I want to help you understand the difference between traditional SEO Methods and Local SEO Methods. Then I’ll dive a bit deeper into explaining how Local SEO helps businesses, whether or not your business qualifies to use Local SEO, and if so how can you implement it.
What is the difference?
So the first thing we need to define is what is ‘Traditional’ SEO and what is Local SEO?
Traditional SEO methods are generally what you think of when someone says SEO and is geared towards websites. These methods help your website help rank better on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Adding meta data such as Site Title and Site Description along with keywords or phrases, backlinking to credible websites and so on.
Here you can see what the meta data would look like from the view point of the code. Below that we see the same thing but using a WordPress SEO tool such as Yoast.
To clarify what we mean when we say Search Engine Results Page or SERP, here is an example. Let’s say you go to Google and type in ‘apples’, as soon as you hit enter the page of results that gets loaded is the Search Engine Results Page or SERP.
Since the vast majority of us never go to the second page of search results it is very important that you at least make it to page 1. In order to achieve this you need to use Traditional SEO methods. So if Traditional SEO helps get our website a better rank on the SERP, then what does Local SEO do and how can it help?
What is Local SEO?
Simply put, lets say you’re out and want to find a good restaurant to have lunch, so you google ‘restaurants for lunch’. You’ll get a result page that looks similar to the image on the left.
NOTE: The screenshot was taken at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, thus most places are shown as Temporarily Closed.
Or lets say you’re driving and in a new area and you’d like to know what type of stores and restaurants are around you. If you open the map on your phone you’ll see something similar to the image on the right. This is where Local SEO fits in.
The results that you are shown in either of these 2 situations is the result of businesses having a Local SEO listing somewhere. When these listings are setup correctly on platforms such as Google Business Profile it feeds that information to other platforms such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, Maps.me. It can also include such platforms as Uber or TomTom.
So Local SEO is focused more on the business than the website. Which means that if you do not currently have a website but want a way to drive more customers to your business then you can use Local SEO to create a listing that will appear on map platforms and apps.
We’ll discuss in a moment if your business is eligible for Local SEO. But first, let’s take a closer look at how this method of SEO works.
A Closer Look Into How Local SEO Works
Local SEO also generates results based on information gathered from other sources where people can provide information about their business such as the business name, address, phone number, hours of operation, etc. From the information provided by those sources it then gets fed to Local Result Pages. To better visualize what I’m talking about here is an image that is intentionally complicated.
As you can see from this image there is a huge network of companies where a person can provide their business info. For example businesses can list on Facebook, Yelp, Factual, infogroup or TripAdvisor all pertinent info and then that gets distributed across the rest of the network.
Where Local SEO can get complicated is when you have multiple listings for your business on multiple platforms.
For example, lets say you have a business and you post business info on different platforms like Facebook, Yelp and Trip Advisor. If you do not make sure that ALL the information you provide is identical and up-to-date across all these different websites then your Local listing can get “confused” so to speak and display incorrectly. The information will negatively affect your listing and in some cases your listing can even be removed from the Local search.
Is Your Business Eligible For Local SEO?
As mentioned earlier, Local SEO does not depend on a business having a website. It focuses mainly on places of business in a local area. So how do you know if you can utilize Local SEO for your business?
There are 6 categories of businesses that are eligible for Local SEO.
- Single Brick & Mortar Businesses (e.g Retail stores, Dentist, Hotels)
- Multi-location Brick & Mortar (e.g Retail chains, Health care corporation, chains/franchises)
- Multi-Practice (e.g Med offices with mulitple DR, Legal firms with multiple partners)
- Single Service Area (e.g Plumbers, General Contractors, Delivery)
- Multiple Service Area (e.g Statewide or national brands, HVAC)
- Home-based (e.g instructor, daycare, lifestyle coach)
If you are still unsure if your business is eligable to use Local SEO here are 2 questions you can ask yourself:
- Does my business have a Physical Address?
- Do I meet face-to-face with my clients at any point?
NOTE: If you cannot answer ‘Yes’ to both of these questions, your success will be very limited.
So if you’re an e-commerce business or the majority of your work is online and you do not need to have a location to meet customers (e.x a storefront or an office) then you most likely will not benefit from using Local SEO.
Google does allow the option to not display your address for those who work at home. This means that for those of you who have run a business from home but do not want people visiting your house, this is a perfect option. Instead of showing your address, Google will display your ‘Service Area’ on the map.
NOTE: When setting up your business profile, make sure to select ‘No’ at this step.
What Is The Takeaway?
So what can we take away from all of this? First, Traditional SEO is geared towards websites and helping websites get customers by gaining a higher rank on the SERPs.
Second, Local SEO is geared more towards business in a local area and is not dependent on a business having a website although having one will greatly help.
Third, there are 6 categories of businesses that are eligible for Local SEO.
- Single Brick & Mortar Businesses
- Multi-location Brick & Mortar
- Single Service Area
- Multiple Service Area
So if you’re a business owner and would like to get your business on the map but don’t know where to begin let’s get started!