Local SEO can be a challenge for corporate brands because it means knowing how to do “national” SEO, the Google Business Profile, and then learning how Google handles its priority search queries across multiple markets.
This means that there are an infinite number of challenges to local SEO for enterprise search marketers. So what are the most common challenges in corporate local SEO? Let's find out.
1. Knowing When To Prioritize Local vs. National SEO
One of the biggest challenges companies face is knowing when to focus on a “local” SEO strategy over a “national” SEO strategy and vice versa.
This is understandable, as it's not always immediately apparent whether your priorities are better served by one or the other. It can be challenging to know if your top target keywords have local intent.
But it is vital to success with your overall strategy as it will significantly affect how well your initiatives meet your business goals.
Understanding which terms Google considers local can help you develop your keyword strategy and determine how to approach and support your SEO investment.
You may lose a lot of traffic due to bad website design or keyword strategy.
Understanding Local Search Intent
So what do we mean by local search intent, exactly?
By understanding search intent, you know what kind of features will show up in search results and what content you should prioritize.
For this discussion, there are four main types of search intents to focus on:
You can tell what kind of intent your target search queries fall under by the features shown in the SERPs, for example:
Queries with national search intent
SERPs do not feature state/city specific pages and no map packs (example).
Screenshot of search by [newspaper article], Google, September 2022
The fact that there are no “local” results in this SERP likely means that Google does not see any local intent for these queries.
The minute a large chunk of searchers start redoing this query with location information, like “Pleasanton journal article”, the SERPs will likely shift to results that have some local results, which leads us to…
Queries with semiannual search intent
SERPs do not feature state/city specific pages, but a map pack (example).
Screenshot of search by [bank], Google, September 2022
Seminal queries like [bank] may include a map pack because there is an equal amount of local and national clicks. This could be because some users are looking for a bank branch near them, but others are looking for the bank's main homepage.
Queries with local search intent
SERPs feature partial to full state/city specific pages and a map pack (example).
Screenshot of search for [plumber], Google, September 2022
For a term like [plumber], Google will present a pack of maps of nearby plumbers, and the rest of the page one of the results will be filled with location pages. Google predicts that the user intends to find a plumber near their location.
Queries with hyperlocal search intent
Hyperlocal keywords are where the searcher's location is most meaningful and significantly impacts SERP results (example).
Screenshot of [Car insurance near me] search, Google, September 2022
In the case of hyperlocal intent queries, the distance between the user and the business is more important. You can see that the map pack dominates the real estate SERP for this query. So Google probably thinks that [Car Insurance Near Me] requires hyperlocal results to be useful to the user.
How To Identify Search Intent
How To Build A Strategy For Different Types Of Search Intent
Nationally focused strategies will need a lot of content and authority.
Your main site should be where you spend most of your SEO budget if you determine that your target keywords are in queries with little or no local intent. This will help you get that ranking by generating backlinks.
Semi-local keywords will require the most focus to build your main site's content and authority with an additional focus point. Since semi-local keywords generate a map pack, you should optimize your Google business profile listings.
The structure of your site will become significantly more important if you determine that Google treats your keyword as local. You can increase search volume by creating a directory of state or city pages.
When your priority keywords are hyperlocal, it is preferable to create a directory of state and city level pages and optimize them for keywords close to me with special localization pages.
The layers will likely look different depending on your vertical, but in general they might look like this:
2. Having A Single Source Of Truth For Location Data
With the advent of local listing management companies like Yext and Uberall, this is no longer an issue.
However, we still find companies with multiple locations that don't have a “single source of truth” for all of their location information.
If you don't already have it, put it away.
3. Optimizing Store Locators
Many brands outsource their store locators to third-party vendors. There's nothing wrong with this in theory, but there are a few ways we've seen it go wrong:
Search-Only Store Locators
For SEO, an effective store locator should be a basic linked set of state, city, and location pages that a bot or user can easily click to access all pages. But many brands often create a location page in their store locators with a search box to find your location.
A few years ago, we looked at the locators of the top 100 US retailers and found those with search-only locators ranked for about 50% fewer keywords than those with a linkable status > city > location architecture.
So make sure your locator architecture is built this way.
Location Page Content
Often times, brands budget to build a locator on their website, but leave nothing for the content.
There's nothing wrong with a basic location page with your business name, address, phone number, product/service categories, etc. But a location page with unique and enhanced content relevant to the location and topics you are trying to rank for can improve SEO performance.
This is where your location managers can come in handy. We often see successful brands using surveys from their location managers to get unique local content.
Other sources may include local customer reviews, syndicated local point of interest data, and popular products in the specific market.
Most ecommerce queries show local results near the top of SERPs these days.
We often see winning brands on Local Packages linking from their location pages to their main categories.
Think of it as a signal to Google that your locations are relevant to these categories.
4. Google Business Profile Management And Optimization
The Google Business Profile (GBP) really shouldn't be a challenge – I mean it's just a simple set of yellow pages listings for your locations – but there are a million ways this can go wrong for businesses.
Here are just a few challenges and opportunities with GBP.
Beware Of Duplicate Listings
Surprisingly, duplicate listings are still a thing with GBP, but I just spoke to a service area company that was having trouble sorting. It was very easy to see that they had duplicate GBP listings.
The minute they deleted the duplicate listings, their rankings went up 15 positions for the main keyword they were targeting. So keep an eye on them.
