know what to say. Good luck to you, because you will need it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cyber Rankings
    first of you need to rank at least in the top 3 with that little searches to make it be worth you while. The problem is that it's impossible to tell how long or even give a rough figure without looking at the competition.

    From my experience local seo is easy, if the site isn't brand new i.e. older than 6 months you should rank it onto the first page within 1-2 weeks. The problem is if you build the links fast you can't just stop dead or it looks to unnatural. I start off fast until i get to the position i want and then set up a 1-2 month drip-feed so new links carry on appearing each day. But like i said it's not an exact science and without looking at the competition it's hard to be a lot of help.
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  • Profile picture of the author amolwagh
    As I am providing SEO services in India, There is not much of competition in local markets except few in metro and major cities.

    Clients from smaller town/cities are better off to try for when you are a beginner.

    As nobody else talked about Fiverr gigs, which particularly you asked for -

    I would not suggest you to go and buy backlinking gigs from fiverr. In local SEO if you build thousands of links it wont help at all. Even hundreds wont be necessary if you have less competition on any keyword.

    There are few gigs that will let you add reviews on Google Places or some that will help for local SEO.

    You can research a bit and buy one of them, people do have better results out of it.

    Also in my case, I don't just rely on Google Places, Recently I created a Google+ page for a client and promoted it on local FB pages, forums and group to get just 100 targeted people to join from the city.

    And guess what, G+ my pages showed on first page almost in a week, because of Google's social integration feature as it little bit got promoted for free. And then within next week my client website came to top 5 rankings with only 5 links + this social experiment I tried.

    You can try the same.

    --

    Though Google is very secretive about how its local algorithm works and what are major factors affecting it, I am sure of following things -

    - Never go traditional SEO way for web.

    - Never build links lot of links to the site by Article Marketing & Submissions

    - Try finding small blogs that blogs about local products or happenings and sponsor them for smaller fees. (5 to 10)

    - Don't experiment too much with places.

    - Be there on Maps from search engines like - Yahoo, Google & Bing, provide full description of services, work hours and photos if possible.

    - One or two videos on top sites might also help greatly, but not more than that.

    - Make sure you build social pages and market it locally!

    Hope this advice will help you a little bit!
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  • Profile picture of the author daveshu
    Getting a site to the top of page 1 for local searches is pretty easy, but Andrew Cavanagh hit the nail on the head - it might not bring in any clients.

    We've got a local restaurant to no.1 for every conceivable local search term relating to their business and it hardly brings in a trickle.
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  • Profile picture of the author PaulCook
    Local SEO can be hard/easy as "global SEO". =)

    First , make a tactic for your client. Find primary keywords then go deeper and find longtail phrases. Try for the start to rank for longtails, which you can show your client as a start of successful campaign.
    Diversify your backlinks. First, make complete onpage check and recheck. Include Google maps of course.
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    • Profile picture of the author DoubleOhDave
      Lots of really good advice here - can i just ask, as someone tempted to branch into this - what do you guys typically charge offline clients to make the work worthwhile? I would be afraid of pricing too high and driving away customers, or too low and ending up working far too hard for far too little...?
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  • Profile picture of the author brandonthomas
    Banned
    Local SEO is a succesfull strategy which allows local businesses to promote their services to local customers.
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    • Profile picture of the author zannix
      Speaking from experience, it took me 2 weeks to get my clients website ranked #1 for 2 major KWs, each bringing in 400 visitors/month on average.

      Town population: 250k
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  • Profile picture of the author krikkod
    Hey mate local SEO is not that difficult if the competition is weak.

    Its not so much the size of the competition as it is the strength.

    So the magic is really in finding keywords that are relevant to your client + have weak competition + have some form of traffic

    Long tail keywords suit this best. It might not be the greatest traffic at first, but if you explain to your client that it will at least get them something then they will have no issue with that, especially if you plan to build up there SEO over time.

    ATM i pretty much outsource my seo, but i make sure i know what keywords im going for before i outsource it.
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  • Profile picture of the author rohiteshwar
    Thanks for this post i found some valuable reply which increase my knowledge.......
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  • Profile picture of the author drees5761
    Local SEO is no different to normal SEO, it depends on the keywords you want to rank for and of course the competition. I got my most recent clients site to no.2 in about 6 weeks, but you can never guarantee anything because of the way Google works. As long as you explain this to the client and show him the benefits to his business then you should be ok.
    Don't outsource to Fiverr. Use someone who can back up what he / she does. I do a bit of work that people have outsourced to me for Google Places etc.
    Don't overcharge but dont go so low just to get the job, look at the ROI the company will get. If you need any further help just PM me, and good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author nonin
    I would say - local SEO (I understand that you mean: "business in my town") is the easiest of all

    even for medium competition you can rank fresh domain among top 3 G results within 3-4 months
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