Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Local SEO – Don't Forget Local!Outside Contributor
In a very simple explanation, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about making sure your web content is indexed and understood by search engines. Then, as queries are made, the search engines will deliver your web content on the results page when it meets the searcher’s query.
Bottom line, SEO helps increase the likelihood that a search is met with the best results. Of course, there are ways to position yourself to be delivered for queries that you don’t really match but the searcher will close down, “bounce”, rather quickly and keep searching. The search engines recognize this and this is not a good thing. In the end, the search engines want to deliver great results to the searcher. Yes, they are worried about customer service.
SEO is not easy. It is hard work, it is complex and requires lots of different skills (for the record, we are not search experts). Even more challenging is the fact much of the ranking criteria used by search engines, the legendary “algorithms”, remains a secret. With this in mind, many experts tell you the best thing to do is think about users and not search engines. That means, among many other things, develop great content, use great design, navigation, program and user interface practices, and optimize as best you can.
Now, let’s zero in on local SEO. You are no doubt hearing more about it everyday but might be wondering what is really different about it. Local SEO involves it’s own subset of search engine optimization strategies. It is about optimizing for the geographically specific search. If you search for “landscape contractor”, you want results for contractors in your area [most likely]. To get a list of contractors from all over the U.S. or half way across the state is not good.
You pull in from work and it’s 7:15 p.m. You notice a small geysor in your side yard. Ugh, your sprinkler system main line has a crack in it. You google “24 hour sprinkler service”, you want someone fast [translate close], not someone halfway across the country, state, or MSA if you are in a big market. That is what local is all about. It wants to give you local businesses that can meet your need(s) immediately, especially where a bricks and mortar location or service is key.
This is where things get a little different between SEO and local SEO. Local SEO involves practices that help with being recognized, known, and verified as a local business. Some examples include local directories, listings, citations, links, customer reviews, Google My Business and Bing Places listing and lots more. If you really want to dig in, two of the best in the business are Whitespark and Moz. Their websites are very strong and the insights they offer are incredible. They also have very competitive rates if you want to hire them to help.
Local is a must for any business that serves local customers with a store front. Obviously this encompasses any and all retail stores, such as hardware store, restaurant, auto parts, etc., but is also key for at home service providers. If you want to learn more, start with the Moz and Whitespark links above.