5 Critical Mobile SEO Insights for Multi-Location Brands
by Brian Smith
Searches on mobile now account for almost half the world’s web traffic. Optimizing your brand’s local sites for mobile is just the beginning—how do you ensure that your local listings appear in the moments that matter, when local consumers are actively searching for products and services like yours?
I was pleased to host Cindy Krum, CEO and founder of MobileMoxie, in our most recent Rio SEO webinar: Mobile Metrics That Matter.
Mobile and local are inextricably linked and according to Google, 46% of mobile searches have local intent. Enterprises must understand not only how Google perceives the mobile presence of the brand, but also how that perception may be affecting the ability of each location to appear in the MapPack.
We also need to understand how Google’s perception of the brand may be affecting other types of listings and their rankings. Mobile-first is a bit of a misnomer and Cindy advocates for the use of entity-first optimization, instead. Entities can be businesses or brands but more importantly, they are concepts that happen before keywords. Take the word “mother” for example. You understand how ‘mother” is related to the words son, grandfather, child, and more. You can say “mere” (French), but the concept of a mother is the same. Google was based on the understanding of language, but if we think only in terms of keywords, we’re missing out on opportunities to rank in different types of rich search results.
Cindy’s shared a wealth of information in her webinar presentation, and you can view the full video at the bottom of this post. For multi-location brands, there were five super-critical mobile SEO insights that stood out to me as most impactful:
1. Anything Google hosts itself or ingests as a feed seems to have an advantage in mobile SERPs.
Cindy pointed to a definite preference on the part of the world’s largest search engine to feature content hosted or fed from its own properties most prominently. Take AMP pages, for example; it seems that if you are using these pages designed to make mobile content pages faster, easier to implement, and better monetized, Google may reward you with higher rankings in mobile search results.
Trust is a factor in search ranking, so it makes sense that Google would trust its own Accelerated Mobile Pages to perform well for mobile users.
2. Rich, multimedia search results are taking over the SERPs.
Position Zero results & SERP build-outs are growing in frequency, functionality, and variety. Position Zero is that coveted space above all else that used to belong to the number one organic listing—but no more. Now, mobile users are more likely to see a result on which they can immediately take action.
Even after position-zero, mobile search results are changing drastically. There are dozens of rich results that may be triggered depending on the query and how your site is optimized including featured snippets, Instant Answers, hotel comparison cards, video and photo results, and more.
Yet even in the face of all of this change, organic SEO best practices are as fundamentally important as ever. In fact, 85% of all multi-location brand-consumer engagement happens on local pages, not corporate.
Ensure that each of your locations is equipped with a local web presence that is responsive, optimized for non-branded searches, rich with locally relevant content, and properly marked up to trigger enhanced search results. Local Pages can help you manage this at scale.
3. These visually attractive, engaging and interesting hosted inclusions in search results are killing off clicks through to websites.
SEOs love data, and we need it to make good decisions. But what if the data we’re using is incomplete?
For every 100 searches on Google mobile:
- 61.5 are no-click searches
- 38.5 result in clicks on an organic result
- 3.4 are clicks on a paid result
This means that 61.5% of mobile search data is not represented in your website analytics.
If you are only using on-site analytics, your mobile SEO decisions are based on only 38.5% of the data. Multi-location brands need a more holistic reporting solution that rolls rankings information, Google My Business insights, citations and review data into a single dashboard.
Local Reporting gives you the high-level view brands need to drive smart decision-making, and also the ability to get granular and identify your greatest opportunities across the brand, in individual locations.
4. Multi-location brands face the additional challenges of having to contend with countless mobile queries in multiple competitive markets to appear in these complex mobile SERPs.
As you strive to compete at the local level in these increasingly noisy SERPs, it’s important to remember that you’re competing against PPC ads, as well. Smart local SEO strategy can actually help reduce your costs per click, making the ads you’re running more effective and improving your ROI.
Google Ads gives preference to those advertisers with high Quality Scores by both increasing the visibility of relevant ads and reducing their cost per click. It’s important that you fully understand on an ongoing basis which local listings and ads are appearing in which positions for each of your locations. There’s no point in cannabalizing your already top-performing organic results with unnecessary ad spend.
This is another reason why comprehensive Local Reporting is critical—it gives you that insight across the brand that guides smart, data-driven local marketing decisions.
5. Online video is a great opportunity to stand out.
Video consumption is growing at a rapid clip; today, 4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and almost 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.
Thanks to Google’s enhanced search results and the ability to add video to your locations’ GMB profiles, a lot of that viewing happens on mobile—sometimes without even leaving the search results page. Google Posts are another powerful tool inside your GMB dashboard. Get the Google Posts Playbook (free download) and learn how to gain an edge in competitive mobile SERPs with this under-utilized local content feature.
Of course, the number one priority for multi-location brands is to make sure that all local listings data (including but certainly not limited to GMB) is complete, accurate, and up-to-date. Inaccurate local listings can proliferate quickly as data aggregators share misinformation, and the resulting poor customer experience and erosion in search engine trust can be bad for the brand. For example, failing to remove local listings after a store closure might have you inadvertently sending mobile searchers interested in shopping with you to an empty store, instead.
Local Listings ensures the accuracy and cleanliness of all of your listings data, and provides the ability to push bulk information such as special holiday hours or menu changes to all of your locations.
In addition to the above, remember:
- Entity-based local listings optimization is more important now than ever.
- Position One is not necessarily what you think it is.
- Comprehensive mobile and local analytics are critical.
- You need to regularly review mobile results in order to understand your position and opportunities as SERPs change.
- Greater cohesion between your paid and organic media helps improve your visibility, prove ROI, and focus ad spend on the markets that need it most.
Check out the full webinar video below, and reach out to us with any questions!