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What To Expect Of Your Agency

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What To Expect Of Your Agency


Effective location-based SEO (local SEO) can have a substantial impact on your digital marketing success comparable to any other core marketing.

For a business that has a physical location, or many company premises to optimize for, the value of dominating your local online space cannot be overstated.

The same can be said for companies functioning and servicing within specific geographic areas that are core for company revenue and related success parameters.

There are many misconceptions about local SEO; for example, local SEO is only for small businesses, or that local SEO restricts total visibility online.

It’s important that, when looking to outsource your local SEO, you ensure your expectations of an agency and the deliverables you receive match your local SEO aspirations.

I hope this column will help.

SEO Agency Fundamentals

Whether it is local SEO deliverables or enterprise-level SEO services, any established and effective search marketing agency will provide the fundamentals expected as specialists in their field.

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Typically, this would include:

  • A clear set of objectives unique to your immediate, medium, and longer-term requirements.
  • An action plan that reinforces what the priorities are and when key milestones will occur.
  • Access to data and the building of a larger data ecosystem for insights and action-taking.
  • Agreed and consistent ways to communicate, report on progress, and reinforce what is being delivered for your investment.
  • Iterative improvement from the ongoing application of expertise and evidence-led decision-making.
  • Direct access to key staff working with you to achieve your local SEO goals.
  • Simplified and relevant ongoing support and feedback to enable agility and pivoting of approach to maximize new opportunity and react to changing threats.
  • Proactive and effective customer care enabling collaborative working, or full outsourcing dependent upon client requirements.

There will be other priorities that may be unique to business circumstances and areas of increased perceived value to your current requirements, and these can be added to the above agency fundamental expectations where applicable.

As a tip, one thing to avoid in your expectations is a small set of very specific and localized SEO keywords to focus on.

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These will be the five or ten you may look at on your mobile phone every week and curse the competitor who ranks there.

Whilst you may have some keywords more commercially important than others, please do not restrict your focus (and that of any agency you decide to work with) to solely focus on a handful of terms.

Consider the end goal of these terms and what you wish to achieve through local SEO success.

There may be thousands of relevant and highly effective search queries, plus many new and unique ones being discovered every day in your data.

You don’t want to lose sight of these and their potential value by having a blinkered focus on just a few.

If it’s easier to move away from standalone keyword goals, consider the topic rather than the term. This can be far more useful to measure local SEO gains.

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Strong Technical Performance

Regardless of your local SEO goals and objectives, every local SEO campaign should factor in the website’s health, user experience, and overall technical ability to perform.

Traditionally within local SEO, this would focus on topics such as:

Add to the above a practical emphasis on:

You may want to factor in broader items historically associated more with bigger entities and brands, as well.

This could include providing easy access to information through the site architecture, and digital simplification to enable the user to get to their endpoint as easily and effectively as possible (including broader conversation rate optimization principles).

Evidence-Driven Content

It is not enough to provide expert industry opinion and localized content on a website with the expectation to dominate local SEO.

Any competitive local SEO campaigns should ideally be fueled with data (evidence backed) content at levels of quality and volume much higher than you may expect for local-orientated SEO campaigns.

The creation of content may be delivered by you in-house or outsourced to a marketing agency. But regardless of the approach to output, the dovetailing of data, local SEO experts, and leveraging of your unique industry insights is paramount.

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It is this combined approach that will provide a competitive advantage, and enable you to consistently create the best of breed content, that has true standalone value both within the local niche and for broader brand and authority building.

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From an agency, you should expect them to lead the local SEO content strategy and approach, providing ongoing recommendations using all available and relevant data sets to justify the; priority, focus, purpose, and ongoing impact of content being generated.

You would expect content to be created to leverage the value and metric success of existing content you have on your website.

You would also expect a consistent focus on new opportunities to ideate and implement new content reflecting the new data sets, and changing needs of your core business audience.

As with any comprehensive content strategy led by SEO, you would want to cover a range of user intent, focus on the actual value provided, and look throughout the spectrum of the information seeking and buying cycle.

Whilst this would be skewed towards local SEO, that does not restrict the impact.

Pertinent topic areas important to the business will likely have wider appeal and opportunity to grow site trust, backlinks, and perceived relevancy beyond the local demographic.

Local Authority And Trust Building

Local authority building is a mainstay within local SEO and a necessity for gaining ground within your online niche.

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There are a number of consistent threads to this including:

  • Local brand building with PR and local media publications.
  • Business entity and relevant local and regional directory sites.
  • Links and mentions of the brand, company, and key staff in community and business forums.
  • Supporting local events, and sharing of expertise (and often resource, charity support, etc.).
  • Content promotion and placement (both local content and topical business products/services content).
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Outside of the citation and link aspect of authority building is the deeper expertise, authority, and wider trust signal gains.

This includes in no small part the management, optimization, and ongoing growth of reviews and engagement through Google Business Profiles (for every business location), formerly Google My Business.

This includes (but is not limited to) search and maps optimization, profile completeness, promotion of content, and answering questions from your audience.

The more proactive you are with generating positive reviews as part of your combined business and agency focus (including targeted location-specific reviews), the faster you will see gains in your perceived online authority and local SEO results.

This needs to be through Google Business Profiles, Bing Places, and other established and trusted third-party review sites.

Content And Social Media

You need to look at how you and your agency can enable your website and brand to become truly embedded within the local community.

For some sites and brands, this may be many local communities, spanning a number of geographically dispersed regions, whilst for others, it may be a single location and a number of miles surrounding it.

Either way, the ability to enhance your website community focus through audience-aware content hubs, free community resources, and tools, and ideally local user-generated content, the better.

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This will naturally tie into social media interaction, engagement, and promotion, as well as social listening and audience building, by a genuine understanding of their wants, needs, plus pain points.

And more importantly how your people/experts/staff, brand, and products/services can positively impact them.

In Summary

Businesses will have an array of bespoke requirements for their local SEO and the deliverables expected from an agency.

Some of these will be based on filters applied tied to previous experiences, and often lessons learned.

There are, however, a number of key standard expectations which you should always consider, as outlined above.

More resources: 


Featured Image: Vector_Bird/Shutterstock

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SEO

SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

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SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

The SEO industry will be forever changed with the loss of Bill Slawski, owner of SEO By The Sea, Director of Search at Go Fish Digital, educator, mentor, and friend.

Bill was a great many things to a lot of people. He has been a contributor here at Search Engine Journal since 2019, and a friend and mentor to many of us for decades more.

It’s not often you can say that someone has influenced and shaped an entire industry. But this is one of those times.

On May 19, 2022, the SEO industry learned that Bill Slawski had passed away.

The loss and sadness across our community were palpable.

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend
Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

Remembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & FriendRemembering Bill Slawski: SEO Legend, Mentor & Friend

A search patent expert, colleague and mentor to many, and a friend to many more, Bill influenced the lives of everyone in the search industry.

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If you hadn’t read one of the thousands of articles he wrote or contributed to, watched one of his interviews, attended one of his talks, or listened to a podcast he was a guest on – I guarantee that someone you work with, learn from, or work for has.

This was due in no small part to Bill’s vast knowledge and expertise, combined with an unequaled passion for the nuances and technological advances that make search engines tick.

I spoke with Bill a few weeks ago as we were planning a feature article on the patents he felt are most impactful for search marketers.

In that interview, he explained his love for patents.

“One thing I always say about patents is they’re the best place to find assumptions about searchers, about search, and about the web. These are search engineers sharing their opinions in addition to solving problems,” he said.

He loved getting to see what engineers were thinking, and what they had to say when it comes to different problems on the web.

“One of my favorite types of patents to look up is when they repeat a patent and file a continuation,” Bill explained. “I like to look at these continuation patents and see how they’ve changed, because they don’t tell you, ‘This is what we’re doing.’”

That innate curiosity and true passion for unraveling the complexities of the search algorithms we work with each day made talking with Bill and reading his work a real joy.

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to Bill or referenced his work in mine over the years, as have so many others.

He had a real talent for making complex concepts more accessible for readers and marketers of all stripes. As a result, his contributions to our collective understanding of how search works are unrivaled.

Bill Slawski’s work and knowledge are foundational to the practice of SEO as we know it today.

I speak for all of us at SEJ in saying we’re incredibly grateful for what he generously shared with each of us.

He was a close friend and respected colleague to our founder, Loren Baker, as well.

“Bill Slawski was a true friend of mine in more ways than one. First of all, he was a surprising mentor who helped me out quite a bit early on in my career, even before the days of social media or Search Engine Journal. He was my buddy and workmate,” Loren said.

Loren Baker and Bill Slawski

Loren Baker and Bill Slawski

Bill and Loren worked together for a couple of years and spent a lot of time out in the parking lot in Havre de Grace, Maryland, smoking cigarettes and talking about Google patents.

“If anything, I would say that Bill taught me that there was much more to SEO than just ranking alone,” Loren explained, adding that Bill taught him the importance of incorporating a narrative into all of the work that you do.

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“He taught me the ethics and workmanship behind creating a piece of digital art that people will want to read, will want to share, and will ultimately search for and click on–touching their lives,” he said. “I will miss Bill deeply. It’s very difficult losing friends.”

Having started in 1996 and launching SEO By The Sea in 2005, Bill was the go-to source when you wanted to understand how search engines work or how they change the way we search or live our lives.

