18 Jun Tips from Local SEO Agency Pros (+ Post Covid-19)
For some of us, the year 2020 is symbolic because it is the start of a new decade. Unfortunately it has now become the year plagued by the coronavirus pandemic.
This global event itself has cost lives and the welfare of many people.
With that said, what does this mean for small businesses all over the world? Some are adjusting well enough to the new way of life.
Others not so much.
For local search this means that seo’s need to approach their work with laser focus and awareness and also with the mindset of how to plan for the future.
As we all find a way to shake off the residual effects of the pandemic, how can we examine local search in a way that’s relevant?
We’ve prepared all of that for you with 4 questions.
|1.) What are the new factors that are worth investing time on?
2.) What are the past factors that are not working as well as they did before?
3.) What are the factors that you can’t ignore during the pandemic?
4.) How can you plan for the rest of 2020?
This survey was sent out to local seo agency professionals all around the world. Here are the highlights from all their compiled responses.
Local SEO 2020 – New Factors
Even though it’s been a while since GMB Posts have been introduced, not every business has been fully utilizing it. Whether or not youre hiring professional local seo services, you should be adding google posts to your weekly to-do list.
But why exactly?
Well, the first thing you should know is that google posts are designed to be useful and informative. They are useful to you, and informative for the online web user.
GMB allows you many post formats to choose from. It can be about an upcoming event, a new promotion/offer or any other announcement you’d like to make.
Here’s what the professionals are saying! (Check out Accuranker’s 14 day Free Trial here!).
Tobias Hyldeborg (Dinero ), “It is crucial to keep your potential customers up-to-date with your situation. The easiest way for doing that, is by publishing Posts in GMB.”
Dan Taylor (SALT.agency), “From what I’ve seen in the local search space over the past couple of years, the correlation between actively utilizing Google Posts and increases in impressions/clicks of your Google My Business listing shouldn’t be ignored.”
Brogan Renshaw (Firewire Digital), “Google Posts is an element that is still a relatively new aspect of GMB for many businesses. Google have shown that content posted within Google Posts can appear in the Local Pack giving your business more prominence.“
Brian.O’Connor (Major Tom Agency), “The posts feature in GMB, posts can help businesses to update customers on COVID19 busniess hours, available services, etc. These can be duplicated/coordinated with social media content, to cover the audience who search locally.”.
As we can see, GMB Posts may be somewhat new, however they give your brand more prominence and online traffic to your website.
During the time that this article was written, Google My Business Reviews were recently brought back. Before its temporary suspension, reviews were extremely important.
For now, nothing much seems to have changed as to its importance. If you haven’t used GMB reviews before, you might ask why are they good for your gmb listing?
Well first of all, reviews are a great signal to google that your business has prominence. The more reviews you have, the more likely google will rank your gmb listing higher.
How exactly can you do this? First thing’s first is laying down the habits of accumulating reviews.
Here are two important factors when managing your reviews.
These are the two major actions you should be performing. Generating and responding to reviews.
How can you develop a good strategy for getting more reviews? Here’s what Damon Burton from (SEO National) has to say about that.
Damon Burton (SEO National),“To maximize your positive reviews, ask your customers to include the context of why they liked working with you. It’s one thing to get a 5 star review, but it’s a whole other level of value when the 5 star reviews says “I love this company because they did X for me which brought Y results.” The more the verbiage that your reviewer uses emphasizes your specialty = better context for Google to understand what you do and to rank you better for it.”
From here we can see that 5 star reviews are best. And how you can get them. But we also see that what you write about matters as well.
Google is scanning for the content within reviews to get a better sense of your business.
If a customer is going to review you, get them to speak about the best things they like about your business.
Encourage your customers to naturally use specific industry terms of your business.
For example, if you own a dry cleaning and laundry business, your industry terms might be dry cleaning pickup & delivery.
You might ask, why is this important? Dan Taylor shares his take on GMB reviews.
Dan Taylor (SALT.agency), “I also feel that reviews are becoming more important, with Google now analysing them for focus words and extracting them as filters on a company’s Google My Business listing.“
What is being said here? Google is analyzing focus words in your reviews to test the relevance of your service or products.
So if your customer was writing a review using the words, “dry cleaning pickup & delivery”, google will find this more relevant than just a simple review that said, “Great customer service and friendly staff!”.
