Local SEO continues to change — almost on a monthly basis it seems. But is your business changing with it?
It’s about monitoring how your organization is doing online and always making it a priority to take the next step into SEO evolution — particularly investing in localization efforts.
Optimizing for local search
Launched in July 2014, Google’s Pigeon Update is the latest algorithm providing more useful and accurate local search results tied more closely to traditional Web search ranking.
“User location is now a ranking factor in Google search,” said Coles VP Marketing Brian Coles. “Local search results are included on SERPs (search engine results page) based on a keyword query.”
The changes affect the search results shown in Google Maps as well as the regular Google search results. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is sign up or claim your listing on Google My Business and confirm that listing is accurate and complete.
“Then sign up or claim other local business listings like Yelp, Manta and Yellow Pages, making sure all the information is consistent,” Coles said.
Directories that dominate
“There may be twenty to forty important listing sites depending on the industry,” Coles said.
Some of primary local directories are as follows:
- Yelp – one of the most-used websites for consumers to find a quality review
- Google Business – Google outperforms every other search engine by a huge margin
- Facebook – the second-largest local business directory in the U.S., behind Google Places
- Yellow Pages – an organized directory receiving millions of searches a day
Coles referenced an article by Chris Marentis on “Search Engine Land” that said cleaning up directory listings is “tedious and time-consuming work. But it is work that pays off big time when done right.”
Capture customer reviews
Once you have your business listings set, it’s time to generate reviews from your customers.
“User reviews are one of the many factors that help your local visibility online,” Coles said. “Google tries to emulate the human offline experience as much as possible and is constantly updating their algorithm to better the search experience. A deciding factor in whether a consumer purchases a good or service, both online and offline, is the experience had with that company.”
Gathering those customer reviews can be a bit of a slippery slope. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Promote reviews by asking customers or clients to leave a review on sites like Google Business, Yelp or Facebook.
- Be cautious how you ask. Many review sites don’t like solicitation.
- Leave a laptop at the front desk to capture customers as they leave to ensure the review gets done.
- Respond to reviews, positive or negative, as soon as possible.
Sharing helps searching
“A best practice for all search is to generate relevant, consistent and timely content and to engage with your users through blogs, social media and sharing,” Coles said.
Local SEO is about your website as well as your active social media profiles. The more activity and content on your company’s social media pages the better. Especially if that activity comes from your customers. It increases the visibility of your local listings as well.
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By the time you read this, the new Apple Pay service will be up and running. The much-hyped app will allow users of the iPhones 6 — and, eventually, Apple Watches — to pay for products and services simply and easily, much in the same way PayPal does.
Except it won’t just be restricted to online purchases — you’ll be able to use it for things you buy at participating brick-and-mortar outlets.
Essentially, you load up your iPhone with your credit or debit card information, and use it to check out instead of a physical card. No more fumbling around in your purse for your Visa card — a few buttons pushed, and you’re done. (Needless to say, Apple gets its cut in the form of fees.)
Changing the game
Edward Baig of USA Today is already calling it a “game-changer.” This is more than a new way to buy tchotchkes on your computer during lunch break; this could encourage “consumers to cast aside physical wallets and use their phones to pay at the checkout counter.”
Similarly, though with a much lower profile, Twitter’s new Buy function is set to rev up online sales. (Unlike Apple Pay, you won’t be able to use it offline.) Users view a tweet offering a product, and if they’re so inclined, they simply tap “Buy Now” to enter shipping and payment info.
“It’s a streamlined and straightforward way to make a purchase, and it’s intuitive,” writes Erica Schlesinger of Wright On Communications “It speaks to the ever-present need to get things done and get them done fast.”
People are reacting to this new way of doing business, and all the economic indicators are aiming upward.
By 2018 eMarketer expects mobile proximity payments (like Apple Pay) to hit $118 billion a year in the U.S., up from $3.5 billion in 2014. Digital payment options (like Twitter Buy and PayPal) already make up a huge chunk of online transactions.
It seems we’re on the verge of crossing a divide where people no longer think twice about using their smartphone or computer to pay for their purchases instead of a wallet.
