Both Sides of Local Search

Local search is being used increasingly by people in larger metro areas, and as a result, search engines are now emphasizing it in search results. For many businesses, this is an opportunity. For others, it is not only NOT an advantage, it ends up being a problem. Local search doesn’t benefit all businesses.

If you have a local physical location that you want to draw people to, or if you want to attract people near where you are located, local search is helpful, and there are ways you can capitalize on the trend. You can work location keywords into your title and description tags (careful, no more than two per page), and you can put a single location list on each page in your site (put it in the same location on each page, near the bottom, no more than 10 locations, and make it people friendly). This can help bring you the people who are most likely to buy and trust you.

On the other hand, for many businesses, it isn’t helpful at all. This can be for a range of reasons, and our business is a good example. We market nationwide. There are a few towns near us that we market into, but there are limits to listings that mean it won’t help us at all.

Local search engines and local search results often have limits to them.

  • First, they ONLY allow you to put in your actual business location. So even if I am doing events in other cities, and need local advertising, it does not help me, because my business address is in Wyoming, and that is what they judge your location by. You cannot be located one place, and promoting into another.
  • Next, they only show results in a 50 mile radius. Well, we are in Medicine Bow, but we serve several Wyoming towns – Laramie is 60 miles away, Rawlins is 60 miles away, Saratoga is 60 miles away, Casper is 95 miles, and Cheyenne is 105 miles. No good at all!

And some locations may not have a high enough population to make it worth promoting local. An SEO pro once tried to do some optimization with one of our sites, and recommended using Wyoming in all of our key site tags. Apparently she did not do the research ahead, but made some erroneous assumptions. In any other state, that might work. In Wyoming it does not.

  • Wyoming has a population of only 800,000 and some odd. The WHOLE STATE! And the number of searches per day for Wyoming Web Design is pathetically small – not even into double digits, and that with inflated reporting methods! So Wyoming isn’t worth going after in the first place!
  • Other companies across the US also make the same erroneous assumption that the SEO pro did. They assume it is a state like any other and worth going after, so they optimize for it along with all the other states. That means you have thousands of companies wrangling over three interested people per day, and you can’t even RANK for Wyoming Web Design related terms. Bloated competition, and nearly non-existent market base. Bad combination.

So optimization for local search is a big strike out for us on all counts. It does provide a good example of not just one or two reasons for not using local search optimization, but just about EVERY reason not to use it though!

  • The thing is, there are a LOT of small, rural businesses with similar issues to what we have. No customer base at all within 50 miles of them, and a need to market out further.
  • There are a LOT of businesses with a national focus to whom local optimization is a waste of time.
  • There are a LOT of mobile businesses that do local presentations or local events, which need local marketing, but who cannot access it, and for whom the current setup is totally useless.

When optimizing a website, don’t overlook Local if it is an asset. But don’t think it is useful for every site either – putting local info in on a site that won’t benefit from it will actually HURT them, not help them.

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