SEO On-Air: Is Local SEO a Game Changer in 2020?

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Today, we are talking to Peg McDermott, the President of COGO Interactive. It is a leading digital marketing agency in Washington DC, specializing in inbound marketing and lead development for B2B companies.

In this episode, Peg talks about how businesses can optimize for local SEO for maximum visibility.

Stay tuned for the next podcast episode, where our guest, Roman Prokopchuk, spills the secret to SEO hacks for small businesses.

Show notes

[01:55-05:39] What is the recommended first step for any business to optimize for local SEO?

[05:41-07:32] Is local SEO getting more important than global SEO?

[10:59-16:04] How businesses deal with negative reviews?

]16:06-19:47] Are businesses that get 100% positive review genuine?

[19:48-25:02] Check out Peg Dermott’s local SEO checklist for business optimization

Show Notes Explanation

Hey guys, welcome to another episode of SEO On-Air. This is Senthil, VP marketing at Stan Ventures, and today we have with us the President of COGO Interactive, Miss Peg. 

It is a leading digital marketing agency in Washington DC, specializing in inbound marketing and lead development for B2B companies. They serve various industries like technology, professional services, and healthcare.

Before launching COGO, Peg served as vice president for Ecendant Interactive, where she played a pivotal role in grooming the company from a small start-up into one of the top 13 interactive marketing agencies in the Washington DC Metro area.

With the lockdowns happening worldwide and the crisis we are going through, lots of companies are taking this time out to have their digital strategies in place. We are going to ask Peg a few questions in today’s session about how businesses can optimize for local SEO for maximum visibility.

Time Stamp: 01:55-05:39

Senthil: What is the recommended first step for any business to optimize for local SEO?

Peg: The first step for any business is to ensure that its website is technically sound because that is a ranking factor that Google takes into account. Along with this, they also need to look into their site speed, ensure that there are no broken links, and the site is well optimized for local friendliness. Many tools can help businesses determine the same.

Another critical element to consider is to generate a sitemap for your website so that Google can easily discover and crawl your site content. Once you’ve generated a sitemap, then you need to claim Google My Business (GMB) page. I’d absolutely recommend you do it because that is what will get your business into Google’s local map pack. You also have to make sure that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) is consistent across the web.

Time Stamp: 05:41-07:32

Senthil: Now that most people are focusing on local SEO, do you think it is getting more important than global SEO?

Peg: I don’t know if local SEO is getting more important, but Google is now focusing more on user experience. So, if a company is international or national, that doesn’t mean they should optimize their website. What I recommend, though, is that if you have a business in specific locations in specific cities, then you should create pages within your sites that speak to those cities, and you embed Google Maps on those pages. 

Then you create GMB pages for each of those locations. That helps Google to see your footprints around the world. That helps you to cover national, international, and local SEO. 

However, you cannot overlook local SEO at any cost. It doesn’t mean you won’t rank, but without local SEO, you might not rank as quickly or competitively as you should. 

Time Stamp: 07:35-10:56

Senthil: I think it also depends on the services you provide. For example, if it’s a CRM provider, I don’t think they need a local optimization. The whole SEO strategy depends on the industry you are in and what Google thinks about your search results, i.e., whether Google is displaying local packs or showing websites. That could be an indicator of whether you should focus more on local SEO or global SEO.

Peg: More online-based businesses can ensure that their SEO footprint is solid by setting up their content in a way that Google loves. So whether you are optimizing for local or global SEO, you need to ensure that you cover all search intent keywords within your content and make sure that schema markup is appropriately implemented.  

So the bigger picture is how you add value to people’s lives because it is people doing business with people. We have to write content for humans, but technically, we need to make sure that it appears sound to Google. When these two things keep going, people will find a powerful mix. 

Time Stamp: 10:59-16:04

Senthil: Probably, some businesses are afraid of local SEO is due to the negative reviews they get on their business profiles on Google. How do they deal with it?

Peg: Reviews are really important in any SEO strategy because people want that third-party credibility. So it’s essential to make sure that you publish to your clients your Google review link. You should ask them to share honest reviews, which will show up on your Google profile, and that’s what will increase your CTR. 

You can also sign up for other public review sites such as Yelp. That’s how people find your company trustable and reputable. Once they reach out to you, it’s up to you how you can help solve their problems. So, a review can either be the gate to bring in more customers or to block them from you.

Another thing you should take care of is to respond to all your reviews, irrespective of whether they are positive or negative. When you reply to all your reviews, it gives an impression to the people that you are helpful and ready to step up and solve your customer’s problems.

Time Stamp: 16:06-19:47

Senthil: Absolutely, I’ve come across businesses having mostly five-star reviews. They usually appear to me as fake because no business can be 100% perfect. What do you think? 

Peg: It feels more human to respond to reviews, no matter how good or bad they are. Another thing that I want to add is to integrate Google Analytics and Google Search Console on your website. 

This will help you to track your page performance and keep in check all the technical aspects required to run your site. This is essential to ensure that your site ranks on the web.  You should also aim for a lot of engagement because it shows your thought leadership in your field and how invested you are in getting your message out to the target audience.

Senthil: Great, I think small businesses will be immensely benefited from this. I also believe that whatever Peg suggested so far is a pretty much straightforward optimization technique to follow.  

It will hardly take an hour to learn the basics and there are always people like her to help small businesses reach their goals. 

Time Stamp: 19:48-25:02

Peg: My company generated a local SEO checklist that can help you to understand what steps you need to follow to optimize your business locally.

Senthil: That’d be really helpful, Peg. I have one more question, do you think blogs make sense in local content marketing strategies?

Peg: Blogging is important. If you use WordPress, then every new blog post is a new web page. If you blog, you must keep this in mind that it is not a sales tool, but rather a marketing tool. Through blogging, you can do a deeper dive into your thought leadership and what you think can add value to your audience. 

Then you want to make sure that people can subscribe and share your blog easily and always include a clear CTA to your blog posts to elicit an action from your readers. You can use blogs to move users to your website and explore further. I’d blog to add value to people and not sell my products or services.

When my clients say that they don’t know what to blog about, I tell them to find and address customer pain points because that’s how they will find you.

Senthil: Absolutely. It’s been a pleasure to host you on this show, and I’m sure there are lots of insights that people will take away from this particular podcast.  Don’t forget to check out Peg’s Local SEO Checklist here.

Meet the speakers

Peg McDermott

President – COGO Interactive

Senthil Kumar

VP Marketing –
Stan Ventures