Building the Groundwork: The SEO Beginners Guide to Boost Your Local Presence
In this episode, Jesse goes solo and covers the basics of getting started with your SEO campaign. He talks about the importance of Google Search Console, conducting technical SEO audits, performing competitor analysis, and doing keyword research. This informative episode provides a great foundation for anyone looking to improve their local SEO presence.
What You'll Learn
- How to leverage Google Search Console to gain insights into your website's performance
- What a technical SEO audit is and why it's crucial for your website's optimization
- Why competitor analysis and keyword research are vital components of a successful local SEO strategy
Questions about SEO? Ask us at localseotactics.com/questions for a chance to have it answered on the show!
Don’t miss an episode – listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart, and more!
Jesse Dolan: Keywords is one of the core things that we're focused on and that we try to always have in our vernacular and we're talking about because that is one of the big things that we can use on a page to dictate what the intent of that page is, what's the focus of that page, and then try to get that page ranked in Google for that same keyword.
Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics where we bring you tips and tricks you found online. I'm your host, Jesse Dolan. Today we're going to be talking about how to start your local SEO campaign with the same foundation we do here at Intrycks. We've all heard the adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and from an SEO standpoint, we feel very strongly that you have to start with the right foundation, you have to do things in the right order to build for success. We've talked on this show, we talk with our clients all the time, and I'm sure any of you out there that are practicing SEO have heard the same kind of phraseology, right? "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon," things like that. And with that in mind, yeah, there's some things that we like to do first for SEO to make sure we're not going to throw good money after bad, that we're not going to have to redo work, and that the work that we do put in is going to be fruitful and have results.
So today we're going to walk you through some of the foundational things that we do. Before we really even get into on-page SEO, modifying pages, adding keywords to the pages, things like that, there is definitely some work to do to set the foundation and make sure you're going to have success, and that the next Google algorithm update or something your competitor does, doesn't just totally alter your rankings and impact you. So let's make you stronger. And again, just like a house, just like a building, any kind of structure, you build a strong foundation, you make sure that foundation is there, is stable, then what you put on top of it, the additional work you're going to do going forward, again, is going to be fruitful. So let's dive in. The first thing we do is, it's kind of a generic term here, but a technical SEO audit.
And what we like to do is just look at all of the information before we start making any changes on a website. There's a lot that goes into SEO. I've said it before and I'll say it again here, it's search engine optimization. The last word optimization kind of by definition is granular, right? The little changes, the granular changes, those optimizations. And so we start with the technical SEO audit because we want to look at all the areas of the website that could possibly impact SEO and make sure all of those areas are in check with our best practices. So a few of these areas here, and some of this, maybe you're listening, you're like, "Yeah, duh, I know that of course," hopefully there's some things on here that are going to be a little bit of a light bulb for you or things that you're going to add as well.
And I'm not going to get into any tools here by the way. Whether it be Semrush, Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, Sitebulb, there's a ton of tools out there if you want to deploy any tools or your utilities to help with your audit. I'm going to skip over all that. I'm talking here about the process and some of the things and the stages. I'm not going to get super technical on those tools, but feel free to use whatever tools you currently are or do some scouring on the web to come up with any new ones. You can also check out our resources page on Local SEO Tactics for some there that we use and promote as well. So technical SEO audit, first, we start with the website access. Now, in this case here as I'm talking, we do SEO for clients.
So usually this involves getting that information from clients. If you are an agency or a firm that does service clients, some of this speak will be directly at you or in the same kind of discussions you're having, but if you're working on this for your own site, business owner, marketing manager of your own company, some of this information you're going to have already at your fingertips, but odds are you're still going to need to collect this information from either your IT people or other people in your office that maybe were doing some of these roles. So first thing you want to do is get your website access. If you're using WordPress, what's the login, right? What's the username, password? Where do I go to login? Things like that. Front Square, if you're on some other hosted platform. Same thing, where do you go to log in?
What do you log in with? Username, password, that kind of credentials. And you're also going to want to get access kind of in that same way to the hosting environment for the website. Again, if you're doing a custom website, a WordPress website, things like that, this means you're probably hosting your website on GoDaddy or Blue Host or HostGator or some web host, some third party. You probably don't have it on your computer at work, but if you're on something again, like Square, where it's kind of an all in one package, you may not have separate credentials for your server, but if you do, that is something you're definitely going to want to jump in and get access to as well. Now, within your website and your server, you're going to want to look at, and again, I'm going to be a little bit vague here because different servers, different hosting providers, different websites, you won't get all the same information.
