This post was originally published on the Local Search Forum here.
Hey everyone, just wanted to share a ridiculously good strategy we've been using with a lot of success lately to rank locally.
This works best for keywords like "roofers in [city name]" or "landscaping companies in [city name]"...basically any keyword where the biggest intent is to find a list of companies that do XYZ.
If you look at the top-ranked pages for queries like these, they are almost always directory sites like Yellowpages, Lawyers.com, Thumbtack, etc.
Last year we started seeing this happen more and more and I was wondering how these directories are outranking the companies themselves (the landscapers, roofers, lawyers, etc) even when the companies themselves might have otherwise awesome organic performance.
Since then we've been toying around with some ideas and figuring out ways to determine intent behind specific keywords and we're finding matching that intent as closely as possible is perhaps the easiest way to rank a page on a local client's site.
How to do it
For this particular set of queries, it's actually pretty easy - you just have to swipe the directories' strategy...If you're an attorney, create a page on your site listing all the attorneys in your area, preferably organized in a fashion that makes it easy to skim, mentions the key details someone who lands on the page might want to know - just generally make it super useful.Then put yourself at the top of that list.
But what about the competition?
So the first time we pitched this idea to a client they said something along the lines of, "but I don't want to list my competitors on my site, etc, etc."Yeah yeah, I get that. But consider this:Almost everyone typing "law firms in Louisville" is looking for a list of law firms. They're going to find that list. Either Google is going to give it to them or you can. Personally, I'd rather be in control of that experience.Plus, if you don't do this then you'll probably stay around #2-4, right behind all the high DA directories that are doing this and you'll get fewer eyeballs on your site.
Why this works
3 reasons:1. Intent is crazy important - I think the SEO industry as a whole woefully underestimates the importance of intent.Think about it like this: it's Google's goal to get you exactly the information you want as quickly as possible. Matching the intent behind a particular search query as closely as possible means you're putting content on your site that is exactly what users want, which is exactly what Google wants to serve up at the top.The only pitfalls here are 1) Is the true intent behind a query what you actually think it is? and 2) are the search engines sophisticated enough to determine whether your content matches that intent better than the competition. But that's a little outside the scope of this tip.2. So intent is important...With this strategy, you're matching the intent behind the search better than your competition. The better you match the intent and the more useful the content, the better your CTR, bounce rates, social shares, etc.3. If you're a local business in the area, and you're decently well-optimized already, you probably have much more local authority / relevance than those directory pages. HAHAHA YES!
Meta title / description bonus
Another thing we've tested is maximizing CTR in search results for these pages using meta titles and descriptions.We've noticed that better, more clickable copy in the description seems to directly impact the speed at which these pages rise in the results and how high they go.This is far from scientific but we've tried writing what I'd consider boring copy that's not well targeted for meta descriptions and then writing copy that is hyper targeted toward what we believe is the demo behind a particular search query and the rankings difference seems to be strongly in favor of better copy, which I can only conclude is a result of increased CTR.
I would also encourage you to track the effectiveness of this page because there very well may be some scenarios where this isn't the ideal approach - some ideas for that:
- Track outbound clicks to competitors - consider swapping out a competitor if their value prop is much stronger than yours
- Track phone calls that originate from this page
- Track walk-ins that originate from this page by saying something like "mention coupon code DIRECTORY KILLER and get 10% off your order."
- Track form submissions that originally landed on this page.
That is all. Have fun!