local seo hard questions Local Search Association
By Tyler Ludwig / Interactive Marketing Manager, Rio SEO

We held the latest Rio SEO webinar with the Local Search Association. In it, we learned the four key steps to maximize ROI from managing your local listings. These include:

  1. Having a single environment to manage and collect local data;
  2. Tackling the BIG local search directories first (Google, Yahoo, Bing);
  3. Syndicating local data to build links and enhance user experience; and
  4. Measuring the ROI attributed to local SEO through KPIs (coupons, traffic, click activity).

Managing local listings can seem like a tough task, especially if you’re just getting started. Deciding where to allocate your efforts and marketing spend is something most multi-location brands see as a major challenge. This is due to the vast network of data aggregators, map systems, local directories, and even in-car GPS systems.

Since local SEO and local listing management are fairly new dimensions in the world of content marketing, we broke down some of the tough questions we received during the webinar with the Local Search Association.

1. If you had to choose aggregators over Yelp or Yext, what you recommend?

Data aggregators (Neustar Localeze, Infogroup, Acxiom, Factual) are the key holders to a plethora of local business information and each has their own select network they distribute/lease to. We always suggest doing all four, if you can afford it, to ensure complete validation on 96%+ of the ecosystem.  If you were to choose a single aggregator to start, it helps to look at the following objectives:

  • Who has the largest network (most bang for your buck)?
    • Neustar Localeze or Infogroup
  • Which aggregator offers ‘real-time’ data?
  • Are you targeting GPS devices or online directories?
    • Neustar Localeze or Infogroup
  • Can I update Yelp and Social Networks?
    • Factual is a great option for Yelp, Tripadvisor, Apple Maps, and Google+ Local

So when choosing the aggregator(s) to spend your precious marketing dollars on, make sure to look at your objective and the network that matters most to your business.

With that being said, Yelp offers a great network that often competes in organic search with most brands, making it another opportunity to control your local information. Having a paid relationship with Yelp also allows brands to dive deeper into reviews, promotions, and the vast community they have created. Yext also offers a great service to extend your brand reach with real-time APIs to niche directories like SuperPages, MerchantCircle, and more. But if you remember the infamous ecosystem, they won’t get your brand into Google or other networks that Google, Yahoo, and Bing are looking to validate your information.

2. What social assets would you suggest for local landing pages?

Taking user experience and mobile search into consideration, having social assets on your Web pages is a win-win when it comes to engaging visitors, as well as giving Google what the search engine giant likes best…its assets. When it comes to increasing your Google rankings, strive to include the following essentials:

  • Using Google Maps for your store finder
  • Embedding Google Maps of location on local landing pages
  • Adding relevant YouTube links to your local business pages
  • Having Google+ sharing and profile links
  • Including localized Facebook Open Graph Markup
  • Ensuring there is Twitter Card Meta Data

Of course, using all of these options is not always feasible within your brand’s current guidelines, but making sure your local landing pages have social signals communicating the same information is key to a well-rounded approach.

3. Once you have engaged all of this, how long does it take to see results and maximize traffic?

Unfortunately, gaining analytic insight into local syndication is still a conflicted and “gray” area for marketers. With the lack of information available from data aggregators and within the Google Places dashboard, it is virtually impossible to find any concrete answers. After you have submitted to as many sources as possible, you should start seeing accurate location data across the ecosystem in 60 to 90 days. That being said, maximizing traffic is also reliant on your industry competitiveness and dependent on your rankings with the big three search engines to display your business listings within search results.

We hear this a lot from brands simply trying to evaluate local listing management as a cost efficient channel, but due to the way it works it can be a headache. The most important online presence for a brand is its name, address and phone number, so making sure those are optimized and submitted to Google My Business, Yahoo, and Bing is the first step to maximizing the ROI of any local search strategy.

4. What are your future predictions for the local search industry?

To say local search is only beginning to evolve would be an understatement. It seems like only yesterday that local search meant picking up a phone book and checking the categories to order a pizza. Over the past couple of years, the convergence of mobile + local + social + traditional search has led to an evergreen landscape for local search to grow and thrive. Based on the rapid growth of technology and the emphasis on so-called “near by” search, we predict that products and services will continue to intertwine into a mobile-driven digital storefront experience.

Imagine the day when you can search “Nike free size 10 in black near me,” and have real-time inventory available at your local retail store ready for checkout and pickup – all as a result of just one search experience! This tied-in with social check-ins and contextual marketing is soon to be local 2.0.

Want more? Check out the webinar recording with Local Search Association for more details…