As someone who spends a lot of time writing about all things SEO and digital marketing, I cover local search extensively. I write about it a lot. Why? Because it is important for small businesses looking to reach a local customer base. But recently I discovered that it matters even when you do not want it to. Allow me to explain.
I live in Central Florida. I was doing some research on digital marketing agencies in preparation for this post. I started my research by running a standard search on a typical phrase I search quite often: digital marketing agencies. Much to my surprise, six of the top 10 results pointed to digital marketing agencies located in Jacksonville.
Mind you, I am roughly three hours from Jacksonville. It is not like the city is my backyard. But more importantly, the majority of those six listings included the phrase ‘Jacksonville, FL’ in their titles. My chosen search engine assumed I was looking for digital marketing agencies within my own state and pointed me to the ones in Jacksonville.
When Businesses Rely on Local
The interesting thing to me is that there are certain types of businesses that depend exclusively on a local audience. Digital marketing is not one of them. If I were in need of a digital marketing agency, I could have chosen one of the six that popped up in my search. I could have contacted an agency closer to home, perhaps an Orlando. I could have even ventured as far as Salt Lake City to hook up with Webtek Digital Marketing.
But what if I were in need of a new landscaping service to handle cutting my grass and trimming my bushes? A Jacksonville landscaper is not going to travel three hours to my house. A Salt Lake City landscaper isn’t going to hop on a plane and fly to Orlando.
The landscaper I ultimately chose would be local to the Orlando area. It is that kind of business that depends so heavily on local SEO. It is that kind of business for which a digital marketing agency obsesses over exploiting local resources. When your business relies on local customers, your digital marketing agency needs to zero-in on what makes local residents tick.
Business Information Has to Be Right
I am still confused as to why my preferred search engine threw Jacksonville listings at me instead of Orlando listings. I can only guess that my ISP has somehow managed to muck up my assigned IP address. That would explain my browser reporting that I am closer to Jacksonville than Orlando.
All of that said, maximizing the benefits of local SEO requires making sure that business information is right. Those six digital marketing agencies that showed up in my search were correctly identified by the algorithm as being located in Jacksonville.
Digital marketing agencies tend to recommend that their clients provide accurate contact information on their websites, information that includes a physical address with a zip code. It is strange to me that so many companies don’t want to publish their addresses. But that is another topic for a different post. The point here is that accurate contact information is one of the easiest and most effective things companies can do to maximize local searches.
My own experience tells me that local search is important even when you do not need it to be. My search for digital marketing agencies proves as much. I wasn’t looking for help in Jacksonville but, if I had been. I would have had plenty of choices to work with. Local SEO did its job.