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50+ Business-Building Local SEO Tactics For SMBs

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50+ Business-Building Local SEO Tactics For SMBs

Do you have a local small to medium-sized business (SMB)?

If so, you know just how difficult it is to get found and stand out in increasingly competitive search results.

Local SEO strategies must adapt to new features and algorithm updates by the top search engines that affect local search results.

Most local SEO tactics fall into the following three categories.

  • Optimizing local listings and citations.
  • Optimizing your website and its content.
  • Optimizing and working on incoming links.

In this column, you’ll find over 50 specific things you can do right now to help improve your visibility in local search results, divided into those categories above.

Optimizing Local Listings & Citations

Let’s start with your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) data.

In order to get listed and ranked in Google Maps, you need to be a legitimate business, and in some areas, you’ll need a business license (depending on the type of business you’re in).

That NAP needs to be consistent and listed the same everywhere or you’ll have problems later on.

Before you get started with local listings and citations, you’ll also need the following:

  • NAP of the business.
  • Website URL (list of internal location pages if more than one location).
  • A short description (up to 50 characters) that should include your main city name and type of business.
  • A longer description (up to 250 characters) that describes who you are and what you do. Include the city name and areas served if applicable.
  • Recent photos of your business.
  • Category of your business.
  • Keywords (that you’d like to rank for). These are typical “city name keyword” type keywords.

The main strategy for local listings and local citations is to get as many as feasible in the right category, with consistent information such as your NAP data.

Screenshot by author, March 2022

Local citations are mentions of a local business, which includes NAP data. Local citations may or may not include a link to your website. There are generally two strategies for getting local citations:

  • Get the local listings yourself.
  • Hire someone else to get them for you.

Taking the time to get local citations yourself can be a really big project, especially if you’re in a competitive industry in your area.

Competitors could have up to hundreds of thousands of local citations, which is nearly impossible to do manually.

If you’re a local business (SMB) in a fairly non-competitive market, then getting a handful of local citations manually is a good strategy. If that’s the case, a non-competitive local SEO strategy for local citations is to get these listings:

  • Google Business Profile.
  • Facebook.
  • Yahoo! Local (currently requires a payment to Yext).
  • Apple Maps.
  • Bing Places for Business.
  • MapQuest.
  • Yelp.
  • BBB.org.
  • FourSquare.
  • TripAdvisor.
  • Angie’s List.
  • TrustRatings.
  • YellowPages.
  • Home Advisor.
  • Thumbtack.

The last two on the list are specific to certain industries, and you’ll want to search certain directories that are specific to your local business’ industry.

Typically, these are easy to find — they’ll rank in the top 10 search results (on the first page).

BrightLocal has a list of top local citations for the U.S. that they maintain.

Submitting to directories (and getting listed) will allow your local business to take advantage of what’s often referred to as “barnacle SEO.”

Your business gets listed on pages on other websites that rank well for a certain keyword you’re targeting.

So for [Dallas carpenters], Google lists sites like Yelp.com, homeadvisor.com, thumbtack.com, houzz.com, and angi.com.

Getting listed on those sites will bring the business leads, as they’re ranking well in Google.

Once you have secured (and verified) those local listings, the next local SEO strategy is to get listed with the main data aggregators. There are three:

  • Data Axle (formerly InfoGroup) – Submit your business here.
  • Acxiom  – Register then submit your business here.
  • Localeze – Register then submit your business here.

The data aggregators will take the information of the local business and aggregate it (make it available for literally thousands of websites to use).

Be sure you’re using the correct NAP data and website URLs, as once the data aggregators get hold of your data, it’s tough to get it corrected and updated and can take quite some time.

Using A Third Party For Local Citations & Listings

Another local SEO strategy is to outsource local citations and listings.

Several third-party businesses allow you to submit your local business listing to them (the NAP data, short and long descriptions, URLs, etc.), and they will then use their connections to get that data on other websites.

Many have agreements with certain data providers, and can efficiently get hundreds, thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of local citations.

These third-party services include:

  • BrightLocal.
  • MozLocal.
  • Yext.
  • Advice Local.
  • SEMrush Listing Management Tool.
  • Whitespark.
  • Synup.

Some of these services are better than others, mainly because of the agreements they have with other websites and their technology.

Some submit to only 30 websites, and others like Advice Local will end up getting a local business thousands upon thousands of local citations, many of which include a link to the website.

Be wary of any third-party websites that set up a local listing on behalf of the local business but won’t give the local business the login and password for those listings.

Reviews Are Key

Getting reviews of your local business, especially on Google, is going to help rankings and it will encourage others to visit your business.

People do read reviews online, especially for service-type businesses (hotels, resorts, carpet cleaners, home inspectors, carpenters, and even car dealerships).

So, if your local business is a service-type business or another business where reviews are important, then creating a good strategy for dealing with reviews is key.

Local businesses need to request and encourage their customers to leave a review.

