Dominate Your Market: A Month-by-Month SEO Strategy for Local Businesses

Our tactical, in-depth SEO Strategy Guide to help local business owners in Newcastle build and manage their own SEO Strategy.

SEO can be confusing, but it doesn’t need to be. Understanding basic principles and strategies can elevate your website and business above your competition.

This article simplifies important SEO concepts and provides a step-by-step guide to building and implementing your own SEO strategy.

Warning - this is long and will take about 15 minutes to read. Why? Because SEO guides by SEO agencies are designed to confuse you, so you pay them to do it.

Our goal with this guide is to help you understand the key tactics, so you can do it yourself. If you can’t yet afford an SEO Agency in Newcastle, this guide is for you.

Introduction

SEO can be difficult with Google's algorithm updates and the rise of AI-Generated spam, leaving business owners unsure where to start. Paralysis by Analysis sets in and before you know it, 6 months have passed and you’ve done nothing.

Like most digital marketing strategies, SEO can be simplified to a few tactics that yield the best results. The AI Spam Revolution creates a massive opportunity in SEO. By understanding those opportunities and what Google cares about, you could drive plenty of new customers to your business, without the long-term cost of PPC advertising.

This guide will focus on those tactics.

The Most Important Thing

If there’s one thing you take away from this guide, make it this.

To understand SEO, we must first understand Google's goal with its Search Engine. Yes, they want to make money from auctioning off advertising spaces, but they balance this off with an equally important goal - User Experience.

When it comes to search, the most important thing to Google is the customer experience - the person doing searching.

Quick Example. If you suspect rats in your loft and need professional to remove them, you search for “Pest Control Company in Newcastle”. Google provides the most relevant web-pages for that search query (keyword).

If Google gives you links to websites in Newcastle Australia, poorly written “DIY Pest Removal” guides, or a slow website that doesn’t work on your iPhone, you will be frustrated. They haven’t solved your problem. A bad user experience is bad for Google.

If, however, you’re given 5 pest control businesses in your local area with good reviews and fast mobile-friendly websites, your problem is solved. You’ll have no frustration and you’ll return to Google next time. Hopefully not with more rats...

When creating content for SEO, make sure it’s highly relevant to your audience, matching their search query and intent.

Intent? Google knows the intent behind searches and will show related content. Using our Pest Control example:

Understanding the search experience from Google’s perspective is essential for SEO success. You can design your website and content to be relevant to the people searching for what you do and where you do it by understanding keyword relevance and search intent.

Let’s move on to the cornerstone of a good SEO Strategy - Keyword Research, with Relevance and Intent in mind.

Keyword Research - Where the Magic Happens

Keyword (KW) research is the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. You can optimise your content and attract more organic traffic by identifying the most relevant search terms for your business and website.

“Organic” means free, which is why SEO is crucial for local businesses. The sooner your SEO works, the sooner you can cut advertising costs (e.g. Google Ads, Facebook Ads).

You don’t need an SEO Agency. If you lack the budget, dedicate an hour or two a day to work on SEO yourself.

Most business owners don’t have a problem with Keyword Research itself, but in what to do with it. Many customers we meet through our SEO Agency in Newcastle already have an idea of what their customers are searching for.

The initial research is simple. There are many guides and free tools to help, so we won’t go deep here. We’re focused mostly on identifying key themes within the KW research to guide our strategy.

Here’s what you need to look for:

Let’s find a theme, using our pest control example from earlier.

"mouse v rat" KW Volume and Difficulty. Google UK 12 June 2024

Nearly 6,000 searches are made every month to identify the difference between mice and rats.

Here’s an example of another term within in the same theme:

"rats in loft" KW Volume and Difficulty. Google UK 12 June 2024

We can drill down further:

"difference between rat and mice droppings" KW Volume and Difficulty. Google UK 12 June 2024.

The theme is clear. A lot of people in the UK are trying to distinguish between rats and mice. Likely because they have a rodent problem. If you’re a Pest Control Company in Newcastle and we’re coming in to rat season, data like this is golden.

Do the research and find emerging patterns for SEO success. The results are in the strategy, and the strategy is in the research.

The Strategy

Month 1 - Set The Foundations

Technical SEO

Technical SEO involves optimising your website to meet search engine requirements by improving site speed, ensuring mobile-friendliness, and fixing link errors. The goal is to make it easier for search engines to crawl, understand, and index your website.

As we said above in “The Most Important Thing," Google cares a lot about user experience. Faster, cleaner, mobile-friendly websites rank higher.

When we first started working with David Smith Painter and Decorator, his decade-old website was outdated and not mobile-friendly. When people searched for decorators in his area, David was invisible. We rebuilt his website in under a week, making it fast and mobile friendly. Now he’s on the first page of Google for many local searches.

David Smith Decorator Website - Before and After

Technical SEO matters. Do it first and set the foundations for future SEO work.

If you have major technical issues and don’t know how to fix them, you can find affordable freelancers on Upwork or ask us for advice.

Local SEO

Local SEO is a critical step for businesses servicing specific locations. Check these things right away:

Google My Business. Claim and verify your GMB listing. Do it here.  It’s easy and helps Google recognise you as a business. Ensure you:

Local Listings. Check if your business is listed in online directories (e.g. Check-A-Trade, Yellow Pages) and ensure your details match your GMB listing and website.

Keyword Research and Analysis

Finalise your KW research ASAP this month. Ideally, have one or two keyword themes to focus on, with a list of secondary keywords for each theme. Find one General SEO theme (informational intent) and another Local SEO Theme (commercial intent). Our Pest Control Company might choose an Informational theme of “Identifying Rodents” and a Commercial Theme of “Pest Control In Newcastle”.

