Local SEO: A Powerful Tool
While many business owners are at least aware of what search engine optimization is, if not well researched in its benefits, we find that many in the business community underestimate the value of local SEO. Local SEO is a powerful tool especially for small to medium sized businesses limited to a handful of or singular location. Search engines have always been designed to succeed at one simple goal, getting the user to the exact information they’re looking for, in the simplest, most straight forward manner possible. On a large scale this takes the form of intricately ranking and assigning relevant value to web content but on a local level many of the users needs pertain to the real world locations and businesses in their immediate area.
Why Is Local SEO Important?
Local SEO, is a form of search engine optimization designed to specifically increase a company or organization’s relevance and standing within the tools and services search engines have developed to aid users in finding these local real world search results. A simple example of this would be the mapping functionality deployed by Google. A user searching for a nearby type of restaurant is presented with search results that include a list of pages relevant to their query and, located at the very top of the page, a map widget displaying the locations of nearby businesses categorized as being a restaurant that serves this type of cuisine. While the business with the highest organic search results may appear at the top of the list of pages returned, it’s the top 3 businesses displayed in the map widget that will benefit the most. As the map widget is the very first element seen by the user, the actual organic results themselves aren’t as important as they normally would be.
Important Local SEO Factors
So what goes into this type of local ranking algorithim? Probably quite a lot, but at minimum we know that several key factors play an important role in determining local rankings.
1. Relevance, based on a businesses presence in a locality and their presence in everything from newspapers, local publications, mentions on local government websites or chamber of commerce, even the amount of reviews a particular business has can play a huge role in designating a business as important or prominent in a local area.
2. Device, the mapping function employed by most major search engines tends to be extremely dependent on the device accessing it. Mobile users are more likely to see these mapping widgets and tend to be more completely integrated with features capable of broadcasting real-time user location. While desktop users are more likely to see results for the entire city or geographic area.
3. Proximity, based on the user’s location or reported location the search results returned can be completely different and could even change from block to block in some locations.
4. Search, depending on the exact phrasing used the user may see completely different results. Some phrases are preferred by mobile users to return exact location specific results while more vague search terms might trigger no local SEO results.
By taking advantage of these factors businesses can locate the local SEO factors most important to them, design a plan designed to address specific users, and learn to thrive not only in their organic rankings but in local SEO rankings as well. And, as always, should you find it too difficult or encumbering to deduce these systems yourself, SEO companies are a great resource for any business owner preferring to contract this work outside of their own organization. We even specialize in it!