Proximity: How Important Is It For Local SEO?

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Proximity: How Important Is It For Local SEO?

Recently, it’s been brought to light that Google’s local searching can often tailor results based on physical proximity to the user. Sounds useful, right? Of course, it is, but it’s a difficult challenge for an SEO agency. After all, we can tailor our strategies to improve your visibility online, but we can’t change the location of your brick and mortar premises.

There are, however, a few things to consider:

  • This is specially relating to local pack results
  • Mobile vs Desktop Searching
  • The Nature Of Your Business

Local Packs

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that this phenomenon only occurs in local packs – the list of three that Google shows on a map. This is important for a number of reasons, as people might not always look at the map.

For example, a restaurant is a location-based business. Users want to know how to get there. A plumber, on the other hand, goes directly to the customer. It can be argued their proximity just isn’t as important and, hopefully, the reduced impact on user traffic should demonstrate this. After all, we’re not expecting plumbers to set-up in expensive, high street locations just to please Google…

Aside from the local packs, typical search results display normal results. This means that all your SEO efforts, such as link building and website optimisation, still work as well as they ever have.

Mobile Vs Desktop Searching

It’s been said time and time again that mobile users want information on the go. Here, Google’s attempt to bring up results with a close proximity makes sense. Likewise, with Google’s mobile first index and general policy towards pleasing mobile users, it’s no surprise this is a heavily implemented feature.

Of course, mobile phones also come with GPS, or use public Wi-Fi, to help pinpoint their location. This is already used in many areas of SEO, such as geo targeting, so it’s only fair that Google also uses its own methods.

Furthermore, you also have to remember that Google can’t always pinpoint the location of desktop users. Thanks to IP addresses, it often has a good idea, but it will rarely get the right street. As a result, the pack results are less accurate (or useful for urgent readers), so it can argued that they aren’t all that matters.

The Nature Of Your Business

As mentioned earlier, this isn’t something very business has to worry about. The nature of your business will often determine your needs. Again, link building will also be your friend here. If you’re a plumber in Birmingham, be sure to target all the relevant keywords associated with “plumber” and “Birmingham” and you should be readily visible.

So, what can you do? If you notice a dip in your traffic, this may be coming from this preference over proximity. This isn’t something you can change so, instead, it’s best to push all of your other efforts. Keep up that PPC campaign (if its working) and push for optimisation, especially in areas that focus on local searches.