Health Check: How To Analyze your Local SEO Success in 2020
Whether it’s on Google Maps, Facebook, or Yelp, over 40% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses every week. Local search has become a prominent aspect of customers’ lives. No matter what they are looking for, when they need a business with a physical location, their search and discovery process lives online.
This makes local search one of the best opportunities for brick-and-mortar businesses to drive traffic to their physical locations. However, the degree to which you’re able to use search to drive in-store traffic largely hinges on the success of your local SEO strategy.
COVID-19 has only shown brands around the world how important it is to invest in local SEO. Since consumers are spending more time online, having a strong online presence is critical for engaging with your target consumers. If you want higher rankings in 2020 and the future, this guide will help you understand which areas your brand can focus on to improve your local search strategy.
Local SEO Health Check:
This health check will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses in terms of local search and show you exactly where you need to focus in order to see your rankings and store traffic climb.
Part 1: Listings
A listing is an entry of your business information – mainly name, address, phone number and website – on an online directory like Google Maps, Yelp and Facebook. It is important that your listings on all of these directories aren’t just accurate, but that they are consistent across all the search providers and only one listing exists on each site. Having accurate and consistent listing information that isn’t duplicated on the same search sites, such as having unofficial Facebook pages, is one of the most important aspects to optimize for your local SEO health; it accounts for over 50% of how Google decides to rank businesses in the local search results. No matter what industry your business is in, it’s likely gone through many changes these last few months. Strive to update and check your listings weekly to keep them accurate.
Apart from the previously mentioned big three – Google, Yelp, Facebook – there are hundreds of online directories where your business listings may or may not exist (You can find a list of the top 50 online directories here). We recommend that you go through each of the tier 1 directories and top data aggregators and ensure that all of your listings accurately exist for each of your locations. It’s also a good idea to find the top directories specific to your industry to make sure your brand is present where your target audience is searching for information.
For more information on how to have every listing completely up-to-date, head over to our blog here.
With over 63% of searches with local intent coming from mobile devices and Google driving 93% of all mobile search traffic, there’s no better place to start your local SEO health check than with your GMB listing. GMB listings help businesses manage their online presence across Google including both organic, map, and local search.
All listings for each of your business locations need to be accurate and complete with as much information as possible. Below is a complete list of what you should have filled out on your GMB listings:
- Business Name
- Phone Number
- Operating Hours
- Business Category (Be as specific as possible)
- Photos (Cover Photo, Profile Photo and Logo)
- COVID-19 attributes
- Link to menu, reservations or bookings (if applicable)
Ensuring that your listings on GMB and other directories are accurate and complete is the foundation of a good local SEO strategy. It shows Google and potential customers that your business is active and the information is up to date.
Part 2: Local Pages
The moment a local consumer needs to purchase products and services from a business nearby, they leverage search. Reaching these local consumers means that your business needs to continuously analyze and optimize your Local Pages presence. Local Pages are web pages, an extension of your website and can bring geo-targeted traffic to your business. Local Pages lets local customers easily locate your brick-and-mortar store and find location-specific information such as offerings, business hours, and services. Every Local Page of your business should have these main components filled out:
- Business Location & Information – Integrating your business’s location into a Local Page will help local consumers discover your nearest location to them. Adding a geo-locator into your Local Page with complete business information (address, hours, contact information, etc.) will speed up the process for a consumer to search and visit your store.
- Location-Specific Information – Every business location differs from store-to-store in one way or another. Let your consumers know about information specific to your business by including details like your brand’s core categories, payment types, amenities, and any other information that is locally relevant.
- Offered Products & Services – Does your Local Page have an up-to-date catalog of your products and services available? This is important to include so your consumers can decide whether your business has what they need. If your business is in the food-services industry or is service based, include your brand’s menu or a booking link. Lastly, you can incentivize your customers to either visit your business or book an appointment by offering location promotions or coupons.
Having an optimized presence on your Local Pages will capture the attention of local, mobile, and voice searches looking to purchase products and services. You can analyze your Local Pages success by searching for unbranded keywords for your brand in the geographic area of your store-front location. If your brand isn’t ranking high enough for organic and local searches with these unbranded keywords that your target audience is using, you can revisit your Local Pages strategy to increase your rankings.
Part 3: Rankings and Competitive Landscape
Knowing where you currently rank and who your top competitors are in each market is powerful knowledge that will help you make location-by-location improvements in order to better compete in each local market and boost your local search rankings.