So generally speaking, what we're going to be looking for is to make sure that there's no errors, there's no issues, that you don't have anything that's broken, any alerts, nothing that's out of date, particularly on your website. If it's WordPress, are there plug-ins that are out of date, themes that are out of date, any vulnerabilities, any warnings? Outside of that, we want to look at some of the traffic related elements here. Again, depending on your server and your web host, what they can and cannot provide to you may vary, and I'm not going to walk through the exact audit process that we do. Again, this is kind of more high level, the areas that we look at and the things you're going to want to pull together and have at your fingertips but we're going to look at traffic, we're going to look at downtime.
We're going to look at performance. If you're, again, let's just say you're using GoDaddy, what kind of memory, what kind of RAM is on your hosting setup? What kind of storage space? What kind of traffic throughput? Are you having any limitations there? Is there anything in your hosting environment that could potentially hamper performance of your website, right? Also in this kind of the technical audit, frame of mind here, we're going to want to look at the analytics. Now, that could be Google Analytics, that can be Google Search Console, if you have some third party applications, whatever it is, you want to identify all the different bits of analytics that your website is currently collecting, and you're going to want to, again, get the credentials, username, password, where do you log in, how do you access this information, these reports, whatever it is that you're currently getting or have access to with that in a notebook, with that in a post-it note, right?
You're going to file all this stuff away somewhere. You're going to go back, as you are in your SEO journey, you're going to modify these things, you're going to access these things. You'll need them again later too so this is also a time to kind of take inventory and collect all this into a spot that you can manage going forward. So with analytics, jumping back into that, we definitely want to look at the analytics from a sense of traffic, pages, content, time on site, things like that, some of the traditional stats. But then we also really want to dive into Google Search Console. Again, this phase we're in here is the technical SEO audit part that I'm speaking to, and Google Search Console is an extremely valuable tool for technical SEO. It's completely free, and we touched on Google Search Console in a number of episodes here, particularly episode 15.
We talked about what is Google Search Console, episode 118, how to fix high impression and low click pages in Google Search Console. So if you go to localseotactics.com, do a search up in the top right corner just for Google Search Console, and you're going to find all the episodes that reference that and are kind of built around that to give you more about Google Search Console, how powerful it is, and how to use it. But that is going to be a spot you're going to want to go in your audit to look at are there any errors that Google's reporting, right? Any issues Google's reporting? When we talk about getting found in search, obviously the big prize here is getting found in Google. Google Search Console is Google's way to give you feedback about the health of your website, right? Especially from an SEO standpoint here.
Hey, everyone, just a quick message about our free SEO audit tool on localseotactics.com, and we'll get right back to the show. If you haven't taken advantage of it yet, go on out to localseotactics.com/free-seo-audit or look for the yellow button up in the top right corner. Click that and it's going to take just a couple seconds. You enter in the page that you want to optimize, what you're looking for the audit to score against. Enter in that page, enter in the keyword you're looking to get optimized for, and enter in your email address. Click the button and it's going to take a few seconds, and then it's going to send you off a PDF report via email. It's a great report. It's going to kind of give you an overall score of some vital SEO areas for that page and for your website at large, even though it's auditing this page.
It's going to tell you some of the good things that are happening, some of the bad things that are happening too, and can give you basically a checklist of some things that you need to shore up and what you can do to improve your SEO for that page, for that keyword that you're auditing. Now, you can use this as many times as you want. You can do multiple keywords, multiple pages, multiple keywords on the same page. You can even use this to check against your competitors, if you want to do a little reverse engineering, see how they're scoring for a certain keyword, what they may be doing good that you're not, and some things you improve there. So lots of different ways to use it completely free. Again, go on to localseotactics.com/free-seo-audit or look for the yellow button in the top right corner of the website.
So definitely check that out. To recap the technical SEO audit chunk of discussion here, you're going to want to get access to your website, you're going to want to get access to your hosting environment, you're going to want to look at the analytics for performance, for stats, traffic, things like that, and you're also going to want to get into Google Search Console. So that's the first phase. We do the audit just to see, right, what's broken, what needs attention, is there any red flags, and then we address that stuff and fix it. That's the very first thing that we do with any client in any new project that we take on. Now, while that's happening, we're also doing a couple other phases of research and investigation, one of those being keyword research.
