CEO at Moz, sets the company strategy and drives execution through alignment, authentic company culture and transparency.
Local search builds connections within communities. And in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, cultivating a sense of community — whether online or offline — is important.
Whether it’s a couple looking for a new restaurant that offers takeaway or a harried parent looking for a pharmacy that’s open late, local search helps people find what they need, when they need it.
But how people connect with the resources they’re looking for — how they find their way from their phone to a business’s front door — is a constantly shifting puzzle. Figuring out how the pieces fit was one of our goals for our State of Local SEO Industry Report 2020. We surveyed more than 1,000 local marketing professionals to get a snapshot of local SEO, both before and during the pandemic.
Drawing on what we learned, I have some fresh advice on where to devote your resources, what the impact of Covid-19 could mean for your local strategy and what success could look like in an industry that changes daily.
SEO Insights And Takeaways For 2020
More and more customers are opting for digital interactions with businesses, especially now in the era of Covid-19. With an emphasis on organic assets, many businesses are in a strong position to get their products and services to consumers via organic search.
Here are my data-driven tips for how marketers and local business owners can adapt their local search strategies during (and after) the pandemic.
1. Optimize For Customer Interests And Goals
Optimizing for the customer is the golden rule for 2020 — whether they’re visiting your business online or at your physical storefront. And after Google’s BERT algorithm update put a greater focus on search intent and user experience, we know that customer engagement goes far beyond keyword-rich content and an optimized Google My Business profile.
Focus on appealing to people’s interests and goals, not on trying to game the Google gods. Write content that speaks to their unique pain points and leads them down the path to a solution to their problem.
At the same time, your business needs to have a multichannel, multifaceted marketing strategy to reach people across multiple touch points. Consistent content and brand voice build trust with your audience and increases the likelihood of them converting into paying customers.
2. Employ A Diverse Team Of Experts
None of us can do it all on our own. Even managing the SEO for single-location businesses can require diverse expertise — from web developers and writers to PPC advertisers and in-house marketing staff. Running an effective local SEO campaign is often a collaborative effort.
You don’t have to be a local SEO professional to succeed in local search marketing strategies. Many marketing professionals with many different titles are doing this work well. Consider diversifying your marketing hires and taking a creative approach to SEO strategy.
Whether you manage local SEO in-house or work with an external agency, your business can achieve local search success by employing a multitalented team of experts.
3. Don’t Forget Offline Marketing Strategies
Offline marketing strategies still have their place — a study by Quantcast found that 39% of global direct brand marketers consider offline campaigns to be important for their overall marketing efforts. And according to our survey, there’s been a 19% year-over-year increase in respondents suggesting offline marketing strategies alongside on-site optimization.
I see this as a great opportunity to get your hands dirty. Dig into how prospective customers interact with your brand both online and offline, and use those in-depth, niche insights to guide your on-site and off-site strategies. I think you’ll be happy with the result: marketing campaigns that give your potential customers ample opportunity to interact and engage with your brand.
4. Generate Powerful Customer Reviews
I can’t put it much simpler than this: Reviews are where it’s at. Ninety percent of our survey respondents believe that reviews impact Google’s local rankings. They certainly help shape your brand’s reputation, impact conversions and drive sales — they are a powerful lever that no local-focused marketer should ignore.
Your strategy could be missing a key component if you’re not considering how to encourage more customer reviews. Ask questions like:
• How can we help our local clients generate more shining reviews?
• How are our clients addressing negative customer feedback?
• What efforts are we making to manage the brand’s online reputation?
One of the most important things you can do is build your brand’s expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (EAT) in the eyes of Google. Accordingly, many local marketers are doubling down on business reviews as a leading trust factor.
5. Adapt In The Age Of Covid-19
While Covid-19 has hurt the marketing budgets of many big brands, it’s been especially painful for local businesses. While the full effects may not be apparent for many months, our survey results indicate that businesses are implementing both short-term budget cuts and long-term changes to their SEO strategies. More than half have seen a reduction of their marketing budgets, and many have pivoted away from offering nonessential services.
Use what you know works. Get razor-focused on proven SEO tactics, not experimental campaigns. Content development, customer communication and local SEO are all time-tested methods for reaching the customers who need your business most.
Despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, many tried-and-tested marketing strategies remain effective, including a strong emphasis on organic assets, website optimization, content creation and local search optimization.
Put your brand in a strong place to embrace change, further your organic presence, and find new ways to get your products and services in front of consumers. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel — you just might have to search for it.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
Go to Source
Author: Sarah Bird, Forbes Councils Member