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SEO 12 min read May 30, 2019

Interview With Shane Barker: Local SEO Tips To Make Your Site Rank Higher

Local SEO Tips To Make Your Site Rank Higher

Stacy Mine
Editor at Serpstat
Recently we've hosted a Facebook chat with Shane Barker — an accomplished Digital Marketing Consultant who's obtained a #1 national ranking with PROskore as a social media consultant. He answered the questions of Serpstat Insights group members on the topic Local SEO Tips To Make Your Site Rank Higher. In case you've missed the chat — here's the article I made for you :)
Q1:
My clients have a business within one city and they're doing ok, but they're moving a bit farther like 200 miles away to another one and they're afraid that would destroy their rankings as their site is full of mentioning of this old location. What should they do? And one more thing (I'm not sure it relates to local SEO but I'll ask anyway): part of their traffic comes from pages which are not exactly relevant to their business, should they delete them for the sake of optimization? What do you think?
Shane Barker:
To answer the first part of your question, I would say that they need to redo their entire local SEO and optimize for that new location. That means that they first need to update their Google My Business listing and all of their local directory listings with the new address. The next thing to look at is if all landing pages are optimized for local SEO. They need to update the new address and contact details across their website.

As for your second question, I would recommend deleting all non-relevant listings. These might be driving some traffic to your website but those users will not be interested in your website and will leave quickly. This will result in a high bounce rate, low dwell time, and other unwanted SEO metrics. Overall, directing traffic from non-relevant sources will do more harm than good for your website and hence all such listings should be deleted
Q2:
I own several online publications and directories. I never link any of them fearing google will maybe mistakenly think I am a PBN. However at times, there are some articles that I feel would be smart to link to from one site to another, is there a safe way to do this so Google doesn't ever presume I am a PBN?
SHANE BARKER:
I understand your dilemma and agree that it is a difficult balance to maintain. If you link them too much, Google will surely penalize you. And if you don't link at all, then that's just bad SEO.

My advice is to link only when it is absolutely necessary and relevant. Don't add any links that don't fit naturally within the content. And, always use relevant anchor text that shows exactly what the page you're linking to is about. As long as you link only to relevant posts and don't overdo it, you're safe.
Q3:
What are the best strategies for SEO for directories sites that are targeting local companies? Where do you see directory sites fail with the local SEO and can do better because it is a forgotten strategy/strategies?
SHANE BARKER:
The first and most important thing that all directories should do is be very strict about the kind of listings they have. They should only list businesses in their respective niches because listing irrelevant businesses will do no good for anyone. It will not send relevant traffic to the business websites, it can annoy users, and it will reduce the credibility of your directory.

Another important SEO tactic for directories is to optimize their SEO titles and meta descriptions for local search keywords. For example, using a simple format like "(business type) near me" can go a long way in helping your directory pages ranking higher for local search queries.

People often search using keywords like "restaurants near me" or "salons near me." So, using these terms as your SEO titles can really help your directory pages rank higher. This is probably where most directory sites fail because they start adding listings to make money, but don't filter out the non-relevant ones.

You can also start a blog to get higher search rankings. This is a strategy for all websites, whether it is a directory or any other type of website.
Q4:
My business is relatively small and although my competitors seem to be relying on PBNs more, I'd like to try to do it the right way. Can you tell me what must be my starting point? How should I measure if my site is locally optimized well? Which are the main metrics I should track most?
SHANE BARKER:
Well, the starting point should be adding your business listings to local directories and creating a Google My Business listing. That will definitely help you get some local traffic.

Next, you need to do keyword research to identify relevant local keywords for your business. Use these keywords to optimize your website content and your business listings. And, if you have multiple outlets or business locations, create separate landing pages for each. Those pages will rank better for local search than any other landing pages on your website.

As for how you'll know if your local SEO strategies are working, I think the biggest metric you need to check is the traffic that you're getting from your location. There are several analytics tools that can help you check how much of your traffic is coming from your region.

