By: Andrew Scherer
You’ve probably noticed we specialize in helping local SEO consultants and agencies with fulfillment.
The vast majority of our services work towards helping local businesses rank. However, if you’re running a national campaign, you’ll find a lot of value from these services. Especially if you have a GMB verified address for your business.
You’ll find my recommendations usually won’t cost more than $150 - $250 per month. Some months cheaper than this.
I like to be really conservative with my clients, but that’s just the style I’ve taken up after being in this business for the last 14 years.
If your budget allows, you can always expedite what I write in this guide if you want to turn my 7 month plan into a 3 month plan.
However, there’s a lot of good that can come from just being safe and conservative when it comes to SEO (especially when it comes to client work!).
I’ve developed these services as an all-encompassing plan for my own clients. There is no overlap in any of these, every service will give you a unique deliverable from a set of unique domains.
Furthermore, this is all white-hat stuff that is very conservative when it comes to safety of linking. I don’t take risks with my own clients, so you won’t find anything risky here.
Actually, quite a lot of stuff.
This guide doesn’t cover a few core areas that are important for SEO success:
Onpage SEO. As long as you have many of the fundamentals covered, you’ll be alright for onpage. But I won’t talk about it much here. You can find an overview of some onpage SEO best practices here.
Content. Good content is quickly becoming like water in a desert. It is sometimes hard to find and produce but you’re going to need it if you want your website to succeed. I have some content processes I’ll reveal in the future, but good content comes from having a solid keyword research process. You’ll get some use out of our free tool, Entity Explorer, for this.
Design/UX. User experience is something I’m learning about quickly this year. How users engage with your pages is becoming more and more important as Google strives to deliver a good user experience. Having a designer on hand that can implement your visions or just get your content posted with a decent design, I think, is important.
This guide is a great foundation, but I encourage everyone to edit it according to their needs and processes. Make it custom fit to you, your agency, and your standard operating procedures.
I can recommend this plan, as it’s laid out, because I’ve have had a lot of success with it personally. For my own local clients, my local leadgen experiments, and my own local service business.
But like I said, this local SEO plan isn’t set in stone.
The best and worst part about SEO is that nothing seems to be permanent. I’ve found over the years, adaptability is a big key to SEO success. For that reason, I’ll try to update this guide at least twice per year.
So let’s get started on the latest iteration, updated April 2020.
For the first month in a local SEO campaign, I would recommend GMB Foundations, Big Citations, and a Citation Audit if your client has citations but isn’t sure where they are.
Big Citations is very similar to Moz Local. In fact, we built Big Citations around a site called GetListed.org. GetListed.org was a free citation checking tool that showed what authority citations a business was listed with. It was pretty impressive and incredibly useful.
Then Moz bought them for $1,000,000 totally neutered it.
Moz Local was subsequently built around GetListed and the rest is history.
So Big Citations and Moz Local are very similar - we submit to the core data aggregators along with a set of 25+ authority citations. We’re constantly improving the service and changing it. Even this month, as I write this, Big Citations is going through a big change (pardon the pun). Some data aggregators have shuttered their doors to submissions, while voice search has become more prominent so we’ve replaced those aggregators with big voice search sites like Apple Maps.
Now in terms of citation audits, the only time you probably wouldn’t run a citation audit is if the site is brand-new. With no citations to find and check, no audit would be needed.
A lot of folks ask me if it’s OK to run new citations alongside a citation audit and cleanup campaign. The answer to that is, “Yes!” You can run new citations when you’re cleaning up old citations, they won’t get in the way of each other because we’ll be building new citations on sites you haven’t touched yet.
Generally, I recommend getting your on-page and citation fixes rolling for your client in the first month and these kinds of services will help you do that. Any time you bring on a new client there always seems to be some glaring issues that can be fixed for some easy wins right out of the gate.
In terms of first month optimizations, check out GMB Foundations and everything it covers. You’ll definitely need a verified GMB address for this, as the services is geared towards optimizing everything within your client’s GMB.
GMB Foundations is a 4 phase, 28 day optimization service. Every week we’re going to take care of a handful of optimizations related to ranking your GMB.
It's pretty comprehensive, more than what this guide could cover, so if you want to see what's done week-by-week please check out the information page here.
In month 2 I would explore Hyper Local Citations and Social Foundations 2.0. You may also have found a bunch of errors from the citation audit done in the previous month. This is where our Citation Cleanup service will come in handy.
