Help Customers Find Your Services
The same way you want to find a prime physical location for your brick-and-mortar business, you should strive to have a prime location in search results online as well. Local customers tend to be higher converting and more loyal than other traffic that you may draw to your website. In order to make sure your services are easily found by those who search for them, you have to set up your online presence using local search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Improving local SEO will help your business profile rise to the top of the results page in Google. The higher your profile is above competitors, the better the chances are that a searcher will solicit your services. Local SEO helps you bridge the gap between local searches and an ultimate sale, and luckily for all of us, it is simpler than it seems.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the practice of making technical improvements to your online business profile which help search engines identify your business and services. When this is successful, they will display your business as relevant search result for potential customers. This is specific to only local searches and differs from a generic search for goods, which can be much harder to rank in. For example, if a customer searches “best car services”, your small business may be out-ranked by larger chains. However, if a customer searches “oil changes near me”, Google will populate a list of relevant local businesses they can choose from. When using local SEO tactics, you can ensure you are being seen by these high-intent searchers who are likely to be ready to make a purchase now.
What is the Google Algorithm?
How do the search engines decide which businesses to show first? In the case of Google, they have developed an elaborate program that sorts business results for each search query based on three main criteria: relevance, proximity, and prominence. Based on information provided by you as the owner, reviews from others, information found on your site and much more, this program decides if your business is the best match for the query, if your business is trusted and if you are physically nearby the searcher. Working on your local SEO involves building up the information about your business with the search engines and on your website to better match this algorithm and in turn, help your profile to show more frequently at the top of results. Working with a marketing partner like Strategic Marketing can help you navigate the important changes you can make in each of these categories to improve your business’s position with Google.
Role of Citations
Your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) can show up on a myriad of different websites, directories and platforms. These listings are referred to as citations. The general accuracy of these citations is important so that the customer can reach and find you, but they play an even larger role in local SEO. Structured citations are places like directories where your NAP is displayed together as a listing. Unstructured citations are usually found on social media, in website content or other areas where the formatting may not be as clear cut.
The more citations you have available online, and the more Google sees your business as relevant and useful to the consumer, the more likely your business will come up in search results. Having prominent and reliable websites feature your NAP can give you major points toward your local SEO. However, inconsistent or incorrect listings will actually hurt your rankings. Keeping track of all of these is a large undertaking, but agencies like Strategic Marketing have tools that automate this clean-up process for you. Leveraging these tools will ease the burden of tracking down and updating your citations found online.
Reviews with Google My Business
Your Google My Business (GMB) page is snapshot of your business listing that is shown to customers searching your products, services, or general business information. Two of the most important factors here are the reviews left by customers and the star rating shown prominently below your business name. This will be the first thing a searcher will see about your business and a low review rating is a big deterrent to potential customers. As a local business, reviews are vital to inform future patrons that your business is worth using. Your responses to the reviews also provide a way for your customers to interact with you, the ability for you to showcase your brand identity, and your chance to manage any negative feedback. Furthermore, Google will use these reviews and ratings to sort whether your business is worth showing to searchers.
For local SEO, being proactive about getting and responding to reviews will have a dramatic impact on how you appear in local search results. A low number of reviews, even if they are positive, will hurt your rankings since it seems as if your business is not popular. There are a variety of ways to solicit and encourage positive reviews and tactful ways to handle negative ones. Already have a poor rating listed on your GMB? The best way to improve it is to earn more positive feedback from your clientele to even out the low scores. Review management will be one of the most important factors of success for your local business.
Your actual website works in combination with your local SEO. Appropriate keywords, technical data, and other factors found by Google crawlers will help the search engine determine how relevant or useful your business is to potential searchers. Studies show that customers still rely on heavily on the business website to make purchase decisions. Localizing your website content, improving mobile optimization and technical SEO enhancements are great ways to improve your local SEO. These enhancements also improve traffic to your website, how people navigate it, and in turn will lead to higher conversions. On-site SEO is complex and will be unique to your business. For help getting your website up to speed, Strategic Marketing has years of experience in optimizing sites for their clients’ specific goals. Working with a partner will be instrumental to your success.
