Your SEO Strategy for Geo Targeting (without using Google Ad Words!)

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Geo targeting is a more advanced local SEO strategy: It focuses on finding out where prospects are making decisions around your city (typically on mobile devices), then targets content specifically for those locations. Geo-targeting allows you to pick specific places beyond your business address where sales decisions are made – and bring more of those prospects across the finish line. Here's how to make it work for you.

Understand Where Prospects Make Decisions

Your first step should be analysis of your local area (along with any other locations where potential buyers are active). Find out where people are likely to get on their smartphones and take the first steps down the sales funnel: Popular public areas, sites in the middle of busy development, healthcare centers – these locations can vary greatly depending on the company, but everyone has these hot zones where prospects are likely to gather. Identify them.

Pick Location-Specific Keywords that Reflect Your Area

"Location-specific keywords" is a term that deserves a little unpacking: Basic local SEO involves your business address and the name of your town/city, easy-peasy. However, geo-targeting requires going beyond this and using location keywords for specific areas around you where people make buying decisions. Focus on specific names that are commonly used in your area. For example, call out locations like, "Serving the South Mill District for 25 years!" or "Helping businesses on 3rd Street and beyond." Social media is a good spot to include this type of targeting, but such callouts can work well in numerous places.

Designate the Right Service Areas

Google's Local/Places Dashboard allows you to specify services areas when setting up a profile. This is an excellent way to geo-target the specific areas where prospects dwell. You can list multiple service areas too, which is handy in larger urban locations or for companies that serve several widely spread cities. In other words, don't just use your profile to list your business address – include these service areas, too!

Enable Geo-Targeting for Ads and Posts

As a general rule, watch for any potential geo-targeting options on ad placement and bidding. Detailed ad targeting (Facebook's options, for instance), are more likely to include specific location data. Always make use of this if it is an option – even if it takes a while to customize.

Focus on Reviews and Content that Mention Location

When possible, post reviews and testimonials that mention specific locations in your service area. This content will impact your local search SEO and will give readers a better idea of what specific regions you have done work in. You can also ask your buyers to specifically mention where they are or where work was done.

Geo-Tag Your Images When Possible

Not every platform enables geo-tagging for images, but when they do it's a good idea to enable that location data. It tends to be both precise and automatic, an ideal situation for geotargeting that taps into something you already do. However, it's a good idea to check geo-tags periodically to make sure they are showing up accurately.

When Appropriate, Make Some Location Landing Pages

This is particularly ideal for companies that have several very specific service locations spread across a county or state. You want people from each location to understand that you offer solutions for them and have a presence in their area. One of the clearest ways to do this is to set up a landing page for each major location – particularly if your service/product packages differ somewhat between these locations.

Spare the Areas With Poor Results

This is an evidence-based content strategy. In other words, don't choose locations that you wish you were drawing customers from. Geo-target locations that are already showing strong results to improve those results, and locations with just-okay results to boost them. Don't spend content/time on location data if you aren't drawing any buyers from that location.

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Aleks Vizulis

As operations manager at 21 Handshake, I bring an analytical perspective to the discussion table. My vision is to take projects from 'just strong' to superb. Often you will find me capturing behind the scenes photos in the 21 Handshake office or at a clients location. I play a fierce round of 18 during warm weather and catch me on the slopes during the other months of the year!

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