In the constantly evolving world of digital marketing, the essence of local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has never been more pivotal. This becomes even more relevant for service-based businesses operating within specific geographical areas. Empire Digital Marketing Agency is your trusted partner in this space, leveraging the power of local SEO to bring potential customers right to your doorstep, making their journey to you as effortless as it is memorable. In our comprehensive exploration of local SEO, we’ll unpack its profound significance, scrutinize the key performance indicators (KPIs) most relevant to your growth goals, identify ‘The Big Four’ of local SEO optimization strategy, and discuss the timelines you can expect when looking for decisive local SEO results.
What Is Local SEO and Why Does It Matter?
Local SEO plays a pivotal role in any business with a physical presence or operations within a specific geographical area. Empire Digital Marketing Agency specializes in helping service-based businesses, which means we also specialize in local SEO. Local SEO is the roadmap guiding potential customers to your doorstep, making their journey effortless and memorable. To kickstart your local SEO journey, you need to understand its foundation – the strategy.
Identifying your growth goals forms the crux of this strategy. A clear vision of where you want your business to be in terms of growth sets the tone for your SEO efforts. Quantifying this growth in terms of client numbers offers a tangible target to work towards. Analyzing your existing client conversion process will help identify areas for optimization, helping turn your website’s traffic into valuable clients. But remember, it’s essential to set parameters to measure your progress towards your goals – because success, after all, is a measure of meeting or exceeding your objectives. In the end local SEO comes down to this simple statement: It’s all about traffic, leads, and sales.
The Traffic-Leads-Sales Trio: The Most Important KPI for Local SEO
Many of our clients start by asking, “What is the most important kpi for local seo?” Our response is simple. It depends on what your goals are. For some businesses, they just need to start getting traffic. Others, they need their traffic to turn into leads. More established companies tend to be able to get leads, but they miss out on closing sales.
Think of local SEO as a three-step process and then pick what matters most to you. First comes traffic, then leads, and finally, sales. Attracting the right traffic to your website is crucial. By optimizing your online content and presence, your business becomes more visible to people looking for the products or services you offer. This targeted traffic holds high potential to convert into leads.
Leads are potential customers who’ve shown interest in your business – it could be someone who’s subscribed to your newsletter, filled out a form, or downloaded an ebook. It’s then up to your sales and marketing strategies to nurture these leads and guide them further down the sales funnel. The best kind of leads that you can get from local SEO are calls, emails, direct messages, bookings/appointments,
Finally, the sales stage is where leads become paying customers. This stage is vital as it impacts your revenue directly. A lead could take days, weeks, or even months to convert into a sale – patience and continuous engagement are key.
In order to optimize this trio, we feel that our clients need to be involved in creating/understanding the strategy by answering these four questions:
- What are your growth goals?
- How many clients will it take to get you to that goal?
- How are your clients currently becoming clients?
- How will we know we are meeting, or have met, your growth goals?
By beginning the partnership with these four questions we can align our expectations and understanding so that we can deliver the best results for our clients. If we don’t know how much growth is anticipated, then we won’t know the incremental steps that we need to hit on our way to achieving the desired growth. Understanding the current path that their customers take to turn into paying customers is important so that we can improve on what is working and explore new channels that may not have been utilized in the past. For example, maybe they get tons of people calling in to set up a service, but don’t realize they are missing out on a 20% boost in bookings by adding a “Book Now” button on one of their profiles. The last part of this is that we need to know how much each customer brings in revenue so that we can clearly determine if we are meeting the growth goals.
The final question about meeting the growth goals needs to be crystal clear from the start so that both parties know if the partnership is working out. If it isn’t, why not? If it is, how can we continue being successful and are there ways we can get even better?
Understanding Metrics, Factors, and “The Big Four”
One of the keys to a successful local SEO strategy is understanding what to measure and how to measure it. That is why one of the most popular searches on Google is, “How is local SEO measured?” Various KPIs offer insight into how your local SEO is performing. Here, we will focus on channel-specific metrics, primarily Google Business Profile (GBP), Bing, Apple, and Yelp/Alexa.
GBP is a powerful tool for local businesses. By analyzing metrics like clicks, calls, messages, bookings, and direction requests, you can gauge how your company is viewed organically on Google and how customers interact with your business listing.
Another critical channel is Bing. Although not as popular as Google, it still holds a significant market share and is the default search engine for many internet users. Apple and Yelp/Alexa also contribute to traffic. Looking at the traffic, leads, and sales generated from these channels can offer insights into their effectiveness for your business. Together, we like to call GBP, Bing, Apple, and Yelp/Alexa the “Big Four”. We call them the “Big Four” because they each are foundational to all other business listings in some way. With the increase in voice searches done on home devices like Alexa, Siri, Google, Cortana, and others, we also cover the voice search optimization which can be commonly overlooked in a local SEO strategy.