While Big Citations is a one-time order, Hyper Local is what you’ll be using for the others.
Hyper Local Citations is what you’ll use to flesh out the remaining 300+ citations that are possible for businesses in the USA (100+ for UK, Canada, and Australia...40+ for all other countries).
Social Foundations 2.0 is very similar to KnowEm.com; you may be familiar with this site already. In fact, when we were creating Social Foundations we scraped the 600 or so social sites that KnowEm.com could check. We tossed about half of those for various reasons (low quality, can’t backlink), and the remaining 300 we split into lists.
The lists are divided by the kinds of backlinks it can give (Dofollow or Nofollow) and whether interlinking to your other social profiles is possible. Social Foundations has evolved over time and what started as a simple social profile registration service has changed to accommodate pretty much all of the SEO bells and whistles you’re going to get with these kinds of links.
To put it simply, Social Foundations sites will typically give an unstructured citation along with a backlink from each site, unless the list notes otherwise.
Finally, did the citation audit from the previous month uncover any errors with your pre-existing citations? If it did, it would be wise to get the errors corrected.
While other companies will charge you a flat fee of usually $300 minimum, here you’ll only pay for what you need cleaned up. In comparison, our average cleanup job is around $60 - $70. And even then if we can’t clean something up for you, we’ll refund you for that site. We have around a 65% success rate, just to give you an idea.
I think it’s probably the fairest and most affordable citation cleanup service currently on the market. It’s all done by hand and I’m pretty proud of it.
For the third month, I think it’s important to start delivering some more tangible deliverables to the client. I would continue slowly building out Hyper Local Citations (I do 40 a month till they’re all done) and also check out Rich Media Citations, GMB Posts, and our Infographic Creation and Distribution service.
All 3 services are something you can show the client and say, “Hey, check this out, it’s pretty cool.” These kinds of moments are rare in the SEO game and I think it’s important to set your client up with a few of these kinds of deliverables especially early on in the relationship. They’re going to say, “Wow, he’s really putting things together for us.” – important for building trust in an industry where not too much exists these days.
Rich Media Citations is a great service because not only will we be building unstructured citations and links for your client, but we will also be writing scripts, doing voiceover, and putting together a video for your client. Like I mentioned before, this can make for a cool deliverable.
The strength of Rich Media Citations isn’t with the video, however. The strength really comes from the diverse set of sites you’ll end up getting links from. We syndicate the video and portions of it to Video, Audio, and Image sites. You’ll get backlinks and unstructured citations from all of these, around 50-60 sites in total last I counted.
If you ordered GMB Foundations with GMB Premium Posts in the first month, by this time you could add some fresh posts to the listing.
GMB Posts is a different animal but just as effective. We can showcase your client’s latest positive reviews, blog posts, and more. At some point this will also integrate with the client’s social media to help keep that updated, we just haven’t gotten to expanding the service on that quite yet.
GMB Posts are superb for businesses that are already garnering a fair amount of traffic. We’ve seen posts get thousands of views, and to think most businesses are still skipping over this feature!
The Infographic Creation and Distribution service is going to give you another set of 50+ unique links alongside a stellar infographic that you can use for a blog post and social media.
Want to see samples of the quality of our infographics? Check out the 5 we’ve posted on this page here.
For the fourth month,now that you’ve built out a decent amount of social profiles, citations, and links we can look at a service that will put these properties to use.
We’ve dedicated a full month to Google Cloud Links because it’s such a unique and versatile tool you can use in your strategy.
Here’s how one SEO is currently using it ( posted in the Local Marketing Freethinkers group):
Anytime you can integrate what you’re doing and have it synergize with other strategies, that’s a win-win. I like Google Cloud Links because it does this and more.
Google Cloud Links is a one-time order service that interlinks to many of the links we’ve already built for you in the previous months.
We build out every Google property available and carefully interlink each property. We also take your main social and citation properties, then link to those as well.
There’s actually a lot of detail behind this service so I made a quick 2 minute video going over a sample report on the Google Cloud Links information page.
For the fifth month, let’s talk about building more authority.
Really, if you want to be a little more aggressive with your SEO while still staying very safe, you can bring in authority links during any month of this plan. Even month 1.
Real Bloggers is a service mainly geared towards local clients in the home/family niches. Any business that mainly serves the home or family are going to get great boosts from these links: contractors, dentists, doctors, and home service companies like maids, landscapers, etc..