There are a lot of ways to encourage customers to leave a review.

Some businesses post a plaque at the business asking for reviews. Other SMBs encourage reviews by offering a “prize” each month to a random reviewer (one local business I frequent gives away an Apple iPad once a month to a random reviewer).

The local business should respond to reviews just as quickly as they are left, regardless if it’s a positive or negative review.

If it’s a positive review or comment, thank the customer for leaving a review.

If it’s negative, deal with it quickly and offer to take the issue offline to minimize any future problems and the negative review getting out of hand.

Even if you miss responding to a review, it’s perfectly okay to respond to reviews left several months in the past.

If the review shows up and can be seen easily, then I recommend responding to the review.

Too many local businesses will take the time to verify their local listings but won’t properly deal with reviews and respond to them in a timely manner.

Local businesses should take the time to develop a strategy for encouraging reviews, tell employees what that strategy is, and designate one or two people to respond to reviews.

Here are a few other ways to manage reviews:

  • Designate one or two employees to read reviews and handle review responses.
  • Encourage reviews by asking your customers when they check out or pay for services.
  • Send customers a letter or postcard in the mail, asking for a review after you provide services.
  • Outsource review monitoring and response. Typically, your social media or SEO company (or consultant) will help monitor and respond to reviews. If not, hire someone part-time to handle it for you.
  • Add a link on your website to a few other places where customers can leave a review. On the Google Maps listing, for example, Google provides a link to the listing that you can share.
  • Add a form on your website so they can anonymously leave a review (or leave their contact info if preferred). There are plugins available that will help you post those reviews on your website. This is especially helpful for businesses that sell products directly on their websites.
  • Create a comment box at your business, and provide a pen/pencil and forms. On the form, add a line for the customer’s email address. Ask them if you can post their review or testimonial online. Or, if you have their email address, email them and ask them to leave a review online.

Reviews sent directly to the business can be posted on the company’s website (with the permission of the customer). Reviews left on a third-party website (like on Google, Yelp, etc.) cannot be copied and posted on the company’s website.

Reviews on third-party websites have in fact been given extra weight lately by Google. So sites like these, where customers can leave reviews and feedback, could potentially help with local rankings on Google:

  • Yelp (yelp.com).
  • Trip Advisor (tripadvisor.com).
  • Yellowpages (yp.com).
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB.org).
  • Manta (manta.com).
  • Angie’s List (angieslist.com).
  • Foursquare (foursquare.com).
  • Facebook (facebook.com).

Another way to get more local reviews is to create a postcard or handout that’s given to customers.

Tell them you’d like their feedback, and use that feedback to make your business even better.

They can leave you a review on your website, or on any of these third-party websites (list the websites where you’d like them to leave a review).

Optimizing Your Local Website’s Content

Without going into too much detail about optimizing a local website, there are several on-site local SEO strategies that are important to consider:

  • Optimize for “Near Me” search queries.
  • Optimize for local.
  • Be a local content machine.
  • Buy a local website or blog.
Local Search on GoogleScreenshot by author, March 2022

Optimize For “Near Me” Search Queries

In the past, there have been more people using “near me” in the number of search queries, such as [restaurants near me] or [pharmacies near me].

Those two search queries assume the search engine knows where the searcher is located.

While “near me” isn’t necessarily gaining in popularity as it once was five years ago, it’s still used quite often.

I recommend doing your own keyword research and specifically looking to see if “near me” is used in search queries in your area.

If there’s a significant amount of searches, you may want to optimize at least one page on your website for “near me” related keywords.

Local Ranking Factors

Advice Local came out with their list of 2021 Local Ranking Factors, which is worth reviewing.

Specifically, they found that the local SEO experts that contributed to the list of ranking factors said that these are important:

A properly optimized GBP listing is the most important ranking “factor.”

So, it’s important to optimize your Google Business Profile listing.

Reviews are important, as well as responding to those reviews.

Then one of the “rising” important factors is the optimization of your website’s pages, which is the “On-Page” referred to above.

For example, make sure that your website has the proper Local Schema markup code, and the NAP data there matches the information in your GBP exactly, especially the name.

Work on getting more backlinks specifically to your individual location pages that include “city name + keyword” in the anchor text of the links.

Be A Local Content Machine

One interesting tactic or “local SEO strategy” I’ve seen lately that works well is becoming a local content machine.

Essentially, by adding a blog to your local business website and writing about local news and events, you’re producing content that others in the city will want to read and share, especially on social networks.

While you’re not necessarily writing about your local business, you’re branding the business locally. When someone wants or needs a company’s services, they’ll think of your business first since they’ve seen it so much online.

A local auto accident and personal injury attorney hired a writer to write articles every single day about accidents in their city.

While they weren’t targeting the actual victims they wrote about, the social media shares went up dramatically and the attorney got his name out there in front of people in the city.

