History of Local SEO

Posted on: 03/21/2013 by in SEO Hiring Guide

The days of just putting up a website with a description of your company and the products or services you offer, and maybe even running an e-commerce site, are long gone. Today, Internet marketing through your website or your company’s blog is big business, and every day new methods are being used to help business owners sell more and get their name out there faster and more efficiently. One of those methods is using local SEO marketing. Very simply put, local SEO is targeting your website and your online marketing efforts towards the local population rather than the global population. Upon closer look though, local SEO is much more than that.

When the Internet first started becoming popular in the late 90s, people became excited about the fact that now, not only could they easily communicate with those in their own neighborhood and surrounding communities, but to a global market as well. For businesses, this was big news because they were no longer constricted to physical borders and boundaries that once kept them from reaching people halfway around the world. It wasn’t just big news for businesses, it was big news for everyone – and it was exciting too!

There was a problem, though. Not all businesses need to operate around the globe; and with many, it just doesn’t make good business sense to even consider doing it. Say for instance, that you run a mortgage brokerage that’s set up shop in a small town. You definitely want to reach the people in that town, because they’ll most likely make up the majority of your customers. You set up a website and now, have the capacity to reach people much father outside of your community. But how far do you really want to reach? Within your own country is probably the farthest you can go, because mortgage rules vary so greatly from one country to another. You may be able to do a little business with the countries closest around you; but if your brokerage is located within the United States, you probably won’t be able to handle the home loan of someone in India.

This is where the “big picture” concept of the Internet can become a problem. Your small business can quickly become lost in the shuffle, because search engines are simply trying to gather the best from around the entire world. Instead of increasing your target marketing, you’ve just exponentially increased your competition, and that can be brutal, especially if you rely on people actually walking through the door for a large part of your business.

It wasn’t just bad for businesses, but for customers too. Many consumers like to, or need to, buy from local businesses; but they don’t have time to wade through several hundred pages on the Internet trying to find yours. It’s frustrating to the business owner who can’t reach their most loyal customers, and it’s frustrating to customers who know they can do everything so easily online, they just don’t know where to go to do it.

In 2010, Google came up with a solution to the problem. When a keyword for a business was entered (such as for a restaurant or plumber,) Google would insert a local section first, and then the regular and more global results underneath. The local section looked completely separate from the regular results, and really only displayed basic information such as a company’s name, address, and website link. This system was what Google called Places Pages and it was a very helpful alternative and gave both customers and businesses what they needed. However, it still had its problems.

Today, Google does much more than just put a link to the top local businesses for your search. Not only has the local information moved its position on the Google results page, there’s also a lot more information included. Google pulls information such as the business’ link from Google Places, but it also pulls information directly from the business’ website. Google will now pull the headline for each business from the landing page on the website, and Google also uses the website to form its description of the business. This helps in two ways. First it gives the customer much more information about the local business at just a glance. Secondly, by pulling information directly from the business’ website, it actually helps that business’ website gain page rankings. And page ranking is what it’s all about, because that’s what brings in even more customers.

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