The acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, so Local SEO is Local Search Engine Optimization, but what does that really mean?
You can find all kinds of confusing definitions of SEO, but for a local business SEO means making it as easy as possible for prospective customers to find information about your company online, either when they search specifically for your enterprise or for any businesses that provide particular goods and services nearby them.
Sometimes people are looking for more knowledge about your business. They may know the name, but want to find the phone number or address. Other times, they may know a certain type of enterprise, like a Yoga Studio for example, exists at a location, but need to discover the name. They may need to check operating hours, find driving directions, learn what brands are carried or discover what’s on the menu or where to park. When people search for this kind of information, SEO helps the search engines provide it to them via the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Sometimes people are searching for the types of services you provide or the products you sell, but they don’t necessarily have a specific company in mind. Local SEO helps the search engines find the businesses - including yours - that can best satisfy their needs and display listings for them in the SERPs.
Imagine someone searching for a plumber who will come to their house at 4am to stop a burst pipe from flooding the basement. They will likely search for emergency plumber, 24 hour plumber, or plumbing emergency. The search engine will try to find businesses it can identify not just as plumbers, but as plumbers who are clearly available for emergencies on a 24 hour-a-day basis. If your company meets those requirements, but doesn’t clearly convey that information to the search engines via proper SEO, it is not likely to appear in the results for that type of query.
It’s necessary to have your own company website containing all the information people may wish to know about who you are, where you are and what you do. It’s also necessary to employ SEO best practices on your website to make that information absolutely clear to the search engines. Without SEO, your pages may not rank highly and unless it ranks on the first page of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), potential customers are going to have a hard time finding your business’ website. Here's an example of a business' website ranking for 24 hour plumber in Glenwood Springs, CO:
At other times, the knowledge someone is looking for may be more easily discovered on a page about your enterprise on another website, such as Yelp, Angie’s List, City Search or DexKnows. When this happens, the search engines are likely to display those pages in the results. Here are some examples of local business directories ranking for 24 hour plumber in Glenwood Springs, CO:
The search engines may also present business listings found on their own local search engines - Bing Maps, Yahoo! Local or Google+ Local. Therefore, it is best to create and improve business listings in all of the important local places for your industry across the web to help potential customers find your business’ information on other websites, too. Here's an example of a Google+Local business listing ranking for 24 hour plumber in Glenwood Springs, CO
As you can see, SEO isn’t just one single thing. Yes, you definitely need to use SEO best practices on your website (we’ll discuss those in future posts), but you also need to make certain that your business is listed elsewhere on the web, too. Then, prospective customers have a much better chance of finding your company when they search either specifically for you or for the services and products you sell.