John Locke of Lockedown SEO

Lockedown SEO helps manufacturers with 250k to 50M annual revenue improve their SEO and search rankings. We specialize in helping industrial, manufacturing, and other blue-collar companies drive more natural search traffic to their sites.

Though we’re based in Sacramento, California, we’ve helped businesses across the US launch and improve their websites workflow, boost their sales, and rank higher in Google.

JONATHAN: Welcome back folks to WP-Tonic show, this is episode 508. We’ve got a real special and close friend, a close friend for me and for the show, a former, a former co-host of mine. We got John Locke back on the show and we’re going to be talking about how to do effective non no bullshit SEO in 2020. We’re going to be talking about how-to if you’re a small agency or a one-person developer, how you can promote your business locally with effective SEO, we’re going to be talking about the best tools free or paid for that could help you. We’re also going to be talking to how to use YouTube to promote your business locally or nationally. And we’re going to be talking about everything SEO. So, I’m going to turn it over to John to also give him, give me a quick introduction. So, John, can you give us a quick introduction as well?

JOHN: Indeed. My name is John Locke. I run a small business just myself, occasionally a few helpers. Lockedown SEO. And that has been going for the last eight years. That’s based out of Sacramento, California, and most of the people that I help with SEO are manufacturing firms, contractors, and some other like odds and ends, but yeah, mostly that that type of client.

JONATHAN: That’s great. And I’ve got my great co-host, Adrian, Adrian, would you like to introduce yourself to new listeners and viewers?

ADRAIN: Hi everyone. My name is Adrian. I am the CEO and founder of Groundhogg. We help small businesses grow their list, launch their funnel, and build and scale their businesses.

JONATHAN: Right. And before we go into the main part of our discussion. I just want to quickly mention a couple of our great sponsors that really helped the show and pay for all the expenses in producing this show. And first, Kinsta has been our major sponsor for over two years now, and they’ve just been a great company to work with. And I also host the WP-Tonic website with them and a number of current sites, and basically get blinding fast speeds with Kinsta, they use Google cloud as their backbone. So technically it’s some of the best hostings you can get their interface, is fantastic. UX design. They’ve got some easy, bells and whistles. Like you can select what PHP you’re using with just one click basically it’s easy to use.
And the main thing is you get fantastic support, unlike some other hosting providers, which I won’t name. when you, when you contact Kinsta you talked to somebody that normally can solve your problem there and then. You are not just going to get passed around and get lost in the system and you have to spend a load of time talking to different people, explaining your problem time after time it’s normally dealt with there. And then, and that’s just fantastic, not only for yourself but for your clients. So, if that sounds interesting, go over to Kinsta, look at their plans for yourself or for your clients, sign up, and tell them that you heard about them on the WP-Tonic Show. As second sponsors is a great friend of the show and it’s WP Fusion. And WP Fusion, if you’ve got any CRM and you’re looking to do modern, marketing now from active to campaign to a host of 200, and it also includes Groundhogg as well.

You can use, WP Fusion to really put up that communication from your WordPress website to one of these CRMs it’s like putting it on steroids. What you can do when you’ve got a membership site or Woo Commerce site, or any large complicated website where you were the sub to a number of optimization is just amazing. So, go over and have a look at what WP version can do for you or your clients, and buy the product you will not very disappointed is truly amazing. So, let’s go into the main part of the show. So John, so you’ve got the kind of insights or tips that know when it comes to small, local SEO, if you’re a small agency or let’s say any other kind of small business, not only web design but might be a graphic designer or anybody that, do kind of digital services. How can they, establish themselves in the local market using SEO?

JOHN: Yeah so, if you’re an agency trying to get into local SEO, and I know lots of people in our community, even in the WordPress community are looking to do that. There are few things that you’re going to have to do for, for a client, most of it’s going to center around getting the right content on the page to target a specific keyword, making sure that they have the right a backlink profile in order to rank, uh, cause it’s still difficult to rank without, links from, from prominent websites. And then making sure that the design and user experience to the page is up to par because Google does kind of use how people react to the page as an indicator of the quality of it.

Sites with good design tend to rise higher than sites with poor design. When the content is comparable. If you’re an agency trying to, to offer these services, one of the things that you should be able to do is, is at least ranked somewhere in your local market. One of the things that I’ve seen, if you’re trying to put together a page for yourself, when it comes to local SEO, if you’re in a freelancer agency, whatever, trying to do this. Some of the elements that you’re going to want to have on this page are some sort of contact form. Usually, near the top of the page, you don’t want to have a list of the types of services that you provide in each local SEO package each month. Going to want to have some keyword texts, obviously about whatever local market that you’re in and you know, who you help, what you do, who you do it for.

