Every week there is a new buzz word from the digital marketing arena. Snippets, keyword-rich content, medic update, and over-optimization are a few examples. But, we don’t talk about the main concepts enough.
Local SEO has become a big trend but, what if your business serves a larger audience? What if you have a national brand?
Then the local isn’t enough. You need national SEO. But, what the heck is national SEO? We won’t leave you in the dark. Here, we go over what national SEO is, why you need it, and which tools you need to tackle the beast.
National SEO: What It Is and Why You Need It For Your Business
Most business owners have heard the term, local SEO strategy. It’s been a buzz word for a few years now. With the growth of Google Maps and proximity optimization, local SEO has been where it’s at in the SEO game. Ignoring these basics of SEO can cost your business a lot of money.
But, what if you want to think bigger? This is when you need a national SEO company campaign. National SEO campaigns go after more competitive keywords. They focus on many markets. They offer products that cater to a nationwide clientele.
What is National SEO?
National SEO is optimizing your site to rank all over the country. National SEO companies can attack a higher competition level than local-focused agencies. This will also come at a higher cost than a local SEO campaign.
The two different strategies, local and national, function on two different Google algorithms. So, you won’t be trading one for the other but adding on a second SEO budget. But, the rewards can be great with national strategies. Let’s look at what you need for a national SEO campaign to be right for your business.
Why Does My Business Need a National Strategy Over a Local SEO Strategy?
To answer this question you need to ask yourself other questions. I know, I know, more work for you. But, you need to know your business before switching to a national focus. Here’s a good list of questions to start with:
- Where does the majority of my traffic come from?
- Am I ranking on page one for all my money keywords?
- Do I have a product or service which appeals to a national audience?
- Does my website already have e-Commerce functionality?
- Can I afford to create/build an e-Commerce platform?
- Is my business brick and mortar focused? Or do I make most of my money online?
- Can I afford the expansion of my marketing budget? Can I afford to compete on a national scale for higher cost keywords?
If most of your money comes from one local area than national isn’t something to worry about. Unless you plan on expanding your business to other markets, keep killing it in Nantucket.
If you are expanding, or already have many locations, are you ranking on page one for every money keyword? In all those local areas? If you can’t rank for the local versions of these money keywords than your site won’t cut it on a national scale.
Focus on getting your local optimization strategy kicking. Make sure all locations are ranking before expanding to national coverage.
What Do I Need for a Successful National SEO Campaign?
The need for national SEO depends a lot on your business. You need a few different things for it to be successful. In reality, you need a lot of things to even make it worth your while in the first place.
You need products that appeal to a national audience. You need a top-performing website. You need new keyword research with a broader competition base.
Products or Services That are Available to a National Audience
You now have five different locations across ten different states. How do you decide to go after a national audience or stay local for each region? Looking at your products and services is the place to start.
If you’re running an ice cream shop then it makes more sense to run local campaigns to location pages for each shop. Wanting to move to a national campaign? You need to add an online ordering system for your ice cream. This makes your product available nationwide.
A good example of this is the Chicago brand, Portillo’s. Portillo’s was once a local hot dog and beef sandwich shop with a few locations in Chicago. Then, as Chicagoans moved around, they opened locations in a few different states. They still made local plays making location pages for each of their new locations.
Each location optimizes for the local area. But, to reach a national audience, Portillo’s knew they had to do more. After all, people need their beef and tamales no matter where they live.
So, besides new franchise locations, they also added a “shop & ship” e-commerce platform.
With Shop and Ship, you can order Portillo’s Italian beef sandwiches and ship them to your door. You’ve got beef even if your closest Portillo’s is 1000 miles away. This is when they made the transition into a national brand needing national SEO.
A Strong Search Engine and Mobile Optimized Website
Make sure your website is up to date and mobile-ready. You need to adhere to all the Google Best Practices to have a chance at major national keyword rankings. Focus on your OnPage SEO. You need your meta tags optimized. Keyword optimizes your content. Have a killer content silo.
The platform you use matters. Your SEO will be most successful on a platform like WordPress. It allows you complete control over the code throughout the site. WordPress also makes it easy to make changes and updates according to new guidelines.
It is in your best interest to avoid the “drag and drop” pitfall. Using these ready-made website builders, like SquareSpace or WIX, is not a great idea. First of all, they are much harder to rank. Second, it’s hard to transfer your website off of these platforms.