Again, SEO, really keywords is one of the core things that we're focused on and that we try to always have in our vernacular and we're talking about because that is one of the big things that we can use on a page to dictate what the intent of that page is, what's the focus of that page, and then try to get that page ranked in Google for that same keyword. So keywords are a very big part of SEO, and you want to do research on the front side for what keywords you should be targeting, what keywords you want to target, and what keywords your competitors are targeting. We're going to talk here in a quick second about some competitor research and how that can play into your keyword research. But before I get into that, I want to talk... Again, let's pretend here that you're working with a client.
When we do keyword research, we're going to find out what keywords are already on the website, what does it seem to be targeting, things like that. But then you also want to get feedback from your clients, or again, if you're running your own business or you are marketing manager at your own firm, you're going to want to tap into your clients, which is your team members, your coworkers, things like that for these keywords. Sales team, customer service team is always a great resource. They understand what people are looking for, what they're asking for, how they contact you, and things like that. And then you're also going to want to put your SEO hat on, go out there, you need to do some stuff on Google or use some tools that are online and find new keywords, and then you're going to want to vet those against trusted people.
I shouldn't paint with a broad brush here, but usually you're going to want to try to find those keywords that are more nichey, right? Drill down, not the big wide, broad keywords. You want to dive deep into these keywords and find those idiosyncrasies, those little nuances that make a keyword unique that you can really dive into. Again, example I use all times of balloons. You don't want to just do balloons or latex balloons or helium filled balloons. What color? I want red balloons. I want red balloons for a birthday party. How specific can you get in those keywords? At the end of the day, we're looking for a huge list of keywords.
Ultimately, we're going to try to tackle a ton of keywords for a website, but you got to start somewhere. So we'll rank those keywords and make sure they're prioritized. We'll also put those keywords into groups. If you can kind of visualize your website, what it'll look like when it's all laid out, you're going to have kind of sections of content, right, about products or services that you offer. Same way with keywords. We try to group them into groups of like or similar keywords and kind of visualize it in the same way that you kind of architect your website. So when you're doing that keyword research, in addition to kind of breaking them down, those products and services, you're going to want to pay attention to two types of keywords here as well, and this is an area to underscore that a lot of our clients will sometimes take for granted or maybe skip, that's the branded keywords. I should say that there's a qualification here on this, right?
That there is an established brand that I would expect you to be working with when we're talking about this. So what keywords are associated with your brand? How is your brand showing up in search? Things like that. So the name of your company, the name of any kind of flagship products or services that you offer. Brand can kind of mean anything like that that you're known for. And then you also want those traditional product and service keywords. Again, red balloons, things like that. Have a list, go through it a few times, bounce it off other people, and again, I would say here, don't get stuck on what we call the industry speak. If you know something internally and within your industry as a certain product or service, that doesn't mean that's exactly what the people on the other side of the keyboard that are doing the searches are going to call that.
An example I use all the time is an MFP. I come from the printer copier world in a previous business life. MFP means multifunction printer. It's basically a copier, right? MFP manufacturer or sales center, I know what that means, but people online, they're looking for copiers. So kind of like that. You may know it as an MFP, they call it a copier. Make sure copier and MFP are both on your keyword list and don't miss those. All right, so tech SEO audits, right? Server website and all that. Keyword research, we really want to have a big list of all the keywords that we want to go after, and we want to prioritize that so we know which ones are going after from top to bottom. Layered within the keyword research is also competitor research. Now, there's two chunks of the competitor research here that we do as well.
The first chunk is local. Who's showing up when you're doing some local searches, "Red balloons, Minneapolis, Minnesota?" Who's showing up, who's your local competition? You go on and look at them, find out who's dominant. If you have, let's just say 10 different keywords maybe that you're looking at or more, you may not have just one competitor that's showing up dominant. You may have 2, 3, 4, 5 or more. We're going to want to look at all of them, find out what they're doing on their website, what keywords are they going after. Again, like I said earlier, competitor research and keyword research go parallel in our process, at least because we do find out information on both kind of at the same time. So as we're finding out what are the strong competitors in a local area, what keywords are they going after? What keywords do we already have on our list?
