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Dominate Google Locally

Local SEO is not complicated. It simply requires the right techniques to be applied and a fair amount of work to be carried out.

Rich content and links are the fundamentals of ranking your website on Google. At the start of any project there are other important things to consider such as your domain name, the website speed and making sure it’s technically sound.

You can carryout your own local SEO, however, for optimum results and if you are likely short on time you are better hiring an SEO consultant or agency.

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Google Search & Local SEO in 2021

The internet and Google constantly change, as an SEO company it’s Lead Generation Scotland Ltd‘s job to stay up to date. There is so much knowledge, information and opinions out there. My name is John I am the Director and main SEO consultant at the company and I am a firm believer in keeping things simple. Having worked in small teams and mainly myself over the years I have become efficient at learning the essential aspects of the most effective local SEO techniques that deliver the most traffic and leads.

The industry is made up from numerous different SEO specialists, for example you could be a specialist in website speed optimisation, negative SEO, on page, off page / link building, technical, content marketing the list goes on.

Local search in 2021 looks a lot different to even 12 months ago. The SERP (search engine results page) is now busier than ever before. This means you need to be a little smarter on your approach, however, with more results means more competition, if your SEO company knows what they are doing this means there are an increased number of positions and opportunities to appear, improving your chances of being selected!

Below I aim to break it down for you in simple language and hopefully help your business understand a little more about how to compete online. 

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Google Ads (First)

It’s no secret you can pay to appear first on Google for a set period of time. Google Ads is traditionally pay per click advertising, were you in effect rent out a spot on Google page one. Google Ads can work great, however, cash is king!

Like many small business owners, I am used to trying to compete using smaller budgets and it’s been really exciting over the last couple of years since I have had more success to play around with some more serious cash for better results. Google Ads are fantastic and I always advocate running them at all times whilst you still want new customers.  

I used the rent analogy, and remember the rent is due every month! Not only that, its been shown that less than 20% of people searching on Google click on the ads which leaves another 80%+ of the total traffic to consider.

These stats are very broad and debatable, and also vary depending on the users intent and circumstances.

Please see some amazing detailed Google advertising stats on www.digitalthirdcoast.com. 

There are up to 4 spaces available at the top of the page for Ads and up to a further 3 at the bottom of the page.

In the UK, earlier this year Google launched Local Service Ads or “Google Guaranteed” listings. These ads work more like ourselves on a pay per lead model, they are still in their infancy and only available in a limited number of industries. Like any new product there are teething problems and awareness is still not very strong, but make no mistake about it they are not going anywhere!

These ads appear at the very top of the page with up to 3 results even above the traditional ads, here is a desktop example shown below.

The reviews shown are taken from your Google My Business profile, so yet another reason to build your customer reviews.

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Local Services Ads aka Google Guaranteed Listings

Google My Business / Maps 3 Pack (Top Local SEO)

Google My Business aka GMB aka Google Map Pack aka Google 3 Pack!

Or in Scotland, THE MAPS! The different names gets confusing however the concept of how they work is pretty simple. Like any organic results, Google want to show the most relevant high quality content it can to ensure that users return and their amazing success continues.

How to appear on the top 3 on maps is not so simple! The more competitive your industry and the bigger the location means that it gets more difficult. Obviously this means there could be literally hundreds of business listings to choose from and only 3 of them can be at the top!

In 2021, local SEO companies and consultants have been focusing most of their energy on making sure their clients and perhaps themselves appear on the Google 3 pack.

To ensure your business obtains maximum results from this position you want to be sure to have strong customer reviews to improve your chances of being selected.

The better you optimise and more links you build to your Google My Business listing, the more keyword search terms you will appear on. Take the example below for “Plumbers Glasgow” a well optimised listing will not be a one trick pony and also appear for other similar keywords such as:

“Glasgow Plumbers”

“Plumbers in Glasgow”

“Best Plumbers Glasgow”

“Plumbers Glasgow Southside”

“Plumbers Near Me”

And so on!

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Google Map Pack aka Google 3 Pack

Google Map Domination Tutorials

A lot of SEO’s like myself who still make their living from client income like to hold their cards close to their chest. 

I DON’T! LOL

I believe the cream always rises to the top and having the knowledge is only a very small part of the process as you still need to apply it and put in the work.

I only found these sources in the last 2 or 3 months (summer 2021) and it was amazing to hear that a lot of similar methods and ideas that were often put down, dismissed and criticised with negative input from some peers, competitors and the like in Scotland, were actually recapitulated and being used across the world. 

Albeit these guys have dedicated much more of their time researching, documenting and fault testing these techniques which I really respect, as I realise the amount of time and energy required for Facebook groups, YouTube channels and producing consistent quality content.

I only stumbled on Brock’s content recently and was delighted to see he used a lot of ideas and tricks I myself use and has delved into even more detail – Check out his YouTube channel. (not only is there plenty of golden nuggets, I find him very funny and entertaining to watch)

Matteo Barletta Co-Founder of GMB Crush posts amazing content on a daily basis on his Facebook group. He also has a YouTube channel and has helped me enhance my skills recently at no benefit to himself.

The GMB Crush Google My Business Audit Template is a real stand out piece of content for me which I’ve still not had time to fully digest or utilise running an agency by myself.

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www.gmbcrush.com

Organic Results (Old School SEO)

Last year I used to say “what used to be first on Google is now 8th” this applied because of the 4 Ads and 3 map listings above.

With this years Local Service Ads this can now be 11th place in some cases!

Ironically, depending on the industry and city these results can take the longest to change and achieve first place for. There are still a lot of well informed Google users who choose the number one organic listing, I believe they often trust these results more.

You will also find that people who are further along in the buying process and have carried out more research, will be likely to stumble on these results.

So although organic does not have anywhere near the impact it once did, I certainly would not neglect it. 

Organic / on-page SEO also compliments EVERYTHING else, having rich and relevant content improves your Google Ads quality score, increases the number of times your ad is served and reduces your cost per click.

The map pack is also influenced by the content on your website so good luck getting anywhere without it is all I am going to say!

Last but not least, long tail keywords. Like the name suggests, long tail keywords are keywords that are long, generally made up of 4 words or more. Most of the time these search terms do not bring up any map results, so like the good old days (before I even started doing SEO in 2017) being number one organic has real substance and delivers results.

To optimise your results on long tail keywords, you should carry out strong keyword research specifically looking for opportunities were the users intent will be to buy the product or service. This is simply known as user intent.

See more information on long tail keywords on this blog on Search Engine Journal. 

If your content is strong and popular enough (clicked on more often by Google users) your long tail keyword might even become a featured snippet which is a fantastic premium position to have and a real compliment to your SEO skills.

Pictured below are two examples of featured snippet results I have achieved for my clients.

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www.eliterenovationsgroup.co.uk/roughcasting-glasgow-roughcasters/

My Local SEO Summary

As you can see local SEO in 2021 is a vast topic, with Google SERP being far busier and I have only scratched the surface, hopefully describing things in a way that’s been easy for most people to understand avoiding any tech jargon which I hate!

Your feedback is welcome?

I would consider my strongest area in local SEO and digital marketing to be the one I spend most time on, the Google Map Pack / 3 Pack, I always focus my time and energy on the most effective method to deliver traffic and leads to my clients!

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your companies website and local SEO strategy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Kind Regards,

John McWhinnie

Director

Lead Generation Scotland Ltd

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