Local SEO has caught the attention of search marketers everywhere. By optimizing your site for a geographic location, you can ensure more visibility for your business in searches that originate within that region or searches that contain geo-specific keywords. That concept typically resonates as impressive, as it should, but only as a gimmick. Many entrepreneurs and search marketers see local SEO as a peripheral strategy—an add-on to consider only once all the other strategies have been taken care of.
However, local SEO is far more powerful and more important than most people realize. If anything, it should be your top priority, and here are seven reasons why:
Realistically, you’re going to be using the same techniques for local SEO that you’re already doing for your national SEO program; you’re just going to be tweaking them and rebalancing them for a local focus. That means you don’t have to learn anything new and you won’t have to change much in your existing structures. Some search marketers are reluctant to get into local SEO because it’s yet another strategy to toy with and master—but this simply isn’t the case. Your transition should instead be smooth and painless.
SEO is popular. A decade ago, when not every business had a website and even fewer businesses were actively marketing themselves online, national SEO was a viable option. Today, the market is oversaturated with businesses, and unless you have a decade of history under your belt, it’s almost impossible to rank for anything on a national scale. On the other hand, local markets have yet to see that level of saturation. Instead of dealing with an entire country’s worth of competitors, you’ll be zeroing in on your competitors within the city. That means fewer headaches, and faster, better results.
All things considered, a local SEO plan is going to cost you less than a national counterpart. Let’s say you’re trying to rank for two different keyword topics. On a national plan, you’ll spend months trying to rank with high-authority backlinks and tons of great content—both of which cost significant money—and you’ll end up near the bottom of page one, if you’re lucky. On a local plan, you’ll use more cost-efficient strategies like moderate link building tactics, moderate content efforts, and the cultivation of local reviews, and you’ll have a very good chance of ending up at a top rank. All in all, you’ll be spending less for equal or better results.
While an argument could be made that the majority of national queries see more traffic than their local counterparts, the actual number of local searches is high and growing. Because mobile devices are at peak popularity and geographic indicators are in practically every online-enabled device, almost every modern user search becomes a local search by default these days. That means without even realizing it, users are becoming dependent on local searches for their needs.
While national SEO strategies almost always rely on you doing the work yourself, there are some local SEO tactics that don’t require your intervention. For example, positive local reviews are one of the best ways to increase your local rank, and you’re forbidden from buying or soliciting those reviews. Instead, all you have to do is make sure your customers know that you’re listed, give them great service, and let them do the rest on their own time—it’s less work required of you!
Most local SEO strategies are dependent upon your community. You’ll be fostering good vibes and positive reviews in an effort to increase your presence on local directories. You’ll be submitting and circulating good press on local news outlets. You’ll be building relationships with individual community members and other local businesses. All these things will increase your rank, but even more importantly, they’ll help your community grow to love your business. It’s almost a sophisticated style of word-of-mouth marketing.
In the coming years, local SEO is going to grow to be even more important than it is today. Wearable technology, like smart watches, will start becoming more popular, and users will demand even better on-the-go search functionality. Local searches may start being relevant to a neighborhood or city block, rather than just a city or region, and local businesses may be able to make special offers based on physical location. Meanwhile, national SEO will only become more competitive, especially as Google increases the functionality of the Knowledge Graph, which could take away a significant portion of national search traffic. As important as local SEO is today, another five years will make it even greater.
If you aren’t already engaged in a local SEO campaign for your business, this is a prime opportunity to begin. Start with a local citation audit to find and correct any errors in your business information throughout the web, and then layer in the fundamental optimization strategies—local-specific content, local relationship building, local link building, and of course, the cultivation of positive online reviews. Because of local SEO’s low competition, it should only be a month or two before you start seeing results, and from there, the sky’s the limit.