Timothy Carter

Chief Revenue Officer at SEO Company

Industry veteran Timothy Carter is SEO.co’s Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue for the company and oversees all customer-facing teams for SEO (search engine optimization) – including sales, marketing & customer success.

He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & Digital Marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams.

When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach…preferably in Hawaii.

Over the years he’s written for publications like ForbesEntrepreneur, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, ReadWrite and other highly respected online publications. Connect with Tim on Linkedin & Twitter.

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Is it Beneficial to Have Multiple Links from The Same Site?
Timothy Carter

Should You Build Multiple Links from The Same Website?

If you’re building high-quality links, then every link you build should have some benefit for your domain authority and ranking for SEO purposes. Therefore, building multiple links from the same domain can be a worthwhile strategy, if properly executed. Pro Tip: If you build links continuously from the same external source domain(s), you’ll get far less value than by link building across a variety of diversified link sources to a variety of internal pages on your site. Building links that point to different internal pages is also important so you can maximize the number of internal pages that rank for various keywords on their own. In addition, building too many links from a single or small group of sources, can also make you look like a link spammer. Here we discuss the following: What constitutes a quality source, worthy of multiple references and links to your site? Root linking vs. deep linking from the same source, frequency and best practices Best practices for building multiple links from the same site Diminishing returns in using the same source for link building Should you have multiple links from the same page (not just the same site)? While diversifying your links, using multiple sources and links to multiple internal pages, can improve your standing, there are–as always–ways to screw it up.  We hope this guide clarifies how beneficial it might be to have multiple backlinks from the same site. Anatomy of a Quality Backlink First, you have to understand the function of a backlink, and what elements of a backlink contribute to its SEO value. Remember, not all link building services are created equal. Google looks at a number of factors when it comes to judging your strategy for multiple backlinks, including: The root domain of the backlink (this will always be the same if you’re posting links back to your own site). The individual page of the backlink (posting too many links to one page can be seen as spam, whereas using a plethora of different internal pages can be beneficial). The quality of the source (authoritative sites carry more weight than low-quality sites). The appropriateness of the source (in terms of its relevance to your industry). Anchor text (while anchoring your links with keywords was once beneficial, but doing so excessively can earn you a Google penalty). Context clues (a judge of whether your link is helpful and beneficial to the conversation or just there to promote your rank). Frequency (which we’ll cover in more detail shortly). All of these factors, working together, are what comprise the overall “authoritativeness” of your individual backlinks. Pro Tip: Use our SEO tool to check your backlinks. External Links and Root Links For the purposes of determining the authority and “value” of a given backlink, it’s important to distinguish between individual links and what’s become known as “root links.” Root links refer to the number of referring domains that link to your domain, while traditional external links refer to individual instances of links to your domain. For example, if you have 1,000 links split between four different external websites, you would have 1,000 external links, but only four root links. Google and other search engines tend to place more value on root links than it does on external links. So, if you have 1,000 different links on four different sources, you’ll get significantly less authority than if you have 1,000 different links on 1,000 different sources. In a recent study conducted by Neil Patel Digital, they tested the theory as to whether multiple backlinks from the same referring domains would help or hurt SEO rankings. Here is the data from the control group: They also ran a study that showed the impact of multiple (in this case 3 links) coming from the same site from different linked pages: While one could state there is cleared a boost, we cannot consider this 100% conclusive due to the following factors: The sample size is very small and not random, which could introduce lurking variables into the study and skew the data. There was no R-squared regression run to indicate that the change in data had a statistical correlation between the multiple links and the rankings boost. However, at face value the data is fairly conclusive: there does appear to be a benefit to building multiple links from the same site. Frequency and Diminishing Returns When considering the number of your external links, and the frequency with which you post them on an external site, it’s important to understand Google’s law of diminishing returns. Posting a link on a new domain will earn you a new root link, which is greatly beneficial to your authority. Posting another link will not grant you a new root link, and will not pass as much page rank as your first link, but will still pass a significant amount. Your third link will post slightly less authority, and so on. The more links you post on a given source, the less authority you’ll get from each link. Let’s say you have two cases with an identical number and type of root links and referring domains; in one case, you have 100 external links split amongst those sources, and in the other case, you have 1,000 split amongst those same sources. In the second case, you will have a higher total authority coming from those sources, but the average individual value of your links will be lower. However, this analysis does not take into account the idea that each of your links can point to a separate internal page. Pointing to multiple internal pages can increase the individual page rank of those pages, in addition to whatever domain authority increases you receive. For example, if you have 1,000 links pointing to your home page, you will receive X amount of increased overall domain authority, but the only page more likely to show up in search results will be your home page. However, if you have 1,000 links pointing to 100 different internal pages,

