September 16, 2013

Why Local SEO?

Local SEO is somewhat new in the grand scheme of things. The term didn’t even really appear before 2008, but has started to become more popular as Google has been featuring more local results within searches. We’ve been using it in more and more projects and have seen some really great success with it.

The Premise

People aren’t using yellow phone directories anymore, instead they search Google, sometimes by adding their city name to the search phrase. Google is getting better at featuring local results when it knows the user wants a local retailer or service, and Google is pretty good at knowing where you are. This means that the new Yellow Pages for locally focused businesses is getting ranked well in Google on those local searches.

What is Involved in Local SEO?

At the root of it, local SEO is work to prove to Google that you’re a real business, and that you have real locations that serve customers in your area. They have processes to verify phone numbers and physical mailing addresses that can help prove that you at least have a storefront. Beyond that, building links and citations from other sources online also helps to prove that local connection.

For many local searches, such as my search above for “Edmonton lawyer”, there are several sections:

  • Google Adwords (top and right)
  • Regular “organic” results
  • Map results (Google Places)

The map results are particularly interesting to me as an online marketing person because they’re somewhat new and they’re the replacement for listings like the Yellow Pages. The ranking calculation is also somewhat different from the traditional “organic” results. “Local SEO” is optimizing a business for better rankings in these localized results that Google offers.

What Businesses Should do Local SEO?

It makes sense to perform local SEO when local results show on frequently searched terms in your industry. All the standard directory listing industries are fairly well represented in Google’s results:

  • Lawyers
  • Plumbers
  • Dentists
  • Automotive Dealerships
  • Restaurants
  • etc, etc

A lot of people are using those map results to navigate to places, find a phone number to call, or find store hours.

Why is Local SEO a Great Opportunity?

Local SEO is a great opportunity because it is largely untapped. It’s still so new that most companies aren’t doing a good job of it and early adopters are able to get great results. As a first introduction to your company, do you want prospective customers to find an old outdated listing with the wrong address on it, or do you want them to find a nice listing with hours of operation, correct phone number and address, and maybe even a photo of the storefront so they know when they’ve got to the right place? Not only does local SEO help on the desktop, it’s also a big help to users on mobile phones, making it easy for users to navigate or call the location quickly.

How do I Start?

For a small business, you may want to try verifying your business yourself, but if you have multiple locations or you can’t afford the time necessary to learn about how to optimize and build your local listings online, you may want to contact an SEO firm like ours to help.

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