Is There Such a Thing as ‘Too Local’ in SEO?
When it comes to marketing, online marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and basically getting in front of your target demographic, “going local” is all the rage. It definitely should be for some industries and companies, such as local vendors who are trying to be the top choice for office supplies, water coolers, or other B2B services in a region, but can you go too local? The answer is yes!
All things in moderation, including your geo-targeting. As a B2B supplier, you’re already in a niche market and your marketing should reflect that. There’s no time to waste with hard sells, pitches and “creative” marketing that your peers (fellow business owners) can see right through. If you’re hyperlocal and only serve a certain region (not shipping anywhere beyond specific zip codes), then you’ll obviously me more locally-centered than another company that might ship products nationally or internationally.
How can you strike the balance between local and distant?
When local is a great thing
There are some instances where every single business should embrace local strategies, such as having a complete Google+ profile. Granted, there are plenty of critics saying Google+ will never have what it takes to compete with the big boys of social media, but it’s incredibly easy to set up and maintain according to Search Engine Watch and other outlets. Plus, Google admits that indexing of Google+ is considered in their SEO algorithm. No matter how local or distant your reach may be, cover the basics like having relevant content in Google+, Yelp, Facebook and other outlets.
You should also focus on local if the majority of your business is done within driving distance. Let’s say you’re the lead florist specializing in hanging baskets for the city or county, centerpieces for the biggest events in town, and you even sponsor some big, local non-profits. You know if you’re a local company or not — and, if you are, your marketing efforts should reflect that.
Spreading the love
However, also bear in mind that if you go too local, you might miss out on some great clients and projects. If it appears that you only serve a certain region, potential customers might glide right over you. If your online marketing/SEO is too geo-targeted, you might not show up in some relevant search results at all. When it comes to spreading your reach, be sure to:
Use Google Keyword Tool to find search variances
Don’t use geo-targeting with every landing page unless you’re specifically only targeting that location
Include nicknames, neighborhoods, and less obvious geo-targeting keywords like landmarks
Check your analytics to ensure you’re targeting the right areas
Expanding your location is especially critical if your business is undergoing growth, expansion, or you’re opening a new location. Let’s say a potential client is looking for someone new to take care of their office cleanings in Portland, Oregon. Besides word of mouth and checking reviews, they might Google something like “commercial cleaning Portland” or “commercial cleaning Woodstock Portland”. If you’re recently expanded from Seattle to Portland, or perhaps your Portland location is now serving the Woodstock neighborhood when you were previously strictly in the Southwest, the additions of these keywords can help you better connect with your demographics.
Know your landscape
Depending on how fierce the competition is, you might be able to dominate with certain keywords or on a review site based on a little less geo-targeting. For instance, if you’re the only business offering corporate yoga classes in town, it’s not going to be very tough to climb to the top of SEO rankings. However, if you’re located in a place like Los Angeles with a lot of corporate yoga competition, you’ll need to up your keyword variance game in order to get exposure.
Your best bet? Aim to be the Goldilocks of digital marketing and SEO. The sweet spot is not too local and not too wide.
Larry Alton is a writer and researcher for a variety of publications. In addition to his journalism and technical writing, he’s also an active volunteer at a non-profit literacy organization.