Quality Link Building
Another underrated part of local search is link building. Ryan Scollon (Google Ads & PPC Consultant) shares his experience with this pillar of local search.
Ryan Scollon (Google Ads & PPC Consultant ), “ One of the most important local search ranking factors is link building. A few years ago, links were not as important for the local rankings but that has changed. Most businesses that are managing their own SEO can probably figure out 90% of the other work that is needed to be done, but link building is always a difficult one, even for SEO professionals.”.
Not only is link building something that is important, it’s also something that requires time to get good at.
If you’ve never had experience with local links, then you should get used to hearing this term: relevancy.
Relevancy forces you to find links from external websites that are related to your business.
For a dry cleaning business, relevant links might be ones from a local city directory or a local blog about laundry. How can you screen for these relevant external websites?
James Kuck from My Media Pal shares with us some of his insights.
James Kuck (MyMediaPal), “ I have noticed that over the last 6 months or so many of my local websites that have “absolute relevant” backlinks coming in have shot up in the serps. When I say absolute relevancy I am speaking about the “topic” and “Location” of the link you are receiving.”
These are the two things you should be focused on. Topic and Location.
Make a list of what topics does your business cover, and then match that with the location of your business.
This process might not be easy at first however, that doesn’t mean you should be building low quality links.
In fact, we want to make this very clear. Don’t waste time building links and citations from websites that have little relevancy with your business. Here’s what the professionals think about the mass building of low quality links.
Dan Taylor (SALT.agency), “It’s heavily dependant on your niche, but the old school building of listings and citations in mass, non-local syndicated directory websites has lost a lot of impact in competitive sectors.”
Cyrel Nicolas (CollabUX Web Solutions), “… Before Quantity is the Key. The more backlinks you procured, the merrier. You can easily rank your target keywords if you can generate massive links. Gone were the days of Quantity. Quality is now the game changer in the world of Local Search Factors.”
So instead of focusing on the quantity of links that you’re accumulating, we say focus on the quality. The current best practice would be to find websites that are associated with the same city or industry of your business.
Besides directories or external websites, if you’re still interested in building quality links, you can take a look at google stacking.
Local Search Past Factors
With the landscape of google changing every year, many things change. What was considered a harmless seo practice back then might be considered an seo mistake today. The same goes for Local seo.
Low Quality Citations
In organic SEO we have lots of people still buying links. Why is this the case?
Well, it’s a tough time-consuming process that not everybody has the patience for.
The same can be said about citations for local seo. Manually mass building and managing citations takes time and most people don’t have the patience to do the work.
However there was one huge benefit to this tactic back in the day. The sheer number of citations that your brand had was a strong signal to google which helped boost your rankings.
Unfortunately, this strategy no longer works well. Google is now responding differently to local links. Brogan tells us what has changed since then.
Brogan Renshaw (FireWire Digital), “Local citations just aren’t what they used to be. Years gone by the more listings you had the better. This is just not the case anymore (for the better). Local service websites still need QUALITY local citations to rank but they are more a foundation platform now rather an easy tactic to move the needle in the right direction.”
Ok so citations still matter. However, they no longer serve in having a big impact on your local map rankings.
Instead of treating citations as a big factor, try to see it as a foundational element for your business.
Ryan Scollon shares a similar experience with local citations.
Ryan Scollon (SEO & PPC Consultant), “Citations is the main factor that is not working as well as it used to. When I first started in Local SEO in 2013, I was able to rank businesses #1 in the local pack simply by creating a GMB page and creating a handful of well optimized citations.”
Sounds crazy that this tactic used to work, but we’re glad it doesn’t anymore! Would we recommend you trying it out now?
Probably not. With that said though, we still want you building citations and making sure they’re from quality websites and directories.
Covid-19 & Local Search
Without a doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the fundamental aspects of normal life. The massive shift in global behavior is something that every industry, including Local SEO has to adapt to. What are some key factors that local businesses have to keep their eyes on?
Constant and Direct Engagement with Customers
During the current pandemic its so obvious that businesses have to adapt to whatever online trends are cropping up.
The public’s massive transition to an online space requires you to be more engaging now than ever.
Ask yourself, how are you communicating or presenting your business?
If you’re not on google my business, that’s something that needs to be sorted out immediately.