Those social media shares did end up creating links to the website, which in turn helped local rankings.

Buy A Local Website Or Blog

If you’re looking to add a lot of content fairly quickly to your local business website, consider purchasing a local website that already has the content you need.

It could be a local hobby website with local news or articles, or it could be a local blog that has the content.

Perhaps the owner doesn’t have the heart to keep up with the content like they used to or they could just use the money.

Approach a local website or blog about buying their site and incorporating and moving their content over to your local business website.

Setting up redirects from the old domain name to your local business website will help pass any link equity and history over to your local business.

Optimizing And Working On Links

Links to your website have always been an important search engine ranking factor and will continue to be in the future.

Google’s algorithm has always favored links to a website.

But back in 2016, there was a stronger emphasis on links when Google released its Google Possum algorithm update.

Local links or links from other local businesses and organizations have been important for years, and are still a very important part of a local SEO strategy today.

Greg Gifford, Vice President of Search at SearchLab.com, recommends that you can “find easy link opportunities by looking at the relationships you already have.”

Local sponsorships, local volunteer opportunities, and local offline groups can all lead to local links.

Need more ideas for local links? Use Majestic.com to analyze the link profiles of similar businesses in another city.

Another local SEO strategy for local links is to get links from competitors.

Use a web crawler such as the Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl their website and review all of your competitors’ outgoing links.

Then, see if there are any links you can get from websites your competitors are linking to.

Essentially, those competitors are passing link credit or PageRank to the other website that then passes it to your website.

Additional Local SEO Tips

Those are a few local SEO strategies that will help local search engine rankings.

But, if that wasn’t enough, here are a bunch more local SEO tips and pointers that you may not have thought of yet.

Local Listings

Undoubtedly, the number one local search ranking factor is the “proximity of the business to the point of search.”

How far is the business away from the person who is doing the search?

For example, Google knows where the searcher is (especially if they are using a mobile phone).

The closer the business is to the person doing the searching, the more likely that business will show up in the Google Maps and Google local listings in the search results.

Some businesses have been known to get a “virtual office” location (or multiple virtual office locations) just for this reason, especially if the customer never visits their location.

While this is a local SEO strategy I don’t endorse, it’s a local SEO strategy worth noting – as a company’s competitors might be doing it.

Keep your local online listings up to date.

If you know you have an update to your NAP data, make sure it gets changed online as soon as possible.

If you’re moving, start updating your local listings.

As soon as you know the new address, start updating local listings online.

It can take months for websites to update your listing, so the sooner you start, the better.

Just as you update your “snail mail” with the US Postal Service when you move to a new location, you’ll want to make sure your local listings are updated as well.

As previously mentioned, the address with the USPS should be the same exact address used in your local listings.

Search engines most likely have access to USPS data and inconsistencies can lead to local ranking problems.

Consistency is key when it comes to NAP data and your business’s ability to rank well locally.

Make sure your local listings are consistent and the same as it is on your website.

Audit your local citations.

Inconsistent NAP data across multiple websites is one of the issues I see a lot.

Auditing your local citations to make sure your NAP is consistent everywhere can really help local SEO.

You might have multiple phone numbers, different versions of your address, or even a different address on some websites that list your NAP data.

Removing duplicate listings and updating inconsistencies can make a huge difference.

Add updated photos on a regular basis to local profiles.

Get on a regular schedule of taking new photos of your location and your business. Add new photos on Google Business Profile, your Facebook page, and other sites that will accept photos such as Yelp.

Add a budget for local ads.

Use Google AdWords to target specific locations and target potential customers in your area. Google is now offering ads on Google Maps listings, so setting aside a budget for those ads will pay off.

Work on getting more reviews.

It’s always a constant battle to get more online reviews than your competitors – but it’s worth it in the long run.

Ask customers for reviews – in-store, at your location, and even via email if you have your customers’ email addresses.

Ask for a review on Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor if you’re a hotel or resort.

Always respond in a timely manner to every review that’s left, whether it’s a positive or negative review.

On-Site Local SEO

Add marked-up schema.org code to your NAP on your website.

The name, address, and phone number on your site should be marked up with the proper code.

It won’t affect how it displays on your site, but the schema.org code will tell search engines just that – that it’s your name, address, and phone number.

You can also add the markup in JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) code, which can help Google know about your NAP.

Add the proper link to your telephone number.

Adding a “tel://” type of link to your phone number where it’s listed on your site will allow mobile visitors to click on the link and call you.

This can also help search engines display your phone number in the phone call extension area in mobile search results.

Speed up your website’s load time.

Optimizing your site for mobile devices can seriously (and quickly) help rankings.

I’ve seen Google send more traffic to a website just because the website loads faster than it did before. This might mean moving web hosts, redesigning the website, or using a CDN.

All photos of your business should be tagged with the appropriate location information and keywords.

Use an EXIF editor to add location information, keywords, and descriptions of each photo. Each image file can be updated with this information, which can include geotagged location information.