In order to determine your local search rankings and local competitors for each location you will want to start by getting into the mind of your potential customers. Pick 5 to 10 relevant and unbranded keywords that they would likely be searching. Natural phrases like “Best Mechanic”, “2 Bedroom Apartment” or “Family Physician”.
It’s a bit tedious, but next you will want to head over to Google Maps and search each of those keywords in each of your local markets. For example, if you were someone like Macy’s and you wanted to get your local search results for your store locations in San Diego, then you would search “Department Store San Diego” or “Women’s Clothing Store San Diego”.
Record where and if you appear in the local search rankings for each of the keyword searches or click here to have your local search rankings calculated for you!
Note: 75% of customers will never scroll past the first page of local search results. Which means if you aren’t on page one, chances are customers aren’t even seeing your listing.
In the game of local search, you’re competing for views, clicks, calls and requests for directions – online conversions that lead to in-store sales. Nearly 31% of all clicks go to the very first search result and over 75% to the top 3. This means that your local competitors are going to be whoever appears on page one of the local search results when you search that list of 5 – 10 keywords. Focus on the competitors who are consistently showing up in the top 3 to 5 positions.
Here are some additional keyword research tools to help your business be found and understand what consumers are searching for:
Take note of where you rank and who you’re competing against. For each of your competitors, you’ll also want to record their star rating and number of reviews to later compare with your own.
With Chatmeter’s local SEO rank tracking software, your business can vastly enhance its local search strategy. With the ability to track rankings for all your business locations within our dashboard, your business can get to work on increasing rankings faster through our keyword optimization and analytics tools. Our competitor scoring analysis will help your business compare your performance to local competitors and outrank the competition.
Part 4: Reviews
Reviews have a major influence on your local SEO health and online presence. They are a strong signal to Google and other search and review platforms of how well customers like your business and whether or not they should recommend you to searchers. Specifically, reviews account for over 15% of how Google decides to rank businesses; this means that the higher quantity, quality and incoming velocity of reviews you have, the higher you will rank.
Equally important to earning good reviews is responding to the reviews that you receive, both positive and negative. Google has confirmed that responding to reviews increases your rankings in the local search results. In addition, review responses show potential customers reading through your reviews that your business is listening to what customers have to say, engaging with people interested in their business, and willing to make changes to improve the customer experience.
The number of review sites across the web is extensive, making it difficult to monitor and manage all your reviews manually. However, be sure to record the total number of reviews, average star rating and number of review responses for the top priority sites listed below:
General Review Sites
Part 5: Social Signals
As many as 74% of Americans will be using social media to guide their local purchase decisions. They are looking at things like photos, tweets, comments, likes, shares, etc. to see what other people are saying about you and to get a sense of how your business engages with customers. This is especially true lately – as recent data shows that social media users are now spending upwards of 2 hours a day across 8 social networks.
Facebook – The most important thing here is the popularity of your local store pages, rather than your national brand page. You will want to start by checking how many comments, likes and shares your posts are receiving. This will show you which stores have the biggest social following and engagement and which stores need to make improvements. You can also search for trending content or source UGC by searching for public content near your area. Take advantage of Facebook’s unique features such as posting in Facebook groups related to your business and publishing events to build your online presence.
Instagram – Aside from the usual comments and likes, Instagram has a hidden detail that most businesses with multiple locations don’t know about. When customers take a photo at your store and geotag your location the post goes to a store location page that most businesses never monitor.
If the customer doesn’t actually @mention your Instagram name (which they barely ever do), you won’t be alerted that there was a photo taken at your location. The only way to find these photos is to do a location by location search on Instagram any time you want to see what new photos have been added. Our recommendation is that you check those pages frequently, you never know what damaging or repostable pictures could be hiding out there. Similar to Facebook, you can also find posts within your area and leverage your local hashtag to find more content.
Twitter – Apart from monitoring how many replies, retweets and likes you receive on your own tweets, it is important to monitor what your customers are saying about you. However, Twitter is like a fire hose of information that never turns off. This makes it nearly impossible to monitor for information that is actually relevant.
Leveraging a tool like The One Million Tweet Map tool can help you find local Twitter users and content that is trending to a specific area. Within Twitter, you can head over to Twitter Trends to get local insight into topics and issues that are being discussed in these specific geographic locations. You can even customize the “Trends” section to receive the latest news on specific hashtags, topics, and content from individuals.
Whether you’re new to local SEO or already have a strategy in place, it is important to monitor and analyze your complete online presence and where you stand in the local search results. Interested to receive an analysis of your brand’s local SEO health? Schedule a free demo to learn more about how our local SEO and reputation management software can help your business attract more customers to your brick-and-mortar locations.