When you log onto the internet, the chances are good that you first head to a search engine a search engine to start your online experience. In fact, according to Junto Digital, 93% of all online sessions start from Google, Bing, Yahoo or various other search engines. Luckily for business owners, SEO (search engine optimization) is there to ensure that people searching for your product or service are more likely to find you when search engines are being used. Well, that is if you’ve been diligently working to make sure you’re a competitor in your market. There are two ways to go about getting yourself ranked high in search engine results. They are local SEO and traditional SEO (also called organic SEO). In this article, we will look at each route to see how they might benefit you.
How Does a Search Engine Work?
Before we dive into the differences between local and traditional SEO, there first must be a basic understanding of how a search engine works. There are three basic functions that a search engine performs. They crawl, index and retrieve information. Crawling is the process by which a search engine identifies and examines the various websites and individual web pages, in order to categorize the content of those pages. The pages are then stored together with other pages that have similar content, and indexed, so that they can be easily found later.
When an internet user types their query into the search engine, the search engine can quickly go back and retrieve the content results that seem most relatable to the user’s query. The results that make the most sense to the search engine are then displayed on the search engine results page (SERP) in order of relevance. All content is indexed and prioritized based on the main concepts of each page, the backlinks, keywords and other contributing factors. That being said, those various factors need to be considered as part of your SEO marketing strategy.
The Main Difference Between Traditional & Local SEO
When a user enters their query, it’s up to the search engine to determine whether it is important for the results that are displayed to be geographically relevant or not. If, for example, you were to enter a search for “movie theaters,” the search engine will most likely assume you are looking for movie theaters within a certain proximity to your current location. The search engine will determine your location and display the top results in order of how close they are to you. This is a local search and local SEO strategies will work to ensure your business ranks high on them, if it is beneficial to do so.
If, on the other hand, you were to search for “marketing strategies,” the search engine will likely assume your results are not dependent on location and will, therefore, post results that most closely match the keywords used in your query. The results displayed will be deemed the most relevant according to what you have searched.
The Benefits of Local SEO
Brick and mortar businesses will likely rely heavily on local SEO. Local SEO strategies are used to help your business rank near the top of the search results and drives traffic to your site quickly. If you are on the third or fourth page of the search results, your chances of getting found drop by nearly 100%. Properly implementing local SEO will help your business show up better in local search results.
Ranking high in local searches also creates the opportunity to cross-promote with other nearby businesses. Getting mentions in other businesses’ social media posts will help you gain credibility in your local market, while also presenting you with the chance to return that favor to the business(es) who have mentioned you.
Local SEO also makes your business more accessible to visitors. A person who is unfamiliar with your local area is much more likely to base their choices on where to go and what to do on search engine results that rank highly. This is because high-ranking businesses have earned a certain degree of trust in their local market.
Lastly, relying on local SEO will help you to keep money pumping back into your local economy. You do this by affording your business the opportunity to compete with the “big boys.” While large brands may have a significant budget, they won’t necessarily dominate the top rankings on a search engine in every city. Smaller local businesses are just as capable of ranking at the top of search engines as globally recognized organizations.
Example: DAC Roofing is a local company that provides residential and commercial roofing services. It’s important for them to rank well on Google for someone in the area who needs help with their roof. And while traditional SEO tactics can certainly help them, they should put special attention into local SEO tactics.
Local SEO Tactics
There are multiple SEO strategies that will help drive your business to the top of the local search results. Here are just a few:
Lots and lots and lots of them! If you have happy customers, do whatever it takes to get them ranting and raving about your business on as many platforms as you can. Do this as often as possible and be sure to interact and respond to the comments they leave for you. And if you’ve acquired some bad online reviews, check our blog post titled How to Handle Negative Online Reviews.
Utilize Google My Business for Local SEO
Google My Business is 100% free and, once your business has been claimed, it will automatically show up on Google Maps. When your business has been verified, it may also appear randomly in the sidebar of a Google SERP. Again, SERP stands for “search engine rankings page.” This is a common acronym used by SEO professionals, so if you see it while doing research on this topic, that’s what it stands for.
Update Your Website for Voice Searches
A growing number of people are using voice to text in their searches. Spoken searches are typically worded differently from how the query is typed. So, make sure your relevant keywords include these more conversational terms and phrases.
Tailor Your Content Around Local News
Keep your content in alignment with what is happening in your local economy. This will help you to stay relatable and relevant to your local market.
Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly
About 60% of searches are done on mobile devices. With that being said, having a site that is easily viewable from such a device is imperative.
Utilize Local Keywords
You will need to have an understanding of what your local community is searching for. This is to speak in a language that will help them find you easily. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner (a free resource by Google) will help you determine the most popularly searched words in your local area. Of course, you can always hire someone to research the best keywords for you. But, if you want to do it yourself, try reading these two blog posts:
Register with Online Business Directories
Most online business directories are free to register with. Each business directory gives you an opportunity to get more traffic to your website.
Make Sure Each Service Has a Dedicated Web page
If your business offers multiple products or services, create a unique web page for each. This way, search engines can connect inquiries to you for each one. Creating a page for each service is a great idea. But if you’re an over achiever, and really want to knock this concept out of the park, take a look at this blog post: https://jjlyonsmarketing.com/pillar-content-how-it-works/
The Benefits of Traditional SEO
The biggest component that determines if a business will lean into local SEO or traditional SEO is intention. While local SEO looks to direct traffic to a reliable and trusted location, traditional SEO is more concerned with driving traffic to content that is deemed reliable and trusted. This makes traditional SEO a much better option for websites offering information or expertise. It can also be good for businesses that offer services or products, particularly if they can be sold to customers or clients in a wide geographic radius.
Example: theBrokerList is an online directory and news source. They provide a way for commercial real estate brokers to network and be found by prospective clients. They also share tons of content through their blog. This content is centered around helping commercial brokers in some way. They don’t need local SEO, because they aren’t catering to just one region.
Traditional SEO Tactics
Some of the more traditional SEO strategies you might come across are as follows:
Making sure that your content is consistent, relevant, and valuable is imperative. Longer content, averaging around 2,000 words (when it makes sense) will usually drive higher rankings.
Clearly understand the keywords that are most relevant to your business and industry. Additionally, find keywords that set you apart from your competition.
Include, within your content, quality links to other reliable and trusted sources that are significant within your industry. Quality counts for much more than quantity. Quantity and quality combined is ideal! Also, and this is very important, make a point to get high quality backlinks from other websites. The two blog posts below will give you insight on getting backlinks.
And if you already have backlinks, but they’re poor quality, you should focus on getting rid of them. If that’s your situation, try reading this blog post: What Are Bad Backlinks And How Do You Remove Them?
Video is a great driver when it comes to generating traffic. Considering traffic helps with SEO, be sure to use video in your strategy, if possible.
Update Your Website for Voice Searches
Just as in local SEO, keeping up with the growing use of voice search is extremely important. If someone does a voice search, you want them to be able to find your website easily.
Measure Your Performance Consistently
Don’t just assume your SEO plan is working for you. Take the time regularly to figure out what has generated results and what has not.
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Local & Traditional Overlap
While some tactics are geared more toward local SEO and others are geared more to traditional SEO, it’s also safe to say that some tactics help with both types of SEO. For example, getting quality backlinks to your website is helpful regardless of the type of SEO you need. Also, quality website content with a properly executed keyword strategy will help you, either way. Let’s take a moment to look more closely at this:
Some Businesses Benefit From a Combination
Many businesses can benefit from a combination of local SEO tactics and traditional SEO tactics. For example, we provide digital marketing services to clients throughout the entire United States. And while we are based in northwest Florida, and do practice local SEO tactics, we also want to increase our business outside our local market. So, practicing both types of SEO makes a lot of sense for us. It also makes sense for any business who wants to rank well in more than just one local area.
All Quality SEO is Helpful to Some Extent
Another reason to use both types of SEO is that they both work. Technically speaking, if you were to primarily focus on traditional SEO for your local business, you could still reach top ranking on search engines. And if you primarily focused on local SEO for your non-local business, you could still reach the top of the SERP. Having a well balanced SEO plan is a smart and effective way to show search engines that you’re valuable. So, consider using both methods, but tailor your tactics based on your unique strengths and needs.
Choosing the Strategy That’s Best for You
There is no one size fits all strategy when it comes to SEO. Quite likely, your business marketing plan will include a variety of tactics. Many of these will work perfectly and others will flop and send you back to the drawing board. Successfully using SEO to catapult your business to the next level will take consistent monitoring and adjustment. Any way you look at it, once you have figured out what’s working for your business, you’ll be well on the way to success.
Search engine optimization is one of our core services. If this is something you need assistance with, let us know! We would be happy to learn more about your goals and see how we might be able to help. You can connect with us via the contact form below.