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  1. #1
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    Awesome Local SEO Ranking Tip to Grab #1 Spot

    Hey everyone, just wanted to share a ridiculously good strategy we've been using with a lot of success lately to rank locally.

    This works best for keywords like "roofers in [city name]" or "landscaping companies in [city name]"...basically any keyword where the biggest intent is to find a list of companies that do XYZ.

    If you look at the top-ranked pages for queries like these, they are almost always directory sites like Yellowpages, Lawyers.com, Thumbtack, etc.

    Last year we started seeing this happen more and more and I was wondering how these directories are outranking the companies themselves (the landscapers, roofers, lawyers, etc) even when the companies themselves might have otherwise awesome organic performance.

    Since then we've been toying around with some ideas and figuring out ways to determine intent behind specific keywords and we're finding matching that intent as closely as possible is perhaps the easiest way to rank a page on a local client's site.

    How to do it

    For this particular set of queries, it's actually pretty easy - you just have to swipe the directories' strategy...

    If you're an attorney, create a page on your site listing all the attorneys in your area, preferably organized in a fashion that makes it easy to skim, mentions the key details someone who lands on the page might want to know - just generally make it super useful.

    Then put yourself at the top of that list.

    So the first time we pitched this idea to a client they said something along the lines of, "but I don't want to list my competitors on my site, etc, etc."

    Yeah yeah, I get that. But consider this:

    1. Almost everyone typing "law firms in Louisville" is looking for a list of law firms. They're going to find that list. Either Google is going to give it to them or you can. Personally, I'd rather be in control of that experience.
    2. If you don't do this then you'll probably stay around #2-4, right behind all the high DA directories that are doing this and you'll get fewer eyeballs on your site.


    Why this works

    3 reasons:

    1. Intent is crazy important - I think the SEO industry as a whole woefully underestimates the importance of intent.

    Think about it like this: it's Google's goal to get you exactly the information you want as quickly as possible. Matching the intent behind a particular search query as closely as possible means you're putting content on your site that is exactly what users want, which is exactly what Google wants to serve up at the top.

    The only pitfalls here are 1) Is the true intent behind a query what you actually think it is? and 2) are the search engines sophisticated enough to determine whether your content matches that intent better than the competition. But that's a little outside the scope of this tip.

    2. So intent is important...With this strategy, you're matching the intent behind the search better than your competition. The better you match the intent and the more useful the content, the better your CTR, bounce rates, social shares, etc.

    3. If you're a local business in the area, and you're decently well-optimized already, you probably have much more local authority / relevance than those directory pages. HAHAHA YES!

    Meta title / description bonus

    Another thing we've tested is maximizing CTR in search results for these pages using meta titles and descriptions.

    We've noticed that better, more clickable copy in the description seems to directly impact the speed at which these pages rise in the results and how high they go.

    This is far from scientific but we've tried writing what I'd consider boring copy that's not well targeted for meta descriptions and then writing copy that is hyper targeted toward what we believe is the demo behind a particular search query and the rankings difference seems to be strongly in favor of better copy, which I can only conclude is a result of increased CTR.

    Tracking

    I would also encourage you to track the effectiveness of this page because there very well may be some scenarios where this isn't the ideal approach - some ideas for that:
    • Track outbound clicks to competitors - consider swapping out a competitor if their value prop is much stronger than yours
    • Track phone calls that originate from this page
    • Track walk-ins that originate from this page by saying something like "mention coupon code DIRECTORY KILLER and get 10% off your order."
    • Track form submissions that originally landed on this page.


    That is all. Have fun!

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  3. #2
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    Re: Awesome Local SEO Ranking Tip to Grab #1 Spot

    Thanks John, great idea! I Love it!

    The other thing about this that could directly help the ranking for the home page that they really want to rank...

    We've talked about how popularity, click through and stick rate can help boost ranking.

    Well if this page ranks high so gets more clicks etc maybe it would boost ranking a tiny bit for the home page in the pack too.

    Only thing I wonder is... have you seen ranking this internal page negatively affecting their main ranking for the home page - in the pack???

    I ask because Google will very seldom award 2 spots to the same company in the SERPS.
    (Not talking the natural doubles we see now where home ranks twice. Talking home and an internal page both ranking.)
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  4. #3
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    Re: Awesome Local SEO Ranking Tip to Grab #1 Spot

    Linda's tweet about this topic brought me into the forum to have a look.

    John, have you seen this work consistently? I would have thought that the big common directories that are ranking well for this type of query are not necessarily doing so because the contain a list of businesses but rather because of the power of the overall authority of those domains.

    I have questions.

    -How long after you've created this page do you find that you are outranking the big directories?

    -I'm assuming you are outranking them in the organic listings?

    -Do you build links to these pages at all or just have them rank on the power of relevance and your local authority?

