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"Awesomeness Near Me" - How to win at Local SEO


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For the brick-and-mortar business, Local SEO is incredibly crucial but it can usually be a straightforward process for smaller businesses. But how can you scale the required high attention to detail across a large company with thousands of locations?

This brand new presentation covers tips to improve your local pack rankings and performance, based on case studies from SIXT car rental.

Published in: Marketing

"Awesomeness Near Me" - How to win at Local SEO

  1. 1. ”AWESOMENESS NEAR ME“ How To Win At Local SEO
  2. 2. @izzionfire #SEOkomm
  3. 3. I know, you‘ve heard a lot about Local SEO. But not like this!
  4. 4. For the smarter SME, Local Management is a simple enough process. 1. CLAIM 2. ENRICH 3. MAINTAIN Claim your business on GMB / local platform and verify your location. Keep listing refreshed with posts, descriptions, images, cool content. Gain reviews from happy customers. Respond to your customers. See if nasty spam is dragging you down. Ensure irrelevant ugc is dealt with when you can. Case-by-case issues.
  5. 5. But how do you maintain that attention, quality and performance across an enterprise-level business?
  6. 6. 2,200 branches worldwide Mixture of branch types (DSS, Fast-Lane telematics) All SEO efforts in-house in Munich.
  7. 7. Awesomeness doesn‘t happen alone The Politician The GMB Expert The Review Whisperer Marta Lazcoz Senior SEO Spain Thorsten Becker Director SEO Maila Giuggiloni SEO Italy The Platform Handler Heiner Tappe Senior Lead SEO
  8. 8. Local SEO is an even more important focus than organic for the brick-and-mortar business.
  9. 9. SERPs be feature & content heavy af.
  10. 10. Voice assistants are primarily used for Local-intent based searches 1. Hunting quick facts (68%) 2. Looking for directions (65%) 3. Searching for a business (47%) Grüß Sie!
  11. 11. Aggregators can dominate organic
  12. 12. Brands vs. Aggregators in Car Rental 43% 44% 13% Brand names vs. OTAs Brand OTA Other Source: Searchmetrics, September 2019
  13. 13. No NAP data for you But they can‘t dominate Local!
  14. 14. The social proof trust value is undeniable e.g. filtered results based on query modifiers
  15. 15. Mobile search is by default local!
  16. 16. Local is way more about „Ranking Factors“ than organic. It‘s arguably easier to influence and optimize for
  17. 17. Algorithmic differences between Organic and Local Main factors to bear in mind and how they differ
  18. 18. 1. Local entities are fed directly into the Local Knowledge Graph. Requires no URL or technical SEO* *(but on-site values can impact local rankings)
  19. 19. 2. Spam is algorithmically filtered well in Organic, whereas it appears way more often in Local Fake ListingsIllegal Services Spammy Names KW Stuffing
  20. 20. 3. Proximity to searcher can be a personalization factor in Organic, but a ranking factor in Local Local Organic Results are tailored to my city + country (despite no mention) Results are impacted by distance to my house
  21. 21. 4. There are more explicit ways of personalization and refinement for Maps results Hey, Google – only show me alcohol- free, vegan results
  22. 22. 5. Local rankings can be directly influenced by offline business behavior e.g. Low quality customer visits, negative user feedback
  23. 23. A shift towards quality weightings in Local. Offline impacting online performance
  24. 24. New Google patent: „Quality Visit Scores“ What values make most sense for this type of business? Return visits for the same person
  25. 25. A LOOK INTO LOCAL PACK RANKING FACTORS Get into that sweet, sweet map pack.
  26. 26. URL TRAFFIC URL REVENUE 01.03.2019 – 26.03.2019 YoY GA Org. +83% +119% 1 Local Pack Ranking =
