Should you optimize your website and blog for local search or not?

SEO: It’s Right In Your Backyard

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A large portion of online search is local in nature. Even so, your choice to focus on local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) depends on a number of factors, including your industry, budget, and expectations.

Put simply, local SEO campaigns use a strategy that combines the nature of your business, your target audience, and your geographic location. Local SEO is a logical approach for many professional firms who offer standard services with a special emphasis on customer satisfaction. Dentistry, Law, Insurance, Residential, Commercial Real Estate or accounting services are just a few that can thrive by “going local”.

Why Local Is Important

Imagine a person searching online for a dental services they might need, such as a cleaning, fillings, whitening or even veneers. Statistics tell us the search phrase will generally include their city, county or even street. Without a local term in their search, they’re likely to end up with thousands of results that don’t serve their wants or needs. Even when the search tool knows the user’s location, adding a local search term delivers different results because most sites are optimized differently.

You can see how optimizing your site for location can help your business be found online more easily.

According to the results of a optimization survey conducted by Moz.com there are many factors that influence a local SEO search optimization strategy. The primary areas of focus are:

  • Place page factors – Having the keyword in the business title, categories, and proximity.
  • On-page factors – Domain authority, keywords in meta and article titles, and the presence of a businesses name, address, and phone number (NAP).
  • NAP listings and citations – Link signals, anchor text, inbound and outbound links, and linking domain authority. Here’s a link to a helpful glossary of search-related terminology
  • Reviews- The quantity, quality, and diversity of reviews matter.

Why Optimize for Regional and National vs. Local

If your business offers a product or service that is rare or unique on a national scale, then a regional, national or even global approach to SEO makes more sense. For example, a CPA firm who specializes in a particular industry client such as credit unions would want to reach a national or regional audience rather than rely solely on local leads. This would influence the SEO strategy differently than a locally focused business.

Understand your customer and go beyond traditional SEO.

There’s nothing like getting on page one of the search engines for the wrong terms. It happens all the time. You may be getting clicks to your website, but unless the terms and phrases are on target, you’re missing the important goal of engaging the right prospects. Interestingly, getting on the top of search listings doesn’t mean you’ll get clicks. A recent study suggests that a top page rank may garner a click only 20% of the time.

Some businesses are clear about what they offer and where and who they are of value to. If you are in a particularly competitive niche, and you are fighting for attention online, it makes sense to think about customer personas and a self-assessment of your firm’s strengths.

As an example, if you are a law firm who has a strength in immigration, or insurance defense work, you want to implement a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy that provides valuable information to your target customer rather than focusing on broad or generic legal search terms your competitors are already using.

A thought inbound planning process will guide the content of your site and result in “high-payoff” prospecting rather than attracting leads that don’t suit your business goals.

Where do you go for help?

There are basically two types of internet or search marketing firms:

Specialized SEO Local search marketing firms focus on organic and PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns aimed at getting your product or service on the “first page” of search results. The fees are based on the competitive nature of the industry you are in, exclusivity of service and your time and budget goals. The solution is usually a blend of paid ads and website optimization services. The results can be seen within 90 days, but the gains are directly related to your expenditures. In other words, when you cut your budget, your appearance in search results will reflect the adjustment. However, if you are optimizing for the correct search terms, your results may justify the expenditures. You can also consider using specialized local search marketing platforms such as Local VOX which simplify posting optimized content across social media channels to improve page and site ranking. These types of services typically charge you a monthly fee in exchange for access to their toolkit. Many platforms like Local VOX will develop content for additional fees.

Inbound marketing firms take a more comprehensive approach. In addition to a blend of site optimization and paid listings, inbound marketing firms look closely at your “ideal customer”, unique aspects of your product or service. They’ll typically work to develop content and offers as well as a social media strategy that engages prospects in more meaningful ways than SEO can. The process can take longer to implement, but have more positive impact on your overall brand while generating new prospects and leads.

The Importance of Engagement and Conversion vs. Ranking

The bottom line is that increasing web traffic and ranking is only half of the equation. A SEO program focused on ranking within a period of time might generate 500 visitors that converts 5 leads and/or customers. On the other hand, a well-conceived inbound program focused on engagement could attract 100 visitors, and convert 15 of them into leads and/or customers. Clearly, the latter is a more desirable outcome.

The level of engagement is directly related to the quality of content that answers their questions and objectively illustrates how your product or service fulfills their needs.

The majority of people use the internet conduct research before contacting a company for a product or service, and so, there is no better way to engage them than by building trust through the availability of compelling and rich content about your product or service online. More than push–oriented advertising or promotions, pull-oriented content helps prospects make informed decisions.

Summary

In the end, choosing the right path between a local or national SEO approach is important and a company can see results from both a finite and inbound marketing strategy. Inbound marketing is by far a superior method of building a long-term online reputation that nurtures visitors into customers.

About the author: Tom Weinkle is a founder and partner of Vortex Communications, a graphic and website design firm who offers graphic and WordPress web design, build, troubleshooting and training services along with search optimization, social media and inbound marketing services. Based in Miami, Florida, Tom has over 25 years of experience in visual communications for the healthcare, medical, law, accounting, software, financial services and banking industries.

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