Having been involved in local search engine optimization in a rural location, I don’t think I’m too far off-base in saying that it’s hardly a major concern for most businesses in my area, and few actually take steps to improve their ranking. Even less do it on a regular basis. Because of that, it’s relatively easy for a business to dominate search engines for some very desirable keywords expressions, with the understanding that part of the expression is the locality. For example, I’m in Ottawa, Illinois. A typical keyword or phrase might be “insurance,” or “insurance agent.” Adding the locality makes it “Ottawa insurance agent,” or “insurance agent Ottawa.” But, for our particular town, that usually brings in results from Ottawa, Ontario, which is a much larger city. So we have to further specify “Ottawa IL insurance agent,” or the various combinations, including the full state spelling. Many businesses can still rank on the first page of Google, simply because there isn’t that much competition. For instance, if there are only two or three funeral parlors in town, how hard is it to get on the first page? Click on Source
Unfortunately for those businesses, local businesses have now been targeted by marketers as prime clients for SEO. Many, I’d say the large majority, of local niches in our area are sitting ducks for a takeover by one or two aggressive businesses in each niche. I remember watching a John Wayne movie, the name of which I can’t recall. But he was standing on the porch of his ranch house, looking out at the New Mexican landscape, when he said “There’s land out there just for the taking.” And there’s prime search engine real estate, oceanfront property even, laying there, just for the taking. And some businesses are starting to gobble it up, under the radar of almost everyone. In fairness to their owners and managers, these businesses that are seemingly unmindful of these goings-on have successfully run their business with little, if any, internet marketing. The question is, will that continue? The continuing explosion of mobile communication is resulting in anywhere, anytime access to the web and to the community. Logically, it would then be highly desirable to be easily found in the search engines.
Yet, in our area, in most niches, the impact of the communication revolution has been only lightly felt. Because of that, most business operators don’t feel a pressing need to address their search engine position. This can make the sale of SEO services harder, but, at the same time, it makes the actual work of SEO pretty easy. It’s always easier to do something when you have no competition. And when it’s easier, it’s usually a lot cheaper to do, too.
So, here’s the dilemma facing a local business owner, assuming he or she is concerned with this: Do I spend the time, effort, and money now, while it’s relatively cheap, to solidify my present and future rankings in the search engines, knowing that it has a great chance of paying off in the years to come? Or do I wait and see how things play out? That maybe there’ll always be an adequate supply of customers that come from other sources? Or, there may be some other game-changing technology that leads us in another direction.