Final Local SEO Notes
In order for customers to use your business, they have to be able to find you. In an increasingly technological world, customers are using Google and other search engines to quickly find what they are looking for. Improving local SEO will help loyal, ready-to-buy consumers find their way to you – EASIER. By bridging the gap between your business and the customer, you can win the customer ahead of your local competitors and drive business for your company.
The list above only covers a few of the areas that affect local SEO. For an in-depth and tailored look at how your business is performing in search, contact Strategic Marketing or visit www.thinkstrategic.com
SEO is changing in 2021. While some SEO strategies will remain, Google will be looking at SEO in a whole new way to rank pages. It is time to prepare for the upcoming 2021 SEO trends now before the update is released next year.
Get Ready for Google’s Update in 2021
Google plans on releasing a “Core Web Vitals” update in 2021 which will affect SEO and how pages will be ranked on Google. Google’s main focus is to constantly improve their user’s experience. They want their customers to go to a website and find what they need immediately with the best experience possible. With the “Core Web Vitals” update, Google will be ranking pages according to how those needs are met.
The best ways to ensure your website meets these standards is to make sure your site’s pages are running at optimal speed. Three seconds is acceptable, but one second is preferable. Additionally, you want to ensure that your website does not have any broken pages. These are pages where a user would not get content, but instead a 404 error page. Also, it is essential for a website to be mobile friendly and have Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Because most users are using mobile devices, it is necessary that mobile is optimized to the best user experience possible.
Heatmap software, such as Crazy Egg, can monitor your customers’ use to determine if improvements need to be made to a website. Heatmaps track how users are using your website. For example, if a customer keeps clicking on a static image thinking it should take them to a page and it doesn’t, then a web developer will know how to improve the user experience by adding a link to the image.
Yes, Content is Still King
The term “Content is King” will still remain in 2021. However, it has to be quality, value perceived content in order for it to rank on Google. The days of just writing a short blog and stuffing it with keywords are long gone. Now Google looks for content based on E.A.T. (Expertise, Authoritative and Trustworthy).
Google is looking for knowledgeable content that is value-driven, answers their users’ queries and comes from a trustworthy source. So, for example, someone who writes medical content may need to have the proper medical credentials to be an acceptable trustworthy source to Google. Content that defines a problem and gives a solution is considered value-driven content.
Long-form content is also valued by Google. Google wants to know what your page is about; thin content does not allow for this. Having longer content lets Google know you are interested in the reader and solving their query.
Voice Search is on the Rise
Voice search is continuing to gain users. It is important that your website is optimized for longer, more-natural keywords so that it will appear in voice search results. Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and other mobile users are not using short, broad words when they speak. If you have a local business, you may want to consider using common phrases and natural keywords to help users find you in local searches. Voice search statistics show that the trend is on the rise.
Linking Will Still Prove Valuable in 2021
Linking has always been valuable to SEO, but providing the best user experience is going to be among the most valuable in 2021 SEO trends. Linking to high domain authorities and internal linking will still be strong for SEO in 2021, but not the main focus for the year. It is still advisable to disavow spam links and reach out for earned “white hat” type links. Any shortcuts will eventually get noticed by Google and can cause a hefty Google penalty on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Local Businesses Still Need Local Search
Local search is still valuable to brick-and-mortar businesses, although it has taken a hit since the stay-at-home orders took place. It is still important and should be updated regularly to help businesses rank on Google locally. It is hard to predict local search for 2021 because of the current pandemic, but it should continue to be one of the 2021 SEO trends.
Strategic Marketing is a full-service agency dedicated to assisting businesses in marketing strategies. For further information on how we can help you, visit us at www.thinkstrategic.com or you can contact us at (561) 688-8155.
