Search engine optimization (SEO) is huge as an MSP, as many people search online before selecting a service provider. The idea of Local SEO takes that even a step further by optimizing for your local market.
Unfortunately there’s no get-traffic-quick tools or one easy fix for ranking higher. Ultimately, to rank higher, you need your website to provide actual value to your audience. In this Guide to Local SEO for your MSP, we’re going to look at the main factors that can boost your SEO. They ultimately boil down to a few ideas: Knowing your audience, becoming technically sound, and creating high-value content. Let’s dive in.
The MSPs Guide To Local SEO
Set up Google My Business
If you haven’t already, you should immediately go claim your business on Google My Business. GMB is a service from google that allows you to claim, verify, and add information about your local business.
This is super important if you’re looking for business in your own city. For instance, if someone searches “IT services near me” on google, they’ll get the normal search results as well as a Google Maps result. Having a complete Google My Business profile helps you climb the rankings on both as it lets Google know that you’re a legitimate business, and where you’re located.
To set up your profile, do the following:
- Log into your Google account
- Go to google.com/business and select “Manage Now”
- Fill in your Business information, including name, address and phone
Once your profile is set up, you must verify your business with google. This can be done by mail, phone, email, or sometimes instantly if you have other google services enabled.
It’s very important that you fill out your profile with photos, reviews, service information, etc. to yield the best results.
Know Your Audience
Before you jump into content and on-page SEO for your website, it’s imperative that you understand your target audience, what they’re searching for, and what brings them value.
You can have tons of pages, blogs, and keywords, but if they don’t resonate with those who would buy from you, it’s likely that they’ll never even find it.
There are a few ways to create a better understanding of your audience:
Create Buyer Personas
Buyer Personas are basically profiles of your ideal customer. It’s a semi-fake person who represents all the real people who have and will purchase your services.
Some things to include in your persona:
- Pain points
- Company size
Are they a small business in need of complete outsourced support? Are they a larger company looking for a strategic partner? These are questions you should answer in your persona.
To build your persona, look at your current clients. Maybe even interview them. Find commonalities in your best clients, think about what you want in future clients, and build your persona from there.
Research Local Keywords
We’ll dive deeper into keyword research in the next section, but finding localized versions of your best keywords is key for a solid Local SEO strategy.
In addition to broad terms about IT, people will also include local terms in their search query such as:
“IT services near me”
“IT services in Charlotte, NC”
One way to do some research into this is to use Google’s Autocomplete feature. Type in common IT keyword searches and you’ll see longer versions of what folks are searching.
Another helpful spot, the “related searches” section, is at the bottom of the search results page.
Hubspot defines Keyword Research as the process of finding and analyzing actual search terms that people enter into search engines. The insight you can get into these actual search terms can help inform content strategy, as well as your larger marketing strategy.
These days it’s not as important that you have exact matches for keywords being searched. The intent behind the keyword is what really matters. Keyword research helps to show you what your customers are searching for. It’s up to you to provide the answer behind the intent of your search.
Also, keep in mind that your customers won’t always know the common industry terms. “MSP” or “managed services” may not be a highly searched term, whereas “IT Support” or “Tech support” may be much more common. Keep that in mind while doing research.
The key is to find out:
- Which keywords are searched the most
- Related keywords to your primary ones
- What your competitors are ranking for
- What’s most relevant to your services and content.
Once you have a good list of relevant keywords you can start to create content ideas around topics relevant to those keywords.
Keywords aren’t just magic words to sprinkle around your site. Your content should deliver on the value that the keyword offers. However, the keywords should exist throughout your entire website, including but not limited to:
- Title tags
- Headings and subheadings
- Page URLs
- Meta descriptions
- Page Content
- Image alt tags
To boost your Local SEO, make sure to include local keywords here as well. If you have multiple offices, creating pages for each is a great way to naturally include references to your town. Blogs about local events/news are another good idea.
Do an SEO Audit on your site
With SEO being both a creative and technical strategy, there’s a lot to keep up with, and things can fall through the cracks. Luckily, there are tons of tools that will audit your website and point out errors to fix both within the code and your content.
Here are a few to check out:
- Ubersuggest – Free tool that gives you some basic tips
- Ahrefs – Our favorite. Tons of tools and combines with keyword explorer
- Screaming Frog – Great crawler for big websites
- Seomator – Another good tool, includes monitoring and alerts
- Google Search Console – Free tool from google to fix crawl errors
Finding and fixing technical errors in your website makes it easier for search engines to “crawl” through your site and understand your content better.
Use an SEO plugin
Website plugins are great for giving you real-time advice for your standard and local SEO. Use an SEO plugin for things like blog posts, meta tags, page content, and more. Here are a few plugins worth looking into:
- Yoast SEO
- All-in-One SEO Pack
- SEO Squirrly
Generate More Reviews
When it comes to Local SEO, reviews are very important. When your business shows in the local results, Google includes your 1-5 star rating next to your name, and when presented next to other companies, users are more likely to click on the company with the higher rating.
There are a few quick ways to get more reviews on Google. The easiest and quickest way is to just send an email to all your current clients and ask for a review, linking to your Google My Business page. Afterwards, figure out a way to implement it into your onboarding process with NEW clients. You get more and better reviews in the earlier “honeymoon” stages of your relationship.
Another strategy is to put a button or link on your website, asking for a review. Even if someone isn’t a current client, they may have something nice to say about a past experience, or they could simply be a colleague that is willing to vouch for you.
While you should NEVER pay for a review, there are some paid tools that can help you get more reviews. Tools like Review Buzz and Grade.us are good for this.
One more thing. Don’t freak out if you get a less-than-preferred review. Respond to it kindly, not with excuses, but with a recognition of how you’ll prevent the issue in the future. Some studies have shown this actually increases trust.
Create Relevant Content
Once your site is optimized and you have a solid keyword strategy, it’s time to increase your digital footprint and write some blogs.
Blog articles are great for social media sharing and provide a low barrier of entry to your site. While the rest of your website is to explain your company and sell your services, the blog is a place to provide value, educate your audience, and even have a little fun.
I’ll reiterate, the blog is not a place to sell constantly. It may be okay to mention your services if it comes up naturally, but with each article, think about the following:
“Does this serve me, or my audience?”
If the answer isn’t your audience, it’s probably not going to get much traction. It just won’t resonate with your audience.
For example, we at Hook Security provide security awareness training.
Is this blog about phishing?
It sure isn’t. Our blog serves our secondary purpose as a company which is to provide kickass marketing advice to our channel partners.
So when it comes to running a blog for an MSP, think about things you could help your audience with. Ranking IOT devices, educating about security, teaching how to evaluate their tech stack, you get it.
One other good place to look for blog ideas is in your support tickets. If you’re getting common questions from your clients, see if these could be written into a blog post as other clients/prospects are likely having the same issue.
Bringing Everything Together
As you can probably tell by now, there’s no quick fix or #1 tool to win at Local SEO for your MSP. There’s simply a system of best practices that can put you in the best position to perform well.
One correlation you may have noticed, however, is quality. Focus on quality on providing value, follow that up using technical checklists and audits, and you’ll start seeing results.