Why? Well google my business is a platform designed to provide information to people in the best ways possible.
With that said, what exactly should you keep in mind when you’re using your GMB profile? Quentin shares his insight.
Quentin Aisbett (OnQ Marketing), “…GMB is often going to be the first real interaction a customer has with your business. It’s a perfect opportunity to easily update your trading hours, communicate any temporary closures,”.
As your customers are getting used to their new pace of life, they want to know what businesses are available to them. This means your operating hours or temporary closures need to be stated very clearly.
If not, people could engage with your brand based on bad information. This could cause your business to lose out on potential customers.
Even if you’re a business that doesn’t generate many online leads, it’s still an excellent practice to use all of the GMB features to its full potential. Especially since they are all free.
Here are some of the other GMB features and the ways to approach and use them.
James Kuck (MyMediaPal), “Whether you are an essential business or not, I would highly suggest keeping your “GMB” Google My Business up to date with hours and days you will be open along with a helpful post and call to action.”
As you can see here, GMB is more than just updating your business hours. Take the time to create a google post discussing what’s new regarding your business during this pandemic.
If you’re trying to push a specific product, then now might be a great time to also publish that product or make a special offer.
Showcase your expertise
As people are spending more time online now than before, now is the perfect time to create more online content.
Offer some value and show them why you’re an expert in your field!
Damon Burton shares his take on this approach.
Damon Burton (SEO National), “Get online and showcase your knowledge and expertise? Restaurant owner? Do videos of your passion for your kitchen and how to make your favorite dish.”
Like the simplicity behind this approach? We certainly do. Take an indoor activity related to your business and showcase your expertise around it.
For example , if you’re a barber you can show the best way to trim your beard or layer your hair. If you’re a florist, you can show homeowners the best way to flower their plants and give them sufficient sunlight.
If you’re not a fan of social media, you can consider starting a blog and trying some authority hacking techniques.
How to Plan Ahead
We don’t really know what’s going to happen for the rest of 2020. All we can do is hope for the best.
With that said, that doesn’t mean all businesses have to give up entirely. There are still many things that can be practiced to prepare for the journey ahead.
Increase your online presence for the long term and customer engagement
It is highly likely that more and more people will spend time indoors. No one can predict when the pandemic will subside, or when people will feel comfortable returning back to normal life again.
If work at home is the new normal, how can your business tap into this?
Scott Schorter from Scott Shorter SEO provides his perspective on this.
Scott Shorter (Scott Shorter SEO), “With lots of people inside considering a purchase, re-marketing is a good way to win those considered purchases. Hammer it while people are trapped indoors.”
What exactly does this mean? Well here’s something you can consider doing. Start reaching out to returning or potential customers. Remind these people how amazing your products or services are. You need to know that whatever warm leads you had before are probably much warmer now.
If this isn’t enough to boost your sales, there are alternatives as well. One thing to consider is bringing your products or services online.
Kristian shares his thoughts on this.
Kristian Bannister (BrightLocal), “ Setting up an eCommerce store and moving services online would not only help local businesses now, but also in the long run.”
Your business may have never dealt with ecommerce before, however it isn’t too late to start. If consumers are shopping for products in the long run, online sales may be the bulk of where your profits will come from.
For businesses who don’t have a proper website, you can start treating your website as your digital storefront.
Brogan Renshaw explains more.
Brogan Renshaw (FireWire Digital),“Now is the time to overhaul your website with local search in mind. Your website is 100% now your shop front – does it reflect your brand? Does your website say quality local businesses or backstreet alley?”
Remember that when new customers find you online, they’ll be judging it based on how updated and well presented it is.
Your website may be set up to look beautifully but it also needs to address new online shopping norms.
Do your customers need updates on new product inventory? Do they need email notifications when their products are finally shipped?
These are real concerns worth addressing. Besides, a customer’s shopping experience, you can also engage more with your customers through a blog.
Create a schedule of posts and connect with your customers through some effective content marketing.
With so many events happening this year, it will be extremely challenging on many businesses. We hope that the answers above can help provide some insight as to addressing some of your problems.
Besides local seo, there are many people also seeking other methods for online marketing. One of the biggest questions now is whether SEO or PPC is a better strategy for 2020. Which online marketing strategy is the best for now and post covid-19?
Please post your comment below as we’d love to hear what you think!