Multiple locations? Create a section on your website for each location.

Don’t create just one page for each location, add additional content if possible.

Each location will have its own unique personality with its location and employees. Why not consistently add content relevant to each location? Add a blog, and add photos to make it relevant.

Use the proper syntax and keywords in your URLs.

For each location, use a format like www.domain.com/location/. Link to each location in the main navigation on your website, but don’t link to sub-pages under each location.

Consolidate separate websites for each location to one main website.

If you’ve set up a separate domain name and website for each location, move those websites to your main site.

Redirect the domain names with 301 redirects and move the content to sub-sections on your main website.

Each location will feed off of the main website’s authority to become more powerful. Don’t forget to update your location’s local listings so they point to the new URL on the main website as well.

Some local search queries can trigger featured snippets.

Depending on your topic, you can increase your website traffic and visibility by showing up in “position zero” for some search queries.

Position zero is the “featured snippet” that Google shows above all of the other search engine listings.

Use SEMrush.com to analyze the keywords you’re currently ranking for, and see if any of them include a featured snippet.

Optimize the content to show up for the featured snippet. Other search queries may also trigger the knowledge graph, instant answer, local pack carousel, or images that you can optimize for.

Make sure you’re using HTTPS.

While you may not be taking credit cards or personal information on your website, moving your entire website to an SSL secure server will give you a leg up.

HTTPS is now a search engine ranking factor for Google, and many local businesses haven’t moved their websites to HTTPS yet.

So moving to HTTPS will put you ahead of your competition. It’s important to make sure that links that you’ve had for a while, such as local citations, point to the HTTPS version of your website.

Add a blog.

Write blog posts on a regular basis about local news, local issues, and local events. Post those on social media and link back to your blog post.

Photos are always liked by local residents, and quite often they’re shared.

Local SEO Audits

Perform an audit of your website.

There are several different types of audits available, including link audits, on-page audits, and local citation audits.

Local citation audits are good for identifying duplicate listings and inconsistent NAP data.

I’ve recently seen a rash of negative SEO being done in the local listings, with some businesses receiving listings being built “for them” with bad data, courtesy of competitors.

A local citation audit can identify a lot of these issues so you can deal with them properly.

Link audits are important, as local maps algorithms are increasingly relying on link data.

Having low-quality links and off-topic links pointing to your website can hurt rankings.

On-page audits are also important to identify areas for improvement on your website.

Fixing issues like formatting, metadata, heading, and even page load speed can improve rankings.

Off-Site Local SEO

Get your customers’ email addresses and use that data to target them on Facebook or for an email newsletter.

You can upload your customers’ email addresses and phone numbers to Facebook and target them with ads.

Then, create a lookalike campaign on Facebook to target even more people with the same demographics as your current customers.

Optimize for voice search.

More people are using voice search to find local businesses. They use voice search to help them find a business near them.

For example, they might ask, “Where is the nearest Italian restaurant?” Check out the Local SEO Guide study of “near me” local SEO ranking factors that I previously mentioned. It’s an interesting read.

Use the barnacle SEO strategy.

For your main keywords (the ones you want to rank for), take a look at who is currently ranking – and it may not be your own website.

If you can optimize your listing or show up well on another site that’s currently ranking for your keyword, then you’ll still see some traffic and get business.

If a Yelp, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, Angie’s List, or BBB page is ranking, then make sure your local business is listed on those pages.

Participate and sponsor local events, organizations, and non-profits.

These will increase your local visibility and will quite often include a link back to your website, which ultimately helps your search engine rankings.

Final Thoughts

It takes a holistic approach to optimize your website for search. The combination of on-site optimizations and offsite listings and links will help boost your SMB’s visibility in local search results.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock




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System Builders – How AI Changes The Work Of SEO

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Kevin Indig's Growth Memo for SEJ

AI is terraforming tech. The content and SEO ecosystem is undergoing a massive structural change.

Human-written content gains value faster for LLM training than for end consumers as the pure profit licensing deals between LLM developers and publishers show.

Publishers struggle to survive from digital subscriptions but get millions that go straight to their bottom line for providing training data.

Content platforms, social networks, SaaS companies and consumer apps coat their products with AI. A few examples:

  • Spotify DJ (AI-generated playlist).
  • AI Overview (AI answers in Google Search).
  • Instagram AI personas (celebrity AI chatbots).
  • Ebay’s magical listing (turn a photo into a listing).
  • Redfin Redesign (try interior designs on real house pictures).
Image Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality of machine-generated content (MGC) challenges human-generated content (HGC). I ran an experiment with my Twitter and LinkedIn followers: I asked them to choose which of two articles was written by a human and which by a machine – and they had to explain their answer.

Only a handful of people figured out that AI wrote both pieces. I intentionally framed the question in a leading way to see if people would challenge the setting or believe that one piece was written by a human if told so.