But it was so much more than that.

Bill was generous with his time and eager to share his knowledge of search, information retrieval, NLP, and other information technology with any and all.

He had a gift for taking complex patents, algorithms, concepts, real-world behavior, and search engines and explaining how the world of search and information retrieval worked in a way that everyone could understand.

Bill seemed to have an instinct for understanding what you knew and didn’t know or where you were confused. He could fill in the gaps without making you feel silly for having asked. Even if it was the millionth time he’d answered that question.

You didn’t have to be an SEO rockstar or an experienced professional, either.

If you didn’t understand something or had questions, he would happily spend hours explaining the concepts and offering (or creating) resources to help. And as many in the industry who encountered Braggadocio can attest to, you always felt like a long-lost friend, even if you had just “met” him in text.

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“It’s like when you go to a conference and you’re one of the first people there. And all the seats are still empty and there’s not a lot of discussion going on. That’s what the SEO world was like back then…I remember happening upon an SEO forum and just being a lurker. Just looking at what everybody was talking about and thinking, ‘this is a strange career. I’m not sure I can do this.’ In the end, I did it.

I started out working and promoting a website for a couple friends who started a business. And so helping them succeed in business was a pretty good motivation.” Bill Slawski, cognitiveSEO Talks interview, April 5, 2018

Bill’s wealth of knowledge extended far beyond search, too.

With a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware and a Juris Doctor Degree from Widener University School of Law, Bill spent 14 years as a court manager, administrator, technologist, and management analyst with the Superior Court of Deleware.

He loved nature and plants, and the ocean. He loved traveling and search conferences, but he ultimately found peace in nature and took advantage of it often. And he shared it with us all.

Bill pushed everyone to look beyond the headlines and keywords.

He was quick to add words of support and congratulations when someone shared an achievement. He encouraged everyone to explore the possible, to not be intimidated by new things, and to better understand the search ecosystem, not just the technology, so we could better serve our families, communities, colleagues, and clients.

His kindness, generosity, loyalty, and love of the industry knew no bounds.

The King of Podcasts on Twitter

The King of Podcasts on Twitter

Marshall Simmonds on Twitter

Marshall Simmonds on Twitter

Here at Search Engine Journal, Bill was a familiar face on social media and a VIP contributor, but he was much more than that.

Matt Southern, News Writer

One of the things I’ll miss most about Bill Slawski is the outdoor photography he shared on Twitter.

As deeply entrenched as he was in SEO and online marketing, he always took time to step back from the keyboard and admire life’s beauty.

I think that’s something we could all benefit from doing more of.

Roger Montti, News Writer

I knew Bill Slawski for almost 20 years, from the forums and search marketing conferences. He created a stir with all the things he discovered in the patents, which went a long way toward demystifying what search engines did.

What impressed me the most was his generosity with his time and how encouraging he was to me and to everyone. I feel privileged and honored to have been able to call him a friend.

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He will be profoundly missed.

Brent Csutoras, Advisor and Owner

So much of our marketing journey has been in understanding not only how something works with Google but what they are trying to accomplish over the coming years so we can be prepared and ready to pivot when needed.

Bill’s work with patents provided valuable insight very few individuals were capable of distilling and yet everyone benefited from.

He was instrumental in getting us to where we are as SEOs and digital marketers today.

Bill Slawski Was A Man Of Quiet Impact

“My first interaction with Bill Slawski was on Kim Krause Berg’s Cre8asite forum. I was trying to learn what SEO was all about, so I just lurked, soaking up knowledge from bragadocchio, Black Knight, Grumpus, Barry Welford, and others. I know that Bill started more 10,000 threads there during his time as one of the admins and one of the first things that struck me was his willingness to patiently share his knowledge. At the time, I had no idea who he was, but it quickly became obvious that he was someone who was worth listening to. ”

~ Doc Sheldon, Facebook

That he was.

Atul Gawande once wrote that life is meaningful because it has a story–one driven by a deep need to identify purposes outside of ourselves and a transcendent desire to see and help others achieve their potential.

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This was the very essence of Bill’s life.

Not just in the wealth of unparalleled knowledge and resources he has gifted to us, but in the inspiration, guidance, and encouragement he has instilled in us all. That is his legacy and one that will live on.

It’s been difficult to hit Publish on this piece as I don’t feel anything we share could do that legacy justice.

Search Engine Journal will leave Bill’s library of content here untouched in perpetuity, and we’ve left comments open below for all to share your contributions to this memorial for Bill.

Thank you, Bill, for sharing your intelligence, passion, and knowledge with the SEO community.

You will be sorely missed.

Written in collaboration with Angie Nikoleychuk.

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