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Link Exchanges & Reciprocal Link Building: Are Link Exchanges Safe for SEO
Timothy Carter

Link Exchanges & Reciprocal Link Building: Are Link Exchanges Safe for SEO in 2024?

A link exchange is an agreement between two sites to share and exchange links with each other for mutual benefit. While it was once a common practice of even the most sophisticated link building campaign, it now is considered a link scheme. Reciprocal links include benefits, concerns, and flat-out risks. Here we’ll discuss: Google policies surrounding link exchanges Link exchange best practices Risks of reciprocal links or excessive link exchanges Some benefits Let’s go! The Link Exchange in Practice When building links for your site, the goal is to seek out reputable and authenticated sites to backlink to in order to share your content with them and theirs with you. This helps to organically generate traffic to your site, improve your ranking on Google, as referral traffic is a valuable metric, and improve your reputation as a business. This can be done in quite a few ways, from sourcing content on social media to having guest posts done that are then shared by others, to finding broken links and replacing them with new and fresh ones. Link exchange requests to other webmasters or website owners is one of many link building strategies. It is essentially an agreement between your own website and another party to share with each other. Sounds great right, mutual benefit for all? The truth is that these agreements function much like any other agreement out there. They are reliant on both parties to fulfill their end of the bargain. This can be a problem when one site is merely attempting to piggyback off of another’s work. If you think of it like getting a roommate, you expect the roommate to pay their portion of the rent, respect your boundaries, and clean up after themselves. Only, after the first couple of months, the common areas are a mess, they keep stealing your stuff, and they never pay their half of the rent and always claim “I’m good for it.” This is the problem with link exchanges, if you enter into one for the sole purpose of link building, you may find the relationship to not only, not be beneficial, but downright detrimental to your site in the first place. There are also issues with Google and policies on link abusing and other issues that we’ll go into, but for now, let’s talk about how to prevent a bad link exchange. Google Is Anti-Reciprocal Link Building This is one of the most important points you need to remember if you’re thinking seriously about reciprocal link agreements: According to Google’s webmaster guidelines, Google considers excessively exchanging links with others to be a type of “link scheme.” Too much reciprocal linking is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines because it could be seen as a form of unfairly manipulating Google’s ranking system. If you get caught violating Google’s policies, your site may be penalized, potentially rendering your links as useless as your old Hotmail account. This is the most important statement in this entire post! Per Google’s webmaster guidelines, reciprocal linking is highly risky. Period!  To avoid Google’s wrath, start small when deciding how many weekly or monthly reciprocal links you and another site owner will include in your content. You can increase the number over time if you find there are no significant consequences. More importantly, make sure your reciprocal link building strategy is based on sharing links when it makes sense to do so. When you link to someone else’s site (and vice versa), it should be because there’s a practical reason to do so in that context. Don’t randomly link to an article on “10 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Raised in Orphanages” in a blog entry about “10 Kitchen Hacks You MUST TRY.” All that said, this isn’t meant to discourage you from giving reciprocal linking a try. Those who’ve researched the topic have found that many high-ranking sites across a range of topics feature at least some reciprocal links. While this doesn’t necessarily confirm that reciprocal links will help a site grow, it does give some reason to believe reciprocal links aren’t inherently harmful to a site’s ranking. But, you may find the opposite to be the case and that Google could eventually end up punishing reciprocal links in the future (and not just ignoring them). Avoiding a Bad Link Exchange As we talked about at the beginning, all link-building efforts, including link exchanges, should be done with the intent to improve the traffic to your site. Simply adding backlinks willy nilly will do nothing but overpopulate your web pages and eventually send up red flags to Google. Even though we were talking about bad agreements between exchange partners, there are other things to look out for as well. There are millions of sites on the web and forming a link exchange with lots of them would likely be as simple as containing the domain admin and asking, but that doesn’t mean that’s what you should do. The first thing to consider is that whatever you want to backlink to is relevant, informative, and beneficial to your users. Linking to a list of your favorite restaurants in Denver isn’t going to help your business when you sell boating accessories (maybe if your customers are hungry and live in Denver, but we doubt that much of your traffic fits that description). Instead, focus on relevancy first. There are many ways to do this. Using indexes, RSS Feeds, social media, Q&A forums, and other spaces to find information and links that are relevant to your business will help you with getting the link-building part of the process rolling. Once you have loads of relevant links, use a content management system to get and keep it all organized. Having subdividers that specify content niche and other factors can help as well. You’ll want to keep this list updated as you go along because link building in SEO is an ongoing process. Out of all the hundreds or even thousands of links, your next goal is to determine which ones

