Greg Gifford starts this awesome talk with the promise of 99 references to horror movies from the last 50 years in the slide deck.

Just being position #1 in the search results isn’t enough anymore, and as an SEO our job is much more than delivering #1 rankings for clients. Now that results have become so personalised based on a massive number of factors there is much more to take into account than just that hallowed #1 ranking. You now need to target maximum ‘local visibility’.

Greg goes on to say that the key to success in local SEO is client education, without the client understanding the benefits of SEO you are fighting a losing battle. Using ‘Pizza Delivery’ as an example it quickly becomes apparent that this is a highly localised search which is different for each user. Showing a client this kind of example should hopefully go someway to showing them the value of an SEO campaign.

Greg has created a simple math formula you can use to show your clients the value of SEO, check out the link below!

bit.ly/seo-simple-math

Make sure to set expectations for your client and when pitching for a business turn up with a mini local audit, this show’s a customer you’re serious and have given them something of value straight away. Find a handy unbranded template here.

bit.ly/seo-mini-audit-template

What’s new in local seo?

In September 2016 Google rolled out the Possum update, this was a change to the local search algorithm. Greg then went through some of the most significant updates.

Duplicate GMB Listings – Dial has been turned up on this, can cause serious visibility issues if not remedied.

Third Party Reviews – No longer is it just Google reviews carrying all the weight, third party reviews from places like booking.com, TrustPilot and Feefo all push the needle for your local SEO campaign.

Category Confusion – This causes more problems than before! Don’t select two restaurant categories, be as specific as you can.

Industry related links – Carry more weight

Review content – Not just stars now, the algorithm looks at the content of your reviews

Proximity – Is the number #1 factor in local search. “It carries a tonne of weight”

2017 Search Ranking Factors

These were released by Moz over a month ago but haven’t gone public yet. They can be found in Greg’s slide deck here.

Ranking in the Map Pack

As a local business ranking in the map pack is a massive win, however, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get there. Physical address in the city of search is now the #2 ranking factor and the #1 factor is the searcher’s proximity to the business.

Traditional ranking factors still matter so make sure your site is optimised but links still matter more than anything else.

Link Signals

Greg goes on to look at localised organic ranking factors now that the 3 pack is so proximity based. Link Signals were ranked 28.6% of the 2017 LSRF with the Possum update dialling up the importance of industry-related links but above all local links are still the most valuable.

If a link is local Greg say’s not to worry about whether it’s follow or nofollow, the local algorithm works in a different way so don’t be discouraged, it’s a local link so all good! Don’t worry if a linking site has poor domain authority, trust flow or is ugly. As before it’s a local link so get stuck in.

As an SEO you need to leverage your relationships and the things you are already doing, look for opportunities for local links through things like local sponsorships, local volunteer sponsorships, local offline groups and the big secret… Neighbourhood watch groups! These kinds of organisations often have small WordPress sites which are great to generate links from. Don’t forget to not just looks at competitors in your city, look at other places and see if you can generate any ideas that way.

Don’t point all your links at your homepage, try and spread them around your site and to deeper pages.

Need more ideas for local links?

bit.ly/local-link-ideas

Content Signals

Content was ranked at 24.4% in the 2017 LSRF. Unique content isn’t good enough anymore, everyone has unique content, your content needs to be ACTUALLY local.

Greg gives a great tip here, try reading your content out loud, if it doesn’t sound conversational then rethink it.

Greg lists the elements you need to optimise for local SEO:
– City in title tag
– City in H1 heading
– City in page content
– City in alt image text
– City in URL
– City in meta description

The above serves as a great resource you can check off to make sure that your on page optimisation is on point.

You need to have a regularly updated blog, this doesn’t mean posting 4-8 pieces of poor content a month. The content you post should be something that a user actually wants to read and gives them value. It’s also key to make sure that all of your blog content is shared across all social channels.

Before trying to rank in any other cities you need to make sure you own your backyard.

Citation Signals

Citation signals were given 8.4% in the 2017 LSRF, not as powerful as they used to be but they are a foundational tactic which should be completed. Look at where your high ranking competitors are listed, this is what Google is seeing as valuable citations. You need to make sure that your business is listed in the same place.

Incorrect citation work sends bad signals to Google and can harm your site’s visibility, Greg goes on to recommend BrightLocal as solution for citation work.

Google My Business Signals

GMB ranks at 7.5% of the 2017 LSRF with the importance dropping since the 2015 report. The GMB experience has changed, now people access this information through the knowledge graph and your map listing so you must make sure that your map listing is claimed.

You must also use a local phone number and make sure that it matches the phone number on your site. If you need help accessing your listing then use twitter and ping @GoogleMyBiz and message, they will help you out and usually in a very quick fashion.

Greg says to include a UTM tracking code on your GMB website URL, this helps you label this traffic and gives you data to report and measure with.

Review Signals

Review signals are 6.27% of the 2017 LSRF, a staggering 92% of consumers read online reviews before choosing a company to buy from. Make sure to spread your reviews across between different sites like Google, industry websites, Facebook and Yell

That wraps up Greg’s amazing presentation, there is a lot to learn here and I look forward to when the 2017 LSRF is fully released to the public. The slides can be found below

https://www.slideshare.net/GregGifford/advanced-local-seo-tips-to-help-you-murder-your-competitors

This post is one of 25 in our Brighton SEO 2017 collection

Charlie Norledge

Senior SEO Executive