I have wrote about this before on a previous blog but let me say it here on my own blog with my own authorship tag attached to it without someone else taking credit for it. For most industries in the USA (Sorry attorneys, exterminators, & other insanely competitive industries) it is absolutely possible to rank without a building a link. Let me clarify that, I think citations pass link juice but I don’t refer to them as one. Here’s the formula that I have followed for years now that has worked like a charm and allowed me to help several clients who don’t have an ideal SEO budget.
Step one, do an on site audit. You don’t have to go all Annie Cushing on your client but it should be in depth enough that you are now very familiar with their Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools and if they are victims of a cute animal from our friends in Mountain View, CA then you can add a major step to this formula and go about fixing that first.
Next, highly recommend or basically insist on a local host. Like the actual piece of equipment should be in driving distance to the company. Sure it will be more costly than your GoDaddy shared hosting but worth every penny when it comes to meeting your SEO goals. Not always the easiest thing to find but I know for a fact it can be done in the Mid-Atlantic & Northeast region of the USA.
Next step is taking your findings from the audit and implementing them. For example, is your location in your homepage’s title tag? For local businesses it better be. Then get some quality meta data on the rest of the site. Google Authorship should be on your posts too. Not sure it makes a difference in local but it can’t hurt.
Optimizing your Google Plus for Business Page is the next step. Do you have duplicates? Multiple locations? Are you in the old places dashboard? Is your maps listing unclaimed? You need these questions answered before you build your first citation. Claim your maps listings, get rid of duplicates, create a page for each location, and make sure your profile is 100% complete with the right categories. I suggest fewer categories as opposed to more.
Now make sure you have the correct NAP (Name, Address, Phone #) for your client and any other old addresses and it is time to start building. I recommend the top 50 list from a famous SEO company known for their local work. You can use services to have them built, but make sure they are doing them right and complete.
If that doesn’t get the job done then you have some reverse engineering to do. There are some great new tools to accomplish that and this will give you the citations to build that will enhance your local ranking.
I haven’t seen a local business not rank from this and I didn’t build a “link.”