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Planning, creating, analyzing, and adapting online content in order to rank high in Google and the major search engines for targeted keywords & topics to grow interest, likes, shares, links, lists, sales, and customers.

What Is Local SEO?

What is local search engine optimization?

Search engine optimization (SEO) for small businesses is the art and science of creating, marketing, optimizing, and managing online content with a primary goal of organically ranking it on page one of search engines like Google for targeted keyword phrases.

Ultimately, SEO marketing is about INCREASING SALES through more traffic, lists, leads, and customers.

SEO for local businesses (called Local SEO) adds:

  1. your online reputation on customer review sites, your own website, and social media.
  2. local business, industry, and reviews directories like Google My Business, Bing, Yahoo!, SuperPages, YP, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Apple Maps, etc.

There’s a ton of local people already searching about topics in your industry. They’re seeking information on your products and services but based on their questions, problems, needs, wants, and desires, etc.

Many are ideal prospective customers for your business.

Your mission (or ours) is to find exactly what they’re searching for that’s related to your local business, then create great content for it, provide it in every format, design it for local SEO, get it ranked organically in Google, and market it in every way possible.

Go where the traffic is.

Create the content they’re asking for. Solve problems, answer questions, provide how-to’s, etc.

It’s about creating content that will rank on page one of Google and other search engine results pages (SERP) to get traffic, and converting that traffic into leads and sales.

Why online?

Because now nearly everyone has a smartphone in their pocket. It’s a new world.

And we all use it to search for everything, including shopping for local business, products, and services.

Nearly 90% of U.S. citizens are Internet connected and 77% have smartphones. And those numbers are rising rapidly.

According to Google, 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local products and services.

56% of all mobile searches are local. (SearchEngineLand)

50% of consumers who conducted a local search visited a store within one day. (ThinkwithGoogle)

The stats make it pretty clear where your customers are.

High-speed, fiber-optic cable and the smartphone have changed the world forever.

Look around right now. Odds are people’s eyes and attention are directed at their phones, tablets, or desktops.

We used to look in the yellow pages, newspapers, magazines, or walk through the malls and drive through towns to shop for products and services.

Today we search the whole world within our phones.

That’s where everyone is.

That’s where the business is.

Be seen or be invisible.

It starts with local search.

Does your business stand out or dominate page one of Google’s search results page for the keyword phrases your local prospects and customers are using the most?

Local SEO gets your business and content ranked and seen.

Good conversion design in the content turns the new search engine traffic into more leads, sales, and customers.

Every local business has it’s own unique needs, wants, and desires.

Google and all major search engines change their metrics and algorithms daily. You’ve got to stay tuned and adjust to what is.

With that said, there’s still plenty of core local SEO fundamentals that everyone should be implementing and which usually produce very good results.

The reward at the end of the SEO marketing rainbow is more highly-targeted and qualified traffic, lists, leads, sales, and customers. 

Like all things, it’s about doing the work. It takes time and effort to develop and maintain. It also takes Google and other search engines a few months to get around to crawling, indexing, and ranking your newly optimized website code, structure, and content.

It’s not only essential and required, it’s the path to thriving and predictable success.

We’ve put together a list of powerful local SEO tips, tools, and on-page strategies that any business can use to choose, analyze, and optimize your content by keywords, code, structure, links, rankings, and more.

Also included are a bunch of suggestions for off-page SEO efforts to build brand, reputation, relationships, and high-quality, long-term inbound links.

This FREE Local SEO Guide offers you the nuts and bolts of what works for us and what we’ve learned over twenty years of online experience; building and operating an e-commerce store, ranking websites, and owning three small businesses.

Local SEO starts with what your prospects are typing into the Google search bar.
age of the smartphone
Graph of percent of Americans online - Pew Research Center
SEO Planning

Local SEO

SEO for a local business, known as local SEO, has three main sectors. Each needs to be planned, optimized, and actively managed.

  • SEO content on website and social media – The on-page design and coding of content and the off-page promotion and syndication to get inbound links are all required to earn high rankings in Google, YouTube, Bing, Yahoo, etc. We’ll cover how to do that throughout the rest of this guide.
  • Local business directories & citations – managing your company name, address, and phone number (NAP) and website URL information in the hundreds of free local business, industry, and reviews directories like Google My Business (GMB), Bing Places, Yelp, Yahoo! Local, CitySearch, Apple Maps, etc. is extremely important to growing your sales.
    These are high authority sites with lots of traffic that provide local business listings with links back to your website in their searches. Each one helps send traffic, a backlink, “link juice” and ranking power to your business and it’s ranking in all the directories, maps, and organic search results pages (SERPs) for your website. Optimized directory listings (called citations) are essential to ranking in local searches and growing leads and sales.
  • Reputation management – encouraging and growing great online customer reviews is also vitally important in the online world. Consumers trust online reviews and every business needs to earn great reviews and proudly display them. Provide excellent service. Encourage naturally great reviews and make it easy for your customers to give them.
Local SEO services for small business.
Google maps local pack on search results page.
Google My Business GMB is an essential tool in digital marketing for small business.
local seo business citations sources

Local Directories

The very first thing every small business should do for local SEO and online marketing, is to create or claim your FREE listings in local business directories like Google My Business to increase your search rankings.

