National & Local SEO explained
First things first. What is search engine optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website more visible to users of search engines like Google. It involves a number of techniques that are intended to improve your website, help it stand out online and appear higher in search rankings.
A higher ranking in search engines means your website will be seen by more people. More people means more website traffic. More traffic means more customers. So search engine optimization is a very big deal. Far too many web designers or do it yourself website creators overlook the importance of SEO. Taking the time to optimize your website for search engines is essential for any small business.
Typical SEO techniques involve optimizing your website for speed, building backlinks, keyword research, writing useful content and so much more. It can be time consuming and good SEO isn’t accomplished overnight. Some would argue that money and time spent on search engine optimization is a better investment than spending that same money on website design.
But in today’s competitive world, you need both. A pretty website is useless if nobody can find it and a well optimized website is useless if it scares away your customers. But there are different approaches to SEO. And these approaches often overlap each other. How do you know which approach is best for you?
National SEO (sometimes called organic seo) is for websites that need to appear on on a national scale to a wider audience for desired (and sometimes highly competitive) search terms. Sometimes these search terms are shorter and less specific. These are known as broad keywords.
Broad keywords used in national seo campaigns can return a wide variety of results and are great for brand awareness and visibility. However, even with higher impressions, they can be less effective when needing more clicks or conversions. Take Nike for example. Nike sells shoes to everyone, regardless of location. Nike wants you to find their shoes no matter where you are. So a simple broad term search like “basketball shoes” is important to them. And wouldn’t you know it, I just searched for basketball shoes and the first organic result is Nike.
But I didn’t really tell Google what I needed to know about basketball shoes. I might not be in the market for shoes at all. I could have been interested in the history of shoes worn by NBA players, the average weight of basketball shoes or just about anything else. So I am less likely to convert.
Long tail keywords
If I had searched “black size 11 Nike LeBron” then I am a whole different type of customer. I am looking for a specific shoe and a specific size. This means I am likely to convert into a paying customer.
This type of search term is known as a long tail keyword. Long tail keywords consist of four or more words that are more specific in nature. Long tail keywords tend to generate less traffic and visibility, but the quality of your visitors is greatly improved. these visitors are laser focused on your products or services. They need what you have. Long tail keywords are used in both national and local SEO campaigns but can be especially useful with local SEO.
But it’s not just items for sale that national SEO could apply to. Websites that are focused on any topic that is relevant to a wide audience need national SEO. lf you write articles about dating advice, you wouldn’t want your website to be limited to visitors from your hometown. There are lots of people who need dating advice and they are everywhere. So national SEO would be your focus.
No matter what type of keywords you need to appear for, national SEO is generally more difficult and competitive. You are competing with power players in every industry and basic on page SEO isn’t going to cut it. National SEO is also generally more expensive if you utilize an SEO service. But for those who need it, every dime and every second spent is worth it.
Most small businesses are in need of local SEO. Local SEO focuses on location specific searches. If you are a plumber in Burlington, NC then you probably won’t benefit from a job in San Diego, CA. So your focus would be appearing for relevant searches in your service area. Local SEO is meant to put your business in front of as many customers as possible in your local area.
Many of the same techniques used with National SEO are still important. However, more focus is put on local keywords, local business listings like Google My Business and your online reputation. While the traffic gained from local SEO is smaller, it is much more focused on people who want to use your services or buy your products today. This makes them much more likely to convert into paying customers.
Remember the Yellow Pages? Companies would purposefully choose names that started with “A” so that their business would be the first one listed in that section of the Yellow Pages. If you think about it, this was really an early form of local SEO. Being seen first is key with Local SEO. The coveted “3 pack” is the goal of most businesses.
Local SEO 3 Pack
When you search for a local service or type of business you will generally see the top three Google business listings first. This is the 3 pack. They get the most calls, website clicks and customers. Google used to show seven businesses in the same prominent way but later decided to limit it to the top three. When people have to take any kind of action in order to see your business, the probability of it being seen starts to drop. Even if the action is as simple as clicking “more businesses”. So being in that local 3 pack is vital. Local SEO is meant to assure that your local business visibility is maximized and that you are seen first.
Local SEO makes sure that your website, social media presence, business listings and online reputation all work together to give you the strongest possible online presence.
A local SEO service is likely to cost less and have quicker results. But again, good SEO takes time. So patience and persistence are key to the success of any SEO campaign.