Is Geotargeting Right For Your Business?
ORLANDO, FLORIDA-Knowing where to focus your efforts and which SEO strategies are worth investing your business’ budget in can be a difficult decision to make. You want to make sure you are using your money wisely and getting the best return on your investment.
Just one of the many aspects of search engine optimization is geotargeting. Like the term suggests, geotargeting means you are delivering specific content to visitors based on their geographical location. This is not a strategy that all businesses can benefit from.
“Geotargeting has been practiced only by businesses that are local only or broader than cities and states in scope but still need to provide services and products in different regional or local-based markets,” explains Saeed Khosravi, the operational manager for Sinai Marketing.
Who Needs Geotargeting And When Does It Hurt More Than Help?
Pumping resources into geotargeting and local search is only a prudent online marketing approach if there is a good reason to do it. Companies only need to focus on local search when their business falls into one of these three categories:
- Businesses targeting customers within a local or specific geographical area.
- National companies with local branches that want to establish a local presence online.
- Businesses that need to target local and national customers.
“It’s a waste of time and money to focus locally for an international or national client,” says Ali Husayni, CEO of Sinai Marketing. “Those types of clients benefit more from targeting national keywords to improve rankings.”
How to Start Building a Local Presence
- Provide Google with information about the target area if your site has a generic top – level domain.
This helps the search engine determine how your site appears in search results for geographic queries. If you’re not sure if your website has a generic top-level domain — some examples are .com, .net and .org — check out this list on Google’s support forum. Setting the geographic target is done in Google’s Webmaster Tools. After choosing the site you want, click Settings under Site Configuration. Select the geographic target section and identify the location settings you need.
Google says select Unlisted to ensure the website is not associated with any country or region. The search engine uses this data as one signal among many to determine how to display websites in geographical searches. Other signals include IP address, on – page location information, links to the page and relevant data from Google+ Local.
- Keep business listings on Google+ Local, Yahoo! Local and Bing Local up to date.
Completely fill out listings and search engine optimize them with relevant keywords. A basic listing can be set up for free, but there are enhanced features like larger photos, longer descriptions and the ability to include promotions and coupons if you upgrade for a nominal fee. “This is true for every business wanting to improve search engine ranking – not just local search,” says Husayni. “The company’s information on the top three directories should also be accurate and complete.
“A recent survey of small businesses showed that a staggering 49 percent have never updated their listings online. If you are one of those small business owners with outdated or incorrect information on your listing, you are missing out on new customers. Click here to read the article. For a list of the best free and paid directories out there, check out the free SEO resource the Sinai Marketing team has put together for readers. Keep in mind that businesses operating in a service area, as opposed to a single location, do not need and should not create a listing for every city they service. Create one listing for the central office or location and designate service areas, which Google explains in a step–by-step tutorial.
- Use social media to promote the business and drive traffic back to the website.
This is probably something you have heard repeatedly, but this is a very important tool in the local search toolbox. “Social media can be very helpful when used correctly,” says Husayni. “More platforms are adding geotargeting capabilities as well, making it easier for businesses to incorporate this technique.”Twitter enhanced geotargeting features in September last year for Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts. Promoted content does have costs associated with it but allows you to deliver Promoted Tweets tailored to regional audiences.
“Retailers can use Promoted Tweets to promote distinct offers to users in Manchester and London, or a US statewide political campaign could focus its Promoted Accounts campaigns precisely where a candidate is running for office,” explained Twitter in their press release announcing the changes on Sept. 12.
You can also use geotargeting techniques on Facebook. Early last year, the National Public Radio Digital Services wrote about an experiment they did with geotargeting to drive traffic to KPLU, a local station based in Seattle. They used Facebook’s geotargeting option to post location – relevant stories only on the news feed of readers in that area and linked to KPLU’s website. The website had record-setting traffic and much higher audience engagement, such as the number of likes, shares and comments on a Facebook post.
“We found that the geotargeted posts were six – times more successful than posts that were shared to the global NPR Facebook following,” wrote Eric Athas and Teresa Gorman in a follow up to the experiment. Read the article here. On Google+, you can control who your published content goes to by using Circles. You may see preset options like Customers or Followers, but you can add new circles and separate followers however you like — by their preferences, likeliness to influence others, location or even history of engagement. Unlike other social media sites, content from your Google+ page is indexed, meaning it shows up in search results and can help you get a higher SEO ranking. So even if you don’t have much of an audience to target with content right now, a page can help you increase visibility in search results. A Google+ page should be informative and appealing with complete information about your business, including a correct address and phone number, a link to your website, photos and videos.
A small SEO firm, Alex Webmaster, analyzed 100 listings from Google+ Local to find out what factors affected the rankings, positively and negatively. Their data showed that the three factors with the highest positive correlation were having a verified page with the keyword in the title, a landing page with high authority and general keywords in the description. For instance, the research results suggested that instead of having “plastic surgeon” in the category, a better practice would be “medical clinic.”
There is the potential to reap big rewards when using geotargeting techniques in a local search campaign, but Husayni warns that targeting multiple locations on one site might get in the way of a search engine’s perception of the business’ physical location.
“The more you build links or optimize for one specific set of keywords, the less your site is relevant for a different set of specific keywords,” he said. “However, with a site that already ranks well for international keywords, targeting a few location – specific keywords, if done properly, won’t cause the site to lose ranking for the international keywords.”
If you’re unsure of whether you would benefit from targeting specific areas with a local search campaign or want more information about how you’re doing so far, schedule a consultation with our sales reps. After an analysis of the site, you may discover that investing in different SEO strategies would be more beneficial.
Is geotargeting a technique you have tried with your business? If so, did you find that your website’s ranking benefited or suffered from targeting multiple locations?