So you’re looking to increase both your reputation and presence in your local market(s).
Two core strategies emerge as pillars to achieve this goal: public relations and local SEO.
Frequently, these two pillars are addressed separately, often by different teams, but aligning the two from the onset is a recipe for success.
Local SEO & Public Relations = Complementary Strategies
In the PESO Model® that you can learn everything about (and even get certified in) right here on Spin Sucks, SEO sits largely in the owned media bucket, while PR (specifically media and influencer relations) fills out most of the earned media bucket.
However, particularly in local SEO, both strategies straddle the two buckets and complement each other.
(Confession time: I was really torn as to which bucket SEO fell under and, like a total geek, emailed Gini directly to get her thoughts. Fortunately, she was kind enough to indulge me with the answer. “We put it between owned and earned,” she said. “You can’t have SEO without content, and the linkbacks from earned help boost rankings.”)
If a core objective of your PR strategy is to build your local reputation and awareness, local SEO tactics—such as listing consistency, on-page optimization, and reviews—help do just that. The main objective of local SEO is to improve local search rankings; quality backlinks and quality content in-market from PR are crucial to ranking success.
In short, PR and local SEO go hand in hand.
Local SEO 101
As a Spin Sucks reader, you are probably reading this post from the perspective of a PR professional.
You may not have a ton of experience with local SEO, so let’s start from the beginning.
Local SEO is a sub-practice of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and focuses on how your business ranks in search engines for local searches.
Most experts agree that Google’s algorithm for local searches is slightly different from national or global searches.
One main difference is that local searches provide you with a map and top listings in your area above the organic search results.
Go ahead and Google “hair salons” or “grocery stores” and you will get local results with a map.
That map and the associated listings are known as a Local Pack.
Although Google never gives away its exact search ranking algorithm, experts have given insights into exactly what matters.
Whitespark did a great study in 2020 on local search ranking factors.
The importance of those factors differs slightly for the Local Pack in comparison to local organic results.
BrightLocal does a nice job of averaging the importance of the factors across both types of local results:
- On-page optimization (24%)
- Links (23%)
- GMB (20%)
- Reviews (11%)
- Behavioral (9%)
- Citations (7%)
- Personalization (7%)
All these factors may seem overwhelming, but there are a few simple steps that can get you started.
For the purposes of this post, I’m not really going to address behavioral or personalization—these factors are based on the searchers and people coming to your site, they aren’t the most important factors, and there’s little you can do to improve on them.
Let’s explore the other five factors, what you can do to improve them, and how they can impact your overall PR strategy.
This may seem like the most technical and confusing factor, but there are two main ways to optimize your site for local searches:
- NAP (Name, Address, Phone): Google needs these three crucial pieces of information to consider you for local search results.
- Keywords: Think about what people will be searching for and avoid jargon to identify your keywords. There are a variety of free keyword discovery tools, including Google’s own Keyword Finder. Keywords should be included in titles on landing pages and in meta descriptions. Incorporate your city and local content into your website as much as possible as you plan your content strategy.
As you optimize your site and improve other factors, you will see your domain authority grow.
Quick note: if you have multiple locations, you should have an individual page for each location with your NAP details that Google can use for each.
Google My Business & Reviews
If you combine these two together, they make up the largest portion of your local search rankings.
To appear in local search results, you need a Google My Business (GMB) listing.
This is a pretty easy step to take that makes a huge impact.
The two biggest things that affect your results are your primary category and, if possible, having keywords in your GMB business title.
What requires more work, however, is focusing on your GMB reviews.
Google looks at three things in GMB Reviews: quality (star rating), quantity, and keywords included with reviews.
Having a solid review generation strategy makes all the difference in local search.
Backlinks are the currency of the internet.
The more reputable sites link to your site, the more Google sees you as an authority.
This is probably the single best way for you to integrate local SEO into your PR strategy.
Mentions of your keywords and location with links back to your site are invaluable, and the more reputable the site, the better the link.
Media relations is a core strategy to getting high-quality backlinks.
Looking for local publications and blogs for PR placements can help boost your rankings in your city.
Although this is a smaller factor, this can be an easy thing to do to improve your local search rankings.
You can look at the big directories like Yelp! and Facebook but also look for more niche directories that show up when you search your keywords.
For example, UpCity lists B2B service providers like digital marketing agencies and IT services companies and ranks well in local searches.
Make sure your NAP matches across your site, your GMB, and any of these other directories/citations.
Integrating Local SEO Into Your PR Strategy
Companies invest hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into their local SEO strategy, and incorporating all of these tactics into your PR strategy can seem overwhelming at first.
However, as a reminder, focus on the two main areas to make sure your PR strategy has a huge effect on your local SEO—knowing your keywords and incorporating them into your content, and producing localized, high-quality links back to your site.
Not only will your local search rankings improve, but you will affect your overall local reputation and presence as a result.