How we Increased Organic Traffic Over 711% Without Building a Single Backlink
A study showed that 78% of “local” Google searches resulted in offline purchases.
In other words, if you own a local business, capturing more Google searches = more customers.
In this case study, I am going to break down the exact Local SEO tactics I used to help local Taxi Boat client to increase local keyword rankings and organic traffic by over 711% in just 3 months’ without building a single backlink.
Here is the screenshot of Googe Search Console showing the results we achieved.
Note: We started working with this client in April 2019.
These are the exact 4 steps that we followed to achieve this growth:
- Site Audit
- Competition research
- Keyword research
- On-page SEO improvements
- GMB Optimization
1. Site Audit
It’s always smart to start with the site audit because it’s important to get insights on the technical issues that are preventing the site from appearing on search results. I usually use SEMRush or Ahrefs for audit purpose but since we’ve designed and built this website there wasn’t much we had to work on.
The site was ready and it was time we put our focus on doing the keyword and competitor research.
2. Keyword Research
Local Keyword research is something that’s “must-do” for new businesses entering the industry. It’s a quite simple process and you can use a free Google tool – Google Keyword Planner (GKP).
All you have to do is open GKP, click “Discover new keywords”, enter your seed keyword and it’s variations, set country or region, and click enter.
You will get a list of keywords people use to find business exactly like yours.
Now, this is only basic keyword research. I additionally use SEMRush and KWFinder tools that are paid but they get more data to work with.
We created a sheet with the list of keywords that had the commercial intent. From that point, we only had to do the competitor research before we get to real SEO:
3. Competitor Research
Competitor research is one of the most important steps in marketing your business online. It’s also a quite simple process when it comes to local SEO and this exact case of ranking a local Taxi Boat service.
There are plenty of tools you can use but I prefer doing it manually by simply typing into Google keywords you got from doing keyword research. In my example, it was “Taxi Boat + [location]”. My location was Sibenik so I typed “Taxi Boat Sibenik”.
You have to look at the local 3-pack results and analyze each competitor answering to these questions:
- Does your competitor have a website?
- Does your competitor have verified and completed Google My Business listing?
- How many reviews averagely do your competitors have?
- How well do they rank on the organic results?
- How many backlinks do they have? (You can use free versions of SEMRush for this)
TIP 1: If your competitor is ranking in TOP3 on the local results but doesn’t have a website – you basically stumbled upon the no-competition niche and you can rank with little to no effort after creating the website. It only takes time.
Except for that, I usually check for technical SEO issues that gives me a deep insight and helps me discover more opportunities I can use to outrank my competition.
Try answering yourself a question on why a certain competitor is ranked on top3 results. Then you can copy their strategy and add just a little more effort to outrank them.
After the competitor research has been done, we knew exactly what we needed to do to get to #1 and to steal most of the local traffic.
4. On-page SEO
We already mentioned how important it is to fix technical issues on your site. Well, the next thing you need to do is a proper on-page (or on-site) SEO. It’s about using the right keyword on the right place inside your page.
Since this is a local business with only one location we decided to optimize the homepage for the local search term “Taxi boat Sibenik”.
TIP 1: The homepage is the page with the most authority so it gets ranked faster.
TIP 2: If the business had more then one location, I would suggest creating a page for each location so users can get more personalized results.
When optimizing a page for a given keyword, there are few steps you need to follow:
- Use the main keyword in H1
- Use the main keyword in meta title and meta description
- Use the variation of the main keyword in H2
- Add NAP (Name, Address, Phone) data format and make sure it’s consistent across the web
- Add a Google Map
- Sprinkle some related keywords in the content to avoid keyword stuffing
TIP 3: We used the term “Official Taxi Boat” in meta title which helped us increase a Click Through Rate.
We also added 6000 words of content on the blog that targeted some long-tail keywords to help our client get even more clicks and impressions. These were targeting the informational keywords such as the list of islands customers can visit or “what do do in” type of articles.
5. GMB optimization
After the website was completed it was time to set up and optimize Google My Business listing (GMB).
If you don’t know what GMB is there are so many resources about it on the internet and I encourage you to read about it. This is an essential step that once done skyrocketed the number of calls and clicks for the client.
Basically, you need to register your business on GMB, get it verified physically and complete your profile. We completed all of the information asked and optimized GMB business categories which is another very important thing.
After we did all of the above we created a 3-month content strategy that would signal the Google we are alive and running.
TIP: Think of your GMB profile just like any other social media profile. Use it to publish images, news, events, etc. It will increase your reach and possibly bring in new customers to your doorstep.
TIP 2: Google openly admits that more pictures = more exposure. So use your phone camera and publish some photos. Be consistent.
TIP 3: When consistently publishing the fresh content, the search engine crawler will visit your site more often as well as allocate a bigger crawl budget to your website. That will help your new content get indexed much faster. That’s not the only positive side of regularly adding fresh content. Your site will also ger ranked for more keywords
It’s time for the results
After we did all of the above, we could simply set up tasks such as publishing images and blog posts that would keep the site growing as the main part was done. Results started coming in and the phone didn’t stop ringing from May to October.
We didn’t build any backlinks because we didn’t have to. When we did the competitor research, we saw that the competition had badly designed websites with lots of technical issues and poorly optimized GMB listings. If this wasn’t the case, we’d have to build citations from the directories and backlinks to reach the top 3 positions.
June 2019 Google Search Console screenshot: Organic ranking #3
This is a month after we started with content marketing. We were publishing 2 blogs per week. One about the local events for the upcoming week and another targeting keywords with informational searches (best beaches, island near Sibenik, where to, what to, etc.)
July 2019 Google Search Console screenshot: Organic ranking #1
If we check Google My Business Insights for the July, we can see what #1 ranking in local pack got us:
Local SEO is a powerful tool for small businesses. Taxi boat Sibenik website was built from the ground and optimized as necessary as it was to beat the competition and stay inside the budget.
We accomplished even more than we initially planned and the client was happy. We also did a car taxi website for the same client where we got 1000 calls in one month resulting in the purchase of another car and hiring an additional driver to keep him from being overloaded. We’ll talk more details in another case study.
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