What is location-based SEO? How to rank for your city, state, or region

Top 5 tips to master location-based SEO

In the caveman days of SEO, when we were all just sitting around banging digital sticks together, trying to figure out how the darned thing worked, broad keywords were all the rage. It wasn’t unusual to see a domain name that said, simply, “gardener.com,” or a paid search ad with a focus keyword like “lawyer.” Location-based SEO wasn’t on anyone’s radar.

Thankfully, we eventually evolved. Nowadays, marketers know that location-based keywords—like “Greensboro marketing company” or “Atlanta plumber”—are a much better bet when it comes to improving your rankings in search engines. Below, we explain why that is, and give you some quick tips on how to do it.

Why location-based SEO matters

Almost all of today’s searches are location-based, including yours. Think about it—when you pull out your phone to find a nearby restaurant, you don’t just type in “restaurant”, you type “restaurant in [your city]”, saving yourself the hassle of combing through irrelevant listings.

The more mobile our society gets – the more we search on phones, iPads and tablets – the more important location-based SEO becomes. Google’s latest algorithm updates reflect this trend: Google Possum and Google 3-Pack both reward location-targeted content more than ever. The bottom line? Focusing your marketing around your location is an excellent way to improve your search rankings and, ultimately, your sales.

With no further ado, here are some tips on maximizing your local potential.

1. Set up a Google My Business account

Many business owners are unaware that they can directly control the information Google displays about their business. It’s simple–just set up a free account in Google My Business. This mother-of-all-listings site allows you to upload your location, contact info, website, and hours of operation. You can also upload professional photos of your location to make it look more inviting. This can help prevent some less-favorable customer-generated photos from cropping up on your profile (for example, think of the last time you looked up a restaurant only to see a close-up on someone’s half-eaten food.)

2. Create location-based site content

Now that you’ve taken care of the basics, you’ll want to create plenty of location-based content for your website. While “content” generally refers to blogs or white papers, the most efficient thing you can do from an SEO standpoint is create a page for every location you’d like to target. That’s right – every location. Unlike lumping everything into one big “Locations” page, this allows you to target every area specifically in the headline, H1 tags, and other SEO areas. If time and budget constraints don’t allow for this, grouping all locations into one page is a good second option.

3. Add your location URLs to your Google My Business page

Once you’ve set up your location pages, remember to return to your Google My Business account to add those new URLs. Don’t just add your home page or domain URL; adding location-specific pages will help Google’s search crawlers index your page and give you higher rankings. It’ll also give your customers a better user experience – for instance, it’s much more convenient to check out happenings at your local coffee chain than search through all 1,600 locations.

4. Make sure your NAP info is consistent

NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. When Google performs a search, it cross-references your NAP information across a variety of websites–like Yelp, Yellow Pages, et cetera – to ascertain that you’re a real, legitimate business. It’s incredibly unlikely that a spam website would have a physical location listed, let alone consistent NAP information across multiple sources. Therefore, help Google out – and improve your rankings – by making sure that your NAP information is correct and consistent in as many places as possible. If you’re not a developer, and you don’t know any, don’t worry – we do.

5. Create location-based Google Ads

Running location-based ads will increase your reach and competitiveness for your targeted areas. You can even use geo-targeting to ensure that your ads only appear to those searching within a specific city or geographical radius. If you’ve set up a Google My Business account, it’ll be easy to integrate your information right into Google AdWords.

location-based SEO


As Google’s users – and algorithms – continue to give more and more preference to user-friendly mobile experiences, location-based SEO will continue to become even more important. Luckily, there are a wide array of tools, techniques, and channels that will allow companies to stay on top of their game when it comes to location-based marketing.

Red Letter Marketing is a marketing agency based in Greensboro, NC, specializing in branding strategy, SEO, app and website development, and much more. You can see our work here.

Two Faces for Facebook?

When is it appropriate to show multiple brand personalities in social media?

A client had an interesting question. Their events management business, based at a beautiful, unique location, hosts all kinds of events, from weddings to corporate meetings. They wanted to know, with these very different audiences, should they use one Facebook page to build the brand, or two separate pages which might not be as brand-centric, but would better serve the target audiences?

Opinions from digital marketing and brand marketing professionals varied. They generally had an immediate response, as though the answer were obvious, but their answers differed. Some said it should be one page, others said two.

The one-page argument pointed out that it puts everything in one place, is easier to manage for a team with limited time and budget to keep the page updated, and it would be easier to ensure optimal SEO. All practical considerations, especially for a small business. They also pointed out that if the brand were broken into two pages, it could cause people to pigeonhole them as only a wedding venue, or only a business events venue. Viewers would miss the complete story.

