I invited Brad Shorr to write for us today about the importance of local SEO, even for global companies—I hope you’ll find his thoughts on this useful.
When the subject of local SEO crops up, we tend to think about local businesses, such as dental practices, restaurants and HVAC companies. However, global firms also benefit from local SEO, and in a big way. Here at Straight North, we’ve seen this prove out time and time again. Let’s review why local SEO is such a powerful tool.
Easier Wins on Local Keywords
Dominating organic rankings high volume, highly converting national keywords is a tall and expensive order even for very large enterprises with very large budgets. In contrast, a global company has more than enough resources to dominate local keywords with high local-market volume and conversion potential.
Win in Strategically Important Markets
If a company focuses all of its attention on national keywords, it runs the risk of being moderately visible everywhere, even in markets of little consequence. A better option could be to achieve maximum visibility in the key markets and maintain a more modest organic profile elsewhere. So, if for instance, 75 percent of a firm’s U.S. revenue comes from Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta, strong local SEO campaigns in each of those three markets will lift conversions where the greatest number of potential conversions exists.
Expand Strategically — Geographically
Following this line of thinking a bit further, suppose after a period of time this same firm comes to indeed dominate for keywords in those three local markets. At some point, further SEO efforts in those markets will produce diminishing returns, because there are only so many possible conversions in any given market for any given keyword. At this point, the firm is in a position to shift local SEO focus to the next most important geographic market(s), systematically building its organic visibility, rather than canvassing the whole country hoping conversions drift in from somewhere. This approach is also quite useful when a global firm wants to break into a new market or rapidly build its revenue in an underperforming one.
Expand Strategically — Keywords
Along similar lines, if this firm nears its maximum return for target keywords in those three markets, it can expand its keyword target rather than (or in addition to) shifting focus to another local market. Clear-headed keyword research is critical, though. Keyword expansion is an excellent way to generate high-quality conversions as long as there is sufficient volume in those keywords to make the effort worthwhile. In some local markets and/or in certain verticals, this will not be the case.
Local SEO Is Good for the Brand
One of the biggest marketing challenges for a global company is the fact it is global.
People like to buy local, to buy from people they know. Millennials in particular are influenced far more by user reviews and recommendations than by a company’s marketing materials. And what are two key components of a local SEO campaign? Generating positive user reviews and creating web content with a strong and genuine local flavor. A brand that expresses strong interest in a local market and engages local customers through reviews (and other interactions) can overcome the image of being a cold, distant megacorporation. The result is more organic traffic and conversions.
Local SEO Improves Other Marketing Campaigns
Beyond bringing discipline and focus to national (and international) SEO efforts, local SEO enables SEO tactical execution to complement other marketing initiatives, such as new product launches in test markets, with far more impact than what can be achieved otherwise. When on-site and off-site SEO content is added or updated to reflect the firm’s marketing objectives in each individual market, this SEO-driven content becomes more than mere words to impress Google crawlers, it becomes highly effective marketing content that builds revenue.
Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a professional SEO firm in Chicago. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications such as Entrepreneur, American Marketing Association and Moz.