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The Dirty, Unmentionable Secrets of Local SEO

July 8th, 2010 | | Local SEO

promote local business onlineLocal SEO has a tendency to be the name many agencies give when they simply put a website in Google Places. In fact, Eric did a great post yesterday on what separates Google Places from those other directories that have all but lost their value.

Good companies will do the following:   some keyword research, a little competitor analysis, analytics for consistency, and a PPC test or two for flavor and whip up a nice little campaign for a local SEO campaign. Especially if one is allowed to attach a blog to get the content flowing.

And, unless there’s an extreme situation, the site should be ready to compete in the local market.

But here’s where the fun starts.

My logic will get me into trouble, but the argument is necessary:

I put three principles into play:

1) SEO results is attained by traffic, content, and backlinks. Good SEO is measured in traffic; great SEO is measured in conversions.
2) Directories are evil. Once a favored trick, directories have since lost favor due to algorithm changes.
3) Pending on the market, local search and site traffic have few traffic watering holes that offer for great conversions. For example, a local orthodontist who is only licensed in one state and whose office resides on the state line is going to have a limited geographical area. Pending travel.

When it comes down to this point, sometimes you have to consider places that sometimes feels below an SEO’s dignity.

Sites like the local Yellow Pages online directory. Or Dex Knows.

Yep, I said it. I think I even contradict a post on here from late 2009. But I have to hold to it.

While we’re at it….

  • Banner ads on the local newspaper site.
  • Local community sites that are well-received.

Why? Oh WHY would you do that to a site?

The reason is twofold

1) Because, pending on the site, even if the backlink isn’t the best place on earth, the traffic more than makes up for it. Especially when you are dealing with small and medium businesses. If they are getting the traffic and conversions at a good (brace for it) ROI, allowing for the business to grow a rate they can handle it. Then searching and working for the best backlink might not be the best way to spend your time.
2) Pending on results, many searchers use Yellow Book online, or Dex Knows, to look for local businesses. The heavy TV push on their behalf seems to have had a positive effect. At least with he last couple clients I’ve seen.

Believe it or not, not everybody uses Google to look for local businesses. It’s frightening, but it’s true. And while we’re at it, they don’t always use Yahoo and Bing, either.

I didn’t want to believe it either. But as much as I would like to tell the client that they rank #1 for everything and get great traffic for the market, I don’t do my job if I’m not getting them traffic that converts. Even if the search engine isn’t one of the big three.

Who knew SEO could be so…dirty.

(photo taken by Grow Wear via Flickr)

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