The two-page advocates admitted that it added management complications and would demand additional, precious man-hours to keep the content fresh. That’s especially challenging in a small business where people already wear multiple hats. They weren’t as concerned that people would only get half of the brand offerings if they only saw one page or the other. They pointed out that each page should reference the other with fresh updates for both.

Back to fundamentals: know your audience and speak their language.

The more complicated marketing gets, the more important it is to practice the fundamentals. In this case, that meant putting the target audiences first, and asking, “What’s important to our clients?”

An excited bride-to-be, searching for her dream wedding location, is not going to be inspired by a Facebook page that shows updates with pictures of pinstripe suited executives. Likewise, a business meeting planner will not be comfortable recommending a potential location to his boss if it looks like bridal bouquets will be flying through the air. Because these target audiences are so different, they demand a dedicated page for each segment.

Yes, this means more staff time invested in social media. But here’s the thing with social: it’s, well, social. Social settings demand certain appearances and behaviors. Most of us dress and talk differently in an important business meeting than we do for a Saturday evening cookout with the neighbors. Likewise, companies participating in social media, especially a personal channel like Facebook (as opposed to a professional channel like LinkedIn), need to consider the situation and participate accordingly.

Just as in real life, be socially appropriate for the situation.

Like real life, there is no perfect answer. Weigh your options, make a decision, and then monitor and measure. Remember, too, that you can always change it and try a different way. The beauty of online content is that you can test different tactics to learn what works best.

The Black Hole of Content!

The internet has become a massive black hole of content.

Sadly, huge investments are being made in content that is just not being consumed. Beautifully created content is getting lost in cyberspace—dropped off on the side of the road in the most remote areas of the information superhighway, with no one around for light years. If you are developing content without a plan to promote it, this is exactly what you are doing: dumping your content into a black hole. Here are some tips to help shine a light on your content and avoid feeding the black hole with your wasted time, energy, and money.

Start by developing great content, then promote it.

 That means content that provides value and a unique perspective for your audience. Subpar content will disappear quickly into the black hole even if you promote it. But, having great content can get you only so far. After developing your content, you must take necessary steps to both gain some love from the search engines and to get it in front of the right people by promoting it across multiple channels. With over 88% of B2B marketers in North America cranking out new content as part of their marketing programs (Source: Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs), it is essential to have a strong game plan to get your content seen, and avoid getting lost in the informational abyss.

Here are 10 keys to keep your content from getting lost in space:

1. Wave to the Bots! Give yourself a shot with the search engine bots. Conduct keyword research to understand what your audience is searching for related to your topic. Make sure your page is visible and attractive to Googlebot and the other search engine crawlers by setting up on-page SEO with the appropriate title tags, headings, meta descriptions, and image alt attributes for your content. While there are a lot of factors that play into effective, modern SEO, it is still important to have a solid foundation of basic metadata for your content to help you get discovered online and keep the bots happy, so to speak.

2. Sell it in the SERPs. Create compelling, creative, and inviting page titles and meta descriptions to maximize your click-through rate on the search engine results page (SERPs). This is the copy that will show up for the user on the SERPs when the user is trying to decide which search result to click on. Think of the meta description as the ad copy for your page. Describe your page in a way that sells the content to the “customer”—which, in this case, is the search engine user that is looking for information related to your content topic.

3. Don’t be afraid to repeat your tweet. If you are posting a link to your content via Twitter you will want to schedule multiple tweets to promote your content since all of your followers will not be online at the same time. You can vary these posts with a different focus featuring a key quote, statistic, or question addressed in the content. Use the following posting schedule for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook as a general rule of thumb.

  • LinkedIn:
    • Same day as post
  • Twitter:
    • On publish – Share Title/Topic, Link
    • Same day as post – Provide an interesting quote or stat related to the blog
    • Day after post – Pose a key, teasing question that is answered in the article
    • Week after post
    • Month after post
  • Facebook:
    • On publish
    • Month after Post

4. Pay to play. Unfortunately, the social media landscape is quickly becoming a pay-to-play venue. As algorithms continue to evolve it is increasingly difficult to get a lot of eyeballs on your info without paying to promote a post (even if you have a large following). Invest in boosted posts in a way that will get people to your content AND will also increase your future ORGANIC POWER. In other words, use boosted posts on Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter to drive people to your content but also with a goal of increasing the followers and email subscribers. This is a marathon, not a sprint, but with consistent contributions you can continue to build a following and leverage their individual networks to expand your organic reach.

