Google’s John Mueller answered a question about the difference in SEO between an informational search query and a query for a local service. Mueller answers the question and followed up by explaining what a business needs to do to rank for local search queries, stressing the importance of Google My Business (GMB).
What’s the Difference Between Local and Informational Search Queries?
A “Local Search Query” is a search question that someone types into Google when they are looking for a service or a store that is in their geographic area.
Examples of a local search business can be a a plumber, a restaurant, a retail store or a lawyer.
And informational search query is one where a searcher is trying to find information, like, for example, the cast of a movie, a product review or instructions on how to cook a Hungarian goulash.
Google’s John Mueller Discussing Local Search SEO
Is SEO Different for Local Versus Informational Web Pages?
The question was asking what the difference was between a local search query and a query for an informational page in terms of SEO.
The idea the questioner seem to have was that the search intent was different so the SEO for the two kinds of queries had to be different.
“How different is SEO for a product or service page than a normal article?
For example, for keywords like “piano classes near me,” as the user intention would be to find a service rather than a solution?”
SEO for Local and Informational Intent Essentially the Same
Google’s John Mueller answered that in terms of the pages themselves the same SEO considerations applied regardless if the page was for a local service or for an informational page.
At first that may sound surprising but he goes on to explain an important difference with how a local search page is promoted and the answer makes more sense.
Mueller affirms that the SEO for content is the same:
“It’s essentially the same. I don’t think we do anything different with regard to these different kinds of pages.
But rather we try to find the content on the page, understand how it’s relevant and treat that appropriately.”
So what I think he’s saying is that SEO considerations like the title tag, meta description, heading use, content on the page and perhaps even the structured data is all the same between a web page that’s optimized for a local search query and page that’s optimized for an informational search query.
How to Promote a Local Service in Google
John Mueller next discusses the difference in how a local page is promoted.
“The one thing… to kind of mention here as well is it sounds like what you’re looking at is a local service or local business, essentially.
And for that I would make sure that you really have a really strong Google My Business entry set up.
Because that’s something that can be shown a little bit easier in the search results for queries like this.
And in particular, queries that include something like “near me,” it’s not that you need to rank for “near me” because near me is essentially, like… global.
It’s not something specific on your website.
But rather what you need to do t here is just make sure that you have your location very clearly defined on your pages, so that we can recognize this location is associated with your website or with this page and the user is in that location.
Therefore any query that includes “near me” we can apply, kind of, this geographic distance algorithm to figure out like these are actually results that are near them and they match what they were looking for.
So that’s something to keep in mind there.”
Google My Business (GMB) is Essential for Local Businesses
Mueller next underlined the importance for setting up a Google My Business profile.
“With Google My Business set up, you automatically have a location specified anyway.
So it’s a little bit easier there.
But having all of that combined makes it a lot easier for us to actually understand this is a local result, and the user is local and they’re looking for something local, therefore we should highlight this better in search.”
On-page SEO the Same Despite Difference in User Intent
It might feel like the user intent might make a difference between the SEO for a local search query and an informational site. But in reality what needs to be done are fairly similar.
One thing to keep in mind is that a business must be local if it is included in Google My Business (GMB).
GMB may not be a good fit for a company that has national and/or global clients. What can happen is that the site may disappear from the search engine results pages (SERPs) to searchers outside of the service areas indicated in the GMB profile.
Ranking for Local Search Queries Versus Non-local
Watch the Mueller explain local search ranking at the 42:45 minute mark: