Revealed! The Ultimate 2015 Local SEO Guide

Revealed! The Ultimate 2015 Local SEO Guide

Focus, focus, focus. Whether you are looking to put your own website or that of your client on the local map, you need to be aware of these 2015 local SEO trends. And yes, local SEO is quite different from global SEO, or rather, more specific. No worries though, everything you need for your future local SEO journeys is right here on this page.

The Structure of the Ultimate 2015 Local SEO Guide

By order of appearance:

  • A quick introduction – you will learn what you will learn.
  • 2015 Local SEO keywords research – you better get this one right.
  • 2015 Local On-page SEO – will you build a flawless foundation?
  • 2015 Local SEO Off-page portfolio – oh yea, link building exists here as well.
  • Mobile website optimization – small is the new big.
  • Credits – the words before the end.

Let’s get local.


You might have noticed already – local SEO is a thing. A big thing – clients requiring rankings only for specific localized keywords i.e. “personal injury lawyers in Miami”. If you are still unaware of local SEO search results, this will remove the darkness in your eyes:

A Local Search on Google Example

Yes, right there in the special zone with the addresses reside the local search results – “Aronfeld Trial Lawyers”, “Payer and Associates”, etc. This is where you will be inserting your website or your client’s website. Just follow everything from this 2015 local SEO tutorial to the word and you will enjoy a win in the game of rankings. Without a further a due, let’s dominate the local searches.

2015 Local SEO Keywords Research

This is where it all starts. The snowball effect is extremely strong here. If you succeed, the rest of your endeavors will spiral towards success as well, but if you fail, well, you probably get it by now. Let me say this in another way – do not fail at your local keywords research. Take your time, research the local keywords and their search volumes, competitiveness, and all other factors which should be taken into account. Let’s look at an example – we will use it throughout this local SEO guide.

So you have a client who wants their website ( ranked for relevant local search terms. Most probably they will not be SEO aware, let alone local SEO aware, so you will have to come up with a set of keywords yourself. You go to their site, you talk to the client, and you come up with the main keyword – “personal injury lawyers”. Let’s call this one the stem keyword.

You easily transform the stem keyword into a keyword worthy of local searches – “personal injury lawyers in Miami”. Now you have your local stem keyword. Next thing you need to do is go to Google and perform a search for that keyword. If the first page contains local search results, you have done good so far. Don’t close the page yet. Scroll down to the bottom:

A Local Search on Google Related Searches Miami

All of the keywords that you see down there are variations which you should target. These terms are strongly related to “personal injury lawyers in Miami” and you need to use them in the content of your client’s website. If you are not familiar with LSI and the purpose of Google Hummingbird, I suggest you read our quantum SEO content strategies post. You will then understand why you need these keywords so much. Stuffing “personal injury lawyers in Miami” over and over again in your client’s website is a one-way ticket to penalty city. There’s only grief there.

Open an excel or a simple text file, and paste the “personal injury lawyers in Miami” keyword along with all of the related search terms from the bottom of the SERP. Your local target keywords list is growing. Now, let’s get some help from our good old friend – Google’s very own Keyword Planner. Open the KP and select “Get search volume data and trends”. Copy and paste all of the keywords you have targeted so far into the field.

When you are done, you want to change the targeting preferences below, and more specifically, the locations:

Local SEO Keywords Research Adwords Keyword Planner

Now, before you proceed, you will have to employ some intuition and SEO knowledge. Look at the keywords we have so far. Do you really think we need the “lolfranco chagpar corriero personal injury lawyers”? Heck no. Apparently, they are the competition. So remove it, and proceed with the search for these keywords. Most probably, if you have selected some really nicely laser-targeted and specific keywords, their monthly search volume will be little to none. Don’t worry, you still want to target them, because they will help in the ranking of the more competitive keywords. And besides, you never know what people will be searching for tomorrow.

So, if you are following this 2015 local SEO guide with me, you probably saw that the most monthly searches our keywords get is 10. While using these is great for on-page SEO, it will do nothing in terms of traffic. Let’s fix that.