Those are just some of the things that you’re going to want to have on that page to give it a chance to rank. But if you can get one client, and make a great case study out of that and just knock it out of the park for at least one local business, then you can use that as a means to show proof that you can do, local SEO for other businesses. So is the unusually. If, if you knock it out of the park for that first client. If they know other people in their network that are also business owners, they’ll usually refer you to those people as well. If you make a transformation into their business.

Now, one thing that a lot of people are going to suggest to do at the first client for free. I’m going to tell you not to do that. You should get paid to do it because a lot of these things, as far as like the some of the tools that you might need, to do SEO or to track their local rankings, things cost money sometimes, you know setting up, links on some of these directory sites might take a little bit of money or buying local citations like that. Do what we call the name, address, phone number, website, citations. Those are all going to cost money. So, you don’t want that to come out of your pocket. So please do charge for your first client. Don’t make it a freebie.

JONATHAN: Right, over to you Adrian

ADRIAN: So I was just, uh, uh, I’m since we’re talking about SEO, I’m like reminiscing to back in the day, which I know I was like super young back then, but my dad and I used to roam the country and we were giving SEO training. And, and I think we were using a cool tool, like way back in the day. It was like Keyword Ninja or something like that. And then you plug in your domain and it will tell you what the search engine power of your domain is. Like, if you’re the keyword you were looking for is in the domain, in the title, in like the meta description and all those things, is that stuff still really important. And am I being clear?

JOHN: Yeah, I think I know what you’re talking about because like when I first started doing web design too, there was, it was almost like extensions that you would put into your browser. I think the one that was popular at the time was called the SEO book. If I remember correctly, but a lot of these would measure the domain rating. And I think like Google still had that API at the time, but I don’t think it’s been publicly accessible for a long time. But some of them used the Maas domain rating as well for a while. I think there are tools out there now that like kind of aggregate a lot of those different things into that.

ADRIAN: Stuff. Like, what it would do is calculate all of your like backlinks to a domain or like backlinks to a specific page and then give you kind of like a score on your domain based on a keyword.

JOHN: Yeah. And a lot of those paid tools can do that as well. For example, Maas if you put in like certain keywords, so they have, I think they have like, it’s the spam score. I think it’s a domain rating. I think Ahrefs that you can put in a specific keyword, they’ll tell you to like where you rank or whatever. But they will give you like a keyword difficulty. They’ll tell you the, what they call the AR it’s like a URL strength. So, they’ll tell you, the kind of, it’s basically measuring like the backlink power to that specific page and then your overall domain. And so, a lot of the tools out there do something very similar to that. But what I found too is it’s not just like the raw strength of, let’s say that like each domain or page that’s linking to you has a certain power, like one has, like a 40 domain rating, page rating, and one has like 50, and one’s a 20. It also matters the type of category that those are in it can’t just be random sites.

It’s going to be a lot more powerful if it’s a site from a similar sector if it’s from the same industry. So, for example, if somebody was like linking to Groundhogg or to WP-Tonic, if they were both from something like marketing and web development, then that would be more powerful. Then if they were linking from something like a home and garden site, if that makes sense, it also grew the Google ranking algorithm also considers the category of the site that’s linking to you. And when it’s not similar or the content isn’t kind of in that same family of stuff, the linking power is a little bit diminished.

ADRIAN: How do you, because you bring up this whole categorization thing, how does Google decide on what category your website is? Do you get to self-identify or do they kind of like make that decision for you?

JOHN: No, you do not get to self-identify. You self-identify by the type of content that you put on your site? I mean, that has a lot more to do with it than anything, but one of the things that, that Google has, you know, getting really good at is actually being able to, identify what type of category you’re probably in through a couple of things. One is through the natural language API, which if you search that out, just search natural language API Google you’ll find the page. But they basically can break down the sentences and the text on your page and extract different entities from that.
And they can kind of figure out it’s through the different words in, through the different texts that you’re using on your site, through each page, what the main category or what your site is all about. The other thing that helps too, is the entity graph. And these things are kind of all interrelated, but Google as are most things by looking at a specific business, like what business categories the site is in on other sites on Google my business on Yelp, on Facebook, and all these other business directories or aggregate sites. It looks at the business category of those, pages as well. And if all those lines up into like the same thing, then it can say with a high degree of certainty, that that site is about this category.

ADRIAN: Cool. So, a lesson is getting on those business directories otherwise. So, if you could like posts like weird content for your niece, like something that’s like unrelated, but something you just wanted to share, and you share it through the platform. Can that have a negative effect on your category? If Google, then goes ahead and ranks that?

