Products and services exist to solve a problem, enhance the consumer's life and make tasks easier. This concept is why between 80 and 85% of consumers are using search to find local products and services - local search applications (Google Maps) have been designed to make our lives easier.
Sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook haven’t just given customers the power to find the most trustworthy businesses in their local area, but in addition, they have given businesses the opportunity to prove to customers that they are the best option. By utilizing Local SEO and Online Reputation Management strategies, even the largest chains can compete on a local level to win more customers through local search.On top of helping customers find a local business, local search was also built to help local businesses get found. But what if there was more, what if businesses could more effectively utilize local search in a way that entices customers to take actions directly related to making purchases?
How much does Local SEO influence in-store visits?
While we know that higher rankings in the local search results leads to more impressions on searchers and ultimately more store visits, we still run into a bit of a blind spot in terms of conversion rates. Exactly how many people are actually visiting your physical store locations after finding you on a site like Google maps, Yelp or Facebook Places?
Current Tracking Methods:
Before now, the only way to get a sense of how many customers were visiting your store in direct relation to finding you in the local search results was to track the number of “phone call” and “direction” requests you were receiving from your local listings.
Now, it seems that Google may be attempting to further minimize the blind spot between searches and store visits with their new addition to the Google My Business Panel.
Google’s Local Business URLs (Quick Links) help customers take action
Google is helping to bridge the gap between local search and in-store conversions by giving customers the ability to connect directly with businesses from the Google My Business pannel. These new links are streamlining the online-to-offline journey and allowing customers to take purchase related actions. These links allow Businesses to better facilitate the needs of their customers by giving them one-click access to:
- Schedule an appointment
- Place an order
- Reserve a table
- View a menu
- Browse your services provided
The number of customers using local search continues to increase, because it allows them to take action at the time when they are ready to make a purchase. When a customer has a need or want that needs to be fulfilled, they can rely on local search as the resource to help them find the most reliable business within a few miles of their current location as quickly as possible.
Google’s new local business URLs update just made the lives of customers even easier by eliminating steps and clicks from the online-to-offline journey.
For now, this update will help customers complete their tasks faster and help businesses promote action steps, but in the future, businesses may soon receive acces to data that sheds even more light on the relationship between online searches and offline sales.
For example, if a customer visits a local restaurant’s GMB listing and clicks the link to “Reserve a Table”, the restaurant may be able to track the number of tables reserved through their GMB page and then tie those reservations (and sales), directly to an online search.
Importance of tracking customer actions taken through your GMB page:
Previously Google could only directly connect customers to the stores they found by allowing them to ask for directions and giving them a one-click option to call the store. While it doesn’t give you the complete picture, this data is extremely important for understanding how much of your in-store traffic is generated from your online efforts.
Knowing how many calls and requests for directions are coming directly from your GMB listing will show you just how crucial it is to optimize your listings and your online presence for local search. The most accurate way to understand whether or not your local SEO and reputation management strategies are working is to track your increases/decreases in your online reputation and local search rankings, and then track how that correlates to a greater or lesser volume of calls and requests for directions.
Taking that one step further, knowing how many requests for directions and calls result from unbranded searches as opposed to branded searches or advertisements will highlight the true importance of a local SEO strategy. You would be surprised to see how much in-store traffic is generated from a simple search term like “food near me” as opposed to a branded search such as “McDonald’s nearby”.
Chatmeter’s new integration of the Google Insights tool delivers these exact types of ROI metrics. It allows you to measure the growth for each of your store locations in the local search rankings, while tying that directly to improvements in requests to call and requests for directions.
(If you’re still a believer that unbranded local searches aren’t a major contributor to your in-store traffic, the results from our Google Insights integration will be an eye opener...Click Here to analyze your local search traffic).
As far as Google’s new link capabilities go, the question still remains: Will businesses eventually be able to track these URL clicks and conversions within the Google insights panel? If so, businesses can gain even deeper insights into how many appointments, reservations etc. were made directly from their GMB listing - providing quantifiable evidence that shows just how important it is to be visible in Google’s local search rankings.
More strategies for helping customers take online actions that lead to offline conversions?
One of Google’s other recent updates, Posts by Google, has given businesses another avenue by which they can further entice customers to visit their stores. Posts give businesses the ability to promote seasonal sales, special events and exclusive in-store offers in order to help drive more customers to their stores.
While Google has always been the long time leader in the local search market, social media sites have begun to make waves within the industry. More and more customers are turning to social media platforms as a tool for discovering new businesses and This Strategy is exactly what you need to take advantage of this opportunity.
Whether it’s through social media, search engines or review platforms, customers continue to turn to the internet in order to find local businesses. Chatmeter’s all-in-one, local brand management platform was designed specifically for large chains and digital agencies, helping them to easily manage the online reputation of multiple store locations. Schedule your Free Demo to see how Chatmeter can help you reach the top of the local search rankings and turn more online searchers into in-store customers.