Hint: SEO these days is really all about local search

It’s no secret that I like to play the role of “international man of mystery”, and thus never meet face to face with my tax clients. Everything about how I operate my tax practice supports my digital nomad lifestyle, even down to how I receive my IRS correspondence that they send through the Postal Service.

In a somewhat humorous twist, even my latest client lives the same way. He telecommutes with his clients also, and spends most of the year living on a warm tropical island, but maintains a summer home in Colorado. As I type this, he’s on his way back to Colorado to retrieve several years worth of tax returns that… Well, we don’t know what his tax preparer did on them — thus the problem.

So with me now starting to see clients that live the way I do, what I’m about to tell you might sound a bit two-faced, but it’s true: Your online lead generation strategy should be locally focused.

Even for myself, the raw reality is that I actually should have physical offices in the two areas I target most heavily for finding tax clients, and I should make the effort to have a highly localized online presence in each of those market areas.

Why is this so important?

According to software giant Sage, their latest national small business survey says that 74% of all small business customers are local. This really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, of course. But here’s the part that might be surprising to some people: According to Google, one third of all searches on their platform are location-based. The stakes go up when they analyze just searches performed on mobile devices: Half of all such searches are local in scope.

The conclusion should be obvious: Google is now everybody’s yellow page directory.

It used to be that if you wanted local customers calling you up, you had better be in your local yellow pages. Now, it can be downright difficult to even find a phone book. Numerous communities across the country don’t even print and deliver phone books anymore. This fact was constantly and heavily discussed while I was living in Port Angeles, WA over the winter, since the largest employer in town is a paper mill that supplies the paper for most of America’s phone books.

Side note: Premium members should refer back to the January members CD, in which I interviewed Nate Hagerty on this very topic.

Think about how you use Google yourself, whether on your mobile gizmo or on your computer. Chances are, when you’re looking to make a specific purchase decision, you’re using search terms that incorporate geography. For example, if you’re looking for the best pho place in Denver, you search for exactly that: “best pho denver”. (The correct answer, by the way, is a place called Pho Duy 6 at Main & 120th in Broomfield, just in case you happen to be looking and this page happens to come up.)

I’m a big fan of the Pareto Principle, which states that 80% (or more) of your results come from 20% (or less) of your actions. When it comes to SEO, I think the ratio is much closer to 95/5. In my new training manual, which will be released on April 19th, I’ll be covering my Pareto SEO Strategy, much of which is geared towards doing the minimal essential tasks you need to perform in order to get the majority of the results you need for appearing high in your local search results.

If you’d like the short version of the Pareto SEO Strategy, here it is:

1. Be listed where it counts.
2. Publish regularly.
3. Actively engage with your prospects and clients.

What I find humorous is that, in reality, this basic online strategy hasn’t changed in 20 years. Where you’re listed and what you publish has changed, of course. You shouldn’t be focused on your local BBS forum or your MySpace page anymore, and video wasn’t practical over dial-up, but the basic strategy is still the same.

By the way, you can get the new manual, “Creating Online Tax Client Lead Funnels“, by ordering here.

Also, don’t forget that I’m giving away the new lead generation site that I’m creating as the demo site for purposes of writing the manual. You can learn more about the give away and how to enter by reading the initial announcement here.