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Local SEO - what you don't know

- Carl Maerz is a co-founder of Rocket Referrals.

You’ve heard the term – but have you ever wondered what Local SEO really is?

One of the most important factors Google considers with search results is your current location. And they’ve gotten pretty good at knowing where you are. For the most part they study your device’s IP address or use the GPS in your smart phone to find you. Google understands that where you’re standing plays a big role in what information you’ll find relevant when performing a search — especially when looking for local establishments, like a restaurant or laundromat. People used to type the name of their city alongside the search term (e.g. car insurance Atlanta) to get local suggestions. But anymore Google is smart enough to know where you are without asking.

More often than not Google places local businesses at the top of search results. They know, for instance, that people who search for ‘Chinese food’ are likely more interested in finding a place nearby for some beef chow mein than info on a popular New York restaurant 900 miles away. The same goes for most establishments that can be found locally (e.g. home insurance, tree stump removal, plumber).

There are several ways someone will discover your business via a search engine. They could be directed to your website, your social media profiles, or your official business listing. And although they’re all somewhat interconnected, organic SEO focuses primarily on the first two, whereas local SEO focuses on the latter.

A common misconception with SEO is that it revolves entirely around directing people to your website. The truth is, people are introduced to businesses everyday without visiting their website at all. These businesses are discovered via Google’s official listings, serving as a directory, like an online phonebook.

As a matter of fact, some businesses rank high on local search without having a website at all. And if their local search signals are strong they’ll likely end up above businesses focusing on organic SEO alone. Of course, having an established website does help your online visibility, even locally, but focusing on your website alone is not an effective approach.

Organic vs local

Local vs Organic

Local SEO aims to increase the likelihood that a nearby business listing (in contrast to website) will rank higher for people searching for products or services within a limited proximity.

Organic SEO aims to increase the likelihood that a company website will be discovered by people searching for relevant terms online, through non-paid means, and within a much broader proximity.

It’s true that organic SEO and local SEO strategies often intersect. But there are elements that local businesses should prioritize ahead of those companies operating nationally—specifically in regard to local search signals.

NAP consistency

The most effective way of improving local SEO is by applying NAP consistency - meaning that your business’s Name, Address, and Phone number are uniform across the internet — with both online directories and websites — wherever your information is listed.

Search engines regularly collect information from all the nooks and crannies of cyberspace. This data is then stored for easy access when people perform searches online — this process is called web crawling. One of the things they are looking for is consistent information regarding businesses. The more often an establishment is accurately listed across the net, the more confidence the search engine has in it. And higher confidence means more recommendations for relevant search queries.

Even slight contrasts in a business name, address, or phone number likely will create duplicate listings online and throw off search engines. For local SEO it’s important to always use your local address and phone number. If, for example, you have a toll-free number you should list your local number first.

Utilizing data aggregators or paid data facilitators is the quickest and most effective way to ensure accurate listing across the web.

NAP consistency is a starting place but your local SEO strategy shouldn’t stop there. If you’re interested in learning more ways of improving local SEO you can check out our free educational platform Launch Academy.


In other words - "Big Brother is watching you."

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