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Local SEO Deep Dive with Mark Luckenbaugh 📍

local seo with mark luckenbaugh

Ryan Stewart

I build, grow and sell digital agencies. Most recently, WEBRIS, a 7 figure SEO agency.

Mark Luckenbaugh is an SEO entrepreneur, currently owner of multiple agencies and SEO software companies.

His companies all operate in the local SEO space, giving him access to incredibly valuable data and insights.

Mark joined us on The Blueprint Live last week to answer my questions about how to rank websites in local search right now.

If you’re in the local space, you don’t want to miss this.

Timestamps:

  • 1:14 What’s going on local SEO right now?
  • 4:51 What does it take to rank in the 3-pack?
  • 7:42 How can a businesses manipulate proximity when they can’t change their physical location??
  • 9:52 How do you structure a website to rank locally?
  • 12:33 Can you unpack what “geo content” refers to?
  • 14:42 Would you recommend getting an office just to rank in the Maps pack?
  • 15:44 Is “proximity” based on the KW search or the business’ location?
  • 18:17 Have you seen any success with local ads / GMB ads?
  • 22:17 In the “local guest posts” are you linking to the GMB listing or the website?
  • 24:41 Do citations still work?
  • 32:13 Do you still “geo tag” images?
  • 34:48 What other local SEO ranking factors should we pay attention to?

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What’s going on local SEO right now?

Local SEO is so much more complex than it used to be. Millions of legitimate Google My Business listings were erroneously suspended by Google recently. Many people decided to stay away from trying to manipulate local GMB rankings after that but I dived deep into it because it looked like an opportunity to me.

Another big difference is just the amount of real estate available in local rankings right now. If you’re not in the 3-pack, you’re nowhere.

The number of phone calls and leads you get from the 3-pack as opposed to organic and local SERPs is insane.

If you are not in that 3-pack you’re hurting in terms of visibility. GMB is so much more important than it ever was and it is a lot more difficult than it used to be.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 1:14)

What does it take to rank in the 3-pack?

We’ve reduced it to a 3 pronged approach to getting ranked in there:

  1. Prominence
  2. Relevance
  3. Proximity

Prominence = Authority. We find a really strong correlation between GMB and the authority of the page that the GMB is linked to as well as the overall authority of the site. So we build links and strengthen the site that is associated with GMB.

Relevance = relevance. The relevance of the search query with what you offer as a business.

Proximity = geographic nearness of your business from the location of the searcher. It is GPS based and that is why it is very difficult to manipulate.

These are the 3 key factors we’re looking at when trying to rank a website locally.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 4:51)

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Just watch this…

Check out our local SEO reporting template.

How can a businesses manipulate proximity when they can’t change their physical location?

They can open up virtual offices (or grab cheap office space). A lot of the “hacks” we’ve tried in the past don’t work anymore.

The best way to get a verified GMB Listing is by paying for some type of office space.

However, we recommend before doing so the businesses should consider the typical customer experience of that industry.

For example, if a customer needs to come into your physical location (i.e. a coffee shop, gym, etc), then you should NOT purchase a virtual office. You don’t want potential customers showing up to an office that doesn’t really exist.

However, if you’re an attorney or a roofer, it does make sense to open up a virtual office in a city / zip code where there’s a market for your service.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 7:42)

How do you structure a website to rank locally?

We build local silos / geo targeted content on a website to rank for localized traffic.

In the past, we’ve gone as far as creating specific pages for zip codes, but we don’t recommend that much anymore.

We determine what types of pages to create (i.e. zip code, geo region, etc) by searching for the terms and letting Google dictate how we should target the pages.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 9:52)

Can you unpack what “geo content” refers to?

I was referring to blog posts or service pages, created to target geo-specific search volume.

For example, Miami is a large city that has different sections (downtown, Brickell, South Beach, Doral, etc). Each of these sections have search volume for localized terms (i.e. lawyers in Brickell, lawyers in South Beach, etc).

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 12:33)

Would you recommend getting an office just to rank in the Maps pack?

For higher ticket agencies and lawyers, yes, I’d recommend that. It basically boils down to what kind of leads you can get and how much they are worth to you.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 14:42)

Is “proximity” based on the KW search or the business’ location?

It may depend on the buyer’s journey but we don’t really know but always assume it’s gonna be the proximity of the person searching for the business.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 15:44)

Have you seen any success with local ads / GMB ads?

GMB ads do very well. We’re not doing anything more hyperlocal than that, at least in a non-SEO sense.

One thing we have started pushing is a local guest posting for local link building to geo sites. We do a lot of local directory stuff and local outreach. That’s also a great way to build proximity where you’re boosting your geographic relevance.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 18:77)

In the “local guest posts” are you linking to the GMB listing or the website?

A lot of times we’ll have to settle for the website but if you can link to the GMB embed the GMB.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 22:17)

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Do citations still work?

Yes and no.

We split citations into 2 categories:

  1. Primary citations (sites like Yelp)
  2. Secondary citations (the ones you can buy 500 for $50 for)

Primary citations are critical, they’re a must for any campaign. Secondary citations are just ok – they don’t hurt, but they don’t rank sites on their own anymore.

Yelp is one of the big sites that Google pulls data from locally. We have seen cases where adding stuff to Yelp has caused new GMB categories to get created.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 24:41)

Where do you get your citations from?

We have a huge list that we build off of – you can check it out on our local guide (see last section for links).

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 27:40)

Do you still “geo tag” images?

We do.

It’s a relatively easy task that we use our offshore team for.

However, if I have to manually do it a bunch of times it’s probably not gonna be at the top of my priority list. I’d rather build some authoritative links instead.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 32:13)

What other local SEO ranking factors should we pay attention to?

  • Your on-page on the page you are linking the GMB to is a huge factor. That is what most people miss.
  • Whatever categories you have in your GMB make sure that you have an H-tag on the page it links to.
  • Optimize supporting content pages.
  • Analyze the top rankings and try to reverse engineer the factors at play that are important for Google.
  • Build powerful links to your website and acquire links for your GMB URL.

Follow the best practices.

Watch video for further details on this question (jump to 34:48)

More on Mark Luckenbaugh

 

COMMENTS (4)

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  • Trenton Erkersays

    In this section: “What other local SEO ranking factors should we pay attention to?” Mark mentioned “include the GMB category on the page that the GMB is linked to” but it isn’t summarized in the text summary.
    This was a good interview. Thank you.

  • Tarasays

    This is awesome, thanks for the value Ryan + Mark! One quick question, I understand this is relevant to someone who has a client with a local ranking interest… but what about those who have a site like the following: poolsinplano.com … and they act almost as a broker for a local service? How do you manage something like that in the sense where a physical business doesn’t actually exist for that site, and more or less sells the leads off to other legit companies servicing that local niche?

  • Jeremiahsays

    Hi Ryan,
    Great video jam packed with alot of really insightful information in regard to local SEO. In the video you said that you were going to give a link to the niche directories. For some reason I do not see it. Where can I find that on your site?

    • Hey Jeremiah,

      You can find those over at Mark’s sites (listed at the end of the article)