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What Are Nofollow Backlinks? (And Why They Matter)
Timothy Carter

Do Nofollow Backlinks Help SEO? Yes! Here’s Why.

Backlinks are a big deal in the world of SEO. Most backlinks pass authority, causing Google to evaluate your site as being more trustworthy. And of course, more trustworthy sites are more likely to rank higher in search results. But what about nofollow links? What are nofollow links, exactly, and are they important for your SEO strategy? Nofollow Links: The Basics By default, Google bots crawl the web on a constant basis, following links and using them to determine how PageRank is passed. This is also an opportunity to evaluate “bad” backlinks and penalize the sites they point to. As you might suspect, a nofollow link prevents Google from following the link as usual. Nofollow links are established with a rel=”nofollow” HTML tag, which instructs Google to ignore the link. In the backend code of your site, this is the only distinguishing feature of a nofollow link. When live, a nofollow link is indistinguishable from a standard dofollow link. It looks the same, it can be clicked the same way, and there’s no immediate clue to a user that the link is nofollow. Why is this important? For starters, most search optimizers are heavily focused on improving their authority with PageRank. They employ link building strategies to establish more links to earn more authority and eventually rank higher. Because nofollow links don’t pass PageRank, they can’t help your rankings directly. Note the importance of the word “directly” here. Google has verified this directly: “Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links. Essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web.” Why Do Nofollow Links Exist? You may be wondering why nofollow links exist, and why they’re used by various websites, if they’re not so different from standard links. Originally, nofollow links were conceived as an idea to fight back against link spam. In the early days of SEO, practitioners would take any opportunity they could to build a dofollow link back to their website. They would spam blog comments, issue meaningless press releases, and post actively on forums to get more links to their site. The nofollow tag allowed blog owners and other webmasters to fight back against this tendency by making certain types of links nofollow by default. They could also issue the nofollow tag to reduce the impact of a dofollow link they deemed questionable in the body of a guest post. This is useful for nearly everyone involved. The blog gets to preserve its reputation by ensuring it isn’t used for spammy backlinks. Google gets to fight link spam and calculate better search engine results. Web users encounter less spam. And webmasters are incentivized to find better linking tactics. Nofollow links are also recommended for use with paid links. Generally speaking, Google frowns upon paid links. But this is mostly because paid links are considered to be a form of ranking manipulation. If you use a nofollow link, there can be no direct ranking manipulation, since nofollow links don’t pass authority. Problem solved! You can even find a reference to this in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It states, “Make a reasonable effort to ensure that advertisement links on your pages do not affect search engine rankings.” It then recommends using a nofollow tag for this purpose. How to Tell If a Link Is Nofollow     You can apply nofollow tags to links on your own site, but how can you tell if a link on an external site is nofollow? Sometimes, publishers and external sites will inform you directly about their nofollow policies. But it’s much more reliable to simply check your backlinks yourself. Right click anywhere on the page you’re inspecting and click “View Page Source” or simply click CTRL + U. The code might look somewhat incomprehensible to you if you’re not used to it. But don’t worry. Use CTRL + F to find the link you’re looking for, and see if it has a rel=”nofollow” tag. The Non-SEO Value of a Nofollow Link When people hear that a nofollow link doesn’t pass PageRank, they immediately get turned off. After all, isn’t the whole point of link building to earn PageRank and rank up? Yes, for the most part. But it’s important to understand that nofollow links have a lot of value that has nothing to do with SEO. For example: Referral traffic. This is the big one, so it deserves to be mentioned first. Nofollow links have the power to generate referral traffic to your site. When someone clicks on a link in a blog post they’re reading, they don’t care whether Google is using it to pass PageRank or not. All they care about is reading the content on the other side. Depending on the publisher, the context of the link, and other variables, you may be able to generate thousands of new visitors this way. Brand visibility. Simply including dofollow links, with a named reference to your brand, is enough to increase your brand visibility and raise brand awareness. This is especially powerful as you build your reputation as an author and reach bigger audiences through bigger publishers. Increased attention for your content. Referral links also serve to promote your content. In some cases, just mentioning your content (such as calling out statistics in original research you conducted) can serve your brand well. Otherwise, the traffic you generate for the content will make it more popular. In some cases, a single nofollow link can help make a piece of powerful content go viral. The Value of Nofollow Links for SEO No PageRank, no SEO benefit, right? Wrong. In fact, in addition to all their non-SEO related benefits, nofollow links can have significant value for your SEO strategy. Importantly, Google says this about nofollow links: “In general, we don’t follow them.” If this is the case, it implies that Google occasionally does follow nofollow links. That may sound like a conspiracy theory, but there’s some real evidence to support this. For

