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Today, we talk to Andrew Shotland, the CEO & Founder of localSEOguide.com and a well-known figure in the local SEO industry. He is the editor of the Local SEO Guide blog and has been a regular contributor to SearchEngineLand.
In this episode, Andrew will talk about how to do local SEO at scale for multi-location businesses?
Stay tuned for the next podcast episode, where our guest, Mattan Danino, tells us about full-funnel marketing hacks for e-commerce & B2B business growth.
[01:56-07:25] Does NAP consistency really help in ranking local businesses?
[07:26-11:47] What’s your opinion on Google marking businesses “Temporarily Closed” during the COVID pandemic?
[13:15-14:34] In a few weeks, when people are back to work, is local SEO going to be the priority?
[15:18-19:05] Is it true that building links only around the physical location of a business is profitable?
[22:08-26:45] Are there any tools that you’d like to suggest for local SEO except GMB?
[26:46-31:02] Are all these tools you suggested, comes free?
Show Notes Explanation
Hello everyone, this is Senthil. Welcome to another episode of SEO On-Air. Today, we have with us, Andrew Shotland. He is the CEO & Founder of localSEOguide.com and a well-known figure in the local SEO industry.
Our team has been following him for a while, and we have a special name for him, i.e., the superstar of local SEO. Today we are going to discuss local SEO for multi-location businesses with Andrew.
Time Stamp: 01:56-07:25
Senthil: Most businesses operating in multiple locations face the challenge of updating new locations on the web every time. Does NAP consistency really help in ranking local businesses?
Andrew: The answer is “maybe.” When Google started with a category for Google places, there was no way of confirming the physical location and contact details of a business other than relying on high-quality local directories around the world.
It was really critical back then to get the NAP data consistent across all directories on the internet. Correct NAP citations helped these local directories in getting listed in Google and ranking well.
However, over the last six years, Google got smarter and started figuring out on its own whether you have a local business in a city. Basically, they were able to develop a local knowledge graph.
This made them rely less on local directories after that. Nowadays, it has become less critical to get that NAP data correct in local directories. Moreover, these local directories themselves don’t rank well in Google.
In my personal experience, what I’ve observed is that if your business is ranking in the top ten search results in the SERP, you don’t need to worry about NAP consistency. If it isn’t, then you probably need to get your NAP fixed.
Time Stamp: 07:26-11:47
Senthil: In fact, Google marked us as “Temporarily Closed” in Google Maps automatically in this ongoing pandemic situation. It was a challenge for us despite being an active SEO company and having 200 employees working from home regularly.
We got really shocked when people started ringing us to know whether we are closed. What’s your opinion on this?
Andrew: You’re lucky that you don’t run a retail business, because an SEO company is always open, no matter what. The problem with Google My Business listings is that Google changes your data without prior information, and you can only figure it out by logging into your GMB profile. Then you need to change the information yourself.
In case it doesn’t work, you’ll need to contact GMB support and someone from the concerned team will get it manually fixed for you. GMB is actually not the highest priority for Google, and since it deals with actual human beings, you see more bugs compared to a web search. We do customize GMB profiles for businesses that have very tricky issues with their profiles.
Time Stamp: 13:15-14:34
Senthil: So hopefully, in a few weeks, when people are back to work, local SEO is going to be the priority.
Andrew: So, for all companies who had to turn off their ad budgets in March and don’t have good SEO, they are missing out on potential business opportunities. I agree with you that there is a potential for local SEO to bloom when people get marketing budgets back.
Time Stamp: 15:18-19:05
Senthil: So, Andrew, one common question we usually get during blogger outreach is, “Hey, my business is located in San Diego, so I want to build links around San Diego.” They think that’s what helps them in local SEO, is it true?
Andrew: Our philosophy is that your links should be able to stand the test of time, meaning the link you build now should be able to remain relevant two years from now. In the perfect SEO world, you’ll get links that are both relevant to your location and service category. But the reality is far from perfect.
I think if you are working with an SEO company that is building links for you, make sure that they are not building links from companies that appear to be link farms.
It’s easiest to get these links in exchange for some amount of money, but they are harmful to your site and can get your site penalized. Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether you are getting locally relevant links as long as they are of good quality.
Time Stamp: 19:12-21:55
Senthil: Links farms are the reason why we stress on quality links. That’s why we specifically work with people who want to see our previous work instead of charging money for link building.
Andrew: For a long time, we used to do local sponsorship link building, where we donated for charity in return for links. But, we stopped it when we saw it was temporary because if the next year we don’t sponsor the charity, they update their sponsorship page and the links are gone.
It’s challenging for anyone doing SEO, to scale up their link building activities and prove its effectiveness. We know that it works in the long term, but for the short term, you need to wait for the next algorithm update to see whether it worked.
Time Stamp: 22:08-26:45
Senthil: Great! That’s all I wanted to know from you about local SEO. One last question I wanted to ask you is whether there are any tools that you’d like to suggest for local SEO except GMB?
Andrew: Over the years we have made many free SEO tools that you can access from our site’s “Guide” section and in the free SEO tools page. So for free tools, I’d like to recommend tools like “NAP Hunter,” which is a chrome extension. It helps to surface all websites having NAP information on the web about a business. It is a really good way to find NAP inconsistencies.
There’s a local Keyword Generator tool, which we introduced last year. It’s a spreadsheet that allows you to find variations in local keywords. This year, we introduced automated Google “Lighthouse” reporting for big sites with multiple templates. You can run a page speed report for all your category pages there.
A few weeks ago, we released the “RICE Model Forecasting for SEO Sheets,” which is a sheet with a bunch of formulas in it that will help you estimate the growth of your potential SEO products. When you are pitching to your clients, you can say that by using this thing, you can get 10% more SEO traffic. It’s super simple.
We also open-sourced a way for detecting knowledge graph and Google My Business image changes. It notifies us Slack about the changes.
Time Stamp: 26:46-31:02
Senthil: Great. Are all these tools are free?
Andrew: No, they aren’t, but I’m going to categorize the free tools, but the toolkits in my site are free.
Senthil: Wow, you’ve given tons of stuff for free to the industry, and no wonder why we call you the superstar of local SEO. You are giving back so much to the community and helping people with their local SEO strategies.
Andrew: Yeah, we actually built a way to automate GMB posts for more than ten locations at once, which is impossible to do otherwise. GMB is probably the best way to share your message effectively to all your customers.
Senthil: Wow. Thanks for your actionable insights. We are going to list the tools suggested by Andrew in this podcast. Thank you, Andrew, for taking part in this podcast. Take care.