JOHN: I mean, if it’s like once in a while if you have like the occasional odd posts that don’t fit into that category, I mean, it can rank, but it’s probably going to rank less. Well then if everything that you’re posting is sticking to the same thing, but it’s, it probably won’t have a detrimental effect on your entire site because Google looks at individual pages. It doesn’t look at the entire site and say, we’re going to judge one page by what the rest of the site is, but it does know what the rest of your site is about. It is kind of weighted. Yeah, exactly. Okay. But I would say this too, like if you’re, if you have like a, um, a certain thing that you’re trying to rank for a certain category or whatever, don’t make it to where there’s too many, like fractures in your subcategories, make sure that everything kind of sticks to one central theme as much as possible because the most, the more content that you have in one category, the more certain Google is going to be that the entire site is about that.

ADRIAN: So, if you’re doing like a manufacturing site, it’s probably a good idea to stay away from garden and lawn care.

JOHN: Yeah, garden, and lawn care. I mean, it’s not for like industrial, depending on what it is like it can be related, but a better one would be like, you know, something like health and beauty would be like completely.

ADRIAN: Right, So, the categorization is a little bit higher level and not as granular.

JOHN: Yeah.

ADRIAN: Okay. Good to know.

JONATHAN: Well, I’m going to go. It is gone already quite quickly. You’ve got tons to discuss. We’ve got a true expert on SEO and a friend. We are back in a few moments. We’ll be delving into the world of SEO.

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JONATHAN: We are coming back. We’ve had a little bit of a feast. So, I just think there’s a clear dividing line between local, regional, and national SEO. And I would like to draw it back home to local and regional. So, to my knowledge of the main factors to help you with local, which don’t apply to that to national SEO is that these directories and getting your address details in these local directories. And there are tools, one that I recommend, and I don’t know if you’ve got some recommendations, John is most local and they offer a basis for a hundred and 29, but I normally recommend people go for their hundred and 99 products. But basically, you fill you’re your details. And then they take those details and they publish them everywhere. And the other thing I want to discuss the review, how important it is getting your details and using your Google local business page. What are your thoughts on these two topics?

JOHN: So, your Google my business, I mean, you got to get that, right. You got to have the right business category there yet. You must have a listing there. If you don’t have a Google my business, I mean, it’s pretty much, you’re not going to do that well, but the other thing that you absolutely have to have, if you’re trying to rank in local SEO is a Yelp profile Google for whatever reason uses your Yelp listing as his strong signal in local SEO. So, and, and I’ve even seen this before. I’ve seen this where, local businesses, were trying to rank in their city, and they weren’t doing that good. And then come to discovery, lo and behold, they didn’t have a Yelp page because we don’t like Yelp.
We don’t like people being able to say mean things about us, but once they got a Yelp profile, suddenly, the ranking started going up. So, those two are the most important. Then you’re also going to want to have some, whatever niche you’re in, there’s going to be, certain directories that you have to be on for web designers or marketers, it’s Up city and Clutch for contractors, it’s Home Advisor, House and Angie’s List, and a Blue Book. And there are all kinds of different ones like that. You know, and for manufacturing, there are different ones as well.

JONATHAN: Would you recommend coughing up for a service, like Maas local, most local? Do you think it’s just a waste of money?

JOHN: No Maas I mean, Maas local is fine, but it has changed too, because back in the day, so a lot of how these, citation services like and you know, info group and merchant circle and all these different ones. They all kind of are our part of different companies can update them. And there’s a name for it. I can’t remember what it is right now, but there are different ones that can do that. Like Yext, Uberall which basically Maas, local users to have their own service, their own proprietary service that could do this, but now there are white labeling Uberall.

JONATHAN: Yeah. So, is it cheaper to go to Uberall direct if you can?

JOHN: It’s cheaper through Maas local. Yeah. But what I usually do a citation campaign in bright local or a White Spark. White Spark recently just launched a service where you can set up these citations as a per citation basis, but you can also control the listing. So, something like the address changes later, you can change that later. So, that is kind of a preferable way to go. Yext is the most expensive, it costs like astronomical amounts to do, but all these are kind of the same. where YP and DexKnows are other ones that merged, Factual, and some of these other ones, they used to let you do manual submissions, but now you can’t. So, a lot of them are like that. You must go through a service.

JONATHAN: Over to you Adrian.

ADRIAN: So, at least whenever I see SEO conversations happening on like Facebook or whatever, right? So, like, listen, I need to rank on Google. The, usually the top 10 comments go, something like, well, you need to start a blog and you need to have content. And you need to like, you know, spend a week just creating all these posts and all this content. And I don’t I, at least, I don’t think that’s as useful as a strategy as maybe it once was once upon a time. But if you get, you know, when you get someone new and you’re like, Hey, listen, I need to bump up my SEO ranking for let’s just, but let’s say it’s not a local business, but something like some sort of online services company, or maybe like a Courser or whatever. You’ve mentioned on the show several times that video can be an incredible tool to invest both times and get a nice ROI. What do you think about that?