Here are some key metrics that you can track:

  • location traffic (targeted city) and its growth on a monthly basis
  • local keyword rankings for the targeted landing pages
  • number of leads (monthly growth)
  • traffic acquisition source (organic, referral, social)
  • if your Google Business Page is well optimized or not (its monthly growth).
Q5:
Do you recommend embedding a Google map in the website footer to boost local rankings? Or does this screw up the website speed?
SHANE BARKER:
Doing anything to your site that will lower your page load speed is a bad idea. I would add Google Maps to your footer and then test the page speed. If it is too low then remove it.
Q6:
What do you think about the voice search?
Q7:
Lately I've been having difficulty with ranking my clients higher in Google Maps listings, organic is fine. I've submitted their listings to the top aggregators and added agency quality citations but got no movement. What would you suggest? And what can you say about leveraging the Google business sites and GMB posts?
SHANE BARKER:
I think you can find everything in the article Mastering The Art Of Local SEO To Rank Your Local Business, you can also read more about GMB and how to improve them here!
Q8:
I see many guys create spammy backlinks (and they are ranking on Google) Why Google is not blacklisting them?
SHANE BARKER:
Spammy links can work for the short term but over time (most of the time) Google will find them and penalize them. Stay strong and do things the right way!
Q9:
Please give some tips for optimizing micro niche sites(ethically).
SHANE BARKER:
The key to a successful micro-niche site is selecting and using the right niche keywords (preferably long-tail). These are much more important for niche websites than for any other website. From optimizing your content strategy for the niche keywords to using the right keywords in the domain name, you need to heavily optimize for keywords.

Another aspect of SEO that is very important for micro-niche websites is the quality and relevance of content. Since these sites target a specific audience, it is crucial that they post useful content that resonates with their target audience. So, selecting the most relevant topics for your niche is extremely important if you want your target audience to visit your website and read your content.
Q10:
What's the single most important off-page thing that needs to be done to improve local SEO?
SHANE BARKER:
Business listings on Google My Business and local directories are the single-most important off-page SEO factors for local SEO.
Q11:
What's the one bad habit local business owners have that's hurting their rankings?
SHANE BARKER:
Not having a mobile-responsive website is the biggest mistake that local businesses can make. A lot of local searches happen on the go using mobile devices. So, if your website is not mobile-friendly then you risk losing a lot of high-intent prospects.
Q12:
What's the one thing that business owners do well (with respect to local SEO) that they need to keep doing?
SHANE BARKER:
Using local search keywords, especially long-tail ones is one thing that local business owners should continue doing.
Q13:
How would you recommend a local business owner split time and money when it comes to getting traffic to his site? For instance, how much should they rely on PPC ads, local mailers, etc?
SHANE BARKER:
Budget-allocation really varies on a case-by-case basis and there is no magic formula for that. However, assuming that local businesses probably don't have a lot of money to burn, I would suggest that they focus more on SEO and steer clear of PPC ads unless absolutely necessary.
Q14:
What one service should a local business owner hire to get them more foot traffic and why?
SHANE BARKER:
In-store promotional tactics like providing limited-time discounts or holiday-specific sales are the best if you want to see an immediate increase in foot traffic. However, in the long term, you need to build a loyal customer base that regularly visits your store. For that, you can start a customer loyalty and referral program.
Q15:
How does the local business owner know that all the time and money spent on SEO is impacting his bottom line?
SHANE BARKER:
Unlike other marketing tactics, like content marketing and influencer marketing, tracking the impact of SEO initiatives is much easier. For one, you can easily use any SEO analytics tool to see exactly how much traffic is being driven, from what source, and how it has increased over time.

However, measuring the impact of SEO on the bottom line is not as straightforward. I think the best way is to track your SEO metrics over a long period of time and then compare them with your profit growth. If you see a clear correlation between the two, you'll know that your SEO tactics directly affect your bottom line.
We hope that this chat was useful for you! If you have more questions, you can contact Shane and follow him in Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook :)

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