GEO-TARGETING & LOCAL SEO: STRATEGIES TO DOMINATE YOUR INDUSTRY
Website owners have a tremendous amount of control over their most important website elements. Things like content, user experience, design, functionality and additional features are all within your control. You can determine precisely which articles, photos or videos go on your blog, but you can also pick the color for your “buy” button in the online shop section of your website.
These are all within your reach, but your visitors are all diverse and they react differently to the same stimuli. Your visitors are, as every digital marketer knows, unique. They want to be addressed as individuals, not as group entities.Your business, even if it’s focused on the local market, can (and will) attract potential customers from all over the world. This is one of the cool things about online presence, and having a website – your local business turns into a global player. And each geographic market is different, so your website has to adapt to it. Your customers can vary immensely depending on their location: they may live in different climates, use different currencies, speak different languages and, most importantly, have a completely different culture.
So how can you individualize your digital marketing campaigns and get your website ready for each market you serve? How can you use local SEO and geo-targeting to attract the right visitors for your business, and turn them into customers?
Before answering these questions and delving deeper into the topic, let’s see what geo-targeting and local SEO actually mean:
- Geo-targeting – is the complete set of methods used to determine the location of website visitors and delivering the content based on their location. Geo-targeting may determine a user’s location based on various criteria, including countries, regions or states, cities, zip codes, IP addresses or ISPs. This strategy allows you to measure, personalize and predict your marketing campaign more precisely, especially when compared to traditional digital marketing.
- Local SEO – is a SEO strategy that focuses on providing search results relevant to a potential customer, based on their current location. It helps businesses promote themselves, their services or products to local visitors within a precise geographic area.
How can Geo-targeting and local SEO help you boost conversions?
Both geo-targeting and local SEO are hugely important digital marketing strategies to master, especially when considering the immense popularity of smartphones. Mobile searches are increasingly popular (87 percent of smartphone owners use a search engine every day*) and Google factors in the location data when displaying search results. Also, people are almost always looking for specific services or products and most of them include their location in their search query (neighborhood, city, county or state). What’s more, many customers are starting to pay attention to smaller, local mom-and-pop businesses over larger corporation or other well-known brands. Recent statistics show that 46 percent of all Google searches are local*.
Let’s take a look at the best strategies to dominate your industry with geo-targeting:
The language of your website
Make sure you match your landing page to your visitors’ country of origin. This should always come with a “language switch” option. If your business has multiple locations, you should adapt each landing page according to your international visitors’ languages. For instance, if your company has a Mexican branch, the website should be available in Mexican Spanish, and visitors coming from Mexico should land on that page.
Similarly, your website should offer the “switch language” option if the company is active in an ethnically-diverse area. For instance, a company doing business in Miami should have their website available in both English and Spanish. Your customers may look for a Spanish version, and Google knows this, so make sure your website is up to the task.
Matching the currency
Offering multiple currencies is critical for websites who have an e-commerce section. Make sure you experiment with multiple currencies on different products or services. Always check your statistics and measure the sales depending on what currencies you use. Do you have better conversions when using the currency of the visitors’ country?
Focus on the visual elements
The design of your website says a lot about your business and different cultures may see it quite differently. While the psychology of colors is a vast topic, you should know the basics, test, evaluate, reevaluate and experiment constantly. White may communicate optimism and freedom in Western cultures, but it may send the opposite message for your Eastern Asian visitors. Keep this in mind when picking color schemes. Also, you can focus on other smaller, suggestive or indirect design elements. Things like flags, monuments, national symbols or locally-inspired graphics may be included in your strategy.
Knowing local preferences and tastes
The people, their preferences, their tastes and their heritage are surprisingly different, even in small geographic areas. Your website has to be ready to welcome them and look professional, without offending or insulting their culture. Your products or services must be adapted to your visitors’ preferences and desires. For instance, a restaurant franchise may adapt its menu for local residents – it may offer additional dishes specifically designed for the locals.
The power of reviews and local media
Search engines take a lot of information from review aggregators and websites, as well as from local media. Is your business active on Yelp, FourSquare or on other important review platforms? Do your customers leave reviews and do you monitor them? The same goes for local media content – make sure your business pops up in local news articles, reports, reviews or interviews. Google loves this and will see you as an important local player – and this means A LOT of new visitors for you.
Make sure you get the technical details right
In order to tap into the benefits of geo-targeting, you also have to get the technical aspects right. Here are the things you need to focus on:
- hosting location – the location of your server is very important; if your business is active in the United States, the server must be located there;
- your domain – if your business is global, the .com is the best domain extension; on the other hand, use a country-specific domain (.dk, .uk or .nl) if your company is active only in one country, as they rank better in local SERPs;
- loading speed – your website’s loading speed is hugely important in Google’s eyes, so you’ll have to make sure your hosting plan is excellent;
- contact us page – this page contributes considerably to your geo-targeting efforts, so make sure it’s up to date and the information is correct.
Monitoring your geo-targeting efforts
OK, so you’ve done all the hard work and everything is looking good.
Now, you will have to monitor your efforts, analyze the statistics, experiment, adapt and change, in order to take advantage of your hard work. Your first and foremost source of information is Google’s Analytics tool. Here, you can see a full report on how your website is performing, how many visitors you receive, where they are coming from and what are they doing on your website.
Other tools to use to try are browser extensions which let you choose the location and browse as usual. You can also use a “global geo proxy network”, which lets you browse the web from different locations.
Here’s what to look for:
- check if everything works properly
- see if the settings are correct
- check performance, latency and load times
- check the ads: are they location-specific? are they displayed correctly?
Importance of Geo-targeting
With the advent of Google’s mobile-first strategy, your visitors’ location will be far more important than their browser, device or screen resolution. People already look for local products or services, and your business has to make sure it is visible in the search queries.
Geo-targeting is a hugely important strategy to use in your digital marketing efforts. There is immense potential in converting traffic from specific geographic locations, and geo-targeting is the perfect strategy to make it work. What’s more, it is simple to implement and it is the ideal way to experiment, optimize and evaluate your market. With geo-targeting, you can better understand both your customers and your competition, and gather invaluable statistics that will boost your conversions.