Getting ranked in the top 3 listings that are displayed in Google Maps for local search results will get you more leads, sales, and customers.

It’s the first thing people see after the ads when doing a local search.

In the local SEO world it’s called “the Google snack pack” because it’s a tasty place to be. Those listings get most of the clicks, calls, and sales.

There are literally hundreds of free local business, industry, and reviews directories like Bing Places, Yahoo! Local, Yelp, SuperPages, YP, TripAdvisor, CitySearch, etc.

These directories list your company name, address, phone (NAP) and provide a link to your website URL. Some allow for photos and videos.

Much of the NAP and URL information can be incorrect, especially if your business has moved or change phones, websites, etc.

The more of them your local business is in with the correct NAP and URL information, along with good website SEO, the better you’ll rank in search and the more leads and sales you’ll get.

Your business is in some or many of these directories already just from search robots crawling the web and picking up mentions of your business NAP and URL.

If listings are wrong, then the search engines don’t know they belong to you. Resulting in you losing ideal traffic, leads, and sales.

Online software can help you manage these. Though we think the job is best done manually.

A local directories and citations management service is offered by most digital marketing and local seo companies like ourselves.

For the DIY’ers make sure the name, address, and phone number (NAP) and website address is accurate and identical in every directory. Make sure the directories are relevant to your business, industry, and customers.

Add as many photos as each permits. First make sure the filenames of each photo have keywords in them but still apply to the photo.

Try to describe the photo and it’s related keyword. DO NOT JUST STUFF KEYWORDS, Google will penalize you. Have it make sense.

Geo-tag all of your photos with your local business location. If you have multiple locations, geo-tag separate photos for each location. Geo-tagging embeds the latitude and longitude of the photo and search engines read that and help it rank for related searches in that same local area.

Add a video if the directory permits and make it a “business listing” type of video that quickly provides your business name, address, cross streets, days open and hours, the products and services offered, and why your local business is a better choice for the consumer. The super low-budgeted can make a slide-show video from photos of your location, products, services, and staff.

If the directory allows a description, create a good actionable description using words like “free, learn, try, get, find, etc.” And include your keyword phrase for your industry in your city. For example “ABC are the best plumbers in Boulder Colorado.”

Be sure to link out from the local directory to your website. That link adds value and ranking power to your website.

The more links your website has from quality authority sites, the more value and Google ranking power your website gains.

Placing that same NAP data on every page of your website in also important.  Your phone number should be in the header so it’s easily seen and made to click to call. The address can be in the footer with the business name and phone repeated.

Adding structured data code [a.k.a. schema markup] on your website is important too.
 This code tells the search engines who you are in the language they want it in. It identifies your site as a local business, business name, address and phone number (NAP), your business categories, and more. This code provides a big boost to ranking power. See Google and for more info.

There’s special structured data code for reviews pages, blog posts, products, services, videos, and more. They’re all a tremendous help in getting your site and content organically ranked and growing traffic.

Action Alert: Claim or create your business listing in Google+, Bing Paces, Yelp, YellowPages, etc: fill out all the information completely. Make sure there’s an exact match to your correct Business Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP) in every directory. Include a link to your website and all the photos and videos each allows (it differs). Make sure your website has the same exact NAP data on your home page (the footer is a common place). Make sure you have Local Business Schema coded on your home and contact us pages. Schema markup should also be applied to all posts, product and service pages, videos, etc.


Online reviews have a direct influence on local search engine rankings, leads, sales, and your business’s brand and reputation.

88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends. (SearchEngineLand)

Online reviews are also one of the first things people see in your Google My Business listing displayed in maps for local searches.

90% of those surveyed said positive reviews affected their buying decisions and 86% said negative reviews did.

Since consumers trust online reviews almost as much as reviews from friends and family, they need to be a priority in your business and SEO plans.

Your local business needs lots of great reviews on Google+, Yelp, Bing Places, etc.

7 out of 10 customers say they will leave a review for a business if asked according to the Sixth Annual Local Consumer Review Survey by Bright Local.

