As the landscape of national SEO grows more competitive, more expensive, and less penetrable, local SEO grows more important for modern businesses. Because it relies on geographic-specific keywords, local relevance, and a narrower target audience, you can spend less money to achieve more visibility, and cultivate goodwill within your community.
Drawing on the power of local reviews, local publications, and niche demographics, almost any local business owner can take advantage of this strategy. However, there are a handful of industries for whom local SEO is an absolute must.
These five industries stand to benefit most from local SEO:
Restaurants and bars are service-based, which means they’re especially affected by the quality and frequency of reviews. Since most local SEO campaign live and breathe on reviews, this makes them a natural fit. Plus, restaurants and bars tend to operate on an exclusively local basis—unless you’ve expanded into a major national chain, you probably only serve customers in a tight radius around your home city. It’s also a boon that most restaurants and bars have regular, loyal patrons who can spread the word about the business on review sites and social media. Generally, restaurants have weaker content strategies than other industries that require more extensive education and training, but there’s still a critical opportunity for ongoing content.
Doctors and lawyers have a handful of unique qualifications that make them perfect for local SEO. First, like restaurants, they tend to remain stationary with one central location and a dedicated local populace. Second, the quality of their service is very important to patrons; finding a good doctor or specialist is a major concern for anyone in a new city. Finally, they’re highly skilled, trained positions, so they’re in relatively high demand. Because of these characteristics, doctors and lawyers can attract hundreds of reviews in relatively short order, and customize their websites to cater specifically to a local crowd. Also, because these positions are highly trained and educated, they’re perfect opportunities to write original, researched content. Lawyers especially can take advantage of writing on local laws to strengthen their expertise and capture those geographic keywords simultaneously. Doctors and lawyers also have ample opportunities to write and syndicate press releases, which are critical for locally relevant link building and additional brand exposure. That’s not even mentioning the power of personal brands in social media, which reside as a core strategy for most in these professions.
Skilled workers similarly have a handful of advantages in the local SEO world. It’s rare to see a plumber, electrician, or similar skilled tradesman venture outside their own local “territory,” meaning the business can remain a major competitor in a niche environment, even if they have multiple locations. Also, most people looking for these types of individuals are in immediate need of help; for example, you’ve probably only called a locksmith when you were locked out of your house and in desperate need of assistance. You’ve only called a plumber when something was leaking or broken. This quality means that more people are searching on mobile devices, which means more people are performing frantic local searches. Getting to the top of these results is relatively easy, and you’ll see tons of traffic when you get there. Maintaining high ratings on Yelp and other review sites is critical, however, as even one significant blemish to your record can knock you out of the running for top spot in your niche.
Repair shops, like skilled tradesmen, are generally searched for only in a time of desperation. For example, your car might be broken down on the side of the highway. In these instances, you’ll be searching quickly for a well-reviewed, reliable service that’s immediately in your area. Thus, repair shops have everything to gain in a local SEO campaign and almost nothing to gain in a national scale campaign (unless they’re operating a chain). Repair shops have a unique edge in the content marketing side of local SEO, since they can draft up how-tos, tutorials, and other helpful documents, but attaining that local relevance is somewhat harder. It’s also more difficult to earn reviews, since fewer people visit repair shops regularly than they would a favorite restaurant, so it’s important to step up your commitment to requesting and cultivating those reviews.
Almost any service-based industry that serves a local community has the potential for substantial increases in traffic by pursuing a low-cost local SEO campaign. For example, laundromats and dry cleaners can rise above the competition with superior reviews and geographic accessibility. Landscapers can earn more traffic from locally relevant content based around landscaping tips. Car washes and carpet cleaners can earn referrals from happy customers. If you supply customers with a service, rather than a product, and you only have one location, there’s no reason for you not to be involved in local SEO.
With these five industries properly explored, I should point out that almost any business can take advantage of local SEO. Today, local SEO is cheaper, easier, and in many cases flat-out more effective than a national-scale campaign. Even if you don’t want to pursue a long-term strategy focused on geographic keywords, it’s a good idea to at least claim your Yelp and local profiles, and establish a locally relevant context on your site.