Month 2 - Hub and Spoke Content

You’ve done the technical bits and optimised your website for Google. Your Google Business Listing is done and you have keyword themes and a list of search terms.

We'll turn that Keyword Research into a concise strategy to keep you focused and help you rank higher and faster.

The Hub and Spoke Model is how we do it.

Hub and Spoke Content Creation

When creating SEO content, it's not just about pumping out articles. To make an impact, you need a strategic approach to establish your website as an authority on your chosen themes.

The Hub and Spoke content model organises website content for maximum SEO impact. It consists of two key components:

  1. The Hub: This is a central, comprehensive resource on a broad topic relevant to your business. It covers key subtopics at a high level and links to more in-depth articles on each. The goal is to serve as an authoritative introduction to the main topic.
  2. The Spokes: These in-depth articles dive into the subtopics introduced in the hub. Each spoke focuses on a specific long-tail keyword and covers that aspect of the main topic.

By linking the spokes to the hub, and the hub to the spokes, you create a tight-knit content cluster that signals your expertise on the topic to Google. As the hub and spokes gain authority, they boost each other in the search rankings.

Here’s how.

  1. Choose your Hub Topic. The Hub is the broad, overarching theme and primary keyword identified earlier in your KW research. It will form the central hub of this structure. This SEO Guide is an example of Hub Content, a central guide that connects dozens of smaller articles (secondary keywords) using Spoke content.
  1. Identify your Spoke topics. These are the secondary keywords under your main theme (Hub). They should be specific, long-tail keywords that dive deeper into the main topic.
  2. Create your hub page or article. Consider a new web-page instead of a blog post. Plan this in advance. The Hub should introduce the main topic, provide an overview of the key subtopics (your spokes), and include links to each spoke article.
  3. Start producing your spoke content: Create detailed articles for each spoke topic, standing as comprehensive resources on their subtopics.
  4. Link from the hub to each relevant spoke, and from each spoke back to the hub. Also consider linking between related spokes where it makes sense.
  5. Expand. The hub and spoke model is infinitely expandable. Once you have your initial cluster, you can add new spokes to cover subtopics and long-tail keywords.

General and Local SEO strategies.

The Hub and Spoke model works the same for both strategies, but keep relevancy and intent in mind when producing content.

Our Pest Control friends from earlier should build Hub and Spoke content on identifying rodents, but that’s a general theme, with informational/educational intent. It won’t help as much when people search for “Rat Removal Companies” in their local area.

To make Hub and Spoke work with Local SEO, adjust the content for local search, often with buying intent.

If “Pest Control In Newcastle” was a key SEO theme, their Hub might be their home page, which should be optimised around that search term, linking to more specific spoke content:

We could build location-specific landing pages to target sub-regional search.

You get the point. Focus on intent and relevancy.

Month 3 onwards - Analyse, Refine, Repeat

SEO takes time to work, so you won’t know immediately if your hard work paid off.

After a month or two, you’ll have good data to plan your ongoing work.

Use Google Search Console and Google Analytics to analyse organic traffic.

Consider using Plausible Analytics for a cleaner and simpler presentation of the same data if you find the Google tools overwhelming.

What are you primarily looking for in the data:

  1. Did my recent work drive more traffic to my website?
  2. Are there any new search queries or themes in the new data that I can use for my next content plans?

If the answer to question 1 is yes, keep producing new content under the same themes and continue optimising existing content.

If the answer was no, optimise under-performing content or create new content around new themes from question 2.

Back-Links

Once you have a solid catalogue of content ranking well and bringing traffic, it’s time to build backlinks.

Backlinks, also known as inbound or incoming links, are links from other websites to a page or article on your website. They are votes of confidence, signaling to Google that the linked content is valuable and relevant.

Why are backlinks important?

Backlinks are crucial for Google rankings. Sites with many high-quality backlinks rank higher. Google sees backlinks as endorsements. If many sites link to a page, it signals valuable content.

Not all backlinks are equal. Backlinks from high-authority, relevant websites carry more weight than those from low-authority or unrelated sites. Google penalises websites that manipulate rankings through spammy or low-quality backlinks.

How to Get High-Quality Backlinks

  1. Create link-worthy content: You’ve been doing this from your work in month 2. The first step to getting backlinks is to create content that people want to share and link to.
  2. Reach out to other websites: Identify websites that are relevant high-domain authority websites. Introduce your content and suggest it for their audience.
  3. Guest articles: Write high-quality guest posts for other websites in your market. This allows you to include a link back to your site, while building relationships and establishing your expertise.
  4. Broken link building: Find relevant broken links on other websites, create suitable replacement content, and reach out to the website owner to suggest your content.
  5. Promote your content: Share it on social media, forums, and through email marketing. The more exposure, the more likely it'll get linked.
  6. Internal linking: Linking to your own pages can boost their authority and improve their ranking. This is why the Hub and Spoke model works well.

Summary

High-quality content, relevant to your audience, with growing, high-quality backlinks. That’s SEO.

It takes time. Be strategic, consistent and patient. Don’t pursue backlinks until content is ready. Don’t produce content until the technical aspects of your website are sorted.

SEO is a journey, not a destination, and should be a key part of your ongoing marketing strategy.

This guide was designed to help you do it yourself, but if you don’t have the time or you’d rather work with a company like ours, feel free to get in touch for a free quote. We’d love to help you attract more customers and make more money.

June 12, 2024
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