The power of keywords is not in ranking highly for a broad or generic term, but to rank highly on the phrases that paying customers use.
These phrases change with time and trends, and how well search engines think you should rank on certain phrases also changes. Whilst that sounds like a lot of running around in circles, the thing to understand is that keywords are not one simple entity, but are many and complex, and fluid as well.
What is location-based or local SEO?
This is a long-tail keyword which includes the name of your location, or the location you service.
For example, instead of just targeting ‘children’s yoga classes’ if you are based in Townsville, a local keyword target would be ‘children’s yoga classes Townsville’.
Consider how you search for stores or services near you, and reverse engineer that logic to apply it to your business.
Why is it necessary to be more specific in your targeted search terms?
Modern SEO strategy is a multi-pronged attack. Your website will succeed (and your business will make money) not on the basis of one keyword or one small group of keywords, but on the basis of a number of different steps targeting longer phrases and similar terms.
Generic terms or broad targeting may bring you high rankings on certain keywords, but not necessarily converting customers, for a few reasons:
- People putting in generic terms like ‘yoga classes’ could be looking for any kind of yoga class or even just researching what yoga classes are about. The percentage of the traffic searching the broad term that might be your target audience is really small.
- The number of people ready to sign up to a yoga class is even smaller
- People who are closer to converting will put in more natural language and use full questions, to cut out all of the irrelevant results.
A comprehensive SEO strategy will most likely cover a range of keyword long tail phrases, and optimisation through a number of sources, including on-page and off-page strategies.
The most valuable visitors to your site are the ones who are ready to buy. You are not just targeting an audience with a problem, you are also targeting them at the stage of readiness to purchase.
People who use location names in their search terms are far closer to being ready to buy. Also known as targeting buyer intent.
What are the benefits of local SEO?
There are a number of reasons why adding location information to your targeted keywords makes sense:
- Search engines factor in location information when they are displaying results
- This is especially relevant through services such as Google Maps and Google My Business
- Consumers tend to trust local businesses faster
- People tend to put locations into their search terms more often, knowing that the internet is a global entity
- More and more people use search engines through mobile devices when they are out and about or looking for something close by
- Consumers are looking for quick turn-around so seek a product or service locally first
- The notion of support local business is strong.
Local SEO is cheaper and more accessible
For small and medium players, or start-ups and newbies, you won’t necessarily have access to broad targeting keywords without a sizeable investment of either money or time, or both. Location-based SEO is more accessible to you, either to pay for in services like AdWords, or to connect with through organic reach or on-page optimisation.
Less websites are competing for location-based keywords, so you are more likely to get a ranking.
Using the earlier example, search results for ‘Childrens Yoga Classes’ gives over 5 MILLION results.
Using local targeting: ‘Childrens Yoga Classes Townsville’ gives 70,000 results.
And, ‘Townsville Yoga Classes for Kids’ gives 34,000 results.
As you can see, you have a far greater chance of ranking on the first page or two for the local based results versus the very broad.
Location-based SEO helps you connect more often
With the rise in popularity of services like Siri and Google Now, people are not only using more natural language when they search, but they are more likely to include location names.
In addition to this, the wide number of websites and apps with location activation capacity means that anyone using a smartphone in the area who searches for the general terms, will single in on location-based listings.
How local do you go?
Local can, of course, mean all sorts of things. If you are a balloon delivery service based in Hyde Park in Townsville, then you could target a number of locations, with varying results. These could include:
- North Queensland
- Hyde Park
- Hyde Park Townsville
- Hyde Park NQ
- Hyde Park 4818
- Hyde Park Queensland
- Townsville, North Queensland
- Townsville, Australia
- And many more surrounding suburbs
And each of these locations you could attach to any number of long-tail phrases or keywords that you might be targeting, such as ‘balloon delivery’, ‘party supplies’, ‘event decorations’, ‘birthday gift ideas’ and many, many more.
The more concentrated your location, the smaller your potential audience however the higher you will rank on that term and the more likely they will be to convert to paying customers.
What if you are not a location-based service?
If you have a bricks and mortar store or a service that is based in a specific geographic region, then the benefits of local SEO would clearly make sense. But what if your service is purely online?
If you are a national service selling services Australia-wide, then your specific location may not be very relevant to your potential customers. What is relevant is your service area. So, you would want to include in your location targeting ‘Australia’, plus probably the names of all of the States and Territories, and capital cities as well.
For those serving the global community, local SEO is still worth focusing on. You might work with anyone, anywhere, but you are missing out on customers by forgoing local SEO in your strategy.
Optimise your page for mobile devices
If you are choosing to target location-based keywords, then mobile optimisation is a must.
There is a large population that you can reach who are using location services, and any lag or poor experience on your website will make them skip quickly over onto the next one.
Check your image file sizes, load time, and layout so that on-the-go searchers can easily find what they are looking for.
Make sure that your location information is consistent across directories
When relying on your location (and Google’s ability to triangulate your location) as a way to bring you clients, your location must be the same across all directories. This means getting your business name, address and phone number consistent across directories.
You can also get that location information onto as many local, global and niche directories as you can.
So, what is the conclusion about local SEO?
The benefits of local SEO strategies are definitely an easier mountain to climb compared to broad targeting.
As your search engine optimisation should involve a combination of different approaches, the best way to reach customers (and start ranking on page 1) is to include local SEO in your strategy.