Google search results are designed to find the best content for any given query. If someone searches a broad phrase such as dentist, they will get a mix of general search results based on dentists in their geographic market. But when a more granular search is made, something like pediatric dentists for broken tooth, the search results take on a whole life with relevance.
Let’s compare the two queries so you can see the difference in real life:
Here’s the search results for the general term dentists:
And here’s the search results for the more granular phrase pediatric dentists for broken tooth:
Notice with the more general search term, you get a wider range of search results such as ads, Google Maps, info cards and results about the occupation (on the right hand side).
In the more granular near me search results, you can a very specific search result for the dentists that are located near me who appear to specialize in pediatric dentistry.
At a higher level, you can think in terms of the category itself, such as dentists, as the more granular market to compete in. This is applicable in local SEO when you live in a small to medium sized city with only a handful of dentists to compete against.
But when you live in a large metropolitan area, such as Chicago for example, optimizing for the term dentists will be perceived by Google as too general of a term. So Google will start looking for specific location signals to determine the best search results based on the persona of the person making the search.
First, Google will look at things like the IP address (exact location) of the person making the search. So if someone just types the word dentists and is in Chicago, Google will identify exactly where in Chicago this person is located. Once the exact location is identified, then Google will look to the existing inventory of websites and content to identify location signals indicating the best websites to present in the search results that may be a good fit for the person searching.
Optimizing your website for both the general category of business, and also the more granular sub categories and attributes that make you relevant to your exact / best customers, is how your business rises to the top of both local and organic search results, connects to the most relevant customer for your business, and in turn contributes to local productivity metrics such as website traffic, in-store foot traffic, phone calls, and direction requests to your location.
Vertical Directories & Local SEO
There’s a lot of ways you include location signals within the content of your website. Location signals help make your website more relevant to users who are searching at the general category level (such as the general term dentist), yet where Google determines the near me search results would be most beneficial.
Location signals are tools within your website to help build location authority directly into your website.
But what about building location authority at the more general business category such as dentist?
This is where vertical directories can help.
Depending on your specific business category, there are ample numbers of vertical directories for you to leverage in your local SEO strategy.
For example, there are dozens of directories for dentists where you can publish your business citation including your website URL. This mass distribution of your citation will help build location authority within the specific vertical of dentistry.
There’s also a lot of directories for law firms that not only provide powerful platforms to build location authority within the legal market, but also provide do-follow backlinks to your law firm website, which in turn can help you build domain authority.
A quick side note / explanation of terms:
- Location authority: your power to rank in Google local search
- Domain authority: your power to rank in Google organic search
There’s a difference between the two, so I just wanted to point to the distinction.
In summary: Vertical Directories & Local SEO
Vertical directories will help your business build location authority at the category level, such as dentists or lawyers.
Location signals will help your website get found in the near me relevance and location of the person searching.
Combined, this will give your website and Google My Business listing (for Google local / Google Maps search results) the authority it needs to compete at the top of the search results in any given market. Which in turn allows your business to connect with a higher quality prospective audience and drive the absolute best customers directly to your door (literally!).
You can find a great article on vertical directories at LocalSEOGuide.com as well.