But what do we mean by crucial?
What does a business lose when it doesn’t have local optimization done right?
Every business owner is inundated with opinions on what plays the most important role in their online marketing strategy. One thing is for sure- optimizing your website for local search should be at the top of your list. Let’s take a look at our client's strategy we created that delivered 10x more organic traffic to their business.
Google typically included three search terms in this area for target keywords. Meaning, those three local businesses were receiving a lot of impressions because very little search competition was present.
When we looked a little deeper, we 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 often more elsewhere on the web.
In terms of impressions earned in local injection, the site was not performing at all. No measurable volume of local impressions could be found when reviewing the business’s G+ page.
Business categorization issues in directories was another problem. 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.
To make matters worse, the business website did not contain the correct business address format (this is not uncommon)- and only had the business address on select pages.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
We started by identifying the right address, phone, and categorization to use. Once there was a clear baseline of what should be used, we identified all business listings that did not have accurate information. It’s not uncommon to find that 90% or more of the business listings have inaccurate information.
Once the listings that need correction were identified, we updated every listing. This process required 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 a business is one area that deserves time and attention because of how important it is for local search. We had to ensure we located all of the relevant category options for the this business in each directory you work within it appears in. This means we often spend 10-15 minutes per business directory to carefully review that directory’s entire structure. When all possible categories are tagged, and other relevant categories are explored and assigned we moved on to the next.
It was also essential to include images, videos, and any other supported content wherever possible to ensure the business looked active and stood out from other companies. This is time consuming 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 time-consuming, especially for businesses with changed addresses, phone numbers, or multiple locations.
Once we completed accurate, duplicate-free, and media-rich directory profiles with all the appropriate business information we then add directories they weren’t in but should be. This client’s directory submission approach is to first focus on local then expand to national directories to find the most relevant and important spots on the web for their business to have visibility. Local business directories are common for cities and metro areas. We also searched for quality directories in the county and state, as well as industry associations or news organizations who might also compile directories that are appropriate.
We knew that G+ was even more important, and required a significant time investment, as well as Yelp, Foursquare and Bing, depending upon the type of business. Foursquare and Yelp were less of a concern for this business but still needed the type of optimization specific to those platforms.
In terms of Google for this client, it was paramount that their categorization was a match for what Google was already injecting into the local search results. We reviewed the G+ pages of competing sites to find the category that Google commonly uses for search terms in the industry. This might seem obvious for many businesses but we have sometimes been surprised which categories are being used. Doing the right homework to ensure the primary business category is right can save you frustration down the line.
We also had to ensure that the local G+ page completes verification and the business website was verified as well. We then updated the website to include the verified address on all pages in the site’s footer. We know from experience that this is essential for user experience by avoiding the frustration of trying to locate a business address on some other page like “About us” or “Contact us.”
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.
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