Local SEO & Geotargeting

What Is Not a Good Use Case For Local SEO?

Local SEO is a powerful tool for businesses with a physical presence or a targeted geographic area. It’s ideal for those seeking to boost visibility among local consumers and on geographical-adjacent search engine results. However, not every business model stands to benefit from local SEO efforts.

One of the main situations where local SEO might not be advantageous involves businesses with no clear geographic ties or an exclusively online business model. For instance, if you operate an e-commerce platform that ships globally or a digital service provided to an international audience, the regional focus of local SEO wouldn’t align with your business objectives. Also, if your business model targets a broad, non-local audience or if you’re in a field that’s not dependent on physical location, investing in local SEO might not yield the desired ROI.

Understanding Local SEO and Its Ideal Use Cases

Before we dive into where local SEO may not be suitable, it’s important to understand its value for the right types of businesses. Local SEO refers to the optimization of a website to rank higher for a local audience. It involves a combination of strategies tailored to enhance search visibility for businesses in specific geographic areas.

Businesses with Physical Locations

Local SEO is particularly useful for brick-and-mortar businesses. These could be restaurants, retail stores, law offices, medical practices, and more. If your business relies on foot traffic and you’re looking to attract local customers, local SEO can help by increasing your visibility in local search queries.

Service-Based Businesses within a Defined Service Area

Similarly, service-based enterprises that target customers within a specific area, like plumbers, electricians, or cleaning services, gain immense value from local SEO. These businesses benefit from appearing in “near me” and other geographically specific searches because customers often require local service providers.

Multi-Location Businesses Seeking to Optimize Individual Locations

For chains or franchises with multiple locations, local SEO allows each branch to target its respective regional market effectively. This makes it easier for customers to find information relevant to their nearest location.

Scenarios Where Local SEO Might Not Be Beneficial

Now that we’ve highlighted where local SEO excels, let’s focus on scenarios where local SEO isn’t a good use case:

Online-Only Businesses

If you’re running an e-commerce site, SAAS company, or any other online-only business that markets to a broad, non-local audience, local SEO won’t align with your marketing strategy. These businesses should focus on broader SEO and digital marketing strategies that aren’t confined to a geographic location.

Content-Centric Websites

Sites that primarily provide information or content without a commercial intent—such as blogs, new publishers, or educational platforms—may find little value in local SEO. These platforms often seek to attract a global audience, which doesn’t gel with local SEO’s objective of attracting a localized base.

Temporary Locations or Pop-Ups

Businesses that don’t have a permanent physical presence, such as pop-up shops or event-based venues, might not see much benefit from local SEO. Due to their transient nature, these businesses cannot establish a continuous presence in local search results, making local SEO a less efficient investment.

Niche Markets Without Geographic Constraints

If your business operates within a very specialized niche that isn’t restricted by location, catering to the needs of a specific group that’s spread out nationally or internationally, focusing on local SEO could mean missing out on broader market opportunities.

Businesses Targeting a National or International Market

Companies that cater to national or international markets should also think twice about investing heavily in local SEO. Instead, they would benefit more from general SEO strategies that enhance their reach regardless of location.

Strategic Online Marketing Beyond Local SEO

For businesses where local SEO isn’t a good fit, there are plenty of other online marketing strategies to explore:

General Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

General SEO is all about optimizing content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) without a local focus. This is perfect for online businesses seeking to reach a more expansive audience.

Content Marketing

Creating valuable and relevant content tailored to the interests of your target audience can engage and attract a larger follower base, which helps build brand authority and can improve SEO performance.

Social Media Marketing

Social media platforms are powerful tools for reaching out to a wider audience beyond geographical confines. They are effective for brand building and engaging with potential customers on a broader scale.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

PPC campaigns, through platforms like Google Ads, allow targeting by country, region, or language, which is great for businesses aiming to reach users across different regions.

Email Marketing

An effective email marketing strategy helps keep an audience engaged and informed about your services or products, regardless of their location.

Influencer Marketing

Partnering with influencers who have a national or global reach can help promote your products or services to a more extensive network of potential customers.

Finishing Thoughts

Local SEO offers a tremendous opportunity for location-based businesses to connect with customers in their immediate vicinity. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s vital to align your SEO strategy with your business goals. For businesses that operate on a broader scale or without a physical location, it may be more worthwhile to invest in other facets of digital marketing that can help achieve visibility and growth on a national or global level.

In a digital marketplace that’s increasingly competitive, each business must evaluate its unique position, goals, and potential customer base to determine which marketing strategies will be most effective. While local SEO isn’t the go-to approach for every business, it remains a critical component for those targeting a local market. For businesses looking beyond geographic constraints, the expansive world of digital marketing offers numerous pathways to success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can local SEO benefit online-only businesses?

No, local SEO is not well-suited for online-only businesses. Since local SEO focuses on optimizing a business’s online presence to attract more local customers to a physical location, an only-online business without any physical storefront or local services would not benefit from local SEO strategies. Instead, these businesses should focus on general SEO and online marketing tactics.

Is it useful to invest in local SEO if my business is in a remote area with low population density?

Investing heavily in local SEO might not be the best use of resources for businesses in remote areas with low population density. The return on investment could be quite low due to the small target audience. Such businesses might benefit more from broader digital marketing strategies or niche marketing to reach their audience.

Should international businesses use local SEO strategies?

While having a local SEO strategy for each area they serve can be beneficial, international businesses should not rely solely on local SEO. Global brands should incorporate local SEO as one part of a larger, comprehensive SEO strategy that includes international SEO techniques to attract a worldwide audience.

Would a local SEO strategy be appropriate for a business targeting a younger, highly mobile audience?

A local SEO strategy could be part of the marketing mix for a business targeting a younger, mobile audience, especially if this audience has a significant presence in the business’s locale. However, considering the mobile and likely digital-savvy nature of such an audience, the strategy should be complemented with mobile optimization and social media engagement.

If my products or services are not location-specific, should I still consider local SEO?

If your products or services are not location-specific, local SEO might not be the most efficient strategy. For products or services that appeal to a broad or national audience, broader SEO and marketing strategies should be prioritized. Local SEO should only be a complementary strategy in this scenario.

Are there any businesses that should avoid local SEO completely?

Although few businesses should avoid local SEO completely, businesses that do not have a physical location or do not offer location-based services or products are likely to find little to no benefit from it. These types of businesses might include exclusively online e-commerce platforms, digital product sellers, or online service providers who operate globally.

How relevant is local SEO for a B2B company?

For B2B companies whose clients are other businesses spread across different locations, local SEO may not be the most critical strategy. These companies should instead focus on industry-specific SEO tactics and strategies that target their business clientele regardless of their geographical locations.

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Joe Fares

Founder of UltraSEOSolutions and a Digital Marketing Consultant, a great advocate of educating beginners on the competency of SEO, and helping small businesses dominate their niche. Joe is known for public speaking on SEO and online entrepreneurship, and has been awarded by Payoneer in 2017/2018, for being the most successful entrepreneur in the MENA region.