Common misconceptions of local SEO strategy.
Every business with an online presence wants higher rankings in search — particularly Google search. That’s not the big secret here, but how it’s actually accomplished is. Local SEO success requires a game plan, and the execution of that plan to perfection so you can maximize the amount of keyword terms you rank highly for. Of course, let’s not forget about Bing and Yahoo, but with Google handling roughly 70 percent of all search queries in the U.S., it makes sense to build your local SEO strategy around them.

Why is Local SEO Important?

Let’s use our favorite thing as an example: staffing agencies. Each time we bring a new client on board, we explain the SEO process, we discuss the client’s goals, and then we craft our local SEO strategy around those goals and move the plan into action. Goals can vary from wanting more clients and candidates, to expanding particular divisions of staffing. Regardless of what your goals are, an optimization strategy is necessary if you want to dip your ladle into the daily click stream of employers and job seekers.

Often, when reviewing progress 30 to 60 days down the road with our clients, we find ourselves dealing with the same common misconceptions of SEO and how search engines actually work. Two of the most common questions are:

  • Why aren’t we ranking number one for “Jobs”?
  • I typed in “staffing agency” but I didn’t come up. Why?

These are simple questions with no easy answer.

Google has made some huge changes in the past couple years that will forever refine the way we optimize websites for local businesses. The biggest change is the inclusion of local business listings in Google, which displays different results based on the geographic location of the person searching the term. If I live in Buffalo, NY and search for a general term such as “employment agencies,” my results will be much different than someone living in San Diego, CA who is searching for the same term.

The philosophy behind Google’s change is simple: if you want people to continue using your search engine, you must deliver the best and most relevant results, and localizing search is perhaps the best way to do this.

Great, so Google is localizing search. I’m local. Why aren’t we showing up for “Jobs”?

The keywords you choose will have a huge impact on whether or not you have local SEO success. Here’s a general rule of thumb:

The broader the search term, the less likely you are to rank for it.

Why? Competition. It’s as simple as that. Of the hundreds of factors Google uses to rank your website, overall domain authority is perhaps the most important. Authority takes into consideration the age of your domain, how many links across the Internet point back to your domain, how much engagement you receive on Social Media, along with many other factors. If you want to rank number one for the term “Jobs,” then hopefully your website has more authority than Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, LinkedIn, Simplyhired, Snagajob and other big-time career sites. If it doesn’t, then welcome to reality.

A good keyword will have these three components:

  • High monthly queries. Does the keyword get enough searches per month to make it worth targeting?
  • Low competition. Will it be too difficult to overtake my competitors in the top 10 search results?
  • Relevancy. If someone lands on my site using this search term, will they find what they’re looking for?

Looking at these rules, the keyword “Jobs” only follows rule number one. It breaks rule number two because it’s forcing you to go head-to-head with too many authoritative sites, even if the results are localized. It also breaks rule number three because it’s not specific enough. Most people, when searching for jobs, aren’t looking for just any old job — they’re looking for specific things. The goal is to bring people to your site, and have them take a particular action. That’s why you want your focus keywords to be as specific as possible. If you’re a Buffalo staffing agency and have a job as an accountant listed on your site, someone who finds you through the search term “Accounting Jobs in Buffalo” is much more likely to apply than someone who searches “Jobs.”

Keep in mind, there are three areas of the Google Search results page where you could potentially show up: Advertisements, Organic Results, and Business Listings.

The 3 areas of Google Search: Ads, Organic, Business Listings
Whether you want to display in the ads section or not is up to you and your advertising budget. What we focus on is getting your site to hit the first page for as many specific keywords as possible. When implementing your plan, focus less on which keywords you need to be number one, and more on having a wider variety of specific keywords rank in the top 10.

There’s a lot to think about here, but luckily, we’ll have some tips on improving your local SEO strategy in future blog posts. Stay tuned.

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