What is the Difference between Local and Traditional SEO?

Not all Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is created equal.

In today’s highly competitive online marketplace, it is important to understand not only how SEO works, but how its functionality differs on both a local and global scale. Good SEO is vital for rankings and for generating traffic, but even a site that is ranked #1 in Google and is getting a constant flow of traffic will not necessarily be profitable if the wrong SEO scheme is being used to generate those results.

If someone is looking for carpet cleaning in Palm Springs, California and a search for “carpet cleaning” yields ten listings scattered across the globe, what does it matter whose website ranks #1 unless it just so happens to be in Palm Springs? It goes without saying that the likelihood of that happening is tiny. This is where the importance of knowing the difference between local and traditional SEO becomes apparent.

Traditional vs. Local SEO
Traditional SEO goes by a number of descriptors. Most often, one will hear it referred to as “organic” SEO. In some cases it is rightly referred to as “global” SEO as well. This kind of optimization is perfect for national and international corporations or brands that are looking to draw un-targeted, high-volume traffic to their main sites. A search for a movie title will likely bring up the production company’s website and page dedicated to the movie. However, a search for movie showtimes needs to be more honed in.

SEO optimized web pages know how to appear in a general search and how to appear in a localized one. In fact, Google uses different rules to govern how a site is searched depending on what specific search criteria is used to find it. A search for Coca Cola distributors in Boise will present results that are ranked much differently than one simply looking for Coca Cola distributors in general.

Corporate website designers understand that it is important to capture traffic from both angles and the best ones know exactly how to do it. Sites like fandango.com and movietickets.com are prime examples of how traditional SEO can capture ad traffic and revenues based solely on popular search habits. These sites grab traffic from a generalized search for “movie showtimes” and provide local information once the visitor is inside. However, they also have local SEO strategies in place to rank high when specific criteria like “movie showtimes Pittsburgh” are used in a search.

Why Use Local SEO?
There are very few instances wherein one would not want a functional local SEO strategy in place on a website. Most small and medium sized businesses function in a particular locality.  Therefore, getting traffic to your website from that specific locality is the essence of a local SEO.  The local SEO Google results can be illustrated by putting the city and state name after a search such as “Carpet Cleaning Palm Springs, CA”.  Google will default to local search when you notice a map on the right side of the page and corresponding letter scheme in the body of the page.  A good local SEO strategy will help businesses who are looking for traffic from a specific area achieve targeted results.

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