Many businesses think they have a national market in nature and they don’t need to optimize for local search. Other businesses worry that local optimization will hurt their company’s national rankings and the rest of website owners don’t even think about it at all. Let us shed some light on the topic so you understand how national-to-local optimization strategies can help your business.
In October 2013, SIM Partners conducted a study How Your Competition is Beating You with Google+ Local Optimization, to discover how 315 U.S. businesses to determine how best to “boost the local rankings of priority keyword and city combinations.” The key take away from this report for our purposes today is that “after optimization, targeted combinations indexed in the top seven positions on the SERP increased 179 percent; the top two positions increased 399 percent.”
The upshot of the report clearly indicates the need to have your website optimized, in general – and more specifically the need to ramp up your national-to-local strategies. By implementing and harnessing the power of using both national and local optimization, your business will gain more than just higher SERPs.
It will provide the opportunities to control your brand’s image on all levels by monitoring its reputation, responding to reviews and promoting positive comments and feedback with shares and posts.
The best strategies are always those that result in conversions by taking the most direct route from your company to prospective clients and back. This would include:
- Optimizing for the countries that respond to your niche and product the highest revenues for your industry
- Optimizing for the local areas within the countries that, based on industry research, are more likely to purchase your product or service.
- Developing websites for each facet of your business that can be localized to fine tune search results even further.
After implementing any or all these strategies, it is important to keep close track of how your SERPs become affected and alter and fine-tune as you go. The good and bad news about SEO in general – it takes a bit of time to see the search engine’s reactions to both on-site and off-site changes. So waiting four to six months is a fair period of time to expect to see upward changes for newer businesses, although it can happen sooner.
The best methods for implementing the above strategies are worth reviewing, as there are plenty of poor options that are presented as “fast tracking”, and are tempting due to the extraordinary promises that are made by new software, black-hat techniques and inexperienced SEO workers. Using the wrong options can wind up getting your website penalized by Google and other search engines.
Below you will find the tactics that we recommend based on your goals: National-to-Local or Local-to-National.
Methods for Taking National Brands to the Local Level
If your brand is national and you understand the increased exposure you will receive by making sure your prospects see you on the local level, then these tactics are for you:
- Create Local Interactions and Experiences: Using your social media outreach, localized promotions and local tie-ins, you will be creating awareness on a local level. Your potential customers will no longer see your company as a big national-only company and you will begin competing on a local level (as well as your current national activities).
- Cascading Data Structure: This may sound too technical, but your SEO pro will understand. When you use a cascading data structure, it will actually speed up a sequence of binary searches for the same value in a sequence of related data structures. What this means is that due to the set-up of the data structure your potential customers will have access to data that is tailored to them. Let’s say you offer discounts or special pricing per region. Then you need to have this data localized based on viewers browser location. This way when a customer logs in from location A, will be able to see customized data for his own area. I am sure you’ve seen this when going on big brand websites specially in fashion and luxury industry. This though – is the best way to go for any national and international brand that is willing to secure more business.
- Data collection: Proper data collection will optimize the entire campaign. Obviously, it will provide which channels are working the hardest and invest further in those that are more productive. Remember, in some countries search behaviour is different, different search terms are used and even different search engines are more popular. So data collection is paramount to creating bigger strides, faster.
Methods for Taking Local Brands to the National Level
If your brand is local and you want the increased exposure you will receive by making sure your prospects see you on the national level, then these tactics are for you:
- Dominate your niche on the local level by building a stable local foundation through business reviews, social mentions and media reviews.
- Parlay the opportunities to offer national services to interested parties everywhere.
- Find a point of penetration into the national market. The point of penetration is basically the weakest link that can be exploited the easiest and fastest. Identify where you have more advantage than the competition. Use targeted advertising and see if the hypothesis works. If successful, then use the paid experience and apply to your organic strategy. This includes keywords, offers, opportunities and sales pitches.
- Repeat successful strategies and apply them to other products or services directed toward your national market. Going national with social signals and publicity usually requires a higher budget, but if you accomplish one area at a time, results will make this a fruitful journey.
- Improve your data structure and make it easy to find information that is tailored for regional, national and possibly international business.
Websites, without the proper search optimization strategies, are not likely to gain traction just from going live. In today’s internet environment, the competition for visitors, purchasers and building a community is extremely fierce. Getting heard and being seen requires pulling out all of the stops, which can be done with the right efforts. The real trick is to get the ball rolling and then nurture and expand, based on hard-core results.