  • Not an isolated experiment: A survey of 1,900 Americans found that 63.5% of people can’t distinguish between AI content and human content.1
  • People seek help: Google search demand for [ai checker] has reached 100,000 in May 2024 (Glimpse).
  • Dark side: scammers use MGC to make money, as 77% of AI scam victims lost money.2
Search demand for AI checkerImage Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality level of LLMs pushes SEO work towards automating workflows and learning with AI, while writers will take content from good to great instead of zero to one.

Boost your skills with Growth Memo’s weekly expert insights. Subscribe for free!

How AI Changes The Work Of SEOImage Credit: Lyna ™

System Builders

Clients, podcasters and panel hosts often ask me what skills SEOs need to build for the AI future. For a long time, my answer was to learn, stay open-minded and gain as much practical experience with AI as possible.

Now, my answer is SEOs should learn how to build AI agents and workflows that automate tasks. AI changes the way search works but also the way SEOs work.

AI + No-code Allows SEOs To Automate Workflows

A few examples:

1/ Cannibalization

  • Old world: SEOs download search console data and create pivot tables to spot keyword cannibalization.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI workflow that sends alters, identifies true keyword cannibalization, makes content suggestions to fix the problem, and monitors the improvement.

2/ Site Crawling

  • Old world: SEOs crawl websites to find inefficiencies in internal linking, status code errors, duplicate content, etc.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI agent that regularly crawls the site and automatically suggests new internal links that are shipped after human approval, fixes broken canonical tags and excludes soft 404 errors in the robots.txt.

3/ Content Creation

  • Old world: SEOs do keyword research and write content briefs. Writers create the content.
  • New world: SEOs automate keyword research with AI and create hundreds of relevant articles as a foundation for writers to build on.

All of this is already possible today with AI workflow tools like AirOps or Apify, which chain agents and LLMs together to scrape, analyze, transform data or create content.

Moving forward, we’ll spend much more time building automated systems instead of wasting time on point analyses and catalogs of recommendations. The SEO work will be defining logic, setting rules, prompting and coding.

building automated systems Building workflows with AirOps (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

You Can Learn (Almost) Anything With AI

I never made the time to really learn Python or R, but with the help of Chat GPT and Gemini in Colab, I can write any script with natural language prompts.

When the script doesn’t work, I can paste a screenshot into Chat GPT and describe the issue to get a solution. AI helps with Regex, Google Sheets/Excel, R, Python, etc. Nothing is off-limits.

Being able to write scripts can solve problems like data analysis, a/b testing and using APIs. As an SEO, I’m no longer dependent on engineers, data scientists or writers to perform certain tasks. I can act faster and on my own account.

I’m not the only one to figure this out. People are learning to code, write and many other skills with AI. We can learn to build AI workflows by asking AI to teach us.

Search demand for coding with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for write with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for learn with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig

When you can learn almost anything, the only limit is time.

The Work Of Writers Changes

Against common belief, writers won’t be crossed out of this equation but will play the critical role of editing, directing and curating.

In any automated process, humans QA the output. Think of car assembling lines. Even though AI content leaps in quality, spot checks reduce the risk of errors. Caught issues, such as wrong facts, weird phrasing or off-brand wording, will be critical feedback to fine-tune models to improve their output.

Instead of leg work like writing drafts, writers will bring AI content from good to great. In the concept of information gain, writers will spend most of their time making a piece outstanding.

The rising quality work spans from blog content to programmatic content, where writers will add curated content when searches have a desire for human experience, such as in travel.

A mini guide to Los AngelesTripadvisor’s attraction pages feature human-curated sections. (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

Unfair Advantage

As often with new technology, a few first-mover people and companies get exponential value until the rest catch up. My worry is that a few fast-moving companies will grab massive land with AI.

And yet, this jump in progress will allow newcomers to challenge incumbents and get a fair chance to compete on the field.

AI might be a bigger game changer for SEOs than for Google. The raw power of AI might help us overcome challenges from AI Overviews and machine learning-driven algorithm updates.

But the biggest win might be that SEOs can finally make something instead of delivering recommendations. The whole value contribution of SEOs changes because my output can drive results faster.

Survey: ChatGPT and AI Content – Can people tell the difference?

Artificial Intelligence Voice Scams on the Rise with 1 in 4 Adults Impacted


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12 SEO Meetups You Should Have On Your Radar

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12 SEO Meetups You Should Have On Your Radar

Want to meet other people interested in SEO offline? Give an SEO meetup a go.

In my experience, it’s one of the best ways to meet like-minded people and provides a more relaxed, informal setting than a bustling SEO conference. Who knows—you could make new friends at a meetup or even land new SEO clients.

But with so many events worldwide, it’s impossible to mention them all. So, here are some of the most talked-about SEO meet-ups I think you should have on your radar.