Maybe there's some new keywords, products, or services they're going after that we can help uncover new areas for our client. And also with the competitors, like I said, there's two parts. Not only are we focused on our local backyard, we also will then, once we have established a good list of keywords and a good list of competitors, we'll do some research kind of on a more national or other regional level. We'll try to find in a different market what are some of the competition doing in that market. Again, just like when we look locally, what keywords are we missing? What are they doing that we're not? Trying to get maybe some ideas, inspiration, and again, yeah, just research, finding out intelligence. Go to other markets and particularly markets that are the same size or even ideally bigger than the market you're currently focused on. That's going to mean there's more competition, more dollars, more budget, more people that have thrown time at this before you or I have, and let's learn from what they did.
All right, couple points here at the end. So that's kind of distilling down real quick our basic approach to that foundation, tech audit, keyword research, competitive research, and then we pull all that together. And in our process, we've had several meetings with the clients going through all this, traded a lot of emails, a lot of communications. Now we're going to review the existing web content pages and kind of put all that together. Here's the keywords we want to go after. Here's the things we want to do. Here's the things we got to fix. Now, let's look at the existing pages. A lot of times when we're working with clients, they bring us in for SEO because they don't have any SEO strategy really or a lot of thought or effort put into SEO, so we usually find that the product and service pages, even their homepage are not compartmentalized very well for SEO.
They have a page that's trying to do seven things instead of one thing or things like that. So we want to review the existing webpages and determine what keywords are going to kind of match up with the existing webpages. Then we want to identify what pages are missing. If we've worked with a client and identified that there's, let's just say, five very important keywords that they want to rank for, and if we find that there's no pages on the website that currently exist about those keywords, about those products, or about those services, then we're going to want to work with the client to create those. So at this point is kind of where we are done with A, this episode, and B, the process, because now we've done all the research, we've got all the facts, we've got our good foundation. Now we're going to go start modifying those pages, modifying the website to implement the things that we found from the tech audit to implement, the content strategy from the keywords, what we've devised from the competitor research, things like that.
And we're going to start making changes on the pages, implementing the SEO. So there you go. Hopefully that doesn't seem too high level. We did want to break it down to kind of show you where we start. This whole process for us probably takes three to four weeks kind of for an average size client with communications in between and all that front to back. So I'm saying that to underscore that this is important and it should take some time. This is not a thing that should happen quick. It's a lot of research, a lot of fact-finding, right? And some of it may be a lot of wasted time because maybe you're looking at areas that are just fine, but there's a lot of work to do. If we think about SEO being ongoing... If this takes 30 days to do this, you have years and months, thousands of days going forward to do SEO ongoing in your website and create this success.
Spending a bit of time on the front side to make sure this core foundation is there is going to give you a better ROI going forward on the changes that you start to make to your website, the new pages you add in all this as you go forward. So hopefully it helps you out. Again, check out localseotactics.com. A lot of these things we've touched on, we go a little bit more in depth in other episodes. Just do some keyword searches on our website. You'll find a bunch of episodes. I think we're close to 200 now, so there's a lot of content on there to help you out in these areas. So if you like this episode and if you like the show overall, we'd love to get a review from you. Go on to localseotactics.com, scroll down to the bottom, click the button to leave a review, and if you do, we'll read it on the show.
Here I'm going to read one. We got a great five star review from Michael McGinnity. Michael is our friend in Ireland. Good supporter of the show. He's provided us a question for previous episode, traded some communications and great stuff. So Michael, thank you for the five star review here, and let me share with everybody. Michael says, "The team at Intrycks hosts a wonderful podcast, Local SEO Tactics, where they answer a question every single week. The consistency is wonderful. The answers are just as good. If you are into local SEO, get on over and listen in. Short, snappy tips and advice mixed with a bit of good humor from the cast of three. Then review the show yourself." And that is great advice, Michael.
Like I said, everybody, if you like the show, if you like this episode, if you like the content we're doing, this is how you can support us and tell us we're doing a good job. Go out to localseotactics.com, scroll down to the bottom, click the link for reviews. We've got all the buttons there for you, iTunes, Google, Facebook, wherever you want to leave us a review. We're happy to receive it, and thanks for letting us know that you enjoy the show. Hopefully like this one. We'll catch you on the next episode. Take care.