It’s against Yelp and others policy to ask for reviews or provide any type of incentive.

But you can display tent cards or stickers that you participate and appreciate Google+ and Yelp reviews. Or other sites that apply to your business.

You can also train your staff to ask customers to leave photos of your business and it’s products or the results of it’s services (before and after) on Google+ and Yelp. This is legit and will encourage natural, organic reviews being made and more engagement with your customers.

Display reviews on your website home page.

Make it easy for people to leave reviews on your website. Create a “review-us” page on your website that displays your great customer reviews and provide links to key review sites and social channels for your business. Give them a choice of where to write a review.

Bing Places
Yahoo! Local
Angie’s List

If you have multiple locations add a “select a location” menu to review the proper location.

On your “Review Us” webpage provide a “we’ve got a beef” or “not satisfied” link to a input form that allows a customer to let you know about what they’re not satisfied with.

Divert the unhappy customer and potential bad review back to you to find out what’s wrong and how to correct the issue and satisfy the customer.

You’ll also learn about and be able to correct possible kinks in your customer service, processes, and procedures.

Also ADD social share buttons to your website content pages. Make it easy to share.

Action Alert: Create a “Reviews” page for your website with custom links to make it easy for your customers to review your business on Google Places, Yelp, Facebook, etc. Send out an email to all your customers asking for a review, giving the link to the new reviews webpage, and a giveaway or special discount as a reward for their time.

Content is King

It all begins with contentgreat content.

Brian Dean of Backlinko has confirmed that to rank in 2018 and beyond it will take great, well-researched, long-form content with lots of video that keeps people on the page a long time (dwell time), gets lots of clicks in search (click-thru rate CTR – from great Titles), and has lots of backlinks from a diversity of high-authority and relevant sources.

Your long-term online marketing success will be driven from a foundation of valuable and marketable cornerstone content.

Well researched, in-depth, and informative content that solves problems, answers questions, teaches, inspires, and entertains.

Your content must fulfill the needs of what your prospects and customers are already searching for.

Your customers don’t want interruption ads anymore.

Finding information, products, and services is easy now.

They all have access to instant information in their hands.

And people want to learn.

Now they want to know things related to your industry, products, and services.

They want to know how to solve problems or get answers to questions they have.

You have to find their wants and needs then give them an exceptional experience.

There’s no middle ground really, people want an informative and enjoyable experience.

You have to provide content they will actually want to consume and share. 

Let your prospects slowly get to know, like and trust you by providing information that’s helpful to them.

Then your content also has to be written and coded in such a way that makes it search engine optimized to get it ranked on Google, Bing, and other search engines.

Local SEO marketing uses customized content to drive traffic to your website, blog posts, video, social sites, forums, and more.

There’s a sea of competitors in your industry who show up in local search engine results. Your content has to be better.

Great content is the cornerstone of your business’s online presence. It’s what we all see, experience, and measure you by.

It’s your brand.

An important part of getting content ranked in Google is having outside authorities and influencers in your same industry know, like, trust, link to, mention, and share your content with their audiences.

Getting authorities and influencers to link to it requires the content be of value to the consumer and worthy of sharing and linking to in the first place.

It always comes back to rich, well-researched, informative content that provides value to the consumer.

Well, you’ll still have to work for most of those backlinks, but it’ll be much easier, more effective, and longer-lasting with quality content.

Good cornerstone content usually has “evergreen” value and can be used in many ways and produce leads, grow lists, and increase sales for many years to come.

In the new smartphone world, how much any company’s ability to compete and grow will be in direct proportion to the importance given to Local SEO and online marketing and the VALUE of the content created.

NO value = NO visitors = NO business

All the SEO in the world won’t help poor content.

learn online from quality seo content
Online Branding Plan

Content Ideas

Every local business has cornerstone content.

What are the top ten questions your customers ask?

What problems do you solve for people?

You’re good at what you do right? What can you teach?

The features and benefits of your products, services, and company and how they directly benefit the people who use them are key cornerstone topics.

What service calls could you prevent with a video or how-to guide posted online?


Survey your customers and social groups. Ask them what problems or questions they would like to see covered that’s related to your products or services and their uses, features, and benefits.

Action Alert: Create YOUR Top 10 Cornerstone Content Topics: what problems do your prospects and customers have that you can solve? what’s your number one service-call issue? what customer questions can you answer? what do your prospects and customers want to learn about? what can you teach? do your products need a demonstration or how-to-use or maintain video? Etc.

Long-Form Content

Write long-form content of 1,500 words or more.