Okay—so I may be a little biased, but I wanted to start by sharing our Ahrefs’ SEO Events. We’ve run five Beer and Snacks Meetups in Singapore. We’ve also hosted an SEO Workshop and Networking meetup the day before BrightonSEO, and we just launched our London Meetup.

Tickets to the London Meetup sold out in a day and a half—it was our fastest-selling ticketed event ever.

Tim Soulo, Joshua Hardwick, and Ryan Law will speak at our inaugural event, covering topics such as improving your rankings, competitor research, and content marketing. To stay informed about our next event, follow our events page.

Sidenote.

Missed our meetups but still want to catch up with the Ahrefs team and a host of world-class speakers? Get Ahrefs Evolve tickets ✨

London SEO XL MeetupLondon SEO XL Meetup

The LondonSEO Meetup hosts an evening of networking with industry peers and leading experts featuring SEO speakers like Itamar Blauer, Steph Hugman, Reina Hanada, and many more.

The bigger XL event has even hosted prolific search engine news chronicler Barry Schwartz in 2023.

Search London Meetup PhotoSearch London Meetup Photo

With over 2,800 members, Search London is a popular meetup that has been around for over a decade.

Events are organized every 8-12 weeks, and members are from a mixture of agency, client-side, and start-up businesses.

The meet-up is open to anyone in SEO, PPC, or social media—and offers marketing professionals and first-time speakers a safe, supportive space to share their industry knowledge and experiences.

Search 'n Stuff Meetup PhotoSearch 'n Stuff Meetup Photo

Search ‘n Stuff meetups are an energetic and all-embracing community tailored to empower digital marketers, startups, in-house teams, and professionals. Expect sharings centered on strategies, campaigns, and other relevant SEO topics.

Neurodivergents In SEO Meetup PhotoNeurodivergents In SEO Meetup Photo

Neurodivergents in SEO provide a safe space for neurodivergent SEOs to network and learn.

The group holds in-person meetups at BrightonSEO, both in the UK and the US, and monthly pub quizzes with great prizes.

If you’re an SEO or marketer and identify as neurodivergent, you’re more than welcome to join the community. You can do so by signing up here.

Search Norwich PhotoSearch Norwich Photo

Search Norwich launched in 2018 as a free marketing meetup event. It often features top industry speakers who share their knowledge, tips, and advice with the search marketing community. At Search Norwich there are no sales agendas, fluff, or pitches—just valuable insights.

SEOFOMO Meetup PhotoSEOFOMO Meetup Photo

The SEOFOMO meetups are run by SEO superstar Aleyda Solis, who is a well-known SEO speaker and founder of SEO consultancy Orainti. She’ll also be the headline speaker for our first Ahrefs Evolve Conference.

SEOFOMO is a laid-back, free event perfect for learning, connecting, and sharing with other SEOs.

SEO Mastermind PhotoSEO Mastermind Photo

SEO Mastermind is a supportive, free, and friendly SEO community where you can grow your skills, meet like-minded people, and get answers to all your organic marketing questions.

SEO Mastermind meets around eight times a year, mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium—but they also occasionally have meetups in other locations, for instance, at Brighton SEO and ISS Barcelona.

Organizer Jeroen Stikkelorum told me that SEO Mastermind is on a mission to build the most valuable Dutch-spoken SEO and organic marketing community in The Netherlands and Belgium. So if you’re local, give it a go.

SEO Lager Fest Meetup PhotoSEO Lager Fest Meetup Photo

SEO Lager Fest is a fun SEO meetup that (apart from drinking) enables you to network with like-minded folks in the SEO industry. They hold an SEO quiz, run case study competitions, do AMAs, and even do SEO charades.

SEOnerd Switzerland Meetup PhotoSEOnerd Switzerland Meetup Photo

SEOnerdSwitzerland is a volunteer-run association that organizes events for SEOs in Switzerland and beyond.

Dedicated to fair opportunities and diversity, they provide training and coaching for people wanting to break through as a public speaker in the SEO industry.

SEOnerdSwitzerland also offers training and coaching for speakers, aiming for a diverse and inclusive panel.

WebSchrona Meetup Photo, Salzburg, AustriaWebSchrona Meetup Photo, Salzburg, Austria

WebSchrona is a free monthly meetup for SEO and online marketing professionals in Salzburg, Austria. They meet every second Thursday at 6 p.m.

There’s no fixed agenda, so discussions are often unplanned and spontaneous and often involve a drink of some description.

Organizer Alexander Außermayr tells me that everyone is welcome to join their SEO meetups. The aim is to provide a regular, uncomplicated meetup in an open space—often a beer garden, if the weather is good.

SEO Benelux Meetup PhotoSEO Benelux Meetup Photo

SEO Benelux started in 2018 as a Facebook community for Dutch and Belgian SEO specialists. The meetup grew into the largest in the Benelux region, with more than 3,000 members.

