The Complete Guide to Local SEO for Multiple Locations

There are many ways to optimize your website for local SEO so you can be found for multiple locations. Just as there are many ways to optimize, so there are a variety of penalties lurking if you follow bad practices that go against Google’s guidelines.

By keeping a thorough inventory of your local SEO efforts, you will be able to avoid duplication, and ensure high quality implementation of all local SEO for your clients. In addition, by learning the ins and outs of local SEO, you will be able to help yourself by creating your own winning strategy, rather than copying your competition and hoping you don’t get penalized by shady SEO tactics.

Assessing Your Competition  The Market

Assessing Your Competition For Local SEOPerforming the proper competitor research on local content and links will help you determine how you will attack a particular niche. First off, let’s examine a niche that is all-too-often overlooked: personal injury lawyers. Say we are putting together a local campaign that will eventually target the top cities in the states. We need to assess the general market and target markets that will fit our budget.

If we have a $1,000,000+ budget, it makes sense to go after the larger markets like Los  Angeles, San Diego, etc. But, if our budget is smaller, we will not be able to go after some of the larger markets.

Assessing the market is important before assessing the local competition. You are assessing its ease of ranking, as well as other factors including traffic. Now, while I can’t cover every single type of site in existence, I am going to dive into factors to consider at the start of your local SEO campaign.

Perform Your Research at the Population Versus Dollar Budget Level

Every city is going to have its own population numbers, its own population characteristics, and its own buying cycles. It is important to assess the population and size of the market for two reasons:

  1. Budget – you do not want to throw money away selling motorcycles to a market largely interested in sweaters.
  2. Identify Trends – so you can time your campaigns around these increased buying periods.

Assess Your Competition

In any local market, you’re going to have local companies competing with each other who offer the same products and services. When you assess your competition, you are assessing the ease of ranking for a particular market. When you examine your competition, it is important to look at their linking strategy, their content strategy, and their website structure.

Linking Strategy

When it comes to a local SEO linking strategy, it is important that you embark on a strategy that is highly specific and locally targeted to your city. Ranking in local is very different from ranking in organic search: ranking factors are dependent on how strong the signals on your site are for your business’ specific location.

This is where local directories come in handy: they can help you get links for your locations fairly quickly without much effort.

Other types of local links include links in the local newspaper’s website, links from ANY website in which the URL has your city name in it, and links from your local chamber of commerce. Because of the nature of Penguin penalties, it is critical now more than ever, to assess the quality of the website linking to you before you go after the it to avoid issues down the road?

Your local linking campaign is all for naught unless you get a handle on Google’s quality guidelines to ensure your links are NOT in violation of guidelines. It is essential to go for top quality links if you want your local SEO campaign to show results.

In addition to all of the above, you need to consider how your competition is building links to their website. Using tools like Cemper’s link alerts, you can assess what links your competition is going after on nearly a daily basis. This tool will email you every time a new link appears for the defined domain name within the tool.

Pretty cool huh?

Content Strategy

In addition to linking strategy, on-page optimization is crucial. When creating local content, you want to make sure your content is locally focused and highly optimized towards the local areas you are targeting.

For example, if you were targeting “los angeles personal injury lawyers” you would need to ensure your URL, title tags, meta description, meta keywords, H1s, H2s, content, and internal links, are optimized surrounding this keyword phrase. If you want to get hyper local, using a GEO location tag is important as well. This is incredibly important when optimizing for your local on-site signals: do not forget to include the address of the location of your business on-page in text form.

This means: not in a graphic, not in a video, but in text form only. Although Google crawls images, do you want to take the random chance that Google is not going to read that local ranking signal properly because you did not optimize it properly?

Content Strategy For Local SEOAnd yes, I know you are all rolling your eyes at the “meta keywords” thing, but hear me out: there is a reason why I mention this. Yes, Google and Yahoo have both stated that they do not use Meta keywords for rankings.

Bing’s Duane Forrester stated: “I’ll make this statement: meta keywords is a signal. One of roughly a thousand we analyze. Getting it right is a nice perk for us, but won’t rock your world. Abusing meta keywords can hurt you.” Because of this, and the fact all search engines do things just a little bit differently, it is ok to at  least populate some keywords into the Meta keywords tag, but don’t go overboard to the point that you reveal your entire keyword strategy to your competitors. Or, even worse, you end up being flagged as spam by improper use of this tag.

Because the search engines do not use it for ranking, don’t waste a tone of time here. At best, spend a few minutes putting in some keywords. Put in a few well-researched, targeted keyword phrases, but don’t spend a lot of time on the meta keywords tag. Proceed accordingly and with much caution.

What Does a Properly Optimized Local Page Look Like?

Let’s take a look at the structure of a page that has properly been optimized for local on-page SEO:

A Properly Locally Optimized Page

Properly Optimized Title Tag

This should be optimized to 50 – 60 characters in length, or you can take the newer approach of optimizing your title tag according to its pixel width. Like the Meta description below, the title tag should include the targeted location keyword phrase, the title of the page / article, and branding. Ideally, a properly optimized title tag structure for most sites can look like:

by @BrianHarnish

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