5. Images = Everything. To increase the “shareability” of your content, be sure to include engaging visual elements. Use quality custom images both in the content pieces as well as the social media posts promoting that content. There is a lot of visual noise in social media feeds, so consider what type of images will stand out and catch the eye of your audience.

6. Use network multipliers. Utilize networks of key team members in your organization as appropriate to expand your reach by sharing your content via social media, especially if your company presence on social media is young and immature. Encourage your team members to like and share your content only if part of their network would fall into your target audience. Also use hashtags (only a couple) in social posts that will help mark the content by relevant topic or event to expand your audience reach beyond your existing followers.

7. Go serial. Leverage the power of “To Be Continued” and create episodic, multi-part content to get return visits. Combine these parts and pieces to build powerful long-form content that will promote referral links from 3rd party sites.

8. Click-to-Tweet. Make your share-worthy content easier to share. Include appropriate/relevant social share buttons on your blog post page, and make it easy for those who want to share tasty bites of content, like a key quote or statistic from your article with in-context click-to-tweet buttons. You can find a number of “Click-to-Tweet” plug-ins available to make this easy to setup.

9. Keep your troops in the loop. Make sure you keep your loyal email subscribers up-to-date with your latest content. This is a group that raised their hand to say they are interested in what you have to say, so don’t leave them hanging. This may seem obvious, but it can get overlooked.

10. Captivate your captive audience. In addition to your email audience, keep your current website audience engaged by cross-linking between related content on your site. Feature new content with links on your home page, and provide cross-links to new content from related blogs, product pages, and service pages. Make this new content easy to discover for your website visitors. Connecting the content dots across your site will help get more views and shares on the new stuff, as well as provide an SEO boost with increased engagement on your site overall.

If you create beautiful, valuable content, give it a chance to survive out in cyberspace.

Strap some jet packs on those blog posts, infographics, and videos to make sure you get that valuable content in front of the audiences that need it, and avoid the black hole.

If you have any questions about how best to strap jet packs to your content, please give us a shout. We keep rocket fuel in the office.

Google Gives Primacy to Expertly Written Content

Though the all-knowing algorithm remains under lock and key, Google’s Search Quality Guidelines were released less than 6 months ago. A cursory reading of these guidelines shows that Google now gives primacy to content written with higher levels of expertise. In short, the internet’s most powerful force is now behind skillful, authoritative writing that helps people more easily find the information they want. This is especially true in sensitive areas like medicine, finance, and healthcare, where the stakes for misinformation are higher.

More Expert Content

This is great news for us as internet users because we’re exposed to better and better content from more qualified sources. But no dynamic change is without resistance. Content farms—known for paying writers measly sums to generate loads of chiefly insufferable material—were undermined greatly by this change. It was also met with ire by flimsy organizations like Anti-Vaccine Movement, The Flat Earth Society, and Ken Ham’s Creation Museum, all of which claimed their voices were being stifled. Yet overall, Google’s new guidelines make for a better web experience with more respected voices now separated from the masses of chaff.

Lousy Content Brings Lousy Results

These changes confirm what Red Letter Marketing has stood for all along: valuable content that makes a difference for target audiences. There is still a plethora of false prophets in this territory, ready to sell you cheap and easy solutions to content marketing. Some have even recommended hiring a college student on the cheap to churn out blogs to keep your website content fresh. But the fact is, this won’t work, and is even less viable now than when it actually had some—albeit slight—impact.

The New Standard

Though more vital in fields like finance and healthcare, no industry is exempt from Google’s new E-A-T standard. This is the acronym for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. If you’re looking for information on air movement, Google is more likely to drive you to reputable sources like Dyson, Boeing, or Big Ass Fans. Though each of these companies operate in distinct industries, they have expertise in the realm of air flow.

Offering Valuable Content, Interestingly

What’s the lesson in all of this? Chiefly, you need to have an expert writer to produce your content, especially if content marketing is a main artery in your business development strategy. But industry expertise alone won’t cut it. You need to present that information in a way that inspires engagement. Hierarchy of information, scanability, and relevance all become significant elements in the presentation of content. You need to keep a reader interested, even excited about the content. Valuable information that’s poorly presented will drive visitors away faster than a toupee in a hurricane. It’s vital to keep your readers… well—reading. They want to leave the page feeling that you’ve provided something useful and accessible. If you’ve succeeded, they’ll remember, and are more likely to come back. If not, they may end up at a competitor’s site.

As marketers, we take content quality seriously. To do anything less is to disrespect readers, and consequently, customers. Because Google is now reviewing websites using the E-A-T standard, your site ranking is affected by the quality of your content. If you’re wondering how to create effective content marketing that gets the attention of both Google and customers, let’s talk.