There are four meetups each year, two in Belgium (Ghent and Antwerp) and one in the Netherlands (mostly Amsterdam). Each meetup attracts 70–90 people and features three speakers.

If you don’t live in a big city, it may be difficult to find a good meetup, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any in your local area.

Here are my tips to help you find new meetups near you.

Tip 1 – Use Google’s advanced search operators to uncover new meetups

As new meetups pop up all the time and often without notice, it’s worth doing some digging to see what’s out there.

You can just do a regular ol’ Google search, but we’re SEOs—so let’s use some advanced search operators and spice it up a bit.

In this example, I searched for the phrase “meetup” in the title, plus my location and my favorite SEO tool, and it managed to uncover Tim’s tweet on our London Meetup.

Advanced Google Search Operators ExampleAdvanced Google Search Operators Example

This is just a very basic example, and you could use any website or location, but it shows how you can uncover information about new meetups with a little research.

Tip 2 – Trigger the Events SERP feature

By searching for events or events near me, you can trigger the Events SERP feature. In the example below, I found a few SEO-related events by prepending “SEO” to the search.

Triggering the Events SERP Feature ExampleTriggering the Events SERP Feature Example

Once you’ve triggered the feature, scroll down until you find an SEO meetup that catches your eye.

Tip 3 – Use Meetup to find an SEO meetup

If you can’t find anything on Google then it’s a good idea to run a quick check on a specialist community platform.

One of the most popular platforms is Meetup. It allows you to find events near your location on any topic.

Meetup.com screenshotMeetup.com screenshot

Over the years, I’ve attended a lot of smaller meetups through this website, and they have always been interesting and a place to make new connections.

Tip 4 – No SEO meetup in your area? Start your own!

I started my own mini-meetup in 2018 on WhatsApp with some former colleagues, imaginatively titled #seodrinks.

#SEOdrinks meetup logo#SEOdrinks meetup logo

It started from humble beginnings in a room in a small pub in London, and it’s still in a room in a small pub—somewhere in London. (If you want an invite, let me know on LinkedIn.)

We only have semi-regular meetups in London and a small group, but every meetup has to start somewhere.

If you want to start your own SEO meetup, platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram are the best free places to start, but if you want a more specialized paid option, you could try Meetup or another similar platform.

Final thoughts

You don’t always have to attend a big SEO conference to meet other amazing people in the industry. Some of the smaller meetups I’ve been to have resulted in making more contacts than the bigger conferences.

As such, SEO meet-ups are one of my favorite ways to meet people who are just as interested in SEO and marketing as much as you are.

Did I miss an SEO meetup? Add your SEO meetup here, or let me know on LinkedIn.



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How to Combine SEO and Content Marketing (The Ahrefs’ Way)

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How to Combine SEO and Content Marketing (The Ahrefs’ Way)

SEO and content marketing are different marketing channels. But you don’t have to choose between them. They’re complementary.

In fact, you should combine them for greater effectiveness in your marketing.

Two main reasons:

1. Content marketing and SEO are like peanut butter and jelly—they work well together

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing content to attract and retain customers.

Here’s how SEO helps content marketing:

The web's largest traffic referrersThe web's largest traffic referrers

SEO is the process of improving a website’s visibility in search engines to get more traffic.

Here’s how content marketing helps SEO:

  • It helps you get more search traffic — If you want more search traffic, you need to rank for more keywords, which requires you to make more content.
  • It makes SEO more effective — Thought leadership content acquires backlinks, gated content generates leads, and sales enablement converts traffic into sales.

2. The same amount of investment in effort, money, and time can generate results for both content marketing and SEO

We’re the perfect example. Our content ranks high on Google and generates hundreds of thousands of monthly search visitors:

Ahrefs blog trafficAhrefs blog traffic

It also attracts links and shares on social media because we make sure each piece is unique and not just regurgitation or “AI content”.

LinkedIn comment on how we blended an SEO-friendly term with a contrarian point of viewLinkedIn comment on how we blended an SEO-friendly term with a contrarian point of view

Finally, each piece of content introduces visitors to our product and educates them on how to use it to solve their problems. (Keep on reading and you’ll see it in action too!)

Example of how we introduce our product in our contentExample of how we introduce our product in our content

It hits all content marketing and SEO goals at once:

  • Acquires search traffic ✅
  • Builds thought leadership ✅
  • Attracts links ✅
  • Generates sales (over the long-term) ✅

How do we do what we do? Believe it or not, there’s a method to the madness. Here’s one line that summarizes our entire SEO content marketing strategy:

We create and maintain high-quality, product-led, search-focused content about topics with business potential and search traffic potential.

Let me break down how we combine SEO and content marketing:

If you want to acquire search traffic, you need to target topics that your potential customers are searching for.

The easiest way to find these keywords is to use a keyword tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer:

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter a few broad keywords related to your site or niche
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
  4. Filter for keywords with traffic potential (TP)
Matching terms report in Keywords ExplorerMatching terms report in Keywords Explorer

Sidenote.

