We get a lot of questions about local SEO, so I thought I’d take the time to delve into what it is and what is and how it’s different from organic SEO. Local SEO is the practice of building signals of relevance around a particular location, a brick-and-mortar business. This geographical component is something organic SEO does not necessarily have.
Organic SEO is a marketing practice that revolves, more or less, around a website. This site can be a full-fledged Internet-based business which may or may not have a geographical location. In addition to brick and mortar businesses, bloggers, Internet marketers, software companies, affiliate marketers and other Internet-only businesses use organic SEO to improve their rankings and increase traffic.
Organic SEO can be influenced by location, but it is not attached to a brick and mortar business.
In traditional organic SEO, search engines are looking for relevant and trusted content. For local SEO, search engines are seeking out relevant and trusted locations.
What types of businesses should be implementing a Local SEO strategy?
A plumbing company in Boston, MA
A coffee shop in Seattle, WA
A law firm in Cleveland, OH
A real estate company in Los Angeles, CA
You get the idea.
Citations vs. Links
Links have often been described as the currency of the Web. Links are a means to an end as they can lead to both higher rankings and increased traffic. In the eyes of the search engines, a citation from a credible source is sort of like a “vote” for your business and the more relevant, complete citations you have, the better.
With local SEO, links are not always considered links in the traditional sense. Here’s where citations come into play.
Citations and links are not the same thing.
Citations are nothing more than references to your name, address, and phone number. Common places business citations can be found include Yelp, Yahoo! Local, SuperPages and Merchant Circle. In the “eyes” of Google and friends, these citations increase the relevance and validity of your business within a specific city or region.
In the local algorithm, citations are not necessarily a “vote” for a particular business (like a link is with respect to organic SEO), but they do serve to validate that a business exists at a specific geographical location. This helps to make a business more relevant for particular searches which may relate to that business.
For example, if you are a pool cleaning company in Santa Monica a strong citation profile can help improve your chances of getting in the Local results for phrases such as “pool cleaning Santa Monica” or Santa Monica pool cleaner.”
Local SEO and organic SEO do not always target the same position in the SERPs (search engine results page).
With organic SEO, the goal is simply to rank as high as you can for certain keywords. In addition to on-site SEO practices, organic SEO involves various link building/attracting techniques and has little to no need for the creation of citations.
78% of small businesses believe new customers find them through search engines.” – MarketingCharts.com
Although SEO continues to be an evolving practice, there are some basic distinctions between local SEO and organic (traditional) SEO.
With local SEO this can still hold true, but trying to “crack” into the local results is, more often than not, the main goal of any sound local SEO strategy. To see what I mean by local search results just do a quick search for Plumber or Lawyer + your current location.
This is where citations can do wonders for small businesses. If you want to get your business listed in the local search results, then you need to have a sound local SEO strategy that involves the creation of citations using best practices.