You’ve invested ample time optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listings and strategizing your local search marketing initiatives. However, your effort won’t prove to be worthwhile if you aren’t interpreting metrics at scale that matter most at your individual locations and on a corporate level. So how do you know which metrics you should take into consideration to grow and evolve your local marketing initiatives?
In a recent webinar led by Chantel Green, Account Director at Rio SEO, we shared valuable insights to help better inform brands on how they can grow their local search presence. We’ve rounded up the main topics discussed in the webinar below. If you were unable to attend the Google My Business: Interpreting Metrics at Scale webinar, you can also watch the full webinar replay by clicking the button below.
Understanding the Consumer Journey
It may come as a surprise that 75% of people near you are using a search engine to find a business nearby. If your business isn’t prominently displayed when a user searches for you or the products you sell, you risk losing their business and having the consumer go to your competitor instead.
Today, Google continues to dominate the search market share, with 93% of consumers turning to Google for their search needs. To find your business, consumers use either direct or discovery searches. Direct searches are when a consumer uses your business name and is searching for a location closest to them. Discovery searches take place when a consumer finds a listing more generically when searching for a category, product, or service.
Consumers may also find you on Google Maps, which is becoming an increasingly popular way to find local businesses. For example, a consumer may type “best sushi near me” or “top-rated sushi near me” directly into Google Maps. In this instance, if your business doesn’t appear on Google Maps, the consumer would instead go to the closest sushi location to them.
If consumers are able to find your listing, they take action. This may involve clicking through to your website to get more information, clicking to call your location directly, or clicking for directions. You want consumers to perform these actions, so how do you boost these metrics to be seen?
Google uses several ranking signals to determine your local search ranking. The first, and largest ranking signal (25.12%), is Google My Business signals, which again surfaces the need to fully optimize your GMB listings. Proximity, categories, and keyword in the business title are all taken into consideration in this ranking signal.
Link signals are the second-largest ranking signal (16.53%) and include components such as inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, and linking domain quantity. This is closely followed by review signals (15.44%), such as the quality and quantity of your reviews. View the full list of ranking signals here.
Pillars of Listing Optimization
When you implement a local search strategy, there are several fundamental factors you must have in your GMB listings. These include:
- Accurate data
- High-quality videos and photos
- Choosing the right category for your business
- Search-optimized description
- Holiday hours when applicable
- Accurate map pin
Empowering Brands to Scale Local SEO
The first step to achieving local SEO success is to empower your local managers to get the most out of your local marketing initiatives. This is where one of your team members needs to take the initiative to ensure each of your locations is equipped to take ownership of their local marketing and SEO. Alternatively, you can also look into a local marketing partner. With most local marketing partners, you will receive a dedicated Account Strategist who will ensure both you and your team understand the tools available to your brand to better monitor each location’s performance. An Account Strategist also provides the necessary education to fully understand:
- Where you can shift your local marketing strategy to see more gains
- New features and functionality available to you within your local marketing platform
- The impacts of your local marketing and how to communicate this back to local stakeholders
- The meaning behind dips in your data and what you can do to remedy this
Identifying Trends in Data
Local search marketing is constantly evolving. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that there may be peaks and valleys in your data. These fluctuations may happen for a number of reasons. However, it’s important to consistently monitor your locations’ performance to ensure the plateaus in performance are warranted. To identify whether it’s a cause for worry, ask yourself these questions:
- Have you seen a decline in business as well?
- Does seasonality affect your business?
- Are you seeing the same trend with in-store traffic?
If the answer to any of the above is yes, then the plateau in performance may not be a concern.
Going Above and Beyond in GMB
In the webinar, we covered the basics for optimizing your GMB listings, however, there are steps you can and should take to go above and beyond. Some of the GMB enhancements we discussed included:
- Local A/B Testing
- Adding departments for additional visibility
- Adding products, menus and/or services
- Changing GMB descriptions
- Implementing a Google Post pilot
- Engaging with customers on Q&A
- Monitoring your reputation management
Local A/B Testing
Just as you can A/B test for other marketing initiatives, you can also A/B test in local. Our team advises against A/B testing at the start of implementing your local marketing program. Instead, we recommend customers to have a good local foundation to start and to A/B test after you’ve had time to analyze performance. You’ll want to start A/B testing if you see:
- Anomalies in data
- Shifts in data
Owning your Reputation Management Strategy
64% of people are likely to check Google reviews prior to visiting a business. If you don’t have a reputation management strategy in place, you risk being seen as less credible and trustworthy by potential customers. This is why it is crucial to have a partner that can help you control the influx of reviews and understand the analytics behind it. Additionally, working with a partner allows you to assign review responses to certain team members, which can be helpful when managing reviews at scale. By responding to reviews, your business in turn:
- Becomes the voice of authority for your brand
- Is seen as the source of truth
- Shows you care about your customers
We recommend enterprise brands always respond to all their reviews and encourage reviews from their customers.
It Doesn’t End with GMB
Local SEO is a rich source of data and includes real feedback from customers that can apply to and impact every area of your business. Marketing and SEO need to break down silos and drive digital transformation by communicating the value of SEO across other departments and to decision-makers at every level. They can start by communicating how you can use your local marketing data to inform your other campaigns, such as:
- Ad spend
If you want to gain more insight into the GMB metrics that matter and how to interpret these metrics at scale, we encourage you to watch the full on-demand webinar.