These are links we’re building on blogs from real bloggers, mostly family bloggers. We don’t any of these blogs and they’re not PBNs, just bloggers who don’t normally sell links but have agreed to partner with us.
In terms of pricing, compared to what else I’ve found on the market, these are super-affordable when you look at the price of guest posts with similar metrics.
Our press release service (PR Marketing Machine) is something that I update every few months it seems, but I wouldn’t recommend running it more than once per year.
This service began with 3 syndication options at first but we eventually removed 2 options for low quality. One paid syndication option ended up no following their links and the other syndicated across sites with very similar IP addresses.
Both good reasons to give them the axe.
However, with our latest manual submission option we have a lot more control over where the PR gets syndicated to.
I like press releases because not only will you get a contextual link inside of the PR itself, but you’ll also get a bunch of unstructured citations from the business name, address, and phone included with the syndications.
Along with our manual syndication, we pay for 4 accounts on paid PR sites we’re members of that your PR will also get sent to.
By the sixth month, you can start to explore some of our link building services that will really stretch your linking budget.
Budget Tier 1’s is a popular choice because it’s so affordable. Over time we’ve found a lot of high authority sites that allow us to sign-up and host content on them. No, they’re not PBNs, they’re mostly niche-based community sites.
People are sometimes confused as to just what these kinds of links are. The best way is to download a sample report here so you can see for yourself! You might be surprised that a lot of folks sell these as “guest posts” for $50-$75+ because the metrics are so good. But don’t be fooled, we can do them for you at a fraction of what others charge for the very same site.
Local Mini Sites is one of our newer services launched just last year. It’s superb for pushing local link relevancy, co-citations, and co-occurrences to your client’s site. I highly recommend checking it out because we had a ton of requests and now that it’s finally ready people are having a lot of good results with it.
If you want to see an example of what one of our Local Mini Sites look like, check out this link here.
Finally, to get any of your tier 1 properties crawled (including citations and Social Foundations) you can order our Contextual Tier 2 service as a stand-alone service.
This service is found usually as an add-on for many of our services but many don’t know it’s also sold separately as well.
These are contextual links built with GSA-SER over a period of 14 to 30 days. Don’t point these links to your money site, they need to be pointed at your tier 2/3 properties only.
At month 7 in the plan you should have some really great results so far.
For anything that’s stuck on 2nd or 3rd pages, really competitive terms/pages that are hard to budge, I would recommend exploring your Authority Builders options.
Authority Builders is another option and a great source for high-authority contextual links from journalists and high-powered sites.
Honestly, it can feel like overkill for a local campaign UNLESS you need to get the big guns out. Maybe you’re playing in a highly competitive metro like New York or LA, or your niche is competitive (lawyers, locksmiths, etc...).
Realistically you can usually just skip this service but if you’re interested in what options are available to you, you can put in a $0 order, and we will reply with a list of what we can do if you wanted to continue.
You might find it a little odd that I wouldn’t recommend our most expensive service for your local SEO campaign unless it’s really truly needed, but I’m just going to tell you what I would do personally in this plan. And for that reason, I hope you find some use out of my 100% no B.S. recommendations.
Like I mentioned in month 7, by this time you should have some fantastic rankings you’ve achieved by now. Heck, I’ve had folks message me screenshots and videos of their huge ranking improvements at just after Month 1 from the Big Citations or Month 2 from Social Foundations.
But usually great results isn’t possible from just 1 separate service. The real power lies in the cumulation of everything working together to push the results. That’s when you really start to see improvement.
My reply is usually, “Well, what have you done so far?”
It’s important to know what a site has so you can start filling in the blanks.
Have you completed all of your Social Foundation 2.0 lists?
Have you exhausted all your options for Budget Tier 1’s?
Are all possible citations for the client done? Do we even know where they are and any errors they might have?
What has been done so far for the GMB?
I hope this helps!
P.S. If you have any general questions about SEO or a site feel free to leave a post in our Local Marketing Free thinkers Facebook group.
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While we hash out a lot of really good discussions that would be of interest to anyone in the digital marketing for clients space, the best thing we’ve done as a community is put together a Private Influencer Network.
The PIN is organized inside of a Slack chatroom and you’ll find hundreds of consultants in there making win/win deals when it comes to money sites and money site links.
Our home services channel has over 300 link opportunities alone!
So if you’re in any of these niches it will be very useful to you:
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