Today I’d like to discuss the key differences between local SEO and “non-local” SEO.
Essentially when someone enters a search term (or “keyword or keyword phrase”), a search engine attempts to provide the web pages that present the best possible answers to the user’s search query.
Simplifying this process even further:
1. A user asks the search engine a question (the query)
2. The search engine provides web pages it thinks best answers the question
The way search engines display web pages is in descending order; the first web page it displays is the page that contains content that answers the query best — for the given search term — then displays the second best page, then the third best – and so on.
This is a bit of a loaded question and something that we in the SEO world continually strive to keep up with and understand.
The truth is, know one really knows all of the exact set of rules (known as an algorithm) a search engine uses to rank pages.
Google, among other search engines, tries to keep users informed with various search engine starter guides, which can help but won’t cover all of the complexities it takes to rank a web page in most cases.
Wildly oversimplifying the ranking process, a search engine may use a combination of technical signals, on-page signals, off-page signals & content related signals for a given web page to rank it for a particular search term.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is simply the process of improving a website’s pages so that they have the best chance at ranking highly when people are searching for things online in a search engine.
Working on the combination of technical, on-page, off-page and content related items, SEO’s do their best make sure a web page has all of the important aspects lined up to make that page the best answer for a particular set of search terms.
Local SEO is the process of improving a web page that has content targeted for a particular geographic location, like a state, city or metropolitan area.
The goal of performing local SEO on a web page is to help ensure it ranks well when the search engine knows (or assumes) the location of user enter the search.
Understanding where a user is located when they search is helpful for search engines, especially when users are looking for local small businesses, services and products in their immediate area.
The main difference between local SEO and general SEO is right in their names: are you optimizing to a web page to rank well for a users in a specific geographic location (local SEO)? Or does the location of the user not really factor in answering the search query (general SEO)?
Here are example general search queries:
[tater tot casserole recipes]
[milwaukee brewers schedule]
[what is quantum mechanics]
For each of these searches, where the user is located doesn’t really matter (in most cases), so optimizing for local search wouldn’t be necessary to rank well in this case.
Some examples of local search queries:
[painting contractors in texas]
[home security companies]
[antique store near me]
The first example you’ll note the location is explicitly given in the search term (Texas) so that’s a more obvious example.
For the other two, while the location isn’t explicitly given search engines will likely try to display local search results given what the user has entered.
Another important aspect of local SEO that should be mentioned here is the local map pack that is displayed when a local search result is entered.
This is simply a display of a list of businesses near the user, along with a map that indicates where those businesses are in proximity to the user’s location (or assumed location).
This map pack is one of the first things that are listed on search results page, so getting and maintaining a position in this area is extremely valuable in most cases.
After reading this post I hope you have a better understanding of what local SEO is, how it differs from general SEO and if it might make sense for your local small business in 2022 and beyond.
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