Gaining a dominant position in the search results can be very difficult. Ultra-competitive international search terms can attract thousands of competitors, each as skilled and ruthless as the next. From offshore hackers to dedicated corporate SEO experts, the number of players vying for a spot in some of the most competitive international search arenas can be truly staggering.
Why is it, then, that so many SEO experts devote all of their time into ranking for ultra-competitive, highly difficult, and often unrewarding international search terms? We have all seen the checks and transfers on offer for search masters – the folks behind the top ‘cars’, ‘clothes’, and ‘diet’ search terms – but have we ever considered the alternatives?
For many, that alternative is local search. Over the last several years, Google has spent a great deal of time and resources on their localized search results, incorporating map placements and customers reviews into their algorithm. With iPhone applications such as FourSquare dominating the mobile world, it seems that local search is the next big thing online. This is why when working with a brick and mortar client we make sure to incorporate their locality into the website SEO support package we provide for them.
The greatest news, at least for opportunistic marketers, is that local search results are not that competitive. In many ways, they are distinctly uncompetitive, at least when compared to the search terms many have grown accustomed to gunning for. We have all seen the results of endless link building and anchor text optimization – ultra-optimized websites that fail to rank due to even more efficient competition.
Alongside the simplicity of ranking for local search terms, there is another driving factor behind many localized search successes: the value of a single customer, client, or business-to-business relationship. For contractors, service providers, or professionals, the amount of value a single conversion can provide often scales well into the tens-of-thousands of dollars. The search terms may not be competitive, but the amount of income on offer most certainly is.
Think, for example, about the amount of value a single long-term client could provide to a business lawyer. How about the amount of income a single construction client could generate. Even relatively low-end businesses – dentists, painters, and plumbers – are able to capitalize on the online arena, capturing clients and generating leads at a fraction of the expense a newspaper advertisement would require.
Of course, there are limits to the power of localized search engine optimization. Some keywords, no matter how simple and interesting, are unlikely to provide substantial income. Similarly, a growing number of local businesses are becoming aware of the internet’s great marketing power, learning for themselves and limiting the ability of SEOs to improve their positioning.
These limitations and setbacks only secure the value of localized search engine optimization, however. While international efforts often yield poor results and pennies-on-the-dollar earnings, the same energy directed towards regional search can have a profoundly different effect. Search marketing specialists may not see the value of local search right away, but it is certainly a worthy side project, and in many ways, a worthy industry for long-term earnings.