Ever since I started learning about local SEO, I’ve realized that most standard SEO rules don’t necessarily apply to local searches. Sure, the basics are there, put out good content, sort the on-page SEO, use the keywords, and so on, but there’s more to it than that.
The rest of this article will look at some of the more important differences that I’ve discovered. I’m sure there are more besides these too, so let me know if I’ve missed anything.
1. Exact Match Domains Still Work
One thing you’ll notice if you do any local searches is that EMD’s (where the domain name exactly matches a keyword) are a lot more common on page one. This isn’t because Google necessarily applies different weighting to EMD’s in local searches, but more because the competition is lower. Relevance and on-page SEO are always important, and EMD’s make it easier to have this.
On top of that, EMD’s were never taken completely out of consideration, they just had their effects massively reduced. In normal SEO, this often means that they are ignored, in favor of more brand able and less spammy looking domain names. In local search, where competition is so much lower, that reduced effect isn’t as noticeable.
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Should you use an EMD for a local website? If it fits perfectly with your business and isn’t ridiculously long, sure. A partial-match domain would work too.
2. On-Page SEO Contributes More
On-page SEO is important for all websites, but in local SERPS, it can be enough to get you to page one alone. So a small amount of back links are usually needs, that in some locales you can rank purely with a 50-word page targeting the right keyword(s). Of course, this means that if you do an excellent job of the on-page SEO and build out a site with good content, you can nail your rankings without a lot of off-page effort.
Which brings us onto point 3.
3. Off-Page SEO Is Easier
While backlinks, anchor text, and social signals are major parts of Google’s algorithm no matter what the search term is, you need to do less of it, and less perfectly, with local SEO. You’re competing with far fewer websites, and less well optimized ones at that, so 5-10 solid links can make a huge difference.
On top of that, because of things like citations, you don’t need to rely on off-page so much, and can focus efforts elsewhere.
4. Citations Complicate Things
If you’re unfamiliar with local SEO, citations can be confusing. Essentially a citation is a ‘mention’ of your business online. This could be somewhere like Yelp.com or other business/industry related places.
The reason is gets complicated is because these citations need to match your business’s identity. That means the name, address, and phone number (NAP) needs to be accurate.
You can learn more about citations here, but what you need to realize is that citations are not as difficult as people think. It’s much easier to produce 50 citations a month than 50 backlinks.
5. Keyword Research Works Differently
You would normally not be particularly excited by a keyword that gets 150 searches, but with local, that can be hugely profitable. Imagine your business (or client) makes $1000 per customer (Think about lawyers, surgeons, etc). 150 searches could bring 5 new customers a month (napkin math), which is not a small amount of dollars at all.
Low hanging fruit has a whole new meaning with local SEO. We recently published an article about internet marketing and SEO for doctors, that shows how profitable even the smallest of searches can be.
6. Competition Is Far Smaller
In case you hadn’t yet figured it out from this article, competition is so much smaller. There WILL still be some local niches that are dominated by strong sites (real estate being one), but there are still plenty of profitable keywords with relatively low competition.
If you wanted to create a local SEO business, you could definitely find plenty of clients whose websites you could rank relatively easily.
If this kind of thing sounds good, you can follow more local SEO news like this over at Ownyourpage.com.