Brands nudge the way
Still, challenges remain. As the New York Times noted back in April, many traditional-minded consumers remain cool to the idea of “digital wallets,” and reminded readers of other businesses that have already trod through this territory, and failed.
They include companies you’ve likely never heard of, like ISIS Wallet — which, for obvious reasons relating to the terrorist group, has had to rebrand on the fly. (They’re now known as Softcard.) But also big names like Google, whose Wallet service launched in 2011 and has wallowed since. Even Facebook introduced its own Buy button in July of this year, to little fanfare or impact.
Many observers think Apple Pay will be the breaking point because of the company’s incredible brand prestige. The company has also been smart to put security issues at the forefront of their effort, reassuring customers about the integrity of their personal financial data, even if they lose their iPhone.
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Advertising tells the world about your brand or product through various forms of paid media. Ads are placed where advertisers think they will reach the largest, most relevant audience.
Once upon a time that was in TV and radio commercials, print ads and billboards. Now there’s Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and many others also trying to grasp their piece of the advertising pie.
“Brands are looking for new places to advertise because people are looking for new ways to communicate,” said Brian Coles, VP marketing at Coles Marketing.
Google goes from the wrist to the wall
AppleInsider has a sneak peek into the places where Google says it might advertise, including thermostats, glasses, watches and car dashboards.
From its filing with the SEC, Google said, “Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future, and thus our advertising systems are becoming increasingly device-agnostic.”
As noted in the AppleInsider article by Neil Hughes, “The mention of glasses and watches is no surprise, as Google is betting heavily on the future of wearable devices, through both its Google Glass project, as well as its forthcoming Android Wear platform.”
And have you seen Google’s self-driving car? In late May, Google presented a new prototype of their driverless car with no steering wheel or pedals. So it would make sense to advertise on those car dashboards!
Promoted pins and video ads roll out
But Facebook won’t be outdone when it comes to advertising. The social media giant began selling video ads in the U.S. in March. And now it’s expanding this new service to seven other countries, according to Reuters.
In his article, Alexei Oreskovic said these video ads are one of Facebook’s most closely-watched new advertising products. It could help Facebook gobble up an even bigger slice of brand advertising budgets.
“Advertising in general is about hitting the right person at the right time, and social media advertising has this down pat,” Coles said.
Here’s a pinteresting idea! Pinterest has been experimenting with Promoted Pins, ads featuring placements from select retailers and other businesses. Now the company is doing a paid test of Promoted Pins.
“The launch of paid ads is a notable milestone for Pinterest,” said Sarah Perez in her TechCrunch article. A small number of brands are participating to begin with, including ABC Family, GAP, Kraft and Target, among others.
You’re putting that magazine ad where?
It’s not a big deal to see a Verizon Wireless ad in Time magazine. But what if that ad is on the cover?
For the most part, magazine cover advertising has been avoided because it violates “widely-observed guidelines from the American Society of Magazine Editors … which are meant to emphasize and protect editorial independence from marketers,” said Michael Sebastian in his AdAge article.
Guess the need for new revenue is becoming more important. Or maybe it’s just the desire to “be entrepreneurial,” said Time Inc.’s Chief Content Officer Norman Pearlstine.
“Traditional media outlets like magazines need to get creative in order to stay competitive with new advertising,” Coles said.
There’s no such thing as “free”
Coles has the following thoughts when it comes to the future of advertising:
- The world will continue to move in the mobile direction, and messaging will need to be more concise and direct.
- The days of picking one advertising medium to get your message across are gone.
- As consumers, we need to get used to the idea that there is no such thing as “free” digital content. One way or another, consumers will have to pay.
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Categories: 2014 June Newsletter, Newsletters | Tags: Tags: advertising, agency, Coles, Coles Marketing, Coles Marketing Communications, Coles PR, Coles Public Relations, communications, communications Indianapolis, Facebook, Google, Indiana, Indiana public relations agency, Indianapolis, Indianapolis public relations, marketing, media, Public Relations, Public Relations Indianapolis, social media, Twitter