Local SEO as a Function of Offline Environment

Most business owners are familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but few understand what Local SEO is, or at least how it differs from other SEO strategies. My background in SEO and marketing seemingly led me to Local SEO by accident, so here at Channel Marker Media, we specialize in Local SEO. But what is it?

Local SEO encompasses most of the same online strategies that you would expect from traditional SEO, with some additions. As a Local SEO specialist, attention needs to given to the individual environment that the business resides in. Yes, that means your online marketing strategy does not happen in a vacuum: it happens as a function of your “offline” environment and your “offline” strategy.

An example: one of my client’s (we will call “Sally’s Bakery”) is located in downtown New Bern, NC. Another client (we will call “Fred’s Bakery”) is located in downtown Raleigh, NC. Both are great businesses. Both have high brand loyalty. Both devote a reasonable chunk of budget towards SEO and other marketing strategies. What is glaringly different, however, is the environment which the businesses operate in. Sally operates in a market area of 30,000 people while Fred operates in an area of 450,000 people. As I said, your online strategy should be a function of your offline environment, so the Local SEO strategies that Sally and Fred utilize should be different. What works for Sally may not work for Fred, and what works for Fred may not work for Sally.

A traditional SEO strategy might erroneously treat Fred and Sally the same. A Local SEO strategy is aimed at taking advantage of the opportunities that exist in each specific offline environment, and tackling the challenges that each faces.

Google’s Response

Lately, Google as acknowledged the importance of Local. With their new search result algorithm released this past summer, Google has put more importance on Local results and effectively rewarded sites with a solid Local SEO strategy with higher search rankings. Furthermore, it seems that Google is also placing more emphasis on a business’s directory listings as well. Directories such as Yelp!, Yellow Pages and Trip Advisor are showing up higher (in general) in a local business’s search results than before. Why would Google make this change? Easy: Google’s goal since 1998 has been to provide more relevant search results than their competitors. When I search for a bakery, do I really care about a bakery 100 miles away? Or do I want a list of bakeries in my local area? The latter of course.

If you take away nothing else from this article, remember that SEO doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The success or failure of your SEO campaign is determined by how well your online strategy fits with your offline environment.