The realm of SEO has changed. The first position of Google used to be prime real estate, with a 31% click through rate. Now, that percentage has dropped significantly to 19%.
Google likes to keep things simple, and in their terms, that means not having to click on a website at all. New features like Answer Box, the local 3 pack, “People Also Ask,” Knowledge panels, and Twitter carousels have changed the way a customer searches and ultimately make it harder to see your listing – if those listings are not accurate and up-to-date across the web.
Brands cannot simply rely on being on that top spot anymore and need an updated approach to their SEO – and that means thinking locally. Corporate marketers are encouraged to educate and assist their local partners, where necessary, on the following:
1. Understand who your audience is and what questions they are asking.The “People Also Ask” feature shows these questions, and it is important to answer them in clear language. Consider optimizing your pages for voiced-based searches. The way people search is going to be different moving forward, and it is important to recognize how the adoption of Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or Siri will impact your industries’ search terms. Your partners are local, so have them think locally. For example, a customer looking for internet services may search for “What internet providers service my area?” Therefore, a business’s web presence needs to include location details and service offerings in order for the correct information to populate during this type of search.
2. Use Structured Data in your website pages to aid search engines in categorizing your website. Tools like Schema Markup will allow search engines to understand the content on your page such as: events, product reviews, and star rating. If Google cannot understand it as a review, it will not display it. Google uses this structured data to enhance your website's page organic rankings by making your events public and adding star ratings to product listings.
3. Enhance Google My Business listings on your local business level: GMB posts allow the individual store owners to promote events, sale promotions, or new content directly from their local business panel. We want the information to be easily accessible to customers in order to fulfill their ‘goal’. These customers are typically at the end of their buying journey and have already done their research. The customer wants quick access to information such as: the storefront location address, menus for a restaurant, quick reservations, etc. To provide a seamless buying journey, the GMB local panel should be optimized.
SEO is an important tool for brand awareness and for showcasing products to your relevant consumer base. The corporate marketer must adapt to the changing face of SEO by understanding their audience and the questions they are asking, using structured data, and enhancing Google My Business listings. This foundational element is critical to business growth. In BrandMuscle’s 2019 State of Local Marketing Report, we found 76% of partners are NOT confident their online business listing and location data is up-to-date and accurate. These listings are the low-hanging fruit that needs picked right now to give your partners the baseline to put them on a growth trajectory. Without the ability to be accurately searchable, throwing money at any other tactic is akin to tossing it in the wind.
Miss the moment, miss the sale. How prepared are your local partners to connect and engage with consumers on their path to purchase? Contact BrandMuscle today.
Michelle Burdette is a Marketing Consultant at BrandMuscle