How To Do Local SEO For Free

In this case study I'll be showing you exactly how I got a Local SEO Client to #1 with just a time investment and exactly $0 in budget.
local seo

Recently, as a little experiment I’ve been taking on some clients local to me. I haven’t been charging them as they’re family or friends (or friends of family) and I wanted to test something: Doing SEO for Local businesses that just requires time, aka the work you get paid to do (if I was being paid) would be pure profit, as it only requires your time.

After a few weeks of testing, even I was surprised with how well this stuff works –

local seo rankings

The above results are for a client that can potentially make £10,000 per lead (as it’s in the construction niche) and has gotten 16 leads this month – Up from his prior 2 last month.

I also managed to achieve this after investing just 12 hours into work, and spending a grand total of.. You guessed it: $0.

Things To Note Before:

I will say that this site did already have several backlinks before I started, and had been indexed in the top 100 for most of it’s keywords already.

The site is also over 3 years old, though only has 3 pages.

SERPBook notes that the site has 768 backlinks, that’s due to the company who designed the site creating a site-wide backlink for this site. It’s got a lot less links than that realistically, only has around 65 referring domains now.

Table of Contents

So, without further ado… Let’s get into it.

Competitor Analysis

Before I get started working on this site, I spent half an hour looking at the other pages ranking in this SERP and noted down several things that I knew I could beat straight off the bat:

  • Low Amounts of Content – The #1 position had just 470 words of content on the ranking page.
  • Older Sites – The pages ranking on Page #1 had all been there for several years, my client’s site was one of the newest domains, even with 3 years of age.
  • Low Amounts of Links – Most of the sites had under 50 referring domains and most of the links were directories, social profiles or local (newspaper, events, forums etc) links anyway.
  • Non-optimized Pages – Most of the pages ranking didn’t even have a Meta description, let alone other parts of the page optimized.

Overall I could see that most of these websites were optimized by the web design agencies that built the sites, who probably didn’t know much about SEO, or had a basic understanding of it and just upsold it to the design clients to make a bit of extra money.

I really wasn’t worried by the quick analysis when looking through this SERP, the only thing that did worry me (in a very small manner) was the age of the other sites.. Some of them were over 10 years old. Though due to the small amounts of content and links, I thought I could easily beat these out.

OnPage Content

One of the first things that I flagged was that all of the competitors had very small amounts of content. The current ranking page (which was the homepage) had just 75 words on it, so I decided to spend 45 minutes on the phone with the client asking about the company, the service provided and the industry overall – Whilst I was on the phone, I was writing out the page.

45 minutes later and my page had 968 words on it – Over double that of the #1 page.

I also asked my client to email me any images of recent jobs, a picture of himself and a small bio – I added an about me widget (like the one on my blog, on the right hand side) to the right side of his homepage, which further added 25 more words to the page.

I made the other 2 pages on the site a full-width page, so that it wouldn’t show the sidebar, making that bio/about me widget unique to the homepage.

I added the recent job pictures into a gallery on the homepage, using this plugin. I also made sure every image had a relevant and natural looking alt tab.

OnPage SEO

There wasn’t too much to do with this, only a few small improvements.

Meta Data

Currently, he didn’t have any SEO plugin and was just using the default WordPress settings. So I changed the meta data up quite a lot.

I changed the meta title to be formatted like so:

[well]Brand Name + Main Keyword + Phone Number[/well]

I added the phone number on so that people could call without having to visit the website, I knew I’d still be able to rank and decided to put the keywords in the description more so than the title.

I changed the meta description to:

[well]We at Brand Name have been in the Keyword industry for several years, with clients from around the Location area and beyond.[/well]

Really simple meta data, nothing too flashy and looks very natural.


He didn’t have a sitemap, he just had the default WordPress feed, so I just used the default Yoast SEO one as I didn’t think the sitemap would offer much power anyway.

Webmaster Tools & Google My Business

Prior to me working with him, he had neither WMT or an opportunity to rank in the local listings, as he hadn’t signed up to Google my business.

I signed him up to both, made sure he got the card and forwarded me the pin, then submitted his sitemap and all his pages through webmaster tools.

Free Link Building

There is a wealth of opportunity to get backlinks for free on the internet. I managed to secure a lot of backlinks for this client in just a matter of hours.

Social Profiles

I emailed the client and made sure he was signed up (and had a link back to his site) to every major social network:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Google+ (I did this one, using the same account from the WMT/Google My Business I spoke of earlier)
  • Tumblr
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest (You get a Dofollow link by verifying your page)

Once he had done all of these, I had him email me all of the profile URLs and I used free backlink pingers to get them indexed, the pingers I used were:


[well]Note: I also used these pingers on every other link I created as well.[/well]

A few days later and every profile he’d created for the site was indexed.

Local Citations

I used a few Google footprints, such as:

  • location + directory
  • location + submit site
  • location + company listings

And so on.. To get a list of around 25 directories that were super niche targeted to my clients location.

I also had several other national citations (for the UK) that I already had a list of from previous work.

I then spent a good hour submitting the site to every single one of these directories, under an email I created on the clients domain.

Any directories that automatically approved the site, I made a note of the links URL and I also checked back about a week later in my inbox and found several other directories had approved my submission – I also made a note of that URL, and submitted all the URLs through the pinging services above.

Free Link Sources

As I said earlier, there are a ton of places to get links from for free, I even did a 3 part series on getting links on God of SEO, and recently made a thread on the premium section of BH.C on getting free links.

I spent around 2 hours writing 10 x 300 word articles and then submitting them to sub-directory based free link sources, as well as several non-contextual backlink sources.

The Result

As you saw above, I’ve managed to pretty much dominate his keywords and generate enough leads every month for his company to run forever on 10 – 15 leads a month, this has resulted in him being able pick and choose jobs due to the industry, whilst still earning a very good living.

When I phoned him up to notify him he was #1 for all his keywords, he commented that his phone had been ringing every day for the past week and he wanted to pay me £600 per month to maintain the rankings – That’s over $10,000 per year. I declined and said that the rankings would likely stay there regardless of any future work, and he bought me a very nice dinner instead.

Thanks For Reading

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and it showcases how you can use a lot of free SEO tactics and link sources to get fantastic rankings, whilst making pure profit from your work.

Don’t forget to join my email newsletter and drop a comment below with your experiences in local SEO and what you think of doing it for free, using the tactics I showcased in this post.


my best posts

Subscribe to our newsletter

Don't miss new updates on your email