National or Local SEO: Which Should You Optimize for?
When starting out online, small businesses attempt different strategies. Some seek to tackle the whole world as their market; others start small by targeting their local region.
As the online world has grown to become saturated with businesses all vying for the top spot in global reach, some are turning to smaller, concentrated markets through national and local search.
In theory, national and local search are indeed much more promising to target. But you need to be aware of certain key differences between them to determine which you should aim for.
The following is a discussion that should help you distinguish between national and local SEO.
National SEO, being broader, allows you to use broader search terms. This can make it harder to rank for because the competition is inevitably fiercer at this level. After all, there are only 10 spots on Google’s first page.
If you are competing against 30 or 50 companies nationally, and all the metrics are the same, it’s going to be tough for your business to get ahead just in terms of creating solid backlinks.
So it’s probably safe to say that cornering local search is a lot easier. There’s much less competition in this area compared to national search. Optimizing for home improvement contractors by city or state is apt to be far less grueling than optimizing for a broader reach.
But if you are just starting out, you could be facing a fairly substantial amount of work to land local citations and get listed on small business directories in your city.
Setting Up for Local SEO
If national SEO is way too saturated for the type of business you are trying to optimize, then setting up for local search is obviously the way for you to go.
There are several easy steps to set up your business for local search. These include linking from local blogs, sites and forums, local advertising, setting up Google+ Pages, and on-page optimization.
Creating links from local sites
Gather as much information about the most popular local blogs as you can. You want to reach out to sites and blogs that are run by influential people within their industry around your city.
Reach out to them and see if you can talk them into allowing you to guest post on their site. To boost the chances they’ll lend you their forum (with access to their ready-made audience), you have to be prepared to offer something valuable in exchange.
Also, make the effort to post regularly on local forums and directories. Be sure to include the complete address and local phone number for your business when you do.
Everything you do when trying to optimize your site for your area should spell LOCAL. While not the ideal tactic for those of you operating on a limited budget, running local ads could prove to be valuable in targeting specific customers.
Google+ Pages (formerly Google Places)
Google is still the dominating force in the SEO world. And what better way to dominate in local search than to use one of Google’s very own tools?
Google+ Pages is one of the most valuable local SEO tools today. It should be at the top of your marketing list. When setting up a Google+ page for your business, though, be sure to complete your profile by including photos, business name, physical address, phone number, website, and citations (mentions of your brand name).
Your on-page optimization strategy should also indicate local attributes. Use keywords that are local to you. Mention notable places and establishments adjacent to your business. Be sure to include a dedicated “contact us” page on your site and optimize key areas such as titles, descriptions, and tags with local placenames.
Remember that Google Maps is the most widely used of online map services, so be sure to have your business fully optimized for this tool.
If you are aiming to corner a small yet highly targeted market, think local. Local SEO lets you dominate a highly concentrated market with much less effort than would be required for national or global SEO.
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