But what do we mean by Crucial?
What does a business lose when it doesn’t have local optimization done right? Every business hears a lot of hype about this or that online marketing strategy, but when it boils do to it local is the absolute first thing your brick and mortar business needs right. Let’s look at a company that was an absolute mess and how we delivered more than 10x more organic traffic to their business.
The site received nearly exclusive traffic from branded terms in search results. But even that was lacking. Without local injection onto the branded terms, the click-through rate to the site was lower than it should have been.
Google was typically including the 3-pack in search terms in this area for target keywords. Meaning, those 3 local businesses were receiving a lot of impressions because not a lot of competition was present.
When you looked a little deeper you identified duplicate, inaccurate and missing directory information across the web. Duplicates potentially pose the biggest challenge for businesses because finding the verified account information can often prove impossible. It’s also likely that the duplicate listing came from somewhere, so where there’s one duplication there’s regularly more elsewhere on the web.
In terms of impressions earned in local injection, the site was at a complete stop. No measurable volume of local impressions could be found when reviewing the businesses G+ page.
Categorization issues with the business in directories was also especially prominent. This further prevented accurate impressions from search results.
The G+ page for the business was also unverified. This is because the business operates an IVR and it had failed to take action on the postcard verification method from Google.
The website for the business also did not contain the correct business address format (this is not uncommon). It also only had the business address on select pages.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
Work started with the business to identify exactly the right address, phone and categorization to use. Once there was a clear baseline of what should be used, you can identify all of the business listings that do not have this information accurately. It’s not uncommon to find that 90% or more of the business listings have inaccurate information.
Once the listings that need correction are identified, work begins to update each and every listing. This process requires an incredible amount of patience and attention to detail. It’s quite common to repeatedly call directory support teams to resolve conflicts ranging from lost login information to duplicate listing corrections.
Categorization of the business is one area that deserves time and attention. You have to ensure you locate all of the relevant category options for this business in each directory you work within. This means you often spend 10-15 minutes per business directory to carefully review the entire category structure of that directory. Once all the maximum number of categories were tagged, or you have sufficiently explored and assigned all the relevant categories, can you move on.
It was also important to include images, videos and any other supported content wherever possible to ensure the business looked active and stood out from other companies. This can be a major hassle as well since each site may have different requirements such as image sizing or character limits on content space.
The clean-up process is intense, and it’s a major workload made even more difficult for businesses who find themselves having moved addresses, changed phone numbers or that have multiple locations.
Once you get the complete, accurate, duplicate free and media rich directory profiles on all the existing information on the business, you move to adding the business to directories where they may not already be included. The directory submission approach for this client is to focus on local then expand to national directories to find the most relevant and important spots on the web for a business to have visibility. Local business directories are common for cities and metro areas. Look for any quality directories in the city, county and state. It’s also important to find industry associations or news organizations who might also compile directories you could inquire about.
You obviously treat G+ with even more attention, and it’s regularly appropriate to spend a significant time investment with Google, Yelp, Foursquare and Bing depending upon the type of business. Foursquare and Yelp were less of a concern for this business but the entries there still need the type of optimization specific to those platforms.
In terms of Google for this client it was paramount the categorization was a match for what Google was already injecting into the local search results. To do that, review the G+ pages of the competing sites and you find the category that Google is most regularly using in the search terms for this industry. This might seem obvious for many businesses but you might be surprised what business categories are being used. Doing the homework and ensuring that your primary business category fits can save you frustration down the line.
You also have to ensure that the local G+ page completes verification and that the business website is verified as well. Then you work to update the website to include the verified address on all pages by including it in the site’s footer. This is just good practice and saves your customers from the frustration of trying to locate the business address on some page like “About us” or “Contact us.” It improves the user experience.
So what happens when you really roll up your sleeves and get local done right?
Local impressions jumped from 5% to 90% market share
Up from 10-20 impressions per month to 600. Since you compare the impression data against the AdWords it’s safe to estimate the company now receives 50-60% impression share in local. This is an extremely low estimate, however, since its’ hard to know how often Google uses local injection on these terms. It’s not unlikely that the business address is included now +90% of the time that local injection appears in the search results for this business’ primary keyword targets.
Traffic to the homepage increased 269%
As the directory updates were recrawled and the links indexed, the traffic improvement over a 10-month period increased by 269%.
Traffic to non-branded terms increased 450%
You will see that non-branded rankings improve very regularly from this process. Since Google no longer provides this data, we typically look at analytics traffic that does not involve the homepage as a measure of success here.