Local SEO. I both love it and hate it. I like the challenge. I hate the complexity. It has tremendous rewards and has disastrous consequences.
Unlike Organic SEO, the denomination of Local SEO brings a lot more variables to the game. A lot of SEO advice winds up short. It’s more difficult because more is involved, more is at stake and you need to act fast.
So how does one screw up local SEO?
I’m glad you asked! I’d like to discuss a couple ways you can dig yourself a pit when it comes to trying to increase your local web presence.
1. Not knowing your local customer’s online habits
This is one which you can’t just read about online and try to follow. Each community is different. Not every city is dependent on online information outside of weather, sports and news. So reacting to latest tech trends about Twitter, Facebook and new browsers will send you wasting your efforts into worthless directions. Know your community’s habits and adjust your visibility accordingly. Example: Where I am, Twitter is seen as – at best – a b2b networking tool and since most everyone ties it to their Facebook status, it doesn’t seem to offer much.
2. Ignoring the Local Popular Media
SEO fans would probably assume that Local SEO is just a matter of optimizing for a keyword or phrase and adding “city, state” to it. Well, that will only get you so far and if your community isn’t a “research online first, ask someone second” it will get you a trickle rather than a stream. Does your community have a popular radio show? Do they have web page? Are you somewhere on it? No, I’m not talking about linking campaigns – I’m just asking if you are on it at all! What is the popular section of the paper? Is there an online version? What about the TV stations? Which affiliate is most popular? Get to know them well.
3. Not Responding to Online Reviews
Online reviews are the wild west of all Internet activities. It can be anonymous and annoying. You could have 233 great reviews, but it’s those 1 or 2 negative reviews that people scroll down to read. Responding online to negative reviews can at least neutralize the comment in the eyes of other readers.
4. Ignoring the Local Pockets of Online Communities
Is there a community site where people hang out online? Is it a local forum? Topix.com? Craigslist? Facebook? Do some snooping. Setup Google Alerts for your product or service to see what pops up. Become an official yet informal presence online. People are talking about your company so it makes sense to find out what they are saying.
You might be thinking “what’s that have to do with Local SEO?” well, actually everything! SEO is all about putting yourself in front of online searchers as much as possible. While they are searching, if they get an email from their favorite radio station that has an offer from your company while they are surfing the forums and see a thread about your company and then they see your logo on a local news iPhone application – you are optimizing. The conversion of a website visit is not influenced solely by a landing page or action oriented text. You have to be aware that the popular mediums of the area influence your local business and not being aware is a guaranteed way to fail at Local SEO.
For some latest news, check out the wrap-up of the Local Search Summit.