Monitor Your GBP listings
Your GBP listings are in a constant state of flux. Users are adding photos and comments.
Google may overwrite your data if it trusts data from another party more than you.
GBP is not a “set it and forget it” thing. Create a system to regularly monitor changes to your GBP pages.
While you can see a lot of changes through the GBP Dashboard, it doesn't capture everything. That's one of the reasons we created this free and open source tool to monitor image changes in your GBP.
Scale GBP Posts
GBP posts are short advertisements that you can attach to your GBP. These can be an inexpensive way to drive high converting visits to your site. Posts can include text, photos or videos.
The challenge we often see is that companies are often not prepared to produce content for every location. If you want to post GBP to multiple locations, implement a system to create GBP-ready marketing material for new promotions so they can be posted.
This usually involves creating a GBP-sized (400×300) version of approved marketing images and copying them to GBP as part of each new promotion.
You should also tag the links of your GBP posts with tracking parameters to measure performance.
5. Building A Local Search Presence For SABs And Marketplaces
Not all local business brands have locations.
There are many local market brands such as Yelp, DoorDash and Zillow and service area companies (SABs) such as plumbers and carpenters that target local search queries but are not eligible to appear in Local Packages. This is because they don't have physical locations in their target markets.
And that means they are missing out on a lot of potential clicks and revenue.
This won't work for all brands, but for those with a proper business model, creating a “store within a store” at a partner brand's location is a great way to gain additional visibility of the local package.
The FedEx OnSite services located at Walgreens are a good example of how this can work:
Screenshot of Google Search, September 2022
And of course, if the lead value is high enough, you might consider opening physical locations in certain areas to try to rank well in Local Packs.
As I said at the beginning, there are an infinite number of local SEO tactics that corporate brands can deploy.
When deploying new tactics, be sure to test, measure, and iterate like any other marketing channel.
Featured Image: GaudiLab/Shutterstock
How do you set up SEO for different languages and countries?
5 Tips to Improve SEO for Multiple Languages
- Translate your URLs (slugs) One element that many people overlook when translating their websites is URLs. …
- Use hreflang tags. …
- Translate your metadata. …
- Review your keyword usage. …
- Search for popular keywords in other languages.
Is SEO different in different countries? 4. SEO is not that different all over the world – but you still need a strategy for each country. As platforms like Google, Bing and Yahoo are still present all over the world, optimizing your site for them won't be that different from country to country.
Does SEO work for other languages?
Of course you do. The easiest way to do this is to optimize your SEO for different languages and countries. The international market for your content is huge, and remember: most of the world doesn't speak English. If you're only targeting English speakers based in your country, you're missing out on a huge audience.
Does language affect SEO?
Our Verdict: Language Is Likely a Ranking Factor When explaining how its search engine works, Google discusses how language can affect search results. Several pages in Google's Advanced SEO documentation cover dealing with languages.
Is SEO country specific?
Domain Names for International SEO Some domains, known as country code top-level domains (ccTLD), will default to a specific location. Other top-level domains (TLDs) can be geo-targeted to point to specific countries. The subfolders and subdomains in these TLD domains can also be geographically segmented to different countries.
What language is used in SEO?
Is multi language good for SEO?
An often overlooked benefit of making your website available in multiple languages is that it can help improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. This requires you to structure your multilingual site correctly and make sure you have the right tool to create the multilingual content in the first place.
How do you use location based keywords?
You want to identify keywords for your local SEO that pertain to your geographic location. Consider the various locations and areas you serve and where your customers are from. If you have a delivery service, include these area names, counties, cities, etc., in your blog posts and website content.
How do I use location in keywords? Specify your location The first, and perhaps most important, step in finding local SEO keywords is to specify your location. You need to establish which areas you want to target for local search. You can target location keywords near your business or where you travel for services.
Why is local SEO important?
Local SEO helps your business stand out – even if you don’t have a website – and helps drive more traffic to your premises through online leads. Since these leads are from people who are specifically researching products or services your business offers, they are likely to provide a high conversion rate as well.
What is the benefit of local SEO? Local SEO helps you increase online visibility so you get noticed by new customers. Google Maps and Google My Business optimization can generate more direct calls, leads and sales. Optimizing your site for localized terms means attracting targeted traffic and better leads.
What is local SEO and why is it so important?
Simply put, local SEO is where you focus to improve your rankings and visibility in local search results, like Google's Map Pack/Local Pack. Organic SEO is how you improve your webpage rankings in organic search. Your site's ranking in these organic results can also positively influence your local package rankings.
How do you know if you need local SEO?
How do you know if you need local SEO? If your customer base is primarily located in the same city or metro area that your business is located in (i.e. a local business), you will need local SEO. If you have a physical location (or locations), you need local SEO.
Why is local SEO important for SEO?
Benefits of Local SEO Improved Online Visibility: Local SEO activity such as citing and link building increases your online visibility. This makes your business more easily discovered by new customers. More in-store foot traffic: Greater local visibility brings more foot traffic to your physical store.
How do you rank in multiple cities?
Write original content in multiple cities One way to do this is to use bullet points to list the cities you serve on a webpage that describes your services. Another multi-city ranking option is to create multiple pages that contain content tailored to each of the cities you serve.
How do you rate multiple locations? Build Backlinks to Each Location Businesses that want to improve their ranking in multiple locations will need to create backlinks to individual pages for each location on their website. You can do this by contacting bloggers in your community.