7 Local SEO Lessons from Local Business Case Studies

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Learn Local SEO From Actual Case Studies

Local SEO is often underutilized due to the fact that businesses tend to not understand the methodology behind it. Achieving strong rankings in a local SEO strategy can be extremely effective, perhaps even easier than you may think, as long as you execute correctly from the first step — undoing poor local SEO can be more difficult than starting from scratch.

What are the principles of local SEO? Let’s take a look at seven essential tips, with important lessons learned from actual local business case studies.

1: Research, Research, Research

Let’s say you’re based in San Jose, California. You may think that the goal is to simply target keywords with a variation of San Jose. But the problem is that San Jose has a bunch of neighborhoods and adjacent suburbs — areas that you might be overlooking despite servicing them. Campbell, Willow Glen, Almaden, Los Gatos could all be part of your keyword strategy.


Example: The Marketing Sherpa has a case study on geotargeting from a Chicago-area ophthalmologist, with the analogy of front door vs. side door targeting. One may not be better than the other, but without researching all the variations for competition and search rates, you’ll never know.

2: Scrub Your Website

Before you can implement all of that handy research, your website needs to be able to work with it. That means giving it a complete technical tune-up, checking internally for things like appropriate meta data (which still matters, regardless of what some people think), content formatting, and permalink structure. It’s also worth it to look outside your site at things like unnatural links. Do this before you embark on your SEO journey. Otherwise, it’s like trying to drive to a destination without fueling up your car.


Example: Greenlane SEO described their experience working on an Australian florist’s site. Before any strategy execution could begin, Greenlane had to scrub the site for “technical and authority (unnatural linking) issues” as well as “missing on-page elements.”

3: Content Is King

In the early days of SEO, it was all about keyword stuffing. Algorithms got much smarter, and started to focus on delivering what search users actually wanted. The result was a strong emphasis on quality content. Crafting quality content provides self-perpetuating SEO benefits: it widens the SEO footprint with more items to be indexed while also getting the search engine spiders to visit more often, thus indexing more frequently.


Example: Forward Push — hey, that’s us! — began a content campaign for Omnirax, a company specializing in custom office furniture. In December 2015, the company had nine top-three rankings and 22 top-ten rankings; five months later, Forward Push’s content campaign nearly tripled that to 20 top-three and 58 top-ten rankings.

4: A Lot Of Content = Even Better

Regular content is the way to go for SEO. However, it’s a clear investment of time and effort (in some cases, money) — the more you put into it, the more you put out. Thus, the more you crank up regular content updates, the better your local SEO opportunities will be.


Example: Meets the Eye Studios is another Forward Push client, and they invested in a much more aggressive content campaign, including more articles per month as well as a YouTube video channel, social media, and downloads. The results speak for themselves with top-three rankings skyrocketing from 15 to 80 between September 2015 and April 2016.

5: Directory Listings Matter

50% of local searches take place on directories, not search engines — think Yelp, Angie’s List, YP.com, and other such sites. Local SEO then becomes a process with two individual but equally important halves. First, the actual site must be SEO savvy, and second, directory listings must be clean, clear, and accurate. Remember, the chance that someone finds you using Yelp is nearly as high as traffic from Google, so cover all your bases.


ExampleLocal Vox took a look at Buffalo Wild Wings, a buffalo wing chain with a national presence. The company’s local listings featured “inconsistent and incorrect information across the major online directories” and Local Vox set out to correct them in a massive process. The result paid dividends many times over.

6: Updating Information Is An Uphill Battle — So Get It Right The First Time

The longer your data lives on the web, the harder it is to change it. Successful websites often have dozens, sometimes hundreds of inbound links and listings. So what happens when you have to correct something? Now it’s a long slog of fighting through endless lists and requesting changes. Sometimes, things like that can’t be helped (name or address change), so updating all relevant instances to ensure healthy local SEO must simply be done. However, if your brand name and address are stable, then be sure to take the time to vet any and all critical data.


Example: Three Deep, a St. Paul-based firm, documented their process to deal with an address change regarding local SEO. It’s well worth a read, both as a lesson learned and primer for name/address changes.

7: Execute On Mobile

About one-third of web traffic takes place on mobile devices. However, think about the particular audience of local searches — often times, it’s people who are on the go and looking for something specific. Because of that, it’s important to not just have a site that displays well on mobile (responsive web technology), but optimizes call-to-action for mobile users, such as large buttons as one-touch calling.


Example: Bipper Media shared a case study about a local plumber. One of the biggest changes for the plumber’s site was a dedicated mobile version, including a prominent click-to-call button which was so successful it led to client expansion.


When executed smartly, local SEO can accelerate a business’ growth — especially because so many businesses fail to explore such a surefire way to engage customers. The devil’s in the details here, so remember these tips when executing:

  • Research all your keyword options, from city nicknames to neighborhoods to adjacent suburbs
  • Make sure your site is up to snuff from a technical perspective
  • Google and Bing love quality content on a regular basis. The more, the better.
  • Take advantage of the many local directories out there and remember that half of local searches take place on those sites.
  • Vet your information for accuracy, since changing it is a long, difficult process
  • Know what your ideal call-to-action should be for mobile devices

By Marc Apple

Marc Apple is recognized as a leader in the marketing industry and has 20+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their digital marketing. He specializes in website design, SEO, social media, and paid search programs. He is a frequent contributor to other marketing websites and speaks regularly about marketing to small business owners and startups. To learn about Marc and to contact him, visit his author bio page.


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