  27. 27. RELEVANCEPOPULARITY PROXIMITY • Amount of reviews • Average ratings • Local citations • Store visits • Quality visits • Local links (?) • Distance to searcher location • Distance to specified location entity • NAP aligned • Categories • Unique business photos • Business description • Onsite factors
  28. 28. LET‘S HACK THE LOCAL PACK How to get into, and perform well within the map pack
  29. 29. First of all, the nescessary stuff. o Verified GMB listing o (NAP) Name, Address, Phone number aligned. o Image content (inside, outside, of genuine use to browsers) o Unique business description with detailed points. o Relevant Primary & Secondary categories most specific to your entity. o UTM parametered links to track tasty local visits in GA/GSC.
  30. 30. Be careful Can be scraped from partner feeds without you knowing
  31. 31. Guess what: it depends! Where to send your Local Entity traffic
  32. 32. Where to send your local entity traffic: More than one location? Homepage Conversion Possibilities? Location unique data? Yes No No Via a partner booking site? Yes Booking Partner Link Yes No No Parametered Page URL Yes Own Indexable URL
  33. 33. No thin, or duplicated page risk Much easier to maintain on a larger scale Can still link to 3rd party booking platforms additionally Parametered Generic URL
  34. 34. Unique location data and content for organic performance too Conversion uplift elements such as pre-filled booking engines localBusiness structured data to connect your entity to a unique identifier Valuable user engagement insights specific to destinations GA performance tracking with UTM Own Indexable URL
  35. 35. Now you‘ve gotta get people to click
  36. 36. Fill it with key information, drive those conversions Make your Local Knowledge Panel your business card on the web
  37. 37. Conversion elements like Products • Drive direct, focused traffic via enriched elements in your Local Knowledge Panel (looks a bit like ads)
  38. 38. Posts, Offers & Announcements
  39. 39. Why it gotta be for Local only? Enrich your pages with hyper-local, valuable content
  40. 40. Embed 360 views for sweet onsite engagement
  41. 41. Enrich your landing pages with location-unique content
  42. 42. /div[@class="mq1Pic dFINPc aTWSi"] Chrome Scraper Plugin ->
  43. 43. Use the Q&A Feature to your full advantage Even if it‘s a terrible & misunderstood feature.
  44. 44. I hate Google Q&As.
  45. 45. But Q&As are in heavy use! & somewhat improving Make the most of it, yo
  46. 46. Take over the Q&A space yourself 1. Source real frequently asked Q&As from branch staff and customer care. 2. Push to high priority locations, e.g. high SV, strange location, high interactivity. 3. Get up-votes! 4. Send confused complainers elsewhere.
  47. 47. Pay attention to 3x voted questions!
  48. 48. Get your answers up-voted too. How about no
  49. 49. Act local, to know local behavior Don‘t fall victim to organizational blindness.
  50. 50. On-the-ground research Found it yay #proud
  51. 51. Track quality visits and pipeline to operations • Over busy during times, speak with operations to help adjust peak staff working times. • Long wait times? Coffee and water goes a long way. • Provide useful business descriptions with need-to-know information.
  52. 52. Dealing with contributers & local guides The more self-provided content, the better.
  53. 53. How about no
  54. 54. LOCAL GUIDES: • Can create changes to my location data. • Can change the appearance of my listing with their photo uploads. • Know how many people search and interact with my listings. • Have higher authority reviews, with arguably greater weighting.
  55. 55. The community- driven system is it‘s biggest plus and biggest flaw The harsh reality of map spam
  56. 56. Images and Videos earn Local Guides more points, naturally this causes issues.
  57. 57. WTF Google?
  58. 58. Seriously, WTF. lol
  59. 59. Hey Google Vision AI, where u at?
  60. 60. Entity extraction from Images is fantastisch
  61. 61. How to fix? Flag it and get in touch. Lame.
  62. 62. Event placements can be easily manipulated
  63. 63.
