Does Your Business Need Local SEO?

Approximately eighteen months ago, the agency I was with at that time was hired by a company in the vacation travel space. They were seeing a twenty percent drop in traffic from Google, and a nearly twenty-five percent drop in sales from Google.

Meanwhile, their internally-developed ranking tools were telling them that everything was fine. They were third on Keyword A that month, and they had been third on Keyword A the previous month. This was substantively the case for the several thousand keywords they watched.

Among other things, they hired us to determine what had happened.

The change was that Google had started returning a map with ten business listings for the majority of their keywords, which referred to specific geographies around the country. This map was pushing down the traditional, organic search listings to the point that unless you were the first or second listing, you were “below the fold”, meaning one had to scroll down one’s monitor to see the listing.

This map became known as the “10-pack”, and are driven by the Google Local Business Center. (Note: the 10-pack has recently become a 7-pack.)

One of the constants in SEO is that the further down the page you are listed, the less traffic you receive. Consequently, the addition of the 10-pack was a substantial change to Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). I would argue that it’s the biggest change since Google started placing paid listings above the organic listings on certain queries.

Most disturbing for my client was that not only was traffic from Google dropping, but sales from Google were dropping at a higher rate. Clearly, it was the most valuable traffic that was being lost.

Local SEO (aka Google Maps optimization is a new type of SEO that focuses on causing companies’ Google Local Business Center listings to be returned for particular queries.

So, does your company need local SEO?

If you wish to generate website visits, phone calls, or foot traffic from people in particular geographies, then local SEO is likely appropriate for your business.

To test this theory, you might search on Google for your most important keywords. Is the 7-pack (or one of its cousins) coming up? Even if it isn’t, if your keywords contain local intent, the map will likely be added in the future.

You even might be able to cause your Google Local Business Center listing to be returned for particular keywords, if you work the system correctly.

But that’s a topic for a later post.