I have been working with over 400 Google My Business clients, working to make sure they rank locally above position 10, ideally, ranking in the local 3-pack, for some time now. I am often asked the same questions; “what do you do,” “how do you do it,” “can’t I just do this all myself”? The simple answer, in theory, is “yes,” but the answer isn’t so simple after all.
I started working in SEO back in 2014. I came into a budding industry and brought all my sales and product knowledge, hoping I can make an impact. After five years, I know the ins and outs of the product and have a solid grasp of what is required to get a local business to rank, especially in areas with heavy competition. What I learned more than anything is that Local SEO is not a one-and-done practice. It takes constant upkeep, attention, and ingenuity. There is an ebb and flow to SEO, and just when you think you have it right, Google makes an update to their search algorithm that can take you back to square one. In short, what worked yesterday won’t necessarily work tomorrow.
Today’s Local SEO options are reliant on so much more than when I started in this industry. I recall the days of having a website, a verified Google Places page, and some citations were really all it took to be competitive on Maps and Search. When a backlink was only for organic results and “mobile-friendly” was just a thought. Running a website as non-secure was no problem, and adding keywords and geo-modifiers on the Google listing wasn’t against google policy. You could even create a custom category via the old Google MapMaker. It seemed the possibilities were limitless, but unfortunately, Google was aware of these “exploits” and expedited corrections to prevent simple solutions to ranking on Google Maps and the 3 Pack on Google.com. Over the following months, Google updated and prioritized the local algorithm, causing businesses and SEO companies to scramble and learn how to cope. What came next was the evolution of the local landscape, the maps-generating results which really put Google well ahead of the other search engines.
Google Places < Google My Business
Starting in April 2014, Google Places was revamped entirely and became Google My Business. Not long after that in September 2014, Google really pressed some major algorithm updates. These updates secured the product and removed many of the aforementioned custom options for SEO Specialists and Developers. It didn’t take long for Google to throw another curveball. Just when you thought you had a handle on all the significant changes being released, Google implemented the dreaded “Mobilegeddon” Algorithm update in April 2015.
This affected so many clients; it was shocking, but not unexpected. Mobile searches were growing fast, and users were turned off when they had to pinch and zoom and scroll left-to-right when they found a website on their phone. The user experience was failing, and Google had to correct it. So as of April 2015, if your website wasn’t mobile-friendly, your rankings would drop. Every year since then, the updates keep rolling out. SSL Certificate requirements, Schema coding, and Mobile-first indexing are just a few of the latest incantations Google’s wizards of search came up with. And with every update Google pressed out, we, as local specialists had to research and dig to find out what these changes were, and how to correctly update our listings to continue to rank.
In order to stay ahead, continue with consistent new content, keep up with Google updates and optimize the client’s business, the client would have to hire help for these specific tasks or stop running their business to do it all themselves. Local SEO is a full-time job, and it requires a high level of expertise and constant education to continue the fulfillment of a client’s expectations.
So we go back to the same question, “can’t I just do this all myself”? My final answer is “No.” Attempting to compete in an oversaturated area, running a business and keeping up with the algorithm is not only daunting but untenable. This is why hiring a knowledgeable, dedicated SEO company is imperative.
V Digital Services offers solutions for all of your online needs. Whether it’s a website build, PPC, website coding/content building (Organic SEO), Local SEO, link building and more, you can depend on VDS with our dedicated team members and extensive knowledge. We are the type of company that will go beyond the product line to make sure our client’s goals are met, rankings rise, and overall ROI (return on investment) is increased. Client satisfaction is the goal, and in that process, the online goals can be met more precisely. We approach issues with new and innovative methods, always looking for the best possible solution in an already flooded market of tactics. At V Digital Services, we do not drive you down the path to success; we pave the way and take the journey with you.
Great article, Ash!