  64. 64. Event Structured Data + High Authority Location
  65. 65. How to fix? You guessed! Lame.
  66. 66. google-maps/
  67. 67. Driving and handling reviews & ratings IKR. Since when did SEO become customer support?
  68. 68. Reviews make everyone excitedBut do they recieve enough attention?
  69. 69. [Obligatory Review Statistics] • 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses • Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business • Up from 18% (in 2017) 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars • 91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  70. 70. Why is review management the SEOs job? Because like most crucial website improvement tasks – if we don‘t, NO ONE WILL ;) Sassiness aside, reviews and reputation management helps with: ü CRO & UX Uplift ü Semantic enrichment & query targeting ü On-page improvement inspiration
  71. 71. Respond to those reviews, show you care. • 89% of consumers read businesses' responses to reviews!
  72. 72. Provide those Entity Connections in the Local Knowledge Graph Feed data or fall prey.
  73. 73. LocalBusiness Schema Mark-up <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "", "@type": "Bakery", "address": { "@type": "PostalAddress", "addressLocality": "Sunnyvale", "addressRegion": "CA", "postalCode": "94086", "streetAddress": "42 Izzi Ave" }, "aggregateRating": { "@type": "AggregateRating", "ratingValue": "5", "reviewCount": "250" }, "name": "Izzi’s Bakery", "openingHours": [ "Fr-Sa 17:00-22:00" ], "priceRange": "$$", "servesCuisine": [ "British" ], "telephone": "(408) 714-1489", "url": "" } </script> Make it hyper-Specific to category. E.g. Casino > localBusiness Affirm your Local Listing entities (GMB & directories) Implement with JSON-LD (most up-to-date syntax) Provide that explicit connection between your listing and website URI
  74. 74. Related entities in Local
  75. 75. Knowledge Graph Ready SD!
  76. 76. “But Structured Data is evil :(“
  77. 77. I want these kinds of Zero-Click SERPs Satisfied on SERP > Quick Site Visit Factual Representation > Excluded If Google‘s gonna steal my data, make sure they steal the right data
  78. 78. OK SO BASICALLY, Good Local SEO is just: - Enriching entities with unique data - Pushing (and responding to) reviews - Taking data-control over Local Guides & Google Can I grab a coffee now? NO.
  79. 79. How does this scale across a large business?
  80. 80. How many SIXT branches in Deutschland? Ger-many Sorry.It‘s404.
  81. 81. 2,200
  82. 82. The Main Benefits of Enterprise-Level PROXIMITY IS RARELY AN ISSUE Larger scale networks means this ranking factor is easily covered. INTERNATIONAL SEO IS HEIGHTENED Being in the destination-view mindset is awesome, no silo’d view. THE LOCAL SEO‘S PLAYGROUND One industry + 1000s locations = huge local algo testing possibilities. MORE MONEY, MORE RESOURCES Although it’s usually not enough to cover the scale!
  83. 83. The Main Cons of Enterprise-Level LANGUAGE TARGETTING HASSLE Google Map listings have no hreflang. BIG COMPANY POLITICS The command chain and time-to-implement is increased massively. INTERNAL FEEDBACK PLATFORMS Existing features in place for staff performance compete with public reviews. MORE LISTINGS, MORE BULLSH*T Keeping data consisted and content enriched at scale is impossible.
  84. 84. Solving those issues (no easy feat!) LANGUAGE TARGETTING HASSLE Google Map listings have no hreflang. BIG COMPANY POLITICS The command chain and time-to-implement is increased massively. INTERNAL FEEDBACK PLATFORMS Existing features in place for staff performance compete with public reviews. MORE LISTINGS, MORE BULLSH*T Keeping data consisted and content enriched at scale is impossible. OPTIONAL REDIRECTION Unforced so Gbot can crawl non-US domains INTERNAL EDUCATION AUTOMATION & TOOLS As well as proper processes. BEING AWESOME Preach the good word of SEO. Prove the ROI.
  85. 85. Internal Education is the key to enterprise- level Local success