These services end up owning a lot of your site. This becomes problematic if you’re making money through your website. If you outgrow the system, transferring off will need a whole new build-out.
Starting from scratch is inevitable. A whole new website means you lose a lot of your current rankings. If you’re on one of these drag and drop platforms they could rank you for local terms. But, when you make the decision to switch to national SEO it’s time to create a new website on a custom backend.
Choose a web developer that has experience with SEO. There are tons of website designers who you can hire.
Very few have a working knowledge of what you need to rank in the SERPs.
New Keyword Research
The keywords you focus a local campaign on are “long-tail”. This means they have more words and include a city name or other area indicator. Instead of “lawnmowing service” you would target “best lawnmowing service in Tuscon AZ”. Or, “lawnmowing service near Tucson”.
National keywords are different. They are going to cover a broader audience. Be ready for it to be harder to rank for these broad terms. The competition is more intense at a national level. Now, your competition is four other landscapers in Tucson. When you go national it’s every landscaper in the country.
Be prepared, you’ll need to step up your game to compete at this level.
What Makes Keyword Research Different for a National SEO Campaign?
Remember how we said that keywords are different for a national campaign? Well, by different we mean, shorter.
By now, you’ve heard the terms “long-tail” and “low-hanging fruit”. Now, national has some of these too but, you’ll be focusing a lot more on broad keywords than long tail.
You need to take your research from your local area and spread it out across the country. Users in Florida are searching for “most affordable airboat rides to see alligators”. A national audience would search “what is an airboat” or “where do alligators live”.
If you have a great dinner, you might rank for “places to get pie near me” in your city. But, it’s harder to rank for “best cherry pie” on your new e-Commerce pie shipping page.
Why? Because, on a national level, you’re not competing with Betty’s down the street. You’re competing with Perkins and Marie Callendar’s. Competition at that level requires more budget, time, and a fantastic marketing team. It also requires brand new keyword research to match up to the big boys.
Best Keyword Research Tools
There are specific tools that are great at keyword research. Even better in combination with the above SEO tools. Our favorites are:
- LSIGraph – We mentioned this one in our 2019 SEO Guide. LSIGraph is perfect for finding secondary (or latent semantic) keywords. The combination of primary and secondary keywords in your content boosts rankings.
- Google Search Console – Nothing is better to rank on Google than doing what Google tells you.
- Google Keyword Planner – If these keywords are going to make Google money, they’ll help you too
Are the Tools for National Different Than Local?
If you said, “what tools?”, then you haven’t been in the game in the last few years. There are a ton of tools out there to make SEO and tracking your rankings easier than ever.
But, these tools differ between national and local SEO strategies. Here are our top tools for both.
Top Local SEO Tools
For local SEO you need to deep dive into local research. BrightLocal is a great tool that offers up-to-date information about specific zip codes. Their local results checker is free on their site.
You’ll also want to look at your local competition. Using Google Maps categories that apply to your niche is a great way to figure out your competition. How does Google Maps see your industry? How do they categorize it? These are all things you need to know.
Best National SEO Tools
There are many amazing tools out there for SEO. The big guys are best for national SEO. Some of these will cost you a pretty penny but the vast amounts of data are worth it when competing on a national stage.
SEMRush is a powerful research tool. It can show you everything about a domain. From traffic analytics to organic research, and everything in-between. SEMRush also features a content optimization add-on to Google Docs. This makes sure you’re posting content that will rank every time.
Their keyword magic tool is one of the most powerful ways to do keyword research.
Another one of the big guys in SEO, AHRefs gives you similar data to SEMRush. But, their data has many more specifics and can make projections on where things are going.
It’s worth it to do the trial and see which of the two you like better. Then stick with one of these.
Google Developer Tools
This pack will help you build a solid website. With page speed insights and other goodies, learn what you need to make your site the best. What’s better than info straight from the horse’s mouth?
National SEO is Right for Businesses That Work Across the Nation
We hope this gives you a better understanding of national SEO and helps you decide if it’s for your business. It’s a big jump from being a smaller local brand to become recognized on a national level.
It takes dedicated effort to work. And, steady focus on your digital marketing optimizations to be fruitful.
Make sure you consider if you’re ready for the added expense. Consider the influx of potential new business. Have enough products and/or services to appeal to a broad nationwide audience. If your product only sells in the local area, users from states away will only lower your conversion rate. So, is national SEO for you? Not sure if a local SEO strategy or national would be best for your business? Check out all our white hat SEO services now and see how we could grow your business today.