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Using Topic Clusters to Bolster SEO Impact: A Definitive Guide
Timothy Carter

Pillar Content: Using Topic Clusters to Bolster SEO Impact

Search engine optimization (SEO) and content go hand-in-hand. It’s almost impossible to make progress in SEO without a solid content strategy serving as your foundation, and any reasonable pillar content strategy should at least give you some SEO benefit. However, several factors are making it increasingly difficult for amateur content developers to see the SEO results they want. For starters, Google search is introducing updates that refine its algorithm and allow it to evaluate the quality of content more stringently. Hummingbird, from 2013, introduced semantic search, which practically eliminated exact match keyword consideration in favor of considering context and meaning. Since then, synonyms and contextually relevant phrases greatly increased in importance when optimizing for strategic keywords. Additionally, the SEO industry has become incredibly competitive, with millions of websites often fighting over the same groups of keywords and phrases. This makes it increasingly hard to stand out, and nearly impossible to rank for the most hotly contested phrases in an industry. How can you combat these effects and improve your SEO results? One solution is using topic clusters, a content-focused strategy that can help you rank for highly competitive head keywords and accessible long-tail keyword phrases simultaneously. If you want to remain competitive and maximize your SEO results, you need to include some variation of the topic clustering strategy. What Are Topic Clusters? We’ll start with a high-level overview. What are topic clusters, and how can you use them for SEO? A topic cluster is an assortment of individual pieces of content that are all relevant to the same overarching key themes or topics. Working together with an anchoring piece of content, usually called “pillar content,” your topic cluster will yield much better search engine ranking results than a conventional content strategy. Your pillar content for a given cluster will work as a functional overview of a broad topic. You can think of it as the center of a wheel, with each piece of topic cluster content serving as a spoke in that wheel. The pillar content is meant to provide a comprehensive overview of your chosen topic, with each of the “spokes” covering some aspect of that topic in much greater detail. For example, let’s say you’re a digital marketing firm. You might create content pillars covering the topic of “onsite SEO.” This article covers all the important aspects of onsite optimization, from a somewhat high level. It also links to a variety of other pieces, which cover more specific aspects of onsite SEO in greater detail. For example, you might link to pieces on topics like “how to audit your current onsite SEO,” “how to increase your site speed,” “technical onsite SEO for beginners,” and “how to write better onsite content.” Each piece of cluster content should attempt to target a long-tail keyword phrase, while your content pillars target a more competitive head keyword. Each of these keyword terms should be at least somewhat relevant to the others. By the end