What is Local SEO?

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SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is to done advance your listing over the listing of your competitors, driving internet traffic to your website.   Local SEO by contrast, is search engine optimization for the purpose getting customers to get in the car and drive to your door.

Think of it like this; a year or two ago, before Google Maps® changed the way we looked at search, a local dentist was effectively locked out of Google as a way to get new patients.  Old school SEO was just too expensive and hard to do when the only results that mattered were people that live within say 5 mile distance of the dentist’s office.  Working old school SEO for a local dentist would have been the equivalent of buying nationwide network TV commercials… just not effective for a local business.

Google recognized the problem and changed.  Fast forward to a year ago.   Google reported that 35% of all searches had a local component included (i.e. city, state, or zip).   Google responded by creating Google Places® which created approximately 50,000,000 unique web pages for US businesses.  The information on these pages was scraped from public sources such as online yellow pages. Bing and Yahoo, not to be left out, followed suit.  That’s right, each of the search engines has made your business a page, now all you have to do is claim them, right?

Well, almost right.  Claiming the pages is the first step.  It is these Place Pages® that have changed local SEO, and created a new business for computer geeks like me.  

Go to Google® and search for “dentist”.  The first thing you will notice is that the search engine knows where you are.  If they have it right, the search results will show you a map, with your location in the middle, and red balloons all around representing local dentists.   Some of these balloons will be big  marked with letters A – G.  On the left side of the page, under the paid placements, but ahead of national results you will find 7 enhanced organic search results, with letters A-G, and corresponding to the balloon pins on the map.  These results are called the “7-Pack”.

So how do you get your business included in the 7-Pack?

Search engines work by algorithm, which is just a fancy way of saying that search engines assign a score to your business.  That score when compared with the scores of other businesses in your field translates into the rank that businesses will be displayed in return for search results.  That is the art of local SEO; understanding the ever-changing ways that search algorithms rate and rank businesses.

But be careful!   If the search engines believe that they are being gamed, that you are doing things to manipulate the results, you could be the unfortunate recipient of the infamous “Google Slap”.  No one wants to sit in time-out.


DE Brown is the founder and president of Local-Mobile Marketing Network .  Mr. Brown has been involved in internet marketing since 1995, and is an expert in SEO, and the emerging field of local search engine optimization.  Local-Mobile.net is a full service agency that provides multiple marketing vectors for its clients.