Local SEO is well known and relatively easy type of optimisation for the majority of experienced SEO’s. In our agency we’ve built a very simple and effective local SEO strategy as I’m sure many other experienced SEOs have, but in the past months we’re starting to see more and more referrals coming to the agency that do not qualify as clients based on our minimum budgets, growth goals and other elements. This was an issue that was happening a lot and something that was frustrating having to turn away small businesses that really NEED the specific skills the agency had.
Table of Contents
- 1 What we did
- 2 Expansion
- 3 Up-Sell High Profit Margin Services
- 4 Referrals
- 5 The Local Process Itself
- 5.1 0.) Quick Technical Audit – 10 minutes.
- 5.2 1.) Site structure – 2 hours.
- 5.3 2.) On-page Optimisation – 2 hours.
- 5.4 3.) GMB + Get 50 Unique Citations – 30 minutes / £100.
- 5.5 4.) Build 3 locational relevant links & 3 industry relevant links – 2 hours/£400.
- 5.6 5.) Schedule Fresh Content Once A Month For 6 Months – £30.
- 6 Conclusion
What we did
As a result, we dropped our prices, something that most growing agencies advice against, especially when you’ve “cracked the process.” The reason wasn’t a monetary decision, instead one of the core reasons was the decision to seriously help the local smaller businesses around us. As a result, we started to take on almost anyone that came from a referral. (One of the reasons we didn’t do this for inbound leads and only for referrals was the positioning element of our services.)
Taking on clients for £500/month and even flat one-time fees of £1,500 in some cases. We then simply went about the process to deliver the results utilising maps optimisation heavily into our campaigns and rankings sites within 3-4 months in most cases.
These clients are in very simple small local niches – Think lawn care, gardening, mobile hairdressers etc – The type of client that would be coined as “difficult” to work with in the average situation. But in our city, we wanted to start helping these on a one time +ongoing profitable basis. The result is in some cases the resulting leads and ease at which these leads are being sold have been changing these small business and sole trader’s lives. Being able to get a consistent stream of leads every week is something these businesses/individuals had never seen before.
Also, as a general side note: Cardiff (where we’re based) seems to be stuck in the technological stone ages so therefore these individuals aren’t conscious to the idea of the Google being profitable for their business.
So, this is all great from the client’s point of view; a great service, one-time fees to rank but at the end of the day our profit margins on £1,500 packages or £500/month services is very slim, so, how do we end up generating a profit from these types of clients. There’s 3 ways we’ve used in the past 6 months and generally try to implement all 3 where relevant/possible.
As the business becomes more profitable we look to expand the target areas, implementing more and more individual local SEO campaigns. One of the issues we run into for obvious reasons is quoting local clients £25,000/month to rank in the top 50 cities in the UK doesn’t usually work too well.
As a result, starting with one specific location and taking a hit on the profit margin upfront builds the relationship and obviously the client isn’t going to go anywhere else in the future once they’ve seen the success.
I should note that this only works with clients that have the intension to grow rapidly, and realistically this is only about 1 in 5 clients we get on board for our “micro service”. Again, the results are great but a lot of these businesses are sole traders looking to earn an extra £2-5k/month from a business instead of a job providing a local service.
Up-Sell High Profit Margin Services
Similar to how web designers charge for hosting services at about 5 times the rate the client would receive if they went direct, we can do a similar thing from an SEO perspective. Charging a tiny amount of £50/month with the only element being to check search console once per month (clients are actually told this is the only element that will be implemented), if something goes wrong for whatever reason the client is notified about the issue and asked if they would like to request a mini-audit for a fixed fee. The time investment for this is around 1 minute/month, usually by this point the site is ranked and calls and leads are coming in so there’s not a lot the client wants to a certain degree.
We also occasionally upsell social media service, custom web development and other higher margin services and outsource all the deliverables to a 3rd party.
One of the major reasons we started doing this was to become the go-to company when it comes to technical SEO in our area. Although this isn’t happening overnight we’re starting to get larger leads coming through from successful referrals from these smaller packages. Again of course these are very easy to convert and if the clients are chill there’s generally no reason to take them on.
One of the key areas we learnt early on is that with smaller clients the amount of value we provide far exceeds the amount the client pays. As a result, if the client knows this is the case there are usually very few issues down the line with the “bad clients”. There’s a few elements we put in place to prevent this from being the case too.
Email contact only – No phone number is given to smaller clients and calls must be pre-booked. It’s very rare this is ever an issue as with sole trader’s they are obviously providing the service themselves and hence aren’t free most of the time.
Site access – We state the client cannot change major elements on the website and anything they are looking to change must be run past a team member first. To avoid having team members constantly battling clients on this front there’s a lot of expectation management upfront, ideally with the client only ever touching the blog posts part of WordPress as opposed to touching any inner ranking pages or the homepage.
The Local Process Itself
As most experienced SEO’s know already, the local process is painfully easy to rank especially for non-top level industry keywords. Our refined process boils down to the following:
0.) Quick Technical Audit – 10 minutes.
Essentially make sure nothing major is wrong with the site already. Penalties, duplicate content checks, bad links etc.
1.) Site structure – 2 hours.
Based on keyword research and what competitor pages are ranking we build out a site structure spreadsheet in Google docs that has 5 columns, primary keyword(s), URL structure, title, H1 and word count.
2.) On-page Optimisation – 2 hours.
Put all that shit above onto the site including the ranking city in the major areas; H1, title tags etc (basic stuff). Write the content for the page (or get the client’s content) and make it slightly better/longer with more integrated LSI keywords. Add the google my business categories associated with the business to the content & H1-4 tags.
Add schema to the site, I just use this tool. If it’s a single location site put it on all pages (header/footer easiest place).
3.) GMB + Get 50 Unique Citations – 30 minutes / £100.
Verify Google my business and optimise the listing. Get 50-100 citations with a unique description (writing the semi-unique descriptions for the citations is probably the most time-consuming part of the entire campaign although we outsource this.)
Easiest way to do this is simply to bribe local bloggers, have PBNs or just go out and ask people you already know in your city. If you’re super lazy then just go and sponsor some junior sports teams in your industry – 3 hyper relevant locational links for £200-£400 (and you get to feel good.) For industrial relevant links just get some guest posts, ask suppliers/distributors or the super lazy option; get some industrial relevant PBN links.
5.) Schedule Fresh Content Once A Month For 6 Months – £30.
Get some fresh content on the site once a month for half a year, loads of internal and locational relevant external linking. This content can be average quality as it’s going to be buried in the blog.
Check rankings, if not 1st build more links. Occasionally we’ll get a local press release and build up the site a bit more if it’s something that’s a little more competitive but even for larger cities and bigger keywords, if the site is not brand new we’ve found it takes about 3 months to rank 1st.
I’ve over simplified the above process but not by as much as you’d think, once you’ve ranked in the local serps you can see that these things are really not that difficult as you’re competing against business owners generally and not SEO companies, I’ve written about this extensively in the past about how some of the best SEO’s in the world are leaving a lot of money on the table with poor monetisation strategies.
It just feels good.
The margins for these micro style projects we take on aren’t amazing but when the process is streamlined you can make some money and more importantly help a ton of people in the process. It also feels good to rank sites and see people generate real leads via search and become “believers” as one client put it. It also allows us to streamline the local SEO process to a point we can scale, and rank very quickly implementing only the core elements and being as refined in the process as possible.
Cheers for reading.