Here are four simple questions you can ask yourself to understand how effective your local SEO is for your business.
- Are GBP, Bing, Apple, and Yelp/Alexa driving traffic to my website?
- Are people calling from GBP, Bing, Apple, and Yelp/Alexa?
- Are GBP, Bing, Apple, and Yelp/Alexa visitors converting to leads/sales?
- Are visitors coming from those channels doing other things that are helpful to growing our business (i.e. leaving reviews, newsletter or promotional sign ups, whitepaper downloads, click to email, contact us form, etc.)?
As you can see, it isn’t just about traffic; it’s also about how this traffic interacts with your website. Are visitors leaving reviews? Signing up for newsletters? These interactions contribute to business growth and help determine the success of your strategy. Optimizing your digital presence so that you get people when they are ready to purchase is critical to growing your revenue and that is one way that local SEO can help you hit your growth goals.
What metrics should I track for local SEO?
Numerous metrics can help measure your business’s local SEO success. These metrics provide an insight into how much your company is viewed organically on Google and how customers interact with your business profile. It is important to note that not every single business will need every single metric, so find the ones that best suit your business and your team. Here are the top ten metrics we recommend tracking.
1 – GBP Total Search Impressions and Discovery Search Impressions -This tells us how much our company is being viewed organically on Google.
2- GBP Clicks, Calls, Messages, Bookings, Direction Requests – This tells us how much our company is being viewed organically on Google.
3- GBP Maps Driven Traffic – This tells us how many times our company is being chosen on the Google Map pack which is massively impactful if we can become one of the top results on the map.
4 – Increase in Reviews – Reviews are one of the best social proofs that exist. More positive reviews mean more business, more often.
5 – Organic Traffic Increase – One of the simplest ways to know that SEO is working.
6 – Increased Page Rankings – When you have great content, it will get linked to or shared. You can let this grow organically, or you can take action by posting responses to questions people ask on social and chat room platforms online. Most importantly for local SEO, you should have location specific content for your audience.
This means that if you are a greenhouse in Mendon, UT, you should have content that talks about growing different types of plants in Northern Utah. If you’re a cleaning company that has multiple locations, each location (within reason) should have its own landing page on your website and a business listing. You could even go as far as creating content for every city or zip code that you provide services in. That can get tedious, especially if you service a large city like Nashville, TN and provide services to the surrounding suburban cities.
Think of your landing pages and location pages like a funnel. Up top is the largest area you service, so national, state, or city. From there you drill down so let’s assume we serve a nationwide clientele. You will have general pages for the entire country. Then you will go state specific, county specific (not always, but sometimes this is helpful depending on population demographics), city pages, and finally zip code pages.
Not all companies need this granular of an approach, but it paints a good picture of how it should be structured.
7 – Increased Sales and Revenue – The ultimate and end goal of improved SEO is more revenue. It’s the final stage of the funnel.
8 – Increased Engagement Time – When the right people visit your site, they will spend more time on your pages. This helps increase page rank.
9 – Increased Impressions for Targeted Keywords – When optimizing your website, each page should have specific target keywords that you are tracking. As you optimize your content, you should start to see the impressions in Google Search Console increase for these keywords that you are focusing on.
10 – Reviews Response Time You will get a boost from companies like Google or Facebook for providing quicker responses to reviews. Try to keep these response times under 24 hours.
The Waiting Game
Another question we frequently get asked is, “How long does local SEO take to show results?” We all need to remember that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires consistent efforts, strategic tweaks, and above all, patience. But rest assured, with time, a well-planned and effectively implemented strategy will yield an increase in traffic, leads, and sales, driving the growth of your business. In some instances, we have seen clients seeing results within a month after we have implemented our strategies. This is consistent with what you would find by simply searching this question on Google. With others, it takes 6-12 months that you commonly hear about with SEO.
There are various factors that can impact that timeline, so it is good to go into it with the expectation of six months being the first decisive re-evaluation. Some of those factors include listings management, reviews management, website age, current backlinks and internal links, frequency of updates/posts on digital profiles, available website content, and much more.
Local SEO, when done right, can be a game-changer for your business. You can clearly see its power in the world of digital marketing and how it can drive growth for service-based businesses. From understanding the Traffic-Leads-Sales Trio to managing ‘The Big Four’ of search results, local SEO offers many benefits.
Empire Digital Marketing Agency is here to help you on this journey. We offer a tailored approach that prioritizes your unique business needs. We’ll assist you in identifying, quantifying, and monitoring your growth goals. We’ll provide a clear roadmap to achieving these goals. But remember, SEO success is a marathon, not a race. It requires understanding of metrics and strategies. It demands commitment to optimization, analysis, and adjustments.