Local SEO is one of the hardest SEO campaigns to run for a variety of reasons. The reasons vary, but here are some main reasons local SEO is so difficult:
- The local search pack is integrated with the search results.
- The local search pack is very difficult to influence positively.
- Results are very hard to track.
- Google changes local results a lot with algorithm changes.
- Search behavior changes.
You get the point. There are a lot of reasons and variables which can influence a local SEO campaign. However, even though it is difficult, you can see a great impact from a well-executed local SEO campaign.
If you are not getting the results you want from your local SEO campaign, then it could be your vendor. Here are the top reasons your local SEO company isn’t getting you the results you want:
Reasons Your Local SEO Company is Failing
Disconnect Between Client & Vendor
This seems to be the biggest reason for failure: an overall lack of understanding SEO. Back in 2010-2013, I audited a lot of SEO companies’ reporting of campaigns, mainly due to the client not knowing if the vendor was providing results or not. The reporting was always very advanced, cookie cutter, and automated. Almost 100 percent of the time the issue was it was too advanced, cookie cutter, and automated — it was hard for the client to understand.
The clients were all the same. They were small business owners who did not have time to learn SEO, which is why they hired an SEO company. Then, after they hired the SEO company, they received this automated report which they didn’t understand. Half of them didn’t understand what “organic search” meant in Google Analytics. There was this huge disconnect between “success” from the point of view of the SEO company and the vendor.
Your campaign could be performing and you wouldn’t know it! If your reporting and measures of “success” are different from the SEO company — i.e., you care about phone calls and they care about keyword rankings — set up a meeting to discuss the different key performance indicators and make sure you are aligned. Make sure you get monthly calls scheduled to review the data and make sure your key performance indicators are being measured.
Local SEO is hard to report, being that the local search pack skews results and you have to track them all. I have found ranking trackers really help show keyword performance, and most of them can incorporate local search pack and the web results as well. So, if you rank for “Atlanta Plastic Surgeon” in the local pack and the web results, it would track both. That would be a big win!
Some SEO companies also report organic search traffic and phone calls from organic search traffic. In theory, this is a great idea, right? Well, not exactly. Usually, a lot of people search for your brand name. This is much more so, in general, than for an eCommerce business or someone selling products online.
You could run TV shows, radio spots, or other offline marketing, which creates people searching Google for your name to find your local business. This traffic and these phone calls can go up and down depending on thousands of factors outside of whether SEO is working for you or not.
To combat this problem, I suggest looking at Google Webmaster Tools data and deleting all branded keywords so you know if it is working or not. Alternatively, if you don’t have a lot of people searching for your brand name, then organic search traffic, calls from organic search traffic, and submission form requests are good key performance indicators.
Lack of Knowledge
There are a lot of SEO companies out there, the reason being it is very easy to make an SEO company and be in business immediately. All you need is a laptop, a WordPress site, some business cards, and every networking event you can attend. Best of all, SEO takes a while, so, even if you are bad at SEO, you usually get 4-6 months of a retainer until the client leaves you! It is the perfect business, which is why so many people are in it.
In fact, a lot of website design agencies, IT businesses, and other businesses also do SEO to complement their internet marketing services. Some are good, but the majority are really bad and a waste of money.
When doing your due diligence, make sure the agency you choose has a good track record of success, does the right things when it comes to SEO, and has clients you can talk to. You can also see if they have any employees who just do SEO or who are working on your account. The majority of the time they outsource it all, and you are just paying a premium for usually an outsourced overseas company to do the work.
In the same boat that they do not have knowledge, their strategies might not work at all. This happens a lot when companies use outdated strategies, outsource the work, or never update their strategies. If they are going in and adding meta keywords, you are throwing money down the drain. Make sure you know exactly what they are doing and, if need be, consult other SEO companies about whether it is the right thing to do. Just take their work with a grain of salt, as they will most likely try to say anything to get you in the door.
Competition can also be a reason for not producing results. Everyone likes to think they can just leapfrog everyone and go straight to the top. Every time you rise in the rankings, someone else drops. Real estate in Google is extremely competitive, and you are not just going to go in there day one and jump to the top. Usually, businesses in the first 20 results for a highly competitive keyword are using SEO companies. Maybe even the same company you use!
To beat them, you really have to think outside the box, and it takes time. For some of our local clients, it has taken 1-3 years before they are 1-5 for their main phrases. SEO is tough, and if you use a company which says they will get you there in no time, it usually means there is no competition or they are just saying whatever to earn your business.
Overall, local SEO is not impossible, but there are a lot of failures compared to success stories. As long as your local SEO company avoids these 5 points above, you have a much better chance of success.
Local SEO Photo via Shutterstock