Local Search Engine Optimization Doesn’t Exist
There are plenty of things about search engine optimization that confuse me to no end. One of the biggest sources of confusion for me is our intense need to coin a million terms to describe the same thing. In my humble little brain, there’s no such thing as local search engine optimization. It’s just search engine optimization. Just because we’re targeting a more niche set of keywords doesn’t suddenly change what we’re doing. Also, why the hell do we need the word canonicalization? Can anyone even spell that, let alone pronounce it? Okay, that’s not the point of this post.
Tim Nash had a post yesterday hailing SEO Nottinghamshire Here I Come, which essentially asked whether or not companies received business from their local area and if they specifically target it.
Personally, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be targeting your local area. Isn’t the point of having a Web site to target everyone? How hard is it to work some geographic keywords and local identifiers into your content? To me, doing that isn’t "local search engine optimization", it’s straight up smart optimization. Let’s stop with the names. We just make ourselves look silly and create more words people can’t spell. Like canonicalization.
It’s really my hope that in the next 3-5 years we’ll stop thinking about local search engine optimization, video optimization, audio optimizations and all the optimizations individually. SEO and all the practices and techniques that fall under that umbrella will simply be part of a company’s core marketing campaign. It’s not that we’ll stop performing these techniques; they’ll just become a natural part of your larger Internet marketing campaign. Optimizing for local search or making your site blended search-friendly will be second nature (okay, maybe that’s a stretch) as companies wise up and begin taking advantage of all the opportunities available to them. It’s promising to hear that 70 percent of those Tim asked said they were specifically targeting local areas, as well as nationally.
It’s promising, but not good enough. That number should be way higher, like 100 percent. I’ll use Bruce Clay, Inc. as an example just because it’s what I’m familiar with.
We’re a global business, right? We have offices open or in the works in the UK, Sydney, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, China, and obviously in the United States. Clearly our focus is on national and international clients, and yet we still know the importance of having a presence in our own backyard. That’s why if you do a search for ‘simi valley seo‘ or ‘simi valley optimization‘, we’re right there. It just makes sense that we’d want to show up for these terms.
By NOT focusing and targeting locally, you run the risk of missing out on a lot of great opportunities that just happen to be closer to home and may actually come with a lower cost of conversion. Okay, I have absolutely no hard numbers to support that statement, but my gut tells me that users searching for local terms are more likely to convert than someone who just found us searching for "search engine optimization". Why? Because it’s human nature to trust someone "like you", who lives and works in your town. Do you not immediately like someone when you find out they grew up in your home town? Of course, you do.
There’s also some comfort in knowing that you do business with someone who lives downtown that you can head down there and kick some ass should a problem arise. Say what you want, you know it’s true. ;)
When companies maximize these local relationships, they’re able to set themselves apart in a way that competitors across the country cannot. things begin equal, what business do you trust more: The one located 3,000 miles away or the one that happens to have an office in town?
I don’t think it matters how many local clients you currently "get". Optimizing your site for local queries is just good business. You almost have to purposely NOT target your local audience. And keep in mind that opportunities for local search are growing by leaps and bounds. Just because you’re not seeing much return now, doesn’t mean that won’t increase as the search engines begin working local listings deeper into their SERPs, users begin searching smarter, and we all start taking advantage of mobile devices.