Need Help Explaining Local Search? Use Pizza!

Many small business owners know that they need to invest in local search engine optimization (SEO), but most have no idea how it works -- So columnist Greg Gifford came up with this simple metaphor to help explain it.


We like this blog post from Search Engine Journal and wanted to share it with you. The original can be found here:

If you’ve read my monthly posts in the past, you know that I like to focus on tips and ideas to help those of you who practice Local SEO on a regular basis.

Yes, I know that we just had a major shakeup in local with the rollout of the new Local Stacks in Google (RIP 7-packs, we’ll miss you). And I know that everyone is posting about that update now. But honestly, the only people truly freaking out are Local Search practitioners.

The fact is, the general public has no idea what local search is. We had a client come on board a few weeks ago who told us he wanted to rank in Dallas, Detroit, New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles… but he was located in Pittsburgh.

Most people have no idea how local SEO works, and it’s up to us as local practitioners to educate our clients and potential clients.

Almost a year ago, I shared our simple back-of-the-napkin Local SEO math equation that we use to help show business owners why local SEO is so important. This time, I’m stepping even farther back and sharing the incredibly simple example we use to explain how local SEO works.

If you’re pitching a potential client, and they have zero clue about local SEO, this metaphor is simple and clearly illustrates the point.

Your Business Is Like A Pizza Delivery Company

The example is as simple as that — Just tell your potential client that in Google’s eyes, they’re very much like a pizza delivery company. The trick with educating potential clients about Local SEO is using an easy-to-understand metaphor that they can grasp quickly. You don’t want them to lose interest if you get into anything too technical.

Tell your potential client that a great metaphor is pizza delivery. Ask them to do a quick Google search for “pizza delivery” on their computer (or even on their phone). Show them how Google returns local results, based on their current location — even though they didn’t enter a city.

Then, tell them to think about doing the same search at home that night, and how Google will display a completely different set of results. If you don’t see the proverbial light bulb pop on over their head, you can even spoof the results by doing the same search again with a different city set manually in Google.

Explain to the potential client that Google knows when someone searches “pizza delivery,” they need a result that’s close by, even if they didn’t go so far as to specify where they’re located. Explain that Google knows certain searches are always conducted around businesses that users expect or need to be local. Whether we’re talking about the new Local Stack or simply organic results, Google will return local results.

Doctors, lawyers, plumbers, car dealers — They’re all included in Google’s “local” business type. This is where we’ll typically tell clients, “No matter how much you want to make Google work the way you think it should work, all we can do is work with the way it actually works for local results.”

Even with little to no computer experience, the simple pizza delivery analogy almost always gets the point across quickly. Your potential client will now understand that Local Search is different and that Google will treat their business differently when someone is searching for them.

Push The Pizza Metaphor Even Further For Better Results

While most agencies would stop here or move directly into price discussions, this is where we like to push the pizza metaphor even further.

Now that you’ve got your potential client understanding how Local works, you can extend the example to show them another reason they need your services. You can very easily demonstrate that they’ll need original, unique and useful content on their site if they want to stay competitive. Simply tell them:

“Now that you understand how Google serves up local results for your business, just like pizza delivery, think about this: Why would someone order your pizza when they can just heat up a frozen pizza or order from the cheap guy who’s closer?”

Most SMBs have cookie cutter websites. They’ll all tell you that they treat customers like family, or that they’re family-owned, or that they provide the best customer service around.

Using that same pizza example, you can show your potential client that they need to be better: They need a better website, one with better content and better customer service.

If your pizza really is more delicious, then customers will always call you for delivery. It’s that simple.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Greg Gifford is the Director of Search and Social at DealerOn, a software company that provides websites and online marketing to new car dealers all over the country. Check out their awesome blog for more of Greg’s local search posts and videos.