Go to the starting page of the Keyword Planner and select “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”. Enter just our local stem keyword – “personal injury lawyers in Miami” and again, select some local areas. To broaden our search a bit, I have selected only Miami FL. Now, let’s get some more ideas:

Local SEO Keywords Research Adwords Keyword Planner Get Ideas

Now we are talking. Somewhat. There are some keywords with a more decent monthly search volume compared to the search volume of our target keywords so far. I pick these out on intuition and cognitive abilities. So for example, from the ones above I would pick:

  • miami law
  • car accident miami
  • lawyers in miami
  • miami personal injury lawyer
  • south florida lawyers
  • miami criminal lawyer
  • personal injury attorney miami
  • miami personal injury attorney
  • law firms in miami
  • miami law firms
  • family lawyer miami
  • accident lawyer miami

You get the idea. Now simply add these to the first set of keywords we selected and check for duplicates just in case. At this point, we have a nice list of local keywords for our client, but I like to do one more thing here. Scroll to the top of the KP and enter the keyword “personal injury lawyer near me” instead of “personal injury lawyers in Miami”, and remove any locations:

Local SEO Keywords Research Adwords Keyword Planner Get Generic Ideas

This will return some more generic niche keywords which we will add to our local keywords. As you see, these have a really nice search volume, so targeting them is crucial, plus, most of them are all relevant to our main keyword. Pick them out in the same manner as we did the ones before – “personal injury lawyer”, “personal injury”, “law firm”, “personal injury attorney”, “injury lawyers”, “personal injury lawyers”, “accident claims”, etc. Add all these to your list with target keywords.

Check again for duplicates, and then re-check for keywords which should not be there. Remember, the local keywords research is the foundation you will build the success of your client’s website on. You better make one hell of a foundation. And with this recommendation, we are done with our local SEO keywords research.

2015 Local On-Page SEO

Okay. You have your target keywords. You can notify your client of the happy news and then you can focus your mind on the next task – local on-page SEO. As I stated earlier, most of your clients’ SEO knowledge will probably be diverging towards zero. Now, let’s say that for our example (, your client already has an established website – design, content, layout, etc. It will be your job to make it comply with 2015 local on-page SEO rules. You are going to have to manually inspect each and every page of your client’s website for the local on-page SEO requirements below:

