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BizReport : Search Marketing : April 27, 2017

Local Brands: Why SEO needs an upgrade

Search engine optimization has been around for more than a decade, but there are still challenges, especially in the local space. One expert explains.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What trends are you watching in SEO?

Alex Porter, President & CSO, Location3: We're continuing to monitor Google's mobile-first indexing rollout for SEO, as Google has acknowledged that it sees more mobile searches than desktop on a regular basis, and thus intends to provide users a more mobile-friendly experience. It's important for brands and marketers alike to evaluate the mobile-friendliness of their websites, content and structured data so they don't get penalized by the search giant. We also continue to watch and wait for voice search data to appear in analytics and search console, in order to give marketers better insights into how users are reaching their websites and content via voice. We haven't seen the data yet, but we know it's coming.

Kristina: How can SEO be better used in the local marketing arena?

Alex: Brands with a large brick-and-mortar footprint should focus on two aspects of Local SEO: optimizing all business listings - like those in Google My Business - for every single location, and developing individual landing pages for each business location. If you're not actively managing your brand's business listings in bulk, you're five years behind the curve, so start there and you'll see instant lift in incremental traffic. For location landing pages, we recommend building these pages on a subdirectory rather than a subdomain. This creates more ranking authority for those local pages and allows for a greater opportunity to capture that valuable page-one real estate in a user's search results.

Kristina: We've heard the buzz around geo-targeting/fencing for a couple of years now, but local businesses still aren't latching on in big numbers. Why is that?

Alex: Part of the reason is likely infrastructure, and part of the reason is likely related to user experience. Geo-fencing can work fairly well for display, but if you're not careful, users can easily get turned off by too many push ads that create a negative brand experience. Beacon technology was a big trend a couple of years ago, but using beacons also requires you to create an environment (like the Target app) that users can easily understand and find useful to their purchasing experience. Simply having beacon technology in-store isn't going to provide a wealth of data if users aren't provided a sensible reason to engage.

Kristina: What are your top 3 tips for a strong local SEO strategy?

Alex: Start by focusing on your business listings. They're the low-hanging fruit of local SEO and the best opportunity to capture non-branded search traffic, and ultimately drive more customers into your business locations.

Build landing pages for each business location, using a subdirectory tied to your website's root domain. Allow each location the opportunity to add custom, localized content, within a structure that keeps your brand standards and assets intact.

Focus on long-tail, non-branded traffic when developing content, to help increase website ranking for hyper-local searches by users.

Tags: Location3, search marketing, SEO tips, SEO trends

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