Mike Forgie on How To Grow Locally, Digital Marketing Strategies, and SEO Fundamentals.

Danny Leibrandt

Apr 26, 2024

Welcome to the Pest Control SEO Podcast! I'm Danny Leibrandt, founder of Pest Control SEO, and today we're thrilled to have Mike Forgie with us. Mike is the founder of NextStep Connect and has generated millions of dollars for local businesses through his expertise in local SEO over the past 20 years. We're excited to dive into his journey and insights on growing locally through digital marketing and SEO fundamentals.

Mike Forgie's Journey into Local SEO

From Concert Flyers to Digital Marketing

Mike started his marketing journey as a teenager, handing out flyers for a concert company. "I never realized that was like a job that I was going to get into," he shares. His initial interest in marine biology and the music industry gradually led him to public relations and targeting micro-communities. This early experience laid the foundation for his future in local SEO.

Transition to Digital Marketing

Mike's first taste of digital marketing came at Artist Arena, a company managing fan websites for musicians. "They let me go on the actual community digital platforms and talk to people," Mike recalls. This role introduced him to community-focused digital marketing, which he later applied to the automotive industry, targeting specific towns with specific cars and dealerships.

Building a Career in Local SEO

By 2012, Mike was deeply involved in hyperfocused local SEO for automotive dealerships. His hands-on experience, combined with self-learning from industry experts like Neil Patel, Tim Ferris, and Seth Godin, helped him master the intricacies of local SEO. "I'm a big self-learner," Mike states, emphasizing the importance of daily practice and staying updated with industry trends.

Key Strategies for Local SEO Success

Understanding and Targeting Micro-Communities

One of Mike's early realizations was the importance of targeting micro-communities. "Local's been awesome," he says. By focusing on niche markets within local communities, businesses can establish stronger connections and build loyal customer bases.

Leveraging Digital Platforms for Community Engagement

Mike's experience at Artist Arena highlighted the potential of digital platforms for community engagement. "I would go in the forums, ask people questions, get feedback," he explains. Engaging directly with the community helps businesses understand their audience better and tailor their marketing strategies accordingly.

Outsourcing and Scaling

Outsourcing has been a crucial aspect of Mike's strategy. Initially, he experimented with virtual assistants (VAs) but found that hiring specialized contractors yielded better results. "I hired a contractor for SEO who now operates day-to-day tasks as my operations manager," he shares. This approach allows Mike to focus on scaling his business while ensuring high-quality service delivery.

Practical Steps for Local Business Owners

Conducting Site Audits and Fixing Errors

For local business owners starting out, Mike recommends conducting site audits to identify and fix issues. Tools like GTMetrix and Screaming Frog can help diagnose problems that might affect a site's performance and ranking. "Understand your website and how Google sees you," he advises.

Optimizing Google Business Profile

An optimized Google Business Profile is crucial for local SEO success. "Filling that business profile out completely is the best practice," Mike emphasizes. This includes adding accurate information, high-quality images, and ensuring the profile is engaging and informative.

Implementing Effective Review Strategies

Getting positive reviews is essential for building a strong online reputation. Mike suggests asking satisfied customers for reviews immediately after a service is provided. "As soon as someone says they're happy, give them that link," he advises. A proactive review strategy can significantly enhance a business's online presence.

Advanced SEO Tactics

Utilizing Schema Markup and FAQs

Mike highlights the importance of schema markup and FAQs for SEO. "RankMath, a WordPress plugin, offers advanced schema markup options," he notes. Implementing schema markup helps search engines understand the content better, potentially leading to higher rankings and featured snippets.

Page Speed Optimization

Optimizing page speed is another critical factor. "Use Tag Manager and optimize images to improve load times," Mike recommends. A fast-loading site enhances user experience and can positively impact search engine rankings.

Leveraging Local Service Ads and Other Platforms

For advertising, Mike favors platforms that offer high ROI, such as Google Local Service Ads. "If you qualify, run them because you will see that ROI," he advises. These ads, combined with strategic use of Facebook and Yelp ads, can drive significant traffic and conversions for local businesses.

Future of Local SEO and Digital Marketing

Adapting to AI and Search Generative Experiences

With the advent of AI and search generative experiences, Mike believes that staying adaptable is key. "Google wants the best user experience possible," he explains. Understanding and leveraging new technologies and algorithms will be crucial for staying ahead in the competitive digital landscape.

Continuous Learning and Networking

Continuous learning and networking are vital for success in digital marketing. Mike encourages business owners to attend industry events, read relevant books, and connect with other professionals. "I love helping and doing this stuff," he says, highlighting the importance of community and collaboration.


Mike Forgie's journey from handing out concert flyers to becoming a local SEO expert offers valuable insights for business owners looking to grow locally. By understanding micro-communities, leveraging digital platforms, and implementing effective SEO strategies, businesses can achieve significant growth and success. As Mike emphasizes, staying adaptable and continuously learning are key to thriving in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing. For more insights and to connect with Mike, visit NextStep Connect.