Blog Post

The Growing Importance of SEO for Local Businesses

These days it’s hard to find someone without access to a smartphone, tablet, or computer (I use my iPhone a lot). As more and more people move toward doing research on their smartphones and throwing away yellow page books, I hope you’re asking your clients (or potential clients) what they’re doing to set themselves up for success in the local market. People are relying on search engines (like the Google powerhouse) to give them the answers to their questions:

  • “Where can I find a good restaurant nearby?”
  • “Who’s a reliable plumber in my area?”
  • “Which dentists have Invisalign?”

As SEO consultants we need to take this potential problem for our clients and offer a special solution -- SEO for local business. This isn’t quite the same as a national SEO plan, but it’s very similar. Both national SEO and SEO for local business have similar optimization and content creation techniques. Local SEO differentiates itself from national SEO by adding in local listing creation, different onsite elements, and creating citations around the web.

In determining whether your client would benefit from a Local SEO plan, some factors to take into consideration are:

  • What type of business does the client own (a popular brand or a lesser known store)?
  • What kind of customers are they looking for?

If someone is doing a local search, the intent is to find a nearby business to visit, not an online retailer or national brand. If a person wants to find a large brand-recognized product, the search will begin and end with that brand name, regardless of whether the purchase happens in a store carrying it or an online retailer. If a company does SEO for local businesses, they don’t typically target a client like this. By comparison, if users are searching for a local business, they are more likely to use generic terms or add location-specific terms like “dentist,” “plumber near me,” or “pizza rochester.” These are precisely the consumers your clients should care about getting in front of. A properly run SEO for local business campaign can help them achieve that. Small to medium sized businesses serving the local community will see the greatest benefit from a service like this.

When doing SEO for local businesses, you shouldn’t focus too hard on creating content with location-specific keywords. A Google update called “Venice” took care of that by creating “location prominence” based on where the user is. Google uses the IP address of your computer (or GPS location from a mobile phone) to find which city you’re closest to, then uses that information to customize search results for that city. It’s also tough to create a well-constructed sentence using the search phrase “pizza rochester” (which anyone trying to create good content has learned the hard way).

Small businesses need a complete, integrated marketing plan in order to be competitive today. Businesses need solid organic rankings, a local listing on each major site (Google, Bing, Yahoo), paid search, and offline marketing efforts. As a consultant, your job is to make sure your client is in the best position to dominate their local market. Evaluate any contact point a potential customer might have with that business, and you can start by checking keywords with and without location specificity to see how they rank. Start SEO for local businesses by targeting long tailed, less competitive keywords and build up to more competitive terms. Dominating long tailed terms can bring in new customers at a lower cost, and qualify sales prospects more effectively.

Stay tuned in to the Semify blog as I dive into more detail about Local SEO topics our Resellers have been asking about!

Comments (11)

  • Nick Reply

    It's astonishing that the Yellow Pages are even still around. Total waste of paper.

    06/07 at 02:23 PM
  • Jesse Reply

    Terrific piece. I would also agree with Nick. Yellow pages? Sooner or later, Local SEO will completely replace them.

    06/07 at 02:28 PM
  • Fiore Reply

    Yellow Pages? What are you Amish? ;)

    06/07 at 03:02 PM
  • Grant Reply

    The Yellow pages now have a large coupon component. Incentral NY the white pages are only digital.

    06/07 at 03:28 PM
  • Nick Reply

    As someone who recently caught up with 2007 and bought a smartphone, I find myself using call extensions and G maps to find things more than I ever thought I would. It makes me wonder how I got by only a month, ago pre-smartphone..

    06/07 at 05:06 PM
  • Chad Reply

    Nice post. I'm a big believer in integrated plans... problem is that most small businesses zig zag from silver bullet to silver bullet.

    06/07 at 05:20 PM
  • Matt Reply

    I like how this dovetails well with the new SEO plan's topic keywords. This article really illustrates the importance of that straegy

    06/07 at 07:47 PM
  • Breylin Reply

    Like Nick I also just realized how useful G maps is and how often I use it. Although I upgraded to using a smart phone about a year ago I still haven't quite figured it all out.

    06/10 at 09:17 AM
  • Renee Reply

    If you are local business, taking care of that Local SEO checklist is one of the quickest and easiest way to connect you with the people looking for you in your local market. But many small business owners don't even know what should be on that checklist. Thanks for the post, Eric.

    06/10 at 05:20 PM
  • Terrance Reply

    I've been waiting for this post to come out for a while and it's so informative. Local businesses really need to understand the importance of the Local SEO and how to reach their market effectively.

    06/10 at 06:46 PM
  • Aleks Reply

    Ahh, so the "Venice" update is what reads your IP address and knows your location. Good to know. I always wondered how google maps knows where I am whenever I'm in a different city without typing in the city name.

    06/12 at 04:59 PM

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