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!