Brands know that local search leads to action. In their ‘Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior’ research, Google discovered two important metrics. First, 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day. Secondly, 34% of desktop and tablet searchers did the same.
The opportunity is clear. However, brands have questions about local search and struggle to understand the increasingly complex local search landscape. And more importantly, they struggle to implement a comprehensive local strategy that works for their unique business.
At our recent Local Search Summit 2015 event, we took a deep dive into local search strategy and tactics for our client brands. Guest speakers from Google, Microsoft, iProspect, AllRecipes.com, Mapquest, the Local Search Association and more shared their best tips and forward-looking advice for attendees.
Throughout the day of sessions, topics included local listings and location data management, local business data, beacon technology, reviewing monitoring and more. Brand marketers had opportunities to engage with the expert speakers and ask questions. Many brands, it seems, are concerned about the same core issues right now. They are looking to solve common local search challenges.
We asked brands at #LSS2015 for their top questions about local search. We share the answers to each one below:
What are some of the more impactful PPC tactics and features for local businesses?
Dayparting is important; as Michael Rubin from YP pointed out, there’s no point running ads for your local business when it’s closed. Kenshoo’s Tiffany Miller spoke to the importance of localized ad content. If you fail to ensure that content is locally relevant, she said, you miss the intent that will drive that in-store visit. You will lose the sale.
Anna Hughes from Microsoft shared some sobering statistics in her presentation. She talks about what Bing has learned about mobile and local search trends. Very few advertisers are using radius targeting, she said, despite the fact mobile searchers are most interested in businesses within 5 miles.
Hughes also revealed that:
- Only 11% of Bing Ads are mobile optimized.
- Marketers tend to think of mobile queries as last-minute and low consideration, but they’re actually an important part of the entire customer journey.
- 70% of sales conversions happen within 5 hours of a mobile search.
The opportunity for brands to outperform the competition in mobile/local PPC is there, with greater familiarity of the local SEO tools and features already available.
How can we make our web content more relevant to local searchers?
Not long ago, simply translating your site’s content into the languages spoken/read in the countries in which you do business was considered a passable attempt at localizing content.
This is no longer the case.
Today, smart marketers are creating rich and immersive online customer engagement. They are using compelling copy, eye-catching imagery and high quality local video to engage and convert local searchers. Locally relevant images quickly capture the attention of visitors, said Wiideman Consulting Group’s Steve Wiideman, but they also give visitors content to share socially, as well.
ADT’s digital marketing and SEO manager, Douglas Cohen, loves using video on local landing pages for driving rankings and generating engagement. In our hyperlocal content panel, he explained that ADT incorporates videos into their website, then matches the content to visitors at the county or state level, depending on exact location. This allows them to localize some content while still retaining control and oversight at the national level.
How can we get people to use our in-store beacon technology?
Like any new technology, there are going to be hiccups to work out. Marketers are trying to find unintrusive ways to connect with in-store shoppers via beacons, but may also struggle with adoption.
In a session on bridging online and in-store with beacons, Gimbal’s Rob Canterbury noted that when you use beacons properly, consumers shouldn’t even know they’re being marketed to, or that they’re communicating with a beacon.
Even so, said Greg Sterling from the Local Search Association, you have to get over the initial points of friction to get shoppers using the technology. They have to install an app – this is a point of friction. Opting in and ensuring consumers turn on their bluetooth present potential roadblocks. Brands have their work cut out for them in educating the market on the benefits of the technology.
Which aggregators should we submit to first and how long will it take to see results?
This was a hot topic. A panel made up of Rio SEO, Acxiom, Factual and InfoGroup tackled and defined the role local listing management plays in rankings on search engines and other devices.
Ashley Gregory, local listing manager at Rio SEO, explained that brands need to cast a net over the entire aggregator ecosystem. They need to ensure consistency to see higher rankings on search engines and online directories. Ideally, you’ll submit to all major aggregators simultaneously and on a regular basis to achieve the fastest results.
However, you should also show Google regularly that your account is up-to-date. In her opening keynote presentation, Google’s community manager for Google My Business, Jade Wang, explained what when Google gets a new source of data into the local database, it runs a process called “matching.” Google can tell instantly whether it’s going to assign that data to a new business, or add it to an existing business. She said that Google recommends that marketers log in to their My Business account on a regular basis. This shows the algorithm the account is active. That indicates that business owners keep their information accurate and up to date.
What on Earth is the Internet of Things and how can we get ready for it?
Many of us are already connected via devices. However, we still don’t understand just what the Internet of Things entails. Moreover, how can we use it for marketing? Bigger brands and stadiums are really testing the limits with beacons, but how can the average retailer prepare?
Rio SEO Dema Zlotin wrote Is Your Business Ready for the Internet of Things? based on the fireside chat-style discussion between MapQuest’s Andy McMahon, Neustar Localeze’s Mike Pycha, and Abid Chaudhry from BIA Kelsey. The three explored current IoT trends. They also explored best practices for marketers in the age of connected cars, street furniture and wearable devices. Businesses can’t optimize only for NAP, they said; the context of open hours, available inventory and more are critical.
However, they also gave brands some clues as to what they might be dealing with in the not-too-far-off future, as far as the IoT is concerned.
Rather than selling, marketers should be looking to connected devices for unique ways to help consumers accomplish their tasks. They need to ensure their messaging is useful, relevant and 100% accurate.
Recap on Questions about Local Search
Tackling the options for a local search strategy can seem tough to brands with thousands of locations. Leveraging technology is essential to scale marketing efforts to align with how consumers are searching the web today. If you have questions about local search or look to manage multiple locations and are need a solution to fill the gap, schedule a free demo with Rio SEO today!