Greg Gifford on How To Learn Local SEO, Speaking at 100+ Events, and Tactical SEO Tips.

Danny Leibrandt

May 10, 2024

In the latest episode of the Pest Control SEO Podcast, host Danny Leibrandt sits down with Greg Gifford, a renowned local SEO expert with over 20 years of experience. Greg has spoken at hundreds of local SEO conferences and is one of the 12 Platinum Experts for the Google Business Profile Forum. This blog post goes into Greg’s journey into SEO, his speaking career, and his invaluable SEO tips for local businesses.

Greg Gifford's Journey into SEO

From Flash Designer to SEO Expert

Greg’s journey into SEO began in an unexpected way. “Way back in the day, I was a flash designer,” he recalls. Flash, a multimedia platform, was widely used for creating animations and websites. However, Greg quickly realized that Flash content wasn’t showing up in search results. This led him to explore ways to make Flash content more visible on search engines, albeit using some dubious techniques initially.

“I actually had a company that built Flash websites, and we realized pretty quickly that the content in the Flash websites wasn’t showing up in search results,” Greg explains. “We figured out how to get that content to show up in search results, not realizing that we were really breaking the rules and doing some nefarious stuff.”

Transition to Local SEO

Greg’s career took a significant turn when he joined a company that built websites for car dealerships. Initially hired as a Flash designer, his role quickly expanded. “Pretty quickly, they were like, ‘Wow, you’re way overqualified. Why don’t you run the whole design department?’” Greg says. Eventually, he was asked to head the marketing department and later the SEO department, marking the beginning of his official journey into SEO.

Speaking at Conferences

Becoming a Popular Speaker

Greg’s speaking career began when he started attending conferences and realized he could do as well, if not better, than the speakers on stage. “I never really had a problem with public speaking or being on stage,” Greg says. Encouraged by his company’s owner, he applied to speak at a conference and quickly gained popularity due to his engaging and humorous presentation style.

“I approached it differently,” Greg says. “I’m kind of a goofball, so I would tell jokes and be funny.” This unique approach helped him stand out and eventually led to speaking opportunities at prestigious conferences like SMX West and Brighton SEO.

Advice for Aspiring Speakers

For those looking to break into public speaking, Greg offers valuable advice. “Watch other speakers and pay attention to how they present,” he suggests. He emphasizes the importance of being authentic and comfortable on stage. “You need to have a beginning, a middle, and an end,” Greg advises. “Pay attention to vocal inflection, how people engage the crowd, and how they move on stage.”

Tactical SEO Tips

The Evolution of SEO

SEO has evolved significantly over the past 20 years. “It was so much easier than it is now,” Greg reminisces. In the early days, having the keyword on the page and acquiring links, regardless of their relevance, was enough to rank high. Today, SEO requires a more nuanced approach, especially for local businesses.

Importance of Understanding the “Why”

One of the most critical pieces of advice Greg offers is to understand the “why” behind SEO tactics. “There’s a lot of podcasts, webinars, and training courses, and people will go learn a little bit about local SEO and then go try to implement that stuff,” Greg says. “The most important step is to understand why those things matter, not just blindly follow the checklist.”

Custom Approach for Local SEO

Local SEO is not a one-size-fits-all solution. “The things that work for one vertical won’t work for another vertical, and the things that work in one city won’t work in another city,” Greg explains. He emphasizes the need for a custom approach tailored to the specific business and its competition.

Optimizing Local Service Pages

When it comes to optimizing local service pages, Greg offers detailed advice:

  • Individual Pages for Each Service: Each service should have its dedicated page. “You need individual pages per service,” Greg says. This approach ensures that the content is highly relevant to what potential customers are searching for.

  • Keyword and Location Phrases: Use the same keyword and location phrases in each page element. This includes the title tag, H1 heading, content, image alt text, URL string, and meta description.

  • Answering Customer Questions: The content should answer all potential customer questions, including subsequent questions. “If you’re writing the content that’s the best answer in the local area that answers subsequent questions and talks about your business and why people should buy from you, you probably don’t have to do any optimization there,” Greg explains.

Internal and External Linking

Greg also highlights the importance of internal and external linking. Internal linking should follow a structured approach that guides users through a logical path on your site. “Think about the user journey when you’re doing your internal linking and kind of structure it in that pyramid format,” Greg advises.

As for external linking, Greg believes it’s not as crucial as some might think. “Linking out to other sites from your pages is not really that important and it’s not going to be that influential,” he says. Instead, the focus should be on acquiring high-quality local backlinks.

Acquiring Local Backlinks

Greg offers several strategies for acquiring local backlinks:

  • Community Involvement: Being involved in the local community can naturally lead to backlinks. This includes sponsoring local events, donating to charities, and participating in local groups.

  • Neighborhood Discounts: Offering neighborhood-specific discounts can result in backlinks from local neighborhood watch websites.

  • Meetups and Groups: Sponsoring snacks and drinks for local meetups in exchange for a backlink is another effective strategy.

Future of Local SEO

Looking ahead, Greg sees the continued importance of local SEO despite the rise of AI and other technologies. He mentions that Google is focusing on fighting spam and cracking down on fake reviews. “Local SEO isn’t going anywhere,” Greg asserts. He is also excited about the potential of augmented reality tools like Google Lens, which could transform how users interact with local businesses.


Greg Gifford’s extensive experience and unique insights into local SEO provide valuable guidance for businesses looking to improve their online visibility. From understanding the evolution of SEO to implementing tactical tips for local service pages and acquiring backlinks, Greg’s advice is practical and actionable. For those looking to learn more, Greg’s weekly video series, Local Search Tuesdays, and his training courses on Bright Local Academy and SEMrush Academy are excellent resources.

As Danny Leibrandt aptly puts it, “Greg is one of the G’s in local SEO.” His passion for helping businesses succeed and his commitment to sharing his knowledge make him a respected figure in the industry. Whether you’re a seasoned SEO professional or a business owner just starting with local SEO, Greg’s insights are sure to help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of search engine optimization.