We recently did a presentation at SMX East in NYC regarding Google’s latest algorithm update. We shared the local SEO key performance indicators to track as well as the tools marketers will need to pigeon-proof your web presence. Since we had such positive feedback, we thought we’d dive a little deeper into the tips and tricks to the lovely world of algorithms, as they relate to local search engine optimization.

As we all know, search algorithm updates are happening all the time, causing any marketer or brand to be concerned with their local marketing strategy. The latest Google’s Pigeon update happened in July 2014 and the Panda 4.1 update rolled out last week. The Pigeon update emphasized local search and aims to provide users more valuable, accurate and relevant local search results.

local_search_Algorithm Update

The greatest value of any marketing campaign lies within the ability to report on your efforts. At Rio SEO, we get this question all the time about how we can provide a great local search solution to distribute local business content and deliver measurable ROI reporting to show progress and success.

We recently put together a great blog on the 3-step process to KPI measurement for Maximum ROI. At the end of the day, reporting on your campaigns should reflect five essential local KPIs:

  1. Local ranking in each locale
  2. Local citation counts and accuracy
  3. Search traffic to local landing pages
  4. Click activity on local landing pages
  5. Local reviews and ratings

1. Tracking Local Rank

Rank is a term that most SEO professionals shy away from using these days, but it plays a major factor when brands want to know the effectiveness of their organic and local search efforts. These three areas of the SERPs should be considered when tracking your local rank:

  1. Local map listings (Carousel or “Map Pack” if displayed)
  2. Organic search results
  3. Third-party organic results (Yelp, Foursquare, etc)

According to a report from Think with Google, 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information. Consuming more of this real estate is critical to any brand. If consumers near your locations find a competitor or your information is incorrect, that can be unknown lost revenue if you don’t have insight with local rank reporting. For a brand with 10 or so locations, monitoring this can be done manually, but when you have 100, 1000, or even 10,000 locations tracking rank can be a full-time job. Rio SEO’s automated local seo platform has this insight built-in for our clients, but local ranking can be measured using tools from BrightLocal or Advanced Web Ranking.

2. Monitor Citation Accuracy

Think of your local citations as the digital business card for each one of your locations. Also in the Think with Google report, over 50% of consumers search for business hours, directions, and local addresses. Ensuring that consumers can find your brand is the first piece of the puzzle, but more importantly is that your business information NAP (Name, Address, Phone #) is up to date and correct across the local search ecosystem. Local business listings can be found in various search engines, online directories and data aggregators including, but not limited to:

  • Google+ Local
  • Google Maps
  • Yahoo! Local
  • Bing Local
  • InfoUSA
  • Localeze
  • Acxiom
  • Factual
  • Yellowpages
  • Superpages
  • Merchant Circle
  • And many more

If you can’t monitor all of these directories then your efforts to distribute accurate business listing information are being done in the dark. Having the ability to gain transparency around your local listings and overall search performance is key to know how various KPI drivers are attributing to your success over time. Outside of Rio SEO’s enterprise reporting dashboard, citation monitoring can be found through BrightLocal and Chatmeter.

3. Evaluating Local Site Traffic

Most of us are familiar with web analytics through Google or Omniture. Beyond basic site visitors is the traffic to your local landing pages from search and online directory referrals. One of our favorite mottos is: If you can’t track it then you can’t report on it! Having local landing pages, under your control, are essential to evaluating the ROI down to a specific location, city, region or across the entire network. Not having local landing pages hinders your brand’s insight to conversions and traffic from:

  • Organic search results
  • Local map listings
  • Online directories (Superpages, YP.com, etc)
  • Social Networks (Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, etc)

Detailed web analytics can save your brand the hassle of attributing sales and conversions across competing marketing campaigns (SEM, Display, Call tracking), while building robust KPI structure around pages you control. If you don’t have pages or the CMS to do so, take a look at Rio SEO’s Location Finder software.

4. Analyze User Click Activity

Click activity is an essential metric that can guide the development and structure of your local landing pages for better success. Brands spend millions of dollars on landing page design, which tells us that having a detailed ‘map’ of how users interact with local content is essential. Knowing what, when, and how consumers are utilizing your local landing pages, on both desktop and mobile, provides insight to what information is most valuable and attribution to in-store conversions. Some key KPIs to measure for click activity include:

  • Driving directions
  • Local coupons
  • Downloads and lead forms
  • Links to offsite networks (social URLs, partners, etc)

If you don’t have insight on how consumers are taking advantage of local content on your own website, then making strategic decisions to increase conversions is going to be a hard path to follow.

5. Measuring Local Reviews and Ratings

Every brand wants their business to be a number one performer when it comes to local reviews and customer sentiment. A local study by Dimensional Research states that 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. This is a powerful statement when millions of revenue dollars are hanging in the air and your brand has no insight into which locations or markets need help. Tracking that across thousands of locations and measuring impact against traffic or conversions can sound like an impossible task. Luckily, Rio SEO and others have begun integrating online review monitoring and ratings into local search campaigns to show the following:

  • Critical location sentiments
  • Reviews by location, city, region, or in total
  • Ratings across the various review sites (Yelp, Foursquare, Yahoo! Local, etc)

Reviews can also have a direct impact on your traffic from search and online directories. So making sure you have the right tools in place will shed light on how to succeed in local search.

Algorithms are constantly changing to keep a brand’s business information as well as third-party content, a seamless and accurate experience for consumers. By focusing on the essential KPIs above, Rio SEO’s clients have seen a 10% increase in organic traffic to local landing pages and a 20% increase in local map positions after the Pigeon algorithm update.



If you manage 100 or more locations and are looking to bring transparency to your local search efforts contact us today for an overview with a local search associate.