Google recently announced that they have combined their main search algorithm with their local search algorithm, integrating the two so that local search results (the little map with seven different businesses/locations next to it) now show up within the regular results page. This strategy makes sense when you think about the way mobile devices have changed how we use search engines. More and more people – about 20% of all searches, according to Google – are using search engines for location-based results. That means more people are heading to their smartphones or laptops to find restaurants, get directions, find bus stops, and more. But what does this shift towards locality mean for your SEO campaign? More importantly, what does it mean for your business? Glad you asked.
Local SEO is very important for any business that operates out of a physical, brick-and-mortar location. However, many SEOs – especially ones that put emphasis on paid placement over content-based strategies – are rushing to pitch local-specific SEO in place of global SEO to retail-based companies. This is a knee-jerk, foolish attempt to appear ahead of the curve. Here are a few things to keep in mind when pursuing local SEO.
1. You’re probably already doing it.
Even if your company does 100% of its business out of a physical location, there is no reason to abandon global SEO for local. Why? Because at its heart, local SEO is global SEO. Or, at least two sides of the same coin. Location-based keywords are merely permutations of the keywords you are optimizing for globally. For instance, if you are trying to rank for “organic diaper manufacturers” and you are based in Portland, Oregon, chances are you have used the phrase “Portland organic diaper manufacturers” a few times on your site or blog. Additionally, if your company has a physical location you probably have your address on many, if not all, of your site’s pages. In these instances, the web and SEO content you’ve created is already location-based.
2. Starting local SEO isn’t rocket science.
There are a few specific tricks to local SEO, but it isn’t that much different than global. There are a couple of local directories and local search engine pages you will need to be a part of (Google Places, for instance) but the majority of local SEO work is simply including more location-based content on your website and blog.
3. If people like your business, they’ll do the work for you.
A small but increasingly important part of local SEO is customer reviews. This viral marketing technique allows customers to share their experiences with your company and increases the number of backlinks and attention your site gets. This is a double-edged sword, however; not all reviews are favorable, and a negative viral campaign can happen if you provide a shoddy product or service.
Yes, local SEO is exciting, but you shouldn’t drop your traditional global SEO campaign merely to hop on the local bandwagon. Include some more location-based SEO content on your site and blog, create profiles on local directories, and provide a quality customer experience and your local SEO campaign will fall into place.