Dominating Local SEO

Yesterday I introduced you to John Pepe, owner of Pepe Tile and Installation. He comes up in the number two position for a Google search on "south jersey tile." I showed you what he did right to earn that position, and talked about a few things he could be doing better. In this article, I’ll cover what he could be doing to dominate his local search space in depth, and give you plenty of suggestions that you can apply to your own website.

So what steps should Pepe take to dominate local SEO?

1) The main site, Pepe Tile and Installation, has to be cleaned up with a much better look and feel. This could easily be done with nearly zero technical know-how by simply using WordPress and a clean-looking two-column theme. As I mentioned yesterday, a better logo for his company could probably be done for as little as $50, and that should also be considered a “must.”

2) Once WordPress is being used, put links to the social networks that he’s using way up top in the sidebar. Use simple 32×32 icons for each of them, and make sure they are linked properly to the profile pages, so people can follow him.

3) Put links to his listings on Google Places, SuperPages, Yelp, and CityVoter. If he doesn’t have accounts at all of these, he should create them. Again, use simple 32X32 icons for these will allow anyone to quickly see user reviews.

At this point, I am going to move to how he can become the undisputed local authority.

I want to reiterate something before I start. These steps could literally be done by anyone in any local market to achieve success. I am using this site only as an example; the steps, however, will work for any site.

4) Offer a small discount to every single customer he does business with from now on if they’ll leave a review and a comment on his Google Places page. His focus should be there, unless his customer has an account somewhere else. In that case, he should give a slightly smaller discount for leaving a review on one of them.

5) Offer another (better) discount if the customer will do a video review on his YouTube channel (if he doesn’t have one, he should start it). Now he’s got actual video testimonials that people can see. The thing to know is that outside of a handful of markets, no one has this or does it. This alone is almost enough to turn him into a major player. All videos should be posted to his WordPress site under a “testimonials” category, so that potential customers can see actual videos of the great things people are saying about him.

5) He should start creating videos of himself talking about how to best use tile (where are the best places to put tile and where should tile not be put), what are the best kinds of tile for certain situations and applications (kitchen, entry way, hallway, outside, etc). He could be doing reviews of the various makers of tile to help his customers make more informed decisions.

Then he could create a video, one for every single customer question he’s ever gotten. Those would also be posted to his site under appropriate categories, making it easy for potential customers to get to them and even reference them later. His WordPress blog would need to include appropriate plugins to make social sharing of his content as easy as possible on as many social sites as possible (Google+, Twitter, and Facebook at a minimum). Every time he creates a video, he should talk about it on his various social media accounts, and link to the WordPress article.

6) Use the Blogger blog as a way of posting things that are relevant to home improvement in general to help expand his audience. He should be paying particularly close attention to video for this. Any time he uses someone else’s video, he should contact them and let them know. Even better would be to take that content created by someone else and expand on it. Sometimes those people will link to you or share your content through their social media networks.

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7) Find other home improvement experts in his local area that are doing good work and feature them on his videos. Contractors, remodelers, landscapers, arborists, carpet layers, drywall guys, painters, and so on. These people will get love from him and will give it back, both in terms of business and in terms of talking about him on their own sites and Facebook profiles, for an even wider spread.

8) Change pricing to be 20 percent more expensive than every other tile layer in his area — and he should say he’s the most expensive right at the very top of the site. He should put “Most expensive and best tile layer in South Jersey” right up in the title area of his site. Doing the above will help to cement him as the authority and thought leader, which means people will assume he’s among the best, if for no other reason than because he’s the most expensive. He should charge in a way that says he is, to reinforce with people that they’re right.

People that want a great tile layer will pay the extra amount. Those that are looking for some kind of deal can go find plenty of “undocumented” folks at the local home improvement store. Trying to compete on price, especially in his market, is foolish. He can get a much better, much higher class of customer by being unbashed with the fact that he’s the authority, and if you want him, you have to pay for it. I’d wager almost anything that he would find customers literally waiting in line to pay him more than anyone else if he took all of the advice in this article.

What’s happening here is that John would be demonstrating his expertise in a way that could garner huge followings. Understand something: this isn’t just some “opinion” that I have. This stuff works! Marcus Sheridan did much of what I’m talking about here to turn around his River Pools and Spas company by creating the single most visited pool company website in the world using the techniques I just covered here.

After he did things like what I’ve described here, customers came to him and sought him out. Customers called up Marcus’ company already knowing who they wanted to do their pool. Do you think that maybe the sales process was a little easier? The company went from struggling on the brink of bankruptcy to nearly a year-long backlog.

But A Word Of Caution

Doing what I just told you will work … which might also draw out the haters. Your competition will attempt to smear you with bad reviews and scam complaints. Those are dealt with pretty easily; the bad reviews will be buried by the good ones, and you can deal with the complaints, proving they’re bogus. This will have to be monitored so that they can be answered, but fortunately it doesn’t take very long to do it. It’s literally just a couple of minutes to set up, and then Google will tell you if any of this happens.

Secondly, if you’re going to be doing reviews (and you should), then that also means that occasionally you’re going to have to say “this product is better than this other one,” and the maker of the product that “lost” won’t like it.

In the post 7 Ways to be a Blogging Rebel, the number one method discussed for building your audience and becoming an authority is to “compare like mad.” This goes for doing the review videos that I talked about above in item number five.

However, in that same article, the number two method is to not be bullied. Comparisons will draw out haters. Becoming successful will draw them out like you won’t believe.

Success, however is worth it. Being a thought leader in your market means having many more customers, much better search positioning (often multiple first page listings), and being able to charge far more while maintaining a healthy backlog of people just waiting to do business with you — and only you. The best part about it is that the more successful you get, the easier it gets to deal with the haters.

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