It’s a debate that’s endured for a while now. Although choosing an SEO company can be tedious enough, the added dimension of deciding whether to hire local SEO services or a national agency can make it even more challenging.
In general, however, there’s a growing trend towards providing customers with locally relevant options for their searches, and even hyper-localization. It’s what consumers want: 46% of all Google searches are looking for localized information, and 33% of American online consumers in 2019 reported that they search for local businesses on a daily basis.
The choice between a local SEO company and a non-local one often depends on your target audience and business goals. Each option does certain things better than the other. Here’s a rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Experience Targeting Local Consumers
The definitive advantage of a local agency is that they’re much more likely to have a deeper understanding of local consumers since they’re part of the community themselves. This understanding goes beyond just demographics and psychographics and can extend to local culture and consumer behavior. It feeds into everything from the targeting and keyword strategy employed by the local SEO company to the kinds of content they create. Think about it. If your business expands to another country, you’ll likely pick a local agency to market your services there because they know the audience better. There’s no reason to do things differently across markets within a country.
An added advantage of hiring local SEO services is that they know the best channels locally, including tapping the right influencers and partners.
Local Business Knowledge
If you go with a local SEO company, there’s a good chance they will have worked with similar brands in the past. This means they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience marketing the type of goods and services you are selling. This is an advantage you shouldn’t underestimate. It helps diminish the trial-and-error process that every new digital engagement brings and helps you see results that much more quickly.
Something else that could figure into your decision between a local or non-local company is your work style. If you’re a hands-on manager who works closely with both in-house and external personnel, perhaps hiring local SEO services is the way to go. It lets your teams work together as often as you’d like, and it’s even possible to meet in person. It also helps to establish direct, clear, and efficient communication channels with your SEO team. It might also serve to create the kind of camaraderie among your people that exists between intra-company colleagues.
Agencies that service businesses nationwide usually leverage their prestige to charge more for their services. This should give you pause if you’re a small business on a tight budget or if you have a very locally relevant offering. After all, success in national markets doesn’t necessarily translate to success in a localized setting, and a local SEO company’s price will likely be lower. For a local campaign, you should expect to budget $500+ per month; a national or international campaign will likely cost you at least $2,500-$5,000.
Range of Services
One important consideration in favor of a national partner is the diversity of services on offer. Bigger agencies often go beyond just SEO to provide web design, social media, PPC marketing, and branding and strategic services, which could be valuable for you if you don’t want to deal with multiple agencies for your marketing efforts and want multiple services from just one partner.
When You Want To Target Nationally
A local SEO company offers specialized experience in organically promoting your business. However, this is also a limitation if you have a more geographically dispersed audience and you want to run a national campaign, or if you want to run a campaign in another part of the country. In that case, a non-local agency based in that part of the country or a national agency makes more sense. Bigger agencies bring with them knowledge of different regional markets, as well as experience at running a broader campaign.
How To Hire The Best Local SEO Services Company For Your Business
If you’re on the hunt for a new SEO team, be methodical in your approach. Reputations don’t mean much if they don’t have the wherewithal to adjust to your product. It’s important to end up with the SEO company that best meets your needs.
- Identify Your Market Goals: Internal clarity is key to finding the ideal SEO partner. Are you going to remain focused on your geographical niche or do you plan to rapidly scale markets? This will inform whether you ought to be looking for a local or national agency. Alternatively, if you plan to service certain very specific regional markets long-term, it might be an option to hire local SEO services in each of those markets.
- Make A List Of Companies: Make a shortlist through referrals or online search. A good rule of thumb is if your company pops up on a Google search for a keyword like “local SEO agency” for your location, and they have a host of local businesses on their client roster, they’re worth putting on your shortlist. After all, if a company can’t rank itself for SEO, it doesn’t inspire confidence in its clients.
- Issue An RFP: Once your shortlist is ready, send a request for proposal (RFP) to each agency. It’s a document that contains a lot of information, including a marketing budget, your desired outcomes, timelines, and more.
- Look For Clarity: Begin interviewing local SEO companies who respond favorably to your RFP and assess their approach. Very technical jargon and complex mumbo jumbo are not the hallmarks of a reliable partner. You should look for agencies that demonstrate that they understand your business goals and offer up a well-laid plan to achieve your specific objectives.
- Test Them: Once you’ve identified your top choice, offer them a marketing contract with clearly outlined goals. Then get them to walk the talk. Track progress on short and long-term goals you’ve agreed upon. While SEO takes time to deliver results (e.g. a SERP ranking boost), that’s no reason you shouldn’t keep a tab on weekly progress, like the number of backlinks created, pages optimized, and so on.
While hiring a local SEO services company can feel like the best choice in many situations — and it often is — it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Keep an open mind and most importantly, do your research on a variety of agencies before choosing which to hire.
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