of your strategy, each of your cluster content pillars should rank highly for their low-competition, “low hanging fruit” keywords, all while lending support to lift your content pillars beyond where it could rank on its own. Google will come to see you as an authority on this central topic because of your work throughout the cluster, and you’ll likely earn more backlinks as a result as well. The Benefits of Topic Clusters and Content Pillars for SEO So what are the benefits of using topic clusters for SEO? These are some of the best advantages: Head and long-tail keyword optimization. This strategy allows you to take advantage of both head keywords and long-tail keyword phrases simultaneously. Head keywords tend to be short and broad; they have the benefit of offering very high search volume, but they’re also incredibly competitive. By contrast, long-tail keywords tend to be longer and more specific; they’re not competitive, so they’re easy to rank for, but they also have a lower search volume. Head keywords require a lot of time, effort, and patience, as well as a huge volume of relevant content. Long-tail keyword phrases are easy and convenient, but individually, they can never be as powerful as a head keyword. With pillar pieces and your entire topic cluster, you can get the best of both worlds. Feeding high search volume results. The most lucrative positions in SEO are the top-ranking positions for highly searched keywords and phrases. The downside is that it’s incredibly difficult to attain these positions. With topic clusters, you can optimize your entire pillar page content strategy to “feed into” the pieces most likely to achieve these feats. In other words, you’ll be pumping up your best content and greatly increasing your chances of getting to those sought-after high-ranking positions. Internal linking and user retention. Creating content pillars and clusters allows you to foster better internal link building and optimize for user retention. Readers who peruse your pillar content will naturally want to follow links to your complementary, more detailed subtopics. Conversely, readers who stumble upon your niche content will naturally want to read more about the “big picture” of the topic. Ultimately, this strategy helps you keep users on your website, which is valuable for increasing conversions; it’s also useful for lowering your bounce rate and positively affecting other important onsite behavior metrics. Authority and reputation. Writing pillar page content in the form of a topic cluster will increase your authority—both in the subjective sense, and in terms of domain authority as considered by Google. In the former case, readers who follow your pillar page will quickly learn that you’re an expert in this field; they’ll have high-level and low-level content to review, and given enough time, will think of you as the thought leader in this area. In the latter case, your pillar page will be much more likely to attract links and social media posts and shares, ultimately increasing your domain- and page-level authority. Development flexibility. While there are some best practices that everyone should follow,

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How Working with Competitors Can Help Local SEO
Timothy Carter

How Working with Competitors Can Help Local SEO

Working directly with your competitors, and at times giving them mention, is actually a worthwhile strategy for local SEO. With the right approach, you’ll greatly increase your domain authority and local relevance, and any traffic you lose to your competitor will be more than made up for by the increases you see from local searches. The Local SEO Relevance Factor First, consider the local relevance factor. Google is constantly updating its index to determine which local businesses are where, and what those local businesses do. It searches for contextual clues throughout your content, your local links, and the prominent titles on your website. One obvious strategy to increase the local relevance of your brand is to include your city and/or state in much of your web copy. But another, even more valuable strategy is to mention your competitors. When Google crawls the web and sees you and your competitor’s name frequently mentioned together, it will learn to form a connection between them. Because your competitors operates in the same region and the same industry, you’ll gain extra authority from both a local SEO and industry-based SEO perspective. That means your domain authority will increase, your rankings for local keywords will rise, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of far more organic search traffic. The Competitor Search Factor There’s another major search benefit to using your competitors’ names. Imagine a prospective customer who is searching for a solution both you and your competitor offer. They’ve only heard of your competitor before, but they want to do some research before buying. They perform a local search in Google for your competitor’s name. If your brand frequently mentions your competitor’s name, it’s highly likely that you’ll be the second result to pop up. That means you have a shot at stealing your competitor’s otherwise untouchable branded search traffic. Strategies to Use Your Competitors Now that you know the benefits of mentioning and using your competitors in a local SEO strategy, we can focus on the day-to-day tactics that make these benefits possible. There are several strategies you can use, both onsite and offsite, but using them in conjunction with each other will give you the greatest benefit. Mutually Attending Events Your first option is to find out what local events your competitors are attending, and attend them. Local event attendance is a great local SEO strategy in itself, since you have the perfect opportunity to submit a press release and write new content featuring local keywords, but if you can capitalize on your competitors being there too, you can sweeten the deal. Consider interviewing a representative from one of your competitors at the event if you really feel like going all-out. We have done this at our West Palm Beach location, with great success: Exchanging Links First, understand that “exchanging links” regularly can get you into trouble—if you constantly swap links with one partner, Google will suspect you of link manipulation and you’ll likely be penalized accordingly. However, occasionally swapping guest posts can only serve to strengthen both of your sites. You’ll trade authority and diversify your content blend, all while increasing your local relevance. It really is a win-win situation. Writing Industry-Covering Review Articles This is one of the greatest strategies you can use since it capitalizes on a very specific type of query. Write an article that covers all the options consumers have for businesses like yours in the area. For example, you could use an article to ask and answer the question, “who is the best plumber in Albany?” In the article, detail yourself along with all your competitors, but do try to remain unbiased. Anyone looking to comparison shop will find your article easily, and you’ll have the home field advantage since the article is featured on your site. You might lose a few visitors to your external links, but the information you provide will allow you to win out in the long run. Mimicking Your Competitors’ Backlink Profiles and Followings Finally, take advantage of the work your competitors have already done. You can use a backlink profile local SEO tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer to review and see what types of links your competitors are building. While you don’t want to copy this exactly, you can draw inspiration from it and discover new local sources you haven’t previously considered. You can also engage with your competitors’ social followings; you can usually determine whether each follower is a local resident, and you can definitely tell they’re interested in your industry. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple mention to earn a new loyal follower. We cover more of this in detail in our comprehensive online marketing guide. Google Maps optimization  Piggyback off your local competitors by using similar phraseology and strategies for both Google Maps and your Google Business Profile. Optimize using keywords in your company description as well as looking for how other local competitors are using Google Reviews to maximize their local GMB listings. Use the Best Local SEO Tools The most successful local businesses are more likely to use local SEO tools like Yext, Brightlocal and Moz Local. In doing so, you are. more likely to find opportunities to mimick competitor local SEO strategies to drive traffic to your ow business website. Embrace Local Competitors Don’t hesitate to use your competitors when trying to build your local SEO presence. While it might seem strange or counterintuitive at first, soon you’ll find that the strategy has immense net value to your brand. Build yourself into a recognizable local presence, keep user experience at the heart of what you do, and you’ll see multiplied incoming traffic as a result. Are you looking for a boost in your local search engine traffic? We can help boost your local rankings with our expert focus on local search results and deep local SEO competitor analysis. Contact us today to learn more!

