Is Local SEO on your agenda? It should be.
Brands with a real world presence have a huge opportunity for increased traffic to website and footfall to outlets. This would translate to significant ROI. This can be achieved by simply taking ownership and optimising Location profiles and listings on major networks like Google My Business [GMB], Facebook Places, Yelp and Tripadvisor. There are of course many other channels to exploit [click on the image to expand below]. Over 50 possible “location” networks could be claimed and optimised. However “The Big Four” Google, Facebook, Yelp and Tripadvisor get 90% of traffic. Two others not covered in this post so much but that we would recommend to look at in a Phase 2 would be Bing and NavMii which powers navigation systems like Waze.
Goals you might have
- To increase Brand Awareness
- To increase traffic to your website and social media
- To increase footfall to outlets
- To drive reviews and engagement on networks like GMB, Facebook
Essentially you want prospects searching for you, viewing you and taking an action. There are many solutions available to optimise for local SEO and different approaches for a Local SEO campaign.
However, many technology/software based solutions are very expensive and cost prohibitive for most small brands. One leading software solution would cost a brand £100,000 for 100 locations and that’s JUST for the software. Resource would be required to then run the software. 600 locations would be six times as much. If you only have one shop or location then £100k will be complete overkill.
As is always the case with optimising for Google you need to consider the Algorithm. More searches, more visits to your site, more people getting driving directions will only help boost you in local search results.
Assessing how your business is doing in local searches via number of people asking for driving directions, number of phone calls you receive and how many visit your website.
Claiming ownership for multiple and large volume locations could be a very complex process. Google do offer a Bulk upload feature but Tripadvisor do not for example.
For 100 locations across 4 networks [GMB, Facebook, Yelp and Tripadvisor] it is actually 400 listings which will take some time. If its done manually then an estimated 3 months but this depends on how the “claim” process goes.
Reviews Management in context of Local SEO
Number of reviews and Rate of Reviews also sends signals to Google which will help determine your ranking in search results. This is a critical factor for Local SEO. Always ask you customers to leave a review. Mention it on your site. Have signage in store calling it out. Train staff to bring it up in conversation whilst they are in your venue. Try and get customers to leave you a review before they leave the store. Its quite easy to do from a Smartphone.. Ask them to search for your brand on Google. They should see a listing like the one below. Tell them to look for the “write a review link”. Tell them to click and review! Also encourage customers to take pictures and upload to your venue listing.
Not only do negative reviews need responding too but even for positive reviews, consumers will expect a response e.g. a thank you.
Google has recently updated the Google MY Business that if a brand replies to a review the consumer will get a notification that the brand has responded so potentially continuing the conversation.
Also a caveat that volume of reviews are reasonable and manageable per location [assumption being we would only have to deal with a small volume of reviews daily. If you are getting 100s of reviews, you may need to a software solution to help you manage the replies.
Once you have a good volume of nice reviews about you, close the loop on your Local SEO by then automatically updating your website to show the latest reviews by way of Google , Facebook, Yelp etc APIs. They can be easily embedded and update in real time. Don’t worry negative reviews can be hidden from your website. But both negative and positive reviews do look more authentic.
Finally, having regular status updates on your locations and adding new pictures/updates regularly boosts search engine rankings in Local SEO. It would be difficult to manage status updates for 100 locations daily. So again if you have more than one location then you may need a software solution.
Create you updates on Google My Business much like you would on FaceBook. Some copy, a link and image/video and share. Regular posting sends a signal to Google this business is active and if a customer’s search matches some of the variables we should show their listing.
Other SEO ranking factors to think about.