The success of an SEO professional highly depends on being curious, always be learning, testing, and more importantly, sharing experiences and results. Organizations looking for a silver bullet for their ranking and positioning needs are often surprised when the most common answer from a knowledgable SEO is “it depends.” As you can imagine, it depends because of multiple factors and situations, it’s different to position a brand in global markets than rank high at a national level, and fight the battle for a click to call in local search results. All these scenarios have their intricacies that require different content strategies, site architectures, and an overall different mindset.

International SEO and nationwide SEO was a significant part of my experience as an active consultant, but I know that I was missing a big part of the industry, the one that, in my opinion, evolves faster and more often; local SEO. For this reason, I decided to start read and research about local SEO, convinced a handful of local businesses about working together, as I mentioned to them, the worst thing that could happen is that you end up with a proper website.

First Learning: Lack of Education

The first thing that I encountered is that there’s very little education about the strategic value of a website and its importance in growing a business.

As a corporate SEO consultant, it was challenging to make the shift to wear multiple hats, not only being an SEO consultant, but an educator of all things digital, and on many occasions a business coach. These new opportunities make the job extremely fun, exciting, and critical to the success of the business. Keep in mind that if everything fails, the safety net is too thin or may not even exist.

The lack of digital marketing education for many business owners and managers poses a significant threat to their business due to hiring agencies without really understanding and knowing what they need, what type of expectations to have, and what they should be getting for their investment.

The most sensitive case was of a local medical practice that hired an agency that didn’t optimize its website for at least a year, provided blogposts with thin content, and in some cases, the call to actions mentioning the name of their competitors. It could be easy to blame the management for allowing this to happen, but they hired an agency and gave them all their trust because they didn’t know better.

Second Learning: Sense of Speed

As a CSPO (Certified SCRUM Product Owner), I like to work my projects in a way that provides value faster than having a full detailed plan. To my surprise, this is the intrinsic mindset of the entrepreneurs and business managers that I’ve been working on these new local SEO projects. They don’t have time to waste because they expect and need results fast, something extremely complex to do when dealing with Google rankings.

The most exciting part is that these people are eager to learn and willing to collaborate as much as they possibly can. It’s here where the problem lies; they’re also wearing multiple roles, so time availability tends to dissipate, reducing the time to deliver value quickly. Having my well-oiled team of professionals has helped me to provide great value and deliver results faster. My customers certainly appreciate that.

… it’s different to position a brand in global markets than rank high at a national level, and fight the battle for a click to call in local search results.

Third Learning: Budget, Quality and UX

The budget is always an awkward conversation and hard to transition from getting and seeing quotes of hundreds of thousands of dollars for development projects to more modest prices. While in corporate settings, you have a buying committee to decide the platforms that you want to use, in local businesses, your options are reduced to WordPress, the basic version of Shopify, or some of the close systems as WIX. These systems provide what many small businesses need, an affordable digital presence, more often than this experience isn’t optimized or even designed with the user in mind.

Lower budgets make it difficult to provide a unique experience, and that’s why you see so many similar business websites where you can easily change the logo and can work for a competitor. Creating content, design, and architecture requires time, knowledge, and sweat, something that’s difficult to do with a low budget.

There are two pieces of advice that I give to local businesses, the first: It’s not the platform; it’s the content, this usually comes when they tell me that I must use WordPress. The second, think about your business, what makes you unique and different, is your website supporting that?

Having my well-oiled team of professionals has helped me to provide great value and deliver results faster. My customers certainly appreciate that.

Fourth Learning: Google My Business

The same way Hreflang is the one thing all international SEO experts should know, Google My Business is the prime battle horse of local SEO. In one case, I was able to help reduce $2,000 per month on their PPC monthly bill by launching and optimizing their Google My Business profile. The best of all is that they love updating it, we both feel that’s like another social network.

I have to give kudos to the team in charge of Google My Business, they have done a fantastic job during the time of the pandemic, businesses can communicate their changes in operations, keep conversations going, and gain new business.

A good conversation to have with local SEO customers is that you cannot prove your worth just with site traffic and rankings. Google is providing a lot of different options to their users to solve their problems without visiting a website, the role of the SEO is to get as much real estate in the Google search result page as possible.

Similarly, business owners need to request more tangible results and less of vanity metrics as position and rankings; these metrics are the reason for the means, but not the end goal. Ranking on the first position, but not getting a lead or a conversion, can become expensive quickly.

There are two pieces of advice that I give to local businesses, the first: It’s not the platform; it’s the content, this usually comes when they tell me that I must use WordPress. The second, think about your business, what makes you unique and different, is your website supporting that?

Google My Business

The Result: I've Become a Better Rounded SEO

It’s easy for me to say that I have become a better SEO because I devoted a good portion of my last two years to improve my Local SEO skills, but what my experiments have given me is a better idea of the final user. When working on an SEO strategy is critical to think about what good content means for your website, your brand, and your audience.

Having a closer idea to local consumers gives me a different point of view of the consumer that can be useful for better rankings nationally and globally. For instance, I’ve spoken about how Miami is the best approximation to a sample of the whole Latam market from a multi-cultural perspective, that’s not the case of Fort Lauderdale or Boca Raton. It’s also interesting to see how the pace of the content should be for businesses on the more significant metro areas like Brickel and downtown Fort Lauderdale, compared to the more relaxed vibe of the wealthy suburbs like Weston and Parkland.

Consider that if you’re a small business or a global brand, your customer is always going to be a human being, the more you know how to make their lives better, the better you’ll do in SEO.