A Media Planning and Buying Agency Improves Your Chances of Campaign Success
Many companies place their own advertising media, and a lot of them take the proverbial spaghetti and throw it at the wall, trying a variety of media tactics without considering an overall strategy. What many don’t realize is the amount of research, experience, and time it takes to pull off a successful multi-channel marketing approach. This is where a strong media planning and buying agency will save you from the pitfalls of media planning and bring you from initial concept to provable success. A well-executed media plan will put your product, service, or proposition in front of the right people, at exactly the right time. This yields better results and return on investment (ROI) for your company. Here are some challenges that a media planning and buying agency will help you navigate.
So, What is Media Planning?
Put simply, media planning is the strategy by which you develop and deploy your paid messaging. This includes the timing, placement, and audience for your message. Media planning is the careful research, analysis of channels and markets, and strategic planning of how and when your paid content reaches your audience.
All of this, of course, must conform to any budget constraints and with strategic goals in mind. The ability to balance these variables and the available tactics is both an art and a science. A seasoned agency can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls in the media planning process.
Know Your Audience
Arguably the most critical aspect of media planning is knowing your audience. What appeals to them? What does their daily routine look like? When are they most likely to be online to see your ad or in the car to hear it over the radio? What kind of messages do they dislike? Creating audience personas and knowing them inside and out is a foundational piece of your strategy.
Insufficient information regarding your audience will wreak havoc on your return on ad spend. For example, the best possible messaging and timing will not yield any results if it is served to an audience that is not interested in that offer. A capable media planning and buying agency will conduct in-depth analysis of your target customer and apply prior experience to build a successful strategy to reach your audience. From effective calls-to-action to the latest consumer habits, an ad agency with this expertise will help you find exactly who your product or service should reach.
Timing is (Almost) Everything
When it comes to media planning, timing is everything. After finding your perfect audience, timing will be the key to campaign success and maximizing return on ad spend. There will be a time that you will need to make some tough decisions. When and how often would you like to hit your audience with messaging while still staying within your budget? Would you rather spend your budget in a couple of weeks to make sure your audience sees and hears your ad with great frequency? Or would you rather it spans several months or perhaps even the whole year?
Different times of the year may affect the amount of competition you may encounter and pricing of placements. Tweaking those times, or “flights”, on your own is tedious and requires a lot of legwork. A media planning and buying agency will weigh all the options and recommend flights that make sense for your budget while still optimizing for results.
Keep an Eye (or Two) on Performance
In multi-channel media planning, a variety of metrics must be monitored to ensure your budget is being spent appropriately. For example, tactics with bidding involved, such as Facebook ads or programmatic media, are subject to market forces. Depending on how you pace your budget, this may cause you to expend your budget faster or to simply get in front of fewer eyeballs than you originally projected.
Conversely, placing media with fixed rates, such as a negotiated television buy, gives you more assurances on the placement side but is subject to audience fluctuation. Ratings estimates are exactly that—estimates. A good media planning and buying agency performs the careful monitoring needed to ensure ratings and delivery goals are reached.
Optimization Isn’t Just a Buzzword
The most time-consuming aspect of executing a thorough media plan is measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns. There is a continuous cycle of research and analysis that is done on each campaign as they run and then an integration of what’s learned from them. Depending on the results, certain changes may need to be made to stay within budget, make sure you spend evenly, to lower bid prices or to maximize results.
These tweaks will optimize the campaign to better realize the goals you developed at the start. A media planning and buying agency will also have tools at their disposal to do the data research, but it takes more than software to read these campaigns. A keen eye for the marketplace and experience with various channels make agencies the perfect partner in ensuring campaign performance.
Choosing a Media Planning and Buying Agency
Now that you see the importance of hiring an agency to help you with media planning, how do you choose one? To start, you should have a firm grasp on your goals. Once your goals are clear, you can start with getting recommendations from agencies. Some agencies specialize in one vertical or media but not others. Many agencies are just digital buyers or play in traditional media. A full-service agency has expertise in both digital and traditional media.
Strategic Marketing is a full-service agency with over 28 years of experience. We strive to be a true business partner for our clients; we treat your business as if it were our own; we treat your money as if it were our own. We know that we’re successful only if you’re successful. To find out more, contact us today at 561.688.8155 and see how our agency help will improve your ROI on paid media.