  • Each page must have no less than 1000 words, including the home page – forget about the 500 words rule. If you want to surpass your competitors, you must be willing to do more than they are doing.
  • Use a ton of synonyms when you write/re-write the content – LSI is the thing right now, so instead of stuffing the same keyword over and over again, use synonyms related to it – more generic and more specific ones. So in our example, you would use keywords such as “personal injury”, “injury”, “injury lawyer”, “accident claims”, “successful personal injury cases”, “car accident personal injury lawyers”, etc.
  • Each page must contain a handful of the keywords you have gathered from the local keywords research – the keywords you insert will depend on the topic of the page itself.
  • You must proofread and edit every page and then double-check again – make sure there are none of these nonprofessional errors. Bad English and wrongly formatted sentences will put the website’s visitors at unease. You don’t want that. You want content in flawless English, written in an attractive and engaging style which will connect your client’s business with their visitors and ultimately, convert them into customers.
  • The primary keyword should be contained in the page URL – notice that I said the page URL, not the domain name. EMDs and PMDs are not mandatory, but inserting your main target keyword into the page URL will still help with local rankings. Please note that our primary keyword here includes our target location – Miami Florida – yes, with the state name.
  • Check the content on each page for duplicates – use Grammarly or CopyScape. Nothing says lower my rankings like a website that contains plagiarized content.
  • Optimize the titles – Google only shows 65 characters so make sure that the titles contain at least that much or less. You might go with more, but the essence of the page must be contained in the first 65 characters. The other part of the titles optimization besides length is the words contained in the titles. Learn how to write eye-catching headings to greatly increase the CTR of your client’s website in the SERPs.
  • Main target keywords should exist in the page titles – although not mandatory thanks to Google Hummingbird, including your main target keyword in the title still gives you a small edge.
  • The target location must be in the title, first heading, and page URL – in our example, Miami Florida, Miami FL, etc, should appear in the titles, headings (especially the first one), and URLs of your client’s website pages.
  • Optimize the meta descriptions – many people neglect the meta descriptions (the short texts below the titles in the SERPs), but they are making a huge mistake. Make sure each page’s meta description is below 155 characters, because like the title, everything after that will be seen as “…” in the SERPs. Simply explain, in one or two sentences, what the page is all about. Use target keywords plus target location here as well – extremely important.
  • Make sure that the internal link building is on point – when it comes to links, people always think of external links and forget about the value of internal links. Yes, internal links are just as valuable to a website as are external links. There are a lot of SEO case studies I come by where people were ranking just by creating a really nice internal linking structure.
  • Optimize image file names and alt tags – not just the alt tags should be optimized for the target keyword, but the file name of the image as well. Insert your main target keyword for the page the image resides in as well as your target location – Miami Florida for our example. But, don’t simply insert the keyword and the location. No, no. Google won’t like that. Instead, for example, if you have an image of a lawyer shaking hands with some other human being, you can use the following content for the image’s file name and alt tag – “A Miami FL Personal Injury Lawyer Shaking Hands with a Happy Client”. Just off the top of my head. You can also include the brand name to make the image file name and alt tag even better.
  • Use headings – h1, h2, h3, etc, are HTML tags you must not ignore. As we already mentioned a little bit above, it is a good practice if all of these contain your target keyword + target location. Start with an early h1 to instantly tell search engines and visitors what this page is about and where the business is located.
  • Make sure you have created a local schema for your client’s website – also, make sure you know how to actually make a good local business schema.
  • Optimize website performance – people on the Internet don’t like to waste time waiting for a page to load. Thus, it is of critical importance that a website loads lightning fast. Depending on the nature of your client’s website i.e. WordPress, Joomla, handwritten website, etc, you will have to learn the best performance increasing strategies which would work in your specific case. Caching of the website’s content, using a CDN service, compression of CSS and JavaScript files, optimizing of image sizes are just some of the tasks you will most probably be performing. You can get a nice report for your client’s website performance by using GTmetrix. It will show you what the website is missing performance-wise, and also, how you can go about fixing the problems.

That’s it for the 2015 local on-page SEO. Think of this part as the skeleton of your brand new house representing your client’s website – we already laid the foundation with the local keywords research. Let’s continue building.

2015 Local SEO Off-Page Portfolio

We can’t go without link building here either. But, the local SEO approach to link building is a little different. We will be using mostly social networks and directories to build the off-page portfolio of your client’s website. That isn’t to say that using some other link building techniques won’t work. If you know what you are doing, everything can work. But, I have found this one to work best. So, just for a second, forget about guest posting, PBNs, or any link building campaigns which create backlinks by using an automated software.

Focus on providing engaging content on the social networks you are going to use, and the website’s social following and natural backlinks will build themselves over time. But, you have to treat these social network accounts as separate websites. What I mean by that is, you will have to create great quality content for them as well. You can’t simply write “These are the best personal injury lawyers in Florida: {link to site}”, and then expect people to rush to your client’s website. Very little to no people will interact with a post like this. There is just no value int it.

Post regularly on social media and your client’s website will rank in the local searches in no time. A list with the social networks and directories you should use for your local SEO projects is attached below:

2015 Local SEO Websites

Once you have setup an account for your client’s website on each and every one of the websites listed above (make sure the usernames contain the brand name), and you post some good quality content on the Google+ page, Facebook page, etc, you will focus on creating a different type of backlinks – the ones that reside on questions and answers sites. Find relevant questions on:

You should also search for Q & A sites that are specifically related to your client’s niche. For example, Justia Legal Answers focuses only on legal questions and answers. You can simply search for the most relevant questions on these sites and answer them, placing a link to a page of your client’s website as a reference. But, don’t just write something like “You will find the answer here: {link to website}”. That won’t work and your account will most probably get suspended. Post valuable information which actually answers the question at hand and then leave a reference to the source of your knowledge i.e. your client’s website.