Various studies have shown that long-form content gets better search engine rankings than short-form.

Google and other search engines want to return valuable, in-depth content to help users find a broad scope of information on the topic they’ve searched for.

Well crafted long-form content that cites sources and provides outbound links to external authoritative sources, in addition to having inbound links from external recognized authorities on a subject, tells the search engines that this content will be of help and value to the user.

It goes back to being an information hub.

Provide lots of great content on a subject and you’re more likely to rank well in the search engines.

Long-form content is also easier and more likely to receive links from external sources, which helps increase the authority of the page or post to search engines.

Do the work up front and you’ll be richly rewarded.

For more on this topic see this SearchEngineLand article: The SEO And User Science Behind Long-Form Content.

content marketing for mobile search

Page Loading Speed

Google has made it crystal clear that page loading speed is critical to getting a great ranking.

Optimizing images plays a giant role in having a fast loading page or post.

The WordPress theme you’re using and the number and quality of the plugins you’re using play major roles as well.

We really like the Thrive Themes and Divi Theme. Customized child themes are then installed on top of the main theme.

You can test your page loading speed at Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool here.

W3 Total Cache is a WordPress plugin that can help your site improve it’s performance and loading speed. We use it on every site.

WordPress SEO Plugin

Installing a WordPress SEO Plugin will do wonders to guide you in creating SEO optimized pages and posts.

There’s no way we would work on a site without one.

The two most popular are:

Yoast SEO This the most popular and most used SEO plugin. Yoast offers a free SEO plugin and a premium upgrade to it. They also offer a Local SEO pack which helps manage citations and directory listings. We use Yoast and install it on every site.

All In One SEO Pack – an easier to use plugin than Yoast but still very helpful.

Internal Links

Create internal links to relative content on your site.

Link to content within your own site that’s related and helpful to the page or post you’re creating.

Internal links help spread link juice earned from off-page SEO links and help establish site architecture to the search engines.

Link internal pages within the same silo to each other and especially to the parent silo page.

Internal links boost seo ranking power.

Outbound Links

Be an information hub.

Linking to sites other than your own shows both visitors and search engines that you’re trying to create the best information hub possible on that topic.

Studies done by Reboot and others have shown that search engines reward you for linking to quality sites that provide great content related to your own.

outbound links

Action Alert: 3-3-3 Create at least three (3) links within your page, three going out, and three to your related content, 3-3-3. Create at least three links on your page or post that link to another anchor spot on the same page (use a secondary keyword as the anchor). Create at least three (3) links to three different outside authority articles on the same subject as your content. Create at least three (3) links to other pages or posts on your own website or blog that have related content.

Avoid Plagiarism

Make sure your content is original and you’re not using someone else’s content.

Use FREE online plagiarism checkers to make sure you didn’t write something that exactly matches content found elsewhere. It happens.
Small SEO Tools
Search Engine Reports

Always check for plagiarism in your content.

Create a Sitemap

According to submitting a sitemap to the search engines alerts them to the content you created faster and helps establish you as the creator of that content, which might later be syndicated on other sites, or worse, stolen by other sites.

A great tool for this is a WordPress plugin called Google XML Sitemaps

The Google XML plugin auto generates a sitemap that the search engines can use to index your site.

create a Google sitemap

Calls to Action

You’re in business right? So the point of it all is to collect emails for future marketing, get likes and shares to social media, and new customers through sales.

Make it easy for people to contact you.

Include your email and phone number if applicable on your top menu bar.

Include CTA buttons and links to Opt-in to your email list, or to download a free guide, etc.

CTA Call to Action
contact us

Contact Us

Create a “Contact US” page.

Like a call-to-action, a contact us form makes it easy for visitors to reach out to you and send you a message.

Create a “contact us” form and make it easy to access from every page on your site.


If your site completes transactions and needs to protect data, install a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate on your domain (a.k.a. Transport Layer Security or TLS).

 “HTTPS is an Internet communication security protocol that protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user’s computer and your website.”Google

SSL / TLS protects your users data from being intercepted by a third party. It secures communications between your domain and your domain hosting service’s server.

You know a site has an SSL certificate if the address bar shows HTTPS://webaddress instead of just HTTP://webaddress. There is also a padlock next to the address.

SSL can help with search rankings too!

Google has confirmed they use SSL as a ranking factor and want all websites to move toward this level of security.

FREE Consultations. Let’s talk about growing your local business.

Area We Service

All 50 United States and Canada

We offer local search engine optimization (SEO) marketing services to small businesses anywhere in the United States.

Our home base is southern California, so we love working in person with business owners and managers in our own local region too.

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Menifee CA 92584

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