SEO is SEO, right? Well, not exactly…
Search engine optimization has been around for decades – it’s as old as the search engines themselves. But it hasn’t always been as highly specialized. This is especially true for businesses who use SEO to get noticed or to market products.
If you’re running a business, you’ve most likely heard the terms “local SEO” and “enterprise SEO” tossed around quite often. That’s because both stand to benefit your business in very similar ways, assuming you use each approach in the right way.
But “similar” does not mean identical; in fact, each of these approaches is unique in everything from overall goal and purpose all the way to implementation. To help you better understand these concepts, I’ll break them down into plain English below.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO (also known as local search) is a form of search optimization that specifically targets a unique geographical area. For example, if you optimized only for visitors from your city, that would be a form of local SEO.
This type of approach is popular among small business owners with a limited reach, extending only to their geographic location and surrounding zones. These businesses have a specialized service or product offered only to the local area, not to the rest of the country or the rest of the world.
Need a few examples? We’re talking local restaurants, mom and pop gift shops, small grocery stores or chains, landscaping services, plumbers, and doctors — anyone who is limited to a specific area.
Local SEO campaigns don’t necessarily need to be limited to a city or town. They can be expanded to almost any definable location. Campaign boundaries for local SEO can be defined by county, state, or even geographic region (e.g., the northwestern United States).
Larger national and international companies can (and do) use local SEO, but their approach is much different from that of a small business. Instead of focusing on one specific city or town, they use local optimization within larger campaigns that serve unique demographic groups limited to specific areas. This helps to improve targeting and prevents the corporation from wide-casting blanket messages to the global market (that might not work for every location).
What Is Enterprise SEO?
Enterprise SEO applies to larger brands — these are usually large corporations that have very well known brand names.
They’re visible. You know who they are. They’re so big, in fact, you almost never need to do a search for their products online.
Instead, you seek out the website, visit their social platforms, or head right to the correct aisle in your local store.
The problem with organizations like these is that at some point their marketing efforts will plateau. As their brands have gained momentum and built a steady traction, sales may ebb and flow. But new promotions just bring them back up to the same level over and over again. They can’t seem to get any higher.
They’re basically neglecting their online marketing efforts. They don’t rank well for their target keywords, sometimes even finding themselves outranked by very small, local competitors.
Somebody got lazy. Instead of capitalizing on previous momentum, the business opted to coast along and do “just okay” instead.
The good news is that in most of these cases, you can make a few simple changes to the website and content strategy and make significant gains.
Wait…What about Enterprise Local SEO?
Yes, this is a thing, too. Enterprise local SEO is for huge businesses with recognized brands that have locations spread across the country or globe (think Walmart, Kroger, or Trader Joe’s). These entities need to bridge the gap between serving local areas and serving the nation, and that’s not always an easy ask.
Enterprise local SEO experts often have to come up with hundreds or thousands of micro-campaigns to correct enterprise local SEO issues. At the same time, they may be battling data distribution issues, unruly franchise contacts, and how to scale all the listings and projects so that everyone benefits – all at the same time.
How to Improve Local SEO
So now we’re back to the original question — SEO is SEO, right? Nope. You can’t apply the same tactics to both local and enterprise campaigns. Instead, you need to narrow it down and get a bit more specific. Here are some tips to get you started!
- In local SEO, it is sometimes recommended that all the website URLs you put on your third-party business listings direct to your website’s home page. The homepage is often considered more important in terms of ranking, so sending all visitors to the same starting point isn’t unreasonable. They shouldn’t have a hard time clicking from there to the right landing page.
- Make sure you claim all your local listings. If they don’t exist, create them. You should have control of any listing with your business name on it to ensure your business details are updated throughout the year. While they aren’t as heavily weighted as they once were, each listing counts as a citation when Google crawls for mentions of your website.
- Double-check to make sure you have claimed your Google Places for Business listing (and not just an old Google+ page). A lot of businesses had Google+ pages before Google Business listings became popular. Google is phasing out the + program, so now is the right time to claim your true listing and finish the postcard verification.
- Ask your customers for reviews — real reviews, never fake. Ask them to leave an honest review on whatever platform they are comfortable using. It’s okay if they aren’t all 5 stars; as long as the majority are positive, you’re in good shape. Make sure they know they should only write one review (not multiple), and it doesn’t have to be long. Also, don’t encourage them to cut/paste reviews all over the web.
How to Improve Enterprise SEO
Some of the same concepts that apply to local SEO also apply to enterprise SEO, but it’s not that simple or clear-cut. In some cases, you can use similar methods or strategies, but the execution needs to be completely different to work for the target audience.
- The directory listings suggestion from above doesn’t apply well to major brands. People who find the listing for the location closest to their home don’t want to sort through a million listings to get the information they need. If you’re an enterprise brand, each directory should link directly to that location’s unique landing page.
- Enterprise brand websites tend to have a ton of content. Backlinking to every single page isn’t necessary because the pages will naturally rank higher. Focus on getting a few pages to the front page of Google before moving on to the next set.
- Make sure your website’s templates are up-to-date with the proper ALT tags, correct design code, and accurate data. This includes categories and subcategories that make it easy to find your dynamic content.
- Incorporate your chosen keywords into your site’s navigation. For example, your cell phone provider might use several subcategories before you finally land on a specific product page, making for a long but successfully-optimized URL. Consider com/mobile/shop/device/galaxy-s8-plus-samsung as an example of a well-optimized URL. The company effectively incorporated terms like mobile, device, galaxy, s8, and samsung into one URL.
- There are a lot of things you can do to improve both local and enterprise SEO – often at the same time and within the same campaign. The key is to remember they are completely different slices of a much larger pie. Efforts should be integrative, not singular, whenever possible.
If you’re struggling with either of these concepts, you aren’t alone. Even the experts sometimes struggle with finding the perfect balance. Partnering with someone who knows both concepts well is the best way to make progress.