While the social networks and the Q & A sites will be more than enough if you do it right, there are still other types of backlinks you can create – sometimes, you will need an extra edge if the competition is very big. The sites I will share with you in a second work really good for niches with an extremely high competition and could make the difference between position 7 and position 1. And you want that first position, you really do. So let’s get it:

  • Press releases – let’s start with some online media presence. You can use prweb to create a press release for your client’s website in just a couple of steps. After that, enjoy the magic.
  • HARO – help a reporter out is a website which allows you to share your content with journalist who can then use it in their posts. Again, it has to be very valuable and quality content, otherwise you will be overlooked.
  • EDU and GOV backlinks – try and land some really nice niche relevant EDU and/or GOV backlinks. Connect with target sites, talk to their representatives and work out a deal for a backlink, one way or another.
  • Get involved with local charities – you can find some local charity from Great Nonprofits who leave links to their sponsors and then donate to them.

And then finally, you can simply perform an in-depth research of your client’s competitors – on-page SEO, backlinks portfolio, everything. After that, just post to the sites they have posted on and call it a day. The entire process of ranking a website locally takes time, but you will surely enjoy the satisfaction of your customers when they see their business in the local search results. However, we have one more thing to take care of.

Mobile Website Optimization

This part could have been included in the local on-page SEO section, but I wanted to divert more attention to it in light of its importance. First off, go ahead and open Google’s mobile friendly test tool. Now, let me give you an example of one of the websites we had in our local search results for “personal injury lawyers in Miami”“Payer and Associates” if you remember. Here are the results for that site:

2015 Local SEO Mobile Optimization Example

As you can see, your client’s competitor has a non-mobile friendly website. Is this really that bad? You bet. After the mobilegeddon was released earlier this year, all websites that are designed in a mobile friendly way have a competitive edge against sites such as the one above. So right off the bat, you have an extremely powerful advantage over your client’s competitor. All you have to do is make their website mobile-friendly and you are good to go.

Mobile web traffic has now surpassed traffic from PCs, so you can imagine the amount of exposure this website is losing just because they have not performed a mobile optimization on their site. But, you now know better than that, and when you adjust your client’s website to comply with mobile devices, you will outrank their competitors in no time. Yes, it is that big a deal.

Now, if your client’s website is using a more popular platform such as WordPress, it is most probably mobile-friendly out of the box. However, if the site has been written from zero by a web developer who was not SEO aware, there is a good chance that it will look like crap on a mobile device. It will be your job to fix it and in such a case, if you do not have any experience in web development, you might have to hire someone to do this job for you.

2015 Local SEO Credits

As you can see, local SEO is actually not that hard. And, right at this moment, you can easily launch your very own local SEO services and make a ton of money by employing the knowledge you have gained from this post. Businesses can pay up to $5000 per month for services like that. If you are a single player you can most probably take care of 2 – 3 sites per month depending on the work that needs to be done for each of them and on your personality. You do the math.

Bottom line is, the local SEO of 2015 is a lot more complex than recent history times when you could rank with a bunch of citations. You have to be an enigma and expand the reach of your business. You have to create outstanding content which provides value to your target audience. You have to optimize the content of your social media presence. And most importantly, you have to establish your brand. So close your eyes and look at the big local picture.

2 replies
  1. Joerg
    Joerg says:

    Like always, very detailed, very informative! How applicable is your OFF-page linking strategy for international local SEO? I understand that you are located in bulgaria – have you experienced any differences in local SEO in europe? my interest lies especially in the german speaking regions A/D/CH..
    btw: how about a youtube-ranking article? i know thats an already well-covered topic, but it never works 100% like described (not even close..)
    cheers & keep up your blog

    • Doncho Karaivanov
      Doncho Karaivanov says:

      Hey Joerg,

      To answer your first question, I don’t really have that much experience with non-US targeted local SEO. If I were to infer something, I think that it would be easier to rank for a foreign language than it is in English in the United States. Although, I don’t think the factors at play will be much different than the ones listed above.

      As for a YouTube ranking article, I already wrote one a few months ago:

      If you employ this strategy to the letter, and you video actually provides value (which is where most YT campaigns fail), you will get it ranked – believe me.

      Thank you for the cheers!



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