    -I'm assuming you don't actually link to your competitors in the list, right? But you could probably link to your own home page for your listing.

    Very interesting. I'll likely give this a try on one of my own sites.

  5. #4
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    Re: Awesome Local SEO Ranking Tip to Grab #1 Spot

    Linda,

    I know that particular test we did here was inconclusive but based on what I've seen I'm anecdotally convinced that CTR / stick rate is really important, at least for organic - not sure about pack.

    Good question on the pack issue - looking through what we've done to date, the sites were either not ranking locally at all before we started or the search queries we tested this on didn't have any pack results. Something to be cognizant of for sure.

  6. #5
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    Re: Awesome Local SEO Ranking Tip to Grab #1 Spot

    I am SUPER interested in trying this....

    I have lots of visibility for "Landscaper" and "Landscaping" + City. I have been struggling to do the same for "Landscape Design" and "Landscape Designers".

    Maybe I should give this a try?

    I would like to echo the question above- do you actually link out to competitors when you do this? And how about listing the appropriate pages for the directory lists as well? You could put a pretty comprehensive list together pretty quickly....
    My landscape marketing blog is at triple16.com

  7. #6
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    Re: Awesome Local SEO Ranking Tip to Grab #1 Spot

    @Marie

    Amazingly consistent so far yes. I don't think it's the case that the big directories rank bc of domain authority - it's definitely a factor yes, but i think they're just matching the queries intent more closely than anyone else.

    As to your questions:

    - 3-6 months. I'm just guessing here but I suspect it's a factor of the effectiveness of your meta title & desc and how much search volume there is for the query.

    I should add we've tried this strategy with a handful of queries where relatively stiff local competition dominated without any directories and it worked in those cases as well.

    - Organic only yes. Not sure how this affects pack. To Linda's point above, if pack is somehow influenced by CTR, would increased CTR on the organic result improve the pack position? I don't know the answer to that.

    - No links. Not a single one. In fact, before we hit on this strategy we were building a few good quality links to other pages we wanted to rank for those terms - performance on these pages is crushing the others.

    - We do link to competitors - and the links are all do-follow. When I started testing this I wanted to do that to help bias the result against us a little bit just in case. I thought for sure that was a bad idea but it doesn't seem to affect anything.

    In fact, linking to competitors might actually be a good thing because it tends to keep people on the page longer and reduce the number of people bouncing back to search.

    Definitely let me know how it goes.

    ---------- Post Merged at 05:49 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 05:47 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Bowen View Post
    And how about listing the appropriate pages for the directory lists as well? You could put a pretty comprehensive list together pretty quickly....
    For sure. I think it's more likely that the stiffer your competition for these terms, the better your page will have to be.

    I could see adding ratings, filtering/sorting functionality, etc. You could def. make take this pretty far.

  8. #7
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    Re: Awesome Local SEO Ranking Tip to Grab #1 Spot

    I've always wanted to try something like this but never did, felt like I may have to link out to the competitors to get the best results and never wanted to do that.

    Now I may have to give it a go. Awesome thread!

  9. #8
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    Re: Awesome Local SEO Ranking Tip to Grab #1 Spot

    Quote Originally Posted by johncrenshaw View Post
    - Organic only yes. Not sure how this affects pack. To Linda's point above, if pack is somehow influenced by CTR, would increased CTR on the organic result improve the pack position? I don't know the answer to that.
    Most of the pack or at least the top of the pack is based almost purely on organic ranking factors. So if anything boost organic they will move up in the pack as well.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  10. #9
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    Re: Awesome Local SEO Ranking Tip to Grab #1 Spot

    I just had another great idea...

    2 complementary but different industries...

    Let's say a Dentist and his buddy who is an Orthodontist.

    Or a cosmetic dentist and cosmetic surgeon that are on good terms and maybe refer anyway.

    Or a Chiro and acupuncturist... you know where I'm going with this.

    Design the mini directories for your client the Dentist.

    Put the Ortho directory on the Dentist site with his buddy the ortho on top. And have him get the Ortho to put the Dentist directory on his site with the Dentist on top. They are related enough they'd still rank high. But they would not have a page on their site promoting their own competition if that's the concern.

    Would be more work and would require the Dentist having a buddy that's an Ortho but most have that type of referral relationship with a specialist anyway.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  11. #10
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    Re: Awesome Local SEO Ranking Tip to Grab #1 Spot

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda Buquet View Post
    I just had another great idea...
    Put the Ortho directory on the Dentist site with his buddy the ortho on top. And have him get the Ortho to put the Dentist directory on his site with the Dentist on top. They are related enough they'd still rank high. But they would not have a page on their site promoting their own competition if that's the concern.
    That is a great idea, but this could be looked at as a Link Wheel by Google. Even though you are linking to other Dentists/Orthos. Giving favor to one because he does the same for you. This is one of those "grey areas."
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