Ask The Experts: Online Brand Visibility Q&A Session
Last week we held our first ever Q&A style webinar where two of our Local SEO experts, VP of Product, Sridhar Nagarajan, and Marketing Manager, Rachel Larsen, answered all of your most asked Local SEO questions. We had so many questions and only so much time to answer them, that we thought we’d answer all of your questions in a blog. Here is our expert takes on your most asked local SEO questions.
Missed the webinar? Click here to check out the recap.
Can Listing Management Impact Rankings?
Listings have a sizeable impact on your local rankings. According to the local ranking factors annual study conducted by Whitespark, 35% of how Google ranks businesses is dependent on listing accuracy and optimization. We get this 35% from the GMB signals and citation signals.
Google My Business signals – Have you noticed how Google has been adding a TON of features on their Google My Business (GMB) pages? For example, Q&A, book an appointment, Google Posts, etc. Google uses these signals to determine how trustworthy, popular, and relevant your local business is. This is why GMB signals contribute to 25% of how Google ranks a business.
Citation signals – Citations are any online mention of a local business’ name, address, and phone number; such as a Yelp listing. Google needs these signals to understand how well-known your business is. The importance has dropped down from 13% (last year) to 10% this year. The takeaway from this is that businesses only need to be focusing on Tier 1 citations and aggregators to influence this section.
Once I set my listings everywhere do I need to do it again?
That’s like asking, once I clean my house, do I need to do it again? The answer is yes. Listings are not a set it and forget it type of strategy. Especially for the Tier 1 sites like Google.
Tier 1 sites are like your dishes, you need to constantly load and unload your dishwasher. Because consumers can make suggestions, your data on Google can change every 6 days on average. So when you ask yourself, “how often should I check my business listings?” the answer is weekly or more. If you have a single location, that’s not a big ask. For brands with 100+ locations need a tool like Chatmeter because we have direct API integration.
Tier 2 and 3 sites are like your blinds. Those need monthly maintenance. These listings stay accurate longer because there are not that many things influencing the data. Monthly maintenance is perfect.
How important are GMB short names?
We can’t really say, short names are completely new and sometimes it can take a while before we see the value of Google features. We do, however, recommend that you reserve your GMB short name as soon as possible so no one else takes it. If you want more information on Short Names check out our blog we just wrote a super helpful post on this.
Does Chatmeter have direct API integrations with providers or do you use data aggregators for listings?
Chatmeter uses a hybrid approach of both direct API’s and aggregators for listings. We utilize our direct API partnerships with top tier sites (Google, Yelp, Bing, Facebook) for updating information instantly. For the second and third tier sites, we rely on aggregators to update that information.
We use this strategy because data on the Tier 1 sites can be changed by consumers at any moment. Those are the sites that need to have a single source of truth that is constantly pushing the correct information out. The second and third tier sites cannot be updated by consumers and therefore require less consistent maintenance, those are updated by the schedule of the aggregator. This method is best because it saves our clients money but still gives them complete control over their listings.
How quickly should I be responding to reviews?
As soon as possible. According to the Local Search Association, an overwhelming majority of consumers expect a response to their reviews within 24 hours.
Should I only respond to positive reviews?
You should respond to all reviews, even negative ones. Apologizing for (or at the very least, acknowledging) a poor customer experience not only improves your chances of retaining that customer, but it also shows other potential customers that you value customer service, listen to feedback and are always looking for ways to improve.
Responding also increases the possibility that the reviewer will update their review or remove it. Not to mention, responding to reviews impacts rankings. Sites like Google value businesses that are engaging and care about the customer experience.
Should I respond to old reviews?
Yes! Like we said before, responding to reviews can impact rankings. In fact, reviews contribute over 15% of how Google ranks a business. Responding to old reviews can only help your business, especially if you’ve made some major improvements since those reviews were left.
How quickly should I be responding to comments on social media?
78% of social media users expect brands to respond to their comments within an hour. So our answer is as soon as possible.
Is it important for me to set up location-based social media accounts on every platform? That seems like a lot of work.
We recommend focusing on the social media platforms that tie business accounts to locations. Both Facebook and Instagram offer CTA’s like driving directions, click to call, book an appointment and much more. That’s where you should focus on location pages. Leave Twitter and LinkedIn for brand pages.
I see some companies signing their tweets with the name of the person who wrote it. What are your thoughts on this?
Adding a personal touch to your tweets or social comments is a great idea. Plus it helps to keep your team accountable for what they’re saying. However, if there is only one person managing all your social content there is no need to sign your replies.
Why would I create pages with Chatmeter over just adding them to my own website?
Taking on a local pages project is no easy task. If you have over 20 locations, building out landing pages for multiple locations is an extremely time-consuming job.
At Chatmeter, we’ve automated how we build local pages. We work with brands to create a uniform style across every page. From branding to integrations, and more we’ll help you create beautiful location pages that are built rapidly all from a spreadsheet. It’s really that easy. Key features of local pages include SEO optimized URLs, integration with online ordering, location finder, regional and product pages.
I’m a service area business – do I need a locator?
It depends. Some businesses will need to tell customers which dealer or service area business can best serve them based on their ZIP code, city, or other product requirements. But sometimes – you might not want to display a map – especially if it’s an in-home service. Instead, you can skip the locator and send customers directly to a local landing page for that business.
What is the difference between Local SEO and Traditional SEO?
Traditional SEO is the practice of optimizing online content for people who are looking for information found on a website. Traditional SEO is geared towards ranking within the top 10 results on the SERP.
Local SEO is optimizing content for people who are searching for a physical business they can visit in person. Often, this means they are searching on map application like Google Maps, Apple Maps, Yelp or something similar. These apps usually showcase an average of 3 results on page-1. Those consumers are more important to get in front of because they are in the buying phase and looking to make a purchase in the near future.
I just started with Chatmeter, in your opinion, which tab/feature is the most important to focus on first?
Start with the Snapshot tab and get a high-level understanding of the various signals that impact each of your business locations – whether it’s Reviews, Listings, Rankings, Social or your LBV score. Then dive into the Reviews to understand what your customers are saying about your business, across various providers. If you want to make an immediate impact on your rankings, reviews are a good place to start as review signals make up 15% of local search ranking factors.
How do I find out which keywords to use?
The best ways to do this is to focus on unbranded keywords. To learn what keywords consumers are using to find your brand you can look at the Google Q&A section and your reviews to see what people mention most frequently. Yelp also offers keyword suggestions based on people’s search terms.
There are many tools out there that can help you learn what keywords people are using to find your brand – Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and even using the queries tab in Google My Business. Once you have a list of keywords that are relevant to your brand, utilize tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest.com that tell you how “popular” these keywords are. They identify down to the city how many people are using those keywords. This will help you know which keywords to prioritize and can suggest other similar keywords people are using to find your brand.
Where do I put keywords? How can they help me rank higher?
Anywhere that Google indexes to determine if you’re a relevant business or not. The main pages of a website are where most people implement keywords, but that is only the beginning. You can take advantage of keywords in Local SEO by adding them here:
- Local pages – in your local descriptions, headers, etc.
- GMB – categories, attributes, description by the business.
- Review responses – Google indexes review responses the same way they do for reviews. Google will see the keyword mentioned in reviews and know it’s relevant.
You talk about unbranded keywords a lot should I even be paying for branded keyword ads?
It is important to know if your competitors are bidding against keywords for your brand. You wouldn’t want your competitors to be the first few results when someone is searching for your brand. On the other side, you don’t want to waste too much of your paid search budgets on branded keywords. It is important to find a happy medium.