It’s that time of year again. The air becomes crisp, the crack of the bat fills the stadium, the crowd roars — Chicago Cubs fans like me get that old, familiar feeling of foreboding. Major League Baseball’s playoffs are upon us, and in the spirit of the postseason, it’s time we explore how the great American pastime applies to building a successful career in local SEO.
If you aspire to local SEO success, you’ve got to have the right stuff. The competition in the industry is fierce, and it’s not easy to stand out among your peers. If you’re looking to wow the scouts, or if you’re considering lacing up your cleats for the first time and joining the local SEO game, these are the qualities and skills that talented young SEOs must have:
If you’re looking to get a leg up on the competition, it’s important to learn from the best, from those who lead and define the industry. In local SEO, you’ll find that there are a few who stand taller than the rest of the field. If you’re not already following local search experts like David Mihm, Mike Blumenthal, Mary Bowling, Linda Buquet, Darren Shaw, Mike Ramsey, and the other local search columnists at Search Engine Land, now’s the time to start.
But it’s not just the league leaders you should be paying attention to. If you’re just starting out, look to the veterans on your own team. The quickest way to develop your skills is to work alongside someone who can show you the ropes. Likewise, look to the communities and forums for help and insight, especially after any major algorithm updates. The collective knowledge of local SEOs is a powerful tool. Use it.
Local SEO often feels like you’re up to bat with Google on the mound, and the search engine giant is staring you down, and you’re left trying to guess the next pitch. You might be expecting a fastball, but inevitably Google will throw you a curve and change up the algorithm on you. The result: a swing and a miss.
Here’s an important lesson for all local SEOs (and for all SEOs, for that matter): failure is an unavoidable aspect of the SEO game. The search algorithms are so complex and change so often that after you’ve mastered the basics, it’s mostly trial and error to achieve significant gains after that.
If something you tried didn’t work, dust yourself off, study the data and try something different. Remember, it’s a long season. Tomorrow is another day. Learn from your last at bat and try something different the next time. Striking out every now and then is inevitable. Failing to learn from that experience is unacceptable. Just don’t fail too often or you’ll be out of the job and out of the league. No pressure.
Though it’s important to specialize in your given field, that doesn’t mean you should be a one-trick pony. When it comes to local SEO, the hat you wear today might not be the hat you wear tomorrow. Things change so rapidly in this business that you should expect your role within the team to constantly evolve.
For example, cleaning up geocodes and manually placing pins is a time consuming process. But that doesn’t mean tomorrow Google won’t come out with an update to the Google My Business API that will allow us to automatically update geocodes. If that day comes, acknowledge the change, adapt, improve, and look for the next area to put your effort into.
In local SEO, it’s important to constantly look to the future and anticipate it. The Penguin update was predicted long before it actually arrived. All signs point to AMP being the future of mobile. The signs are there for those willing to look. Begin laying the groundwork for looming industry changes now and you won’t get caught flatfooted when they do come to pass.
“Say it ain’t so, Joe,” but integrity is an important aspect of both baseball and local SEO. Sure, you have your cheaters in both domains, but eventually they get caught and punished. Google is constantly getting better at catching spam links and bogus local listings. You might be able to stay ahead of the search engines for a while, but eventually you’ll get caught, and you’ll have to pay the consequences. Play the local SEO game the right way, and you’ll be much more likely to have success in the long run.
And that brings me to the most important lesson about local SEO. There are no shortcuts. No easy ways to the top. To gain expertise in local SEO, you’ll have to earn it, you’ll have to grind it out. But hey, that’s part of the fun.
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