There are plenty of confusing things about SEO. Why am I not ranking for my keywords, what does Google actually consider blackhat, how long does SEO take to see results, does social media impact SEO, are all questions that keep us up at night. However, perhaps one of the most confusing questions is the disparity between local search results and organic search results.
To clarify terms, local search results are the three results that appear below the map and organic results are all the results that follow. In the screengrab below I searched “Tulsa coffee shops.” The local results are Topeca, Foolish Things, and Double Shot, but the top organic results are for Tulsafood.com and Yelp. The three shops in the local results appear eighth, fifth, and thirteenth respectively. So why is there such a big difference?
Backlinks vs. Citations
One of the biggest factors that cause this rift is the power of backlinks and citations. Backlinks are links to your website from another website. The goal is to get as many backlinks as you can from websites with high domain authority. Citations are directories where your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are listed. For citations, you want as many as you can get, but all the information in your NAP needs to be identical.
The more backlinks you have, the better your organic results will be. The more citations you have the better your local results will be. In our example search, my guess would be that Topeca has the most citations, while Foolish Things has more backlinks.
Side note- Topeca has 25 backlinks and Foolish Things has 63. Sadly there’s no easy way to check the number of citations, so that’s a mystery for now.
The way you build out your Google My Business listing (which is what appears in local results) can also influence the local results. Here are a few tips to build a good Google Business listing.
- Always claim your listing
- Make sure your NAP is consistent with other citations
- Fill everything out
- Post pictures
- Fill in every box, blank, and checkmark
- Get as many reviews as possible
Articles and Directories
Only local business will show up in local searches, but articles and directories will appear in organic results, which scrambles everything up. If you look back at the example, you’ll notice the first two organic results are both directories (TulsaFood and Yelp). In fact, the first four results are all directories, you just can’t see it in the picture.
These directories tend to get a lot of traffic, so they rank well. This pushes down actual businesses in the search results and mixes up the order. This is one of the reasons why Double Shot is all the way down at 13.
The full scope of the disparity between local and organic results may never be fully understood, but these three factors will always be important. If you need help improving your local or organic results call a Tulsa SEO company like Create the Movement.