Google Local SEO: Do You Really Need to Hire a Consultant ?

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Time after time, local businesses go cheap on SEO, which yields a mediocre result or a Google penalty. With regular Google algorithm updates, hiring the wrong SEO consultant can be very damaging to your online reputation. The wrong SEO consultant can cause a massive loss in search traffic and visibility. You want to hire an SEO consultant who knows the search engine guidelines and works to build your visibility without any dangerous side effects.

How Well Do You Know Your Code?

Unless you’re a developer, you probably know very little about HTML markup that can help with local search. Global search and local search are two different animals. With local search, your tags and content must include local business schema. You can even integrate Google Maps to help local functionality. Also, you need to tweak URLs, H1 tags, title tags, meta tags and alt tags. All of these properties can affect local search.

Do You Know Where to Get Citations?

Citations are like backlinks for local businesses. Citations are usually on business directories that mention the three details about your local business: name, address and phone number (NAP). There is a fine balance between link spamming and understanding relevant, high-quality sites that offer citations that make a difference in SEO.

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Just Because You Know Global Search, Doesn’t Mean You Know Local

Global and local search are different algorithms. Recently Google released the pigeon algorithm to ensure the best results for local search. You might have a firm grasp of global search engine SEO properties, but local requires a different SEO strategy. Local search is about targeting users within a particular radius of your business. Local has what is called “the 7 pack”. The 7 pack is the group of links highlighted on the first page of Google and includes on the map. The 7 pack includes the name, address and phone number of local businesses.

Note: Since the Google pigeon update, we have seen reduction of these so-called “7 packs” and have noticed smaller packs.

Outdated SEO Rules are Ineffective

If you haven’t been in the SEO market for a while, the rules have changed. If you haven’t immersed yourself in all the Panda and Penguin rumbling and debates, you probably don’t understand the massive change in SEO thought that these algorithm changes have brought to the industry. Old habits are not only ineffective, but they can also carry dire consequences with penalties and a massive rank change.

You Need Reputation Management

You can’t make every customer happy. Sometimes, you’ll have some unhappy customers who know the web well. The result is that you find negative reviews and even consumer reports on websites. You need to handle these comments, and it doesn’t mean paying these websites hundreds of dollars to have the report removed. Instead, you reply to comments and handle them professionally. A good, professional response makes a world of difference.

Reputation management is also an on-site effort. For instance, you can create a testimonials or review section on your site. Along with this, you can use the review schema markup to inform search engines of these positive reviews. Post these reviews to counteract the bad ones. Reputation management is a time-consuming effort that takes someone with customer service and search engine knowledge. If you don’t have the time or skills to manage your online reputation, it’s time you look to hire a local SEO consultant.

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Make Sure You Spend Your Money Wisely

You can spend massive amounts of marketing dollars to only get nothing in return. It’s better to spend the money with the right SEO consultant upfront rather than pay double to fix a cheaper SEO consultant’s mistakes.

Make sure you perform a background check on SEO consultant before hiring. Ask questions. Get prices. Get contract terms. Ask the SEO expert for references of past clients, and perform a search on the business to get an idea of what you can expect.

Adam Rowles has worked in the online marketing industry for several years now. He likes to keep abreast of the latest SEO news, and then shares it with his readership online. Look for his illuminating posts on a variety of marketing, website and SEO blogs.

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