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How to Perform Keyword Research for Local SEO
Timothy Carter

How to Perform Keyword Research for Local SEO

Keyword research has always been the foundation of SEO, and while that hasn’t changed, search engines are constantly altering the impact of each ranking factor, including keywords. This is why proper keyword research is imperative.  When search engines first launched, all you needed were clusters of keywords relevant to local businesses and visitors would find you easily. Over the years, online competition has grown and there are now millions of websites, forcing search engine algorithms to evolve and serve results based on more than just keywords. Today, getting seen in the search engines requires various elements like helpful, relevant content, quality backlinks, and earned authority in your niche. Still, local keywords remain a fundamental basis of search engine optimization (SEO), especially since some 40%+ of searches are local. If you haven’t dialed in your local SEO keyword research, now is a great time to start. Local keyword research drives the following benefits Generate more sales and qualified leads Get more fast purchases when people see your positive business reviews in the search results Rank higher in search results served to local users Generate more targeted traffic to your website Capture mobile leads easier If you want sales, you need clicks. To get clicks, you need visibility, which comes from good SEO. Ideally, you want your website to show up on page one or two of the search results for a given query. According to the data, the first result on page one gets an average click-through rate (CTR) of 27.6%, while the first result on page two generates a 15.8% CTR. If you want a chunk of that traffic, solid local keyword research will help you get there. Why you need local keyword research Most people new to SEO perform the process backwards – they come up with a list of local keywords they think they want to rank for and then spend all their time, money, and effort trying to rank for those phrases. This method is hit or miss because it doesn’t help to rank for competitive keywords unless people are searching for them. You can get first-page results for a lot of phrases, but if nobody’s searching for them, you will remain invisible. Local keyword research will tell you what keywords and phrases your local target market is using to find the products and services they need related to your business. Sometimes people in a geographic area use specific, local keywords that you won’t realize are important until you start researching. Proper research ensures you won’t waste your time trying to rank for local keywords that won’t increase your revenue. Why local SEO is different Before going too much further into keyword research, it’s important to understand why local SEO isn’t just an extension of standard/national SEO so local keyword research makes more sense. Local SEO works the same at a basic level, but it’s much more powerful. In fact, businesses with a local presence have an easier time getting traffic from search engines than businesses that only sell services and products online without any identifiable locale. If you run a local business, keyword research will help you generate traffic despite any national competitors you may have. While it’s true that it’s impossible to rank for certain highly competitive local keywords without a million-dollar budget, local SEO changes the game by drastically narrowing down your market and competition, which increases your ability to reach your local market. For example, you may not be able to rank generally for the search term “get a cheap website,” but with local SEO you can rank for this term when people from your area search for similar phrases. There might be four million cheap web developers competing nationally, but in your specific city, there may only be a handful and that’s who you’ll be competing against. You might still compete with national competitors who have locations in your general area, like chains, but when you optimize your website specifically for local SEO, you’ll reach locals who are specifically looking for your services. Your total reach will be smaller, and that’s a good thing because local leads are highly targeted and more likely to buy your products or services. They already want what you have to offer. Local SEO targets people specifically in your geographic area and considers the following as ranking factors: A user’s location Your star rating on Google Maps The content/sentiment of your Google reviews Local keywords from your Google reviews Your optimized Google Business profile The presence of your business’ name, address, and phone number across all listings that matches the information on your website If you struggle to rank for phrases in general or you aren’t reaching your desired market, local SEO is a better way to reach your local market. Local SEO reduces your competition With local SEO, you aren’t competing against everyone in the same industry. For instance, say you run a restaurant in San Francisco, CA and there’s a similar local restaurant in Houston, TX. You aren’t going to compete against that business when people are searching for phrases like “best steak and seafood near me.” Outside of local searches, you may never rank for a phrase like “best steak and seafood,” but you don’t have to – in fact, that shouldn’t even be your goal. Ranking nationally for having the best steak and seafood won’t fill your dining room with hungry guests – ranking locally will. There are numerous factors that will help you rank, but it all begins with your keyword selections. You have to get these right to get results. How to perform effective local keyword research Now that we’ve established the importance of local SEO, it’s time to dive into some research strategies and tips. There are two main ways to conduct local keyword research: free and paid. Paid research requires a monthly or yearly subscription keyword research tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Keyword Magic, or SECockpit. Some come with free trials and it’s worth checking them out. You can

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