Traffic Potential is the estimated monthly organic search traffic to the top-ranking page for a keyword. Since pages tend to rank for many keywords, Traffic Potential is a more reliable estimate than search volume.

Go through the report and pick out the keywords that are relevant to your site. For example, if I were an ecommerce store selling coffee equipment, this could be a potential keyword to target:

The keyword "best coffee grinder"The keyword "best coffee grinder"

A keyword’s business potential is how easy it will be to pitch your product while covering a certain topic. It’s our ‘trade secret’—it’s why we can easily introduce our product and its features in every piece of content we create.

Here’s how to score a topic’s business potential:

Business potential scoring chartBusiness potential scoring chart

So, taking the above example, the topic “best coffee grinder” would score a “3” (provided we sell coffee grinders) whereas a topic like “does decaf coffee have caffeine” would score a “1” or even a “0”.

You should prioritize topics that score high on business potential, i.e. a “2” or a “3”.

What does all of the jargon mean? Let’s break it down.

Search-focused

Part one of being ‘search-focused’ is finding keywords that people are searching for. Part two is to figure out why they’re searching for those particular keywords. This ‘why’ is known as search intent.

Given that Google’s goal is to always rank the most relevant content, we can look at the search engine results (SERPs) to uncover search intent. Take your target keyword, enter it into Keywords Explorer, scroll down to SERP Overview, and click Identify intents:

Identify intents feature in Keywords ExplorerIdentify intents feature in Keywords Explorer

So, we can see that searchers looking for the keyword “best coffee grinders” want detailed reviews and expert recommendations on the best coffee grinders. Not only that, we can also see that searchers want a list that is fresh.

Identified search intent for "best coffee grinder"Identified search intent for "best coffee grinder"

If we’re targeting this topic, making it search-focused means matching this search intent—we’ll need to create a list of the best coffee grinders for the current year.

Product-led

Product-led means ensuring you’re not just creating content for the sake of it; you’re also ‘selling’ your product. You want to be aware of which use case, feature, or service you want to weave into the narrative. Naturally, of course.

Scoring a topic’s business potential would have done 90% of the work here. If you’re creating content about a topic that scored a “3”, then your product pitch would be natural. For example, we could easily add links back to our coffee equipment store after covering the best coffee grinders. Or, if we make our coffee grinders, we could pitch them as one of the best. (That’s why I say the business potential score is our secret ingredient.)

The challenge comes when you’re covering topics that score a “1” or “0”. It’s not impossible, but you’ll need to be creative.

For example, I recently covered the topic “SEO specialist”. It had a business potential of “1” and was tough to include a product pitch. Fortunately, I noticed that some job listings asked for experience with different SEO toolsets (including us.) It was the perfect segue to introduce our product and certification course.

An example of how I managed to pitch Ahrefs in a post with a business potential of 1An example of how I managed to pitch Ahrefs in a post with a business potential of 1

High-quality

This is subjective. Everyone’s standards are different. But here’s how we think of quality:

  • Accurate — No hype, no lying. Every statement we make should be as accurate as possible.
  • Clear — No fluff—delete all unnecessary words and sentences. Use jargon only when needed. When necessary, create illustrations to expand on ideas and concepts.
  • Helpful — Being product-led is important but the content should not just be aimed at pitching. The content should be focused primarily on helping visitors solve their problems, while creatively weaving our product into the context.
  • Unique — One way to make your content unique is to have skin in the game—conduct experiments, run data studies, and write from personal experience. If having skin is difficult, then interview practitioners. Focus on did, not could.

The deterioration of your content is inevitable:

  • Search-focused — Your rankings may drop because of competitors. Or you didn’t even rank the first time round. Or your target topic’s search intent changed (e.g., the word corona’s search intent changed during the void years of 2020-2022.)
  • Product-led — You may have new features, services, or use cases to introduce. Or your team has depreciated certain features or abandoned some services.
  • High-quality — Statements may become inaccurate over time. Or your unique idea was so successful that everyone else copied you (and outranked you.) Or you might have better ways to reword sentences and paragraphs. Or just simply the ideas, screenshots, and content has become outdated.

That’s why you don’t build a train track and disappear. You have to actively maintain it to keep it working. (I’m looking at you London tube.) Same goes for your content.

The way to maintain your content is to conduct regular content audits. We do this every quarter—Each writer on our blog team goes through their portfolio of articles and selects at least three pieces to update. Each writer may also choose a couple to do a full rewrite.

I highly recommend going through our content audit template so you can see what went wrong with your content and what to do with it next.

Final thoughts

SEO and content marketing may be different marketing types, but that doesn’t mean you need to do one to the exclusion of the other.

Both channels are highly compatible and as you see above, can be designed as an entire strategy that hits all important marketing objectives.



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