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5 Top Local Local SEO Challenges (and How to Solve Them)

5 Top Local Local SEO Challenges (and How to Solve Them)

Local SEO is a weird beast. Mastering it for a business requires both knowing how to do “national” SEO, Google My Business SEO, and then understanding how Google handles your targeting queries in different markets.

This means that there are an infinite number of challenges in enterprise local for search marketers.

What are the most common challenges in Enterprise SEO?

Prioritization of premises with internal stakeholders. Has a single source of truth for location data. Optimization of store locations. Google My Business management & optimization. Building a local search function for business areas and marketplaces.

1. Prioritization of local internally

It sounds weird, but I can not tell you how many multi-location organizations we have worked with where the locations were not the priority of the digital marketing organization.

For retailers, we found that the organization was typically focused on “national” e-commerce marketing. Places was an annoyance that got the least investment.

It makes sense. Dealing with hundreds or thousands of placements is complicated.

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But at the same time, the rankings themselves are typically your biggest asset when it comes to SEO.

The challenge with each of these organizations was how to convince them to prioritize “Local”.

The solution is quite simple: Show them the money.

While there are plenty of ways to do this, here’s where to start.

Define the total addressable market for top categories

Let’s say a multi-placement e-tailer has 40 categories that are important to them from a revenue POV. It would be helpful for them to understand how their site performs on valuable keywords in these categories across each market.

This is not a small business, as the more categories and markets a business earns, the more data you need to crush. For a true national brand, we often start with 10 million keywords and 5,000 markets.

Like I said, it’s a lot of data. We do not go into detail about how we work with this data, except to say that the result of this analysis should show how the brand ranks by category relative to its competitors across all markets.

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You need to be able to see where the brand is strong and where it is weak.

Where it is weak, we can see which competitors dominate and how they do so. In particular, we want to see markets and categories with only a small number of winning competitors.

This is a signal that there is an opportunity for the brand. Once we have the categories and markets with opportunity, we can use search volume data to get an idea of ​​how big this opportunity is.

Assuming the opportunity is large enough, this now provides the rationale and roadmap for investment.

Test your plan in a limited number of markets

Once you have your plan, choose a small number of locations where you can test your plan. Hopefully you have access to a team of analysts who can help with the statistics needed to make the test valid.

Roll out your test, measure the results, and then have the statistics team estimate what the results would look like if the rollout had been to all placements.

A successful test + math with multiple placements can often give the organization the confidence to make greater efforts.

2. Have a source of truth for location data

With the advent of local directory management companies like Yext and Uberall, this is not so much of an issue anymore.

However, we still run into companies with multiple locations that do not have a “single source of truth” for all of their location information.

If you do not have this yet, put it in place.

3. Optimization of store locations

Many brands outsource their store placements to third-party vendors. There is nothing wrong with this in theory, but there are a few ways we have seen this go wrong:

Shops to be searched only

For SEO, an effective store locator must be a basic linked set of state, city, and location pages that a bot or user can easily click around to get to each page. However, many brands often build their store locations a location page with a search box to find your location.

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A few years ago, we looked at the locators of the top 100 U.S. retailers and found those who only searched for searchers ranked ~ 50% fewer keywords than those with a linkable state> city> placement architecture.

So make sure your location architecture is built this way.

Placement page content

Often, brands budget to create a locator on their site, but leave nothing to the content.

There is nothing wrong with a basic placement page that has the company name, address, phone number, product / service categories, etc. But a placement page with unique, enhanced content that is relevant to both the placement and the topics you are trying to rank for can definitely improve SEO performance.

This is where your location managers can come in handy. We often see successful brands use surveys by their placement managers to get unique local content.

Other sources may include local customer reviews, syndicated local interest data, and products that are popular in the specific market.

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Priority categories

Most e-commerce queries show local results near the top of the SERPs these days.

We often see brands winning in Local Packs linking from their placement pages to their key categories.

Think of it as a way to signal to Google that your rankings are relevant to those categories.

4. Google My Business Management & Optimization

Google My Business (GMB) really shouldn’t be a challenge – I mean, it’s just a simple set of yellow pages with lists for your rankings – but there are a million ways it can go wrong for businesses.

Here are just a few challenges and opportunities with GMB.

Beware of duplicate inventories

It’s amazing that duplicate directories are still a thing with GMB, but I was just talking to a service area company that was having trouble locating. It was pretty easy to see that they had duplicate GMB lists.

The moment they deleted the duplicate lists, their ranking increased by 15 positions for the most important keyword they targeted. So keep an eye on them.

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Monitor your GMB lists

Your GMB lists are in a constant state of flux. Users add photos and reviews.

Google may overwrite your data if it trusts data from another party more than it trusts you.

GMB is not some kind of “put it and forget it” thing. Create a system to regularly monitor changes to your GMB pages.

While you can see many changes via the GMB Dashboard, it does not capture everything. That’s one of the reasons we built this free open source tool to monitor image changes for your GMB.

Scales GMB positions

GMB posts are short messages that you can attach to your GMB business profile. These can be an inexpensive way to generate high converting visits to your site. Posts can include text, photos or videos.

The challenge we often see is that companies are often not set up to produce content for every location. To create GMB posts for multiple placements, implement a system to create GMB-ready marketing materials for new campaigns so they can be submitted.

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This often involves creating a GMB size (400 x 300) of approved marketing images and copying to GMB as part of each new campaign.

You will also want to make sure to tag links from your GMB posts with a tracking parameter so you can measure performance in your analysis.

5. Local search presence for SABs and marketplaces

Not all local business brands have placements. There are plenty of local marketplace brands like Yelp, DoorDash and Zillow and service area stores (SABs) like plumbers and roofers that target local search queries but are not qualified to appear in Local Packs. This is because they have no physical locations in their target markets.

And that means they miss out on a lot of potential clicks and revenue.

This does not work for every brand, but for those with the right business model, it’s a great way to get additional local package visibility to create a “store in a store” location at a partner brand.

FedEx OnSite services located in Walgreen are a good example of how this can work:

And of course, if the value of the leads is high enough, you might even consider opening physical locations in certain areas just to try to place well in the local packages.

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As I said above, there are an infinite number of local SEO tactics that business brands can implement.

As with all other marketing channels, you need to be creative, test, measure and repeat to help you get beyond these common local SEO challenges.

More resources:

Image credits

Screenshot taken by the author, July 2021

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