JOHN: Yeah. I think that I mean, everybody is kind of lazy in how they consume content and they’re going to want the lowest friction thing. And everybody either watches a video on YouTube or Facebook or both. YouTube has the biggest reach and you and YouTube are always going to be favored in Google because it is a Google property. I think it’s a great tool. I mean, I make videos pretty much every day and you know, you don’t need a big view count on each one either. I mean, just putting them out there, somebody’s going to find it. So, it’s something that I would tell people to do, and it can really make a big impact. Something else you said too, like in, in these local, uh, Facebook groups or people that are asking about SEO, they say like a blog and that’ll help your SEO. It will help you rank for whatever thing you’re; you’re putting in that individual blog.

But remember the Google evaluates individual pages. So, a quicker path for a lot of people, uh, to, do better in local SEO is to have individual pages that, have robust information for each thing that you’re trying to rank for. And I’ll give you an example. So, in manufacturing, there are lots of different things that people do you, they might do, shearing and milling and stamping and, press breaking and all these different things. But usually, how they, they just have like a bulleted list, like somewhere on, there are sites instead of having like individual pages for each of those things, because each of those things is going to have a much better chance of ranking if they’re like a complete robust page, detailing, everything that goes into that. And the other thing that people try and rank for is like, they want to rank for all these cities in their local market, but they have like one location.

Now they’re not going to rank in Google maps because Google maps pretty much go from whatever’s close by the person who’s searching. You’re not going to rank for stuff. That’s like 40 miles away on the map. So, the only way to really do it is to have landing pages for individual cities that, you know, the major cities around you that you want to rank for, that’s the way to do it. And it has a pretty good degree of success. So before you get to blogging, make sure that you have the more pages on your site that target the individual things that you’re trying to rank for, because a bulleted list, or just like mentioning it once on your homepage, like what city you’re in is not going to do it. You got to go more detail and more depth.

ADRIAN: You really have to spend the time to create kind of like those granular details and yes, go through the process because is there a recommended like the amount of content when you’re building those pages and it does their head, does there have to be differences? Can they all just be like the same with a few words changed or,

JOHN: Yeah, I wouldn’t do them all the same but with a few words changed. I mean, I wouldn’t do it like that. if you’re doing if you have to do like a hundred pages or something like that, you know, which is not common, you know, I would definitely have variation in that, like maybe different layouts, but now I do it is I actually look at like the type of content or what things are being mentioned on what Google is already ranking in the top 10 or the top 15. And I’ll make a list of those things that all the things that are being mentioned. So, I’m not specifically looking for a word count, but I’m looking for what things are there is, you know, is there a contact form?

Are there different sections for different things? So, I’ll give you an example, let’s say that I’m trying to rank an HVAC air conditioning company in a specific city. A lot of times, you know, things that are going to be mentioned will be, you know, air conditioning, repair, and installation, heating, repair, and installation, air duct cleaning, indoor air quality might be in some cities might be commercial, HVAC. It might be all kinds of different things like this, uh, ductless HVAC. So, these are all sections that would be on that page for a specific city that you’re targeting, uh, instead of just listing it and have it be like a bullet point list. It’s this long. You want to make it like this long usually, but you’re going to want to like, look and see what’s working in Google now to really make that list. Don’t go just for word count, but look and see what’s working before you, get a notion.

ADRIAN: And call an SEO expert.

JOHN: Yeah. Phonics, SEO expert. Exactly.

JONATHAN: A roundup. It’s gone quickly. We’re going to have some bonus content, which you’ll be able to see on the WP-Tonic website and our YouTube channel where I’m going to be discussing with John the kind of more national SEO and some of my own experiences. And see if, um, John agrees with some of the things that I have concluded on my own. Tactics when it comes to SEO, John, how can people find out more about you and your thoughts around SEO?

JOHN: Right. So, the best way to find me is, you can go to my website, I also have a YouTube channel. If you search LockedownSEO, it’ll be right there. And like I said, I post almost every day. I won’t say like every day I did every day for about a year. But it’s been almost every day but, but it’s, it’s regularly posting there. So, if you have a question, leave it there. You can also find me on Twitter, @Lockedown_

JONATHAN: That’s great. How can people find out more about you Adrian and Groundhogg?

ADRIAN: So, if you need help with your marketing automation, because your SEO is already killing it, and you know what to do. With all those leads, you can get a tool that will help you manage them and sell to them. You can go to to grab our free WordPress plugin and, start emailing all of those leads that, uh, John has very successfully helped you to create.

JONATHAN: That’s great. And if you really want to support the show, go over to Apple and leave us a review. It really does help the show. And it really will boost our ranking and the ability to get great guests like John. We will be back next week with another great interview. We’ll see you soon folks. Bye

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