When conducting SEO, information can be found almost anywhere. There are plenty of free tools and great articles out there that can provide guidance. However, if you are like us, there are times when things just get frustrating; wishing there was a way to get an exact answer for the exact location of operations. Today we want to try to provide just that for all our friends and businesses conducting SEO in Orange County.
Local SEO or Wider Scope?
One of the first considerations that will dictate your ultimate strategy is choosing whether or not to compete in local SEO. If you operate out of a brick-and-mortar location, or you service mostly local clientele, then you will likely be operating in local SEO. If you are a business like us in that you provide services without geographic limitations, then there is a little bit more to consider diving into.
Take Zupo for example!
Search engine optimization services are a search query that though seemingly have no geographic bounds, when Googled, actually returns local results. In short, this means that Google is treating the keyword as a local search, where they will give preference to companies that are within a nearby radius. For a company like ours, taking a hybrid approach is needed. Local SEO results are prioritized in one campaign, with non-geographic results in another.
To sum up the scope of SEO: keyword groups are targeting local results, and will be competing in Orange County’s local SEO game. If the results are non-geographic specific, then feel free to disregard the rest of the article, because you will not be competing strictly in Orange County when it comes to SEO.
Orange County or a City in Specific
Another aspect that must be determined is the reach your business has within Orange County’s SEO. This is the scope of the area you are competing in. Let’s break it down.
Specific Cities in Orange County
Some businesses are really only interested in competing in their local city. Say you are in South County (let’s say Irvine) you may not be interested in having users from Anaheim find you. In other cases, companies have catered their businesses to be optimized for their local county or surrounding area’s citizens. In this case, they may not be interested in servicing people from other demographics who may have different socioeconomic statuses or styles of living.
A classic example of this can be found in Anaheim, where businesses in East Anaheim are very much different than those in West Anaheim. In East Anaheim, businesses are much closer to Disneyland and are servicing tourists and the entertainment crowd. In West Anaheim, where there are more families and small businesses, the services are geared toward those families and many different immigrant and ethnic groups.
When competing on a city level, there are some factors that influence the circumstances that you will be participating in. When it comes to the individual cities of Orange County, the number of searches per city is typically quite small. Based on our own research, we see city-specific searches go anywhere from 10 searches a month to maybe 100 if for some reason, surges in demand cause them to be really high.
Simply put, when you are competing on a city level, you will have a smaller pot of searches that you’re competing for. This also means, however, that the competition is much weaker because less sites will be fighting for the local city’s business. Typically, for our clients, what we normally advise is to first win at your local city level, and then move to the county level. This way you can make incremental improvements and see results more quickly.
Then of course, there is the county as a whole. Many businesses, especially service businesses would like to rank in the county to build clout and further future commerce.
Orange County amasses over 37 cities, a decently large area. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t go ranking for the county as a whole. For many of our clients, we work with them on ranking for Orange County so that they can have the widest net possible to capture leads and customers. When trying to rank for Orange County as a whole, the searches will always be much larger. You can see them anywhere from 50 to 200 searches a month for different keyword groups.
Of course, there are occasions when searches in the Orange County region are also low at 10 searches a month, but it really depends on the service that you are offering. On many occasions we can see a very small search volume, but because the business provides a high ticket service, one project has a larger return on investment.
When ranking for Orange County specifically, the competition will typically be ratcheted up. More businesses across a larger area are all competing for the Orange County searches, so what is needed to rank requires more effort. This means a larger commitment to content and link building. However, once a business begins to start ranking for Orange County searches, they start to see large improvements in their leads because of the amount of exposure they are receiving.
Regardless of if you are competing for a specific OC city or if you are competing for Orange County as a whole, the content you make will need to be oriented towards the local area you are trying to rank within.
This means your online content needs to mention Orange County (or whatever city you are going for) in order for SEO to pick up on it. At times, this can seem weird, almost difficult or forced, because talking about your trade doesn’t necessarily always involve naming your local area. However, it is something you will have to commit to. Find ways to organically place mentions of your city, or in our case, Orange County into the written pieces.
For many of our clients, the best action to take is to become a known, active player in the community. Consider either leading, founding or joining different trades and community organizations to spread notoriety. Orange County specifically is thriving in different trades like community and nonprofit organizations which allow for business development to flourish. On an SEO level, these trades provide businesses with a great opportunity to write content that is geared towards the local city and county with ease.
The content produced doesn’t need to be 100% catered to the local area, but will have to be a priority and an emphasis. Otherwise, your site will not be seen by Google as a business that is well optimized for the local area.
Orange County Specific Content
The key to a successful local SEO campaign is to be location-specific - meaning your content bleeds “Orange County” or the “OC” - NOT the “Greater Los Angeles” area. See what we did there? Only people not from Orange County call it the “Greater Los Angeles” area.
For your content to climb in search rankings you’ll want to lean into all the things that make life in the OC unique and relate it to your business or industry. This can be difficult when you’re so immersed in the area - you may not even notice what is “unique” as it all seems familiar to you.
Not sure where to start? Sometimes the best way to get inspired is to look at what websites located elsewhere are talking about and adapt it with an Orange County spin. Some examples of great OC content could be:
- Best Dog Beach in Orange County
- Best Picnic Spots or Hiking Trails in Orange County
- Best Places to Do a Video Shoot in Orange County
At the end of the day, the best options depend on the nature of your business. You’ll just have to get creative and employ one key strategy: try to think like a person who has OC pride. Think about what they’d like to read, learn and know. Build your content with that person in mind and you’ll be well on your way to grabbing the attention of local influencers and becoming a trusted resource.
If all else fails, check out the competition and do what they’re doing but better. Mimic their topics but bring a better tone. In researching your competition you are likely to get those creative juices flowing - and once those juices start flowing make sure to start writing right away. Documenting your great ideas about OC, even if they aren’t fully baked, will help to ensure that nothing is forgotten. Jot down every sound bite that comes to you. You’ll thank yourself later for that diligence.
The other thing you need to keep in mind is that you want to be as authentic as you can with your audience. Of course you have to be thinking of your business’s bottom line when you’re devising your marketing and content strategies, but people don’t necessarily want to feel like they’re being “marketed to” all the time. You want potential customers to feel like your business is contributing to a greater good in terms of knowledge.
For example, if you are a dentist, you don’t want your web content to be only about teeth and procedures - you need to explore other topics of interest. You can create local content that explores other interesting themes, such as the local school lunches, what foods are teeth healthy or how the fluoride levels are in your city’s water.
In other words - don’t be one-dimensional. Build your content library and establish yourself as a trusted local resource. Leverage your industry expertise and generate local content specific to your audience - the effort will undoubtedly pay major dividends in sake ranking and overall engagement.
When working on your site’s search engine tags for optimization, keep in mind they also have to be catered to Orange County or one of the OC cities you are targeting. This will have a lot of similarities to content development in that you want to make sure the title tags and meta descriptions of your site include the local modifiers. Also, when building internal links, there should be anchor text that states the OC city name or “Orange County.”
When it comes to link building, it is much less relevant to have links come from only local sources. So when engaging in link building campaigns, there can be less focus on developing links specifically from local areas or sites.
What we have found is that an over reliance on local link building can severely slow growth of links and referring domains. We encourage businesses to build links where you are able, and do not make it restrictive. A large part of link building is acquiring links from relevant sites, so if you are trying to rank within your area and can acquire links from local sites, we recommend to do so! This is one aspect of link building that is advantageous when it comes to working in your local area.
If you live and operate in Orange County, you probably have built some level of network with organizations, educational institutions, or friends. With these connections under your belt, it will be easier to give talks and provide value in your local area. If you think about it, you most likely already have some of these existing relationships. However, if you are reading this and don’t think you have a network within the community, then getting started isn’t too difficult either.
You live and operate in Orange County, all you have to do is put in the time and start reaching out and attending events. That of course is if you want to start acquiring thought leadership in the local community.
Building Thought Leadership to Help Orange County SEO Campaigns
For many business owners in Orange County, working towards building thought leadership can be an intimidating process.
Being right next door to Los Angeles, one of the biggest centers of business in the world, many Orange County companies feel overwhelmed or unworthy of thinking of themselves as a thought leader, or as a name worth featuring online, or even at an industry event.
I understand that… but I don’t necessarily agree.
That’s why in today’s post, I want to tear down this idea and go over actionable strategies your business can use in order to build thought leadership for itself. Read on!
Collegiate and Educational Institutions in Orange County
I want to start here because it was in educational institutions that I personally built most of my PR and contributor opportunities.
Graduating from California State University, Fullerton, provided me with the launchpad to kickstart my link building and digital PR abilities, as I had the chance to work with the local business clubs, entrepreneurship departments, and business schools, not only to speak at certain events but also to contribute with some content.
This is essential because it allowed me to keep building my portfolio, which is key when it comes to building thought leadership.
Plus, universities and educational institutions have their private interest to ensure there are resources for students to engage with, particularly those that can speak to future careers.
Clubs, classes, and the universities themselves are starving for programs that can bring those who are already working to come back and speak, and that represents a great opportunity for yourself.
My tip is that if you’re not sure whether or not anyone would want to hear about your brand or your opinion as a business owner, start with speaking at schools and colleges.
Reach out to clubs or professors, as they’re usually very casual and don’t have to do any intense vetting of your past accomplishments, and propose your idea.
The truth is that they just want to hear from someone real who can speak about certain topics… someone like you!
And if you didn’t go to college in OC, don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out. As long as you have relevant insights to share with the students, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get in touch with the university.
Orange County Specific Publications
Orange County is thriving with several publications - and no, I’m not just speaking about the typical Orange County Register or Orange County Business Journal.
In fact, there are many publications in OC that cater specifically to a certain industry, and all you need to do is find the one(s) that are a good fit for your business.
Personally, I have worked with two OC startup publications, OC Startup Now and OC Startup Council, and I can say that doing is a foolproof way of boosting your thought leadership, as these publications often want to talk specifically about businesses in the area.
And the best part is that more often than not, these journalists or website owners are incredibly accessible!
In order to get in touch with them, you can:
- Attend local events where journalists typically go to in order to write stories and find people to feature in their pieces.
- Send outreach emails to your chosen publications, letting them know that you’re from OC and mentioning what you could offer to their website and content.
Personally, I find that going with the first option, and having face-to-face conversations from the get-go, increases your chances of being featured. However, going with the traditional online marketing route can work just fine as well!
Meetups and Events
Last but not least, going to industry meetups and events is another great way of building thought leadership.
As someone who doesn’t exactly love networking, I have found that if you have no contacts or networks whatsoever, meetups and events are great starting points to build some credibility.
Granted, you’ll find countless people just trying to sell you things. However, you’d be surprised at how many high-powered OC individuals to these networking events to find up-and-coming names in the area.
As such, my suggestion is that you do your best to attend relevant networking events and meetups. Do it consistently, and you’ll start making some headway and become someone that people look to for advice.
And if you want to take things one step further, why not start hosting events yourself? After all, being the host of an interesting, well-organized meetup will give you credibility like never before.
Additionally, whenever you go to events, try and identify strong organizations that you should pursue opportunities with, in order to service on boards or get an elevated position.
I have found that if you continually go to networking events from a specific organization and they show opportunities to join their board, you’ll find great chances of building credibility and boosting your exposure much faster.