When starting a new business it’s easy to see the benefits and pitfalls in targetting a local Vs national demographic. Both sides of the coin offer perks – by staying local you have the opportunity to become a big fish in a little pond, while going national gives you a larger target audience.Image from Doug Boehm Illustration
It’s the same for SEO (and SMM for that matter), by staying local you’ll have the opportunity to show up in location based searches, whereas going national allows you to compete of a wider scale. While neither is necessarily better than the other, there are some distinct differences you need to be aware of to stop your site from slipping between the gaps in the two target demographics.
If you’re aiming for local you should be looking at keywords which reflect your exact location; think about your business premises in the way the average person may see them, think about surroundings and the words people use to describe the area.
You also want to focus on showing up in Google map search results; this is one area where leveraging social media can be a huge help. Make sure your contact details are available on every possible platform, and make sure your own website is optimised for mobile for on-the-go searches.
When you want to start thinking nationally remember that you’ll have to start competing in terms of product/ service/ price rather than product/ service/ price/ location. By cutting out the location you’re trying to make your website stand out amongst national and possibly international competitors.
Expect your national SEO campaign to take longer before you start seeing results, as it’s a far more competitive field. Your keywords will need to be broader and encompass highly relevant search terms. Alongside your keyword building, you should also focus heavily on link building as this will build up the reputatbility of your website in the wider context.
If possible, it may be advisable to build a strong and established local SEO campaign which is backed up by a strong social media presence before taking on the big guns on a national scale; it is likely that once your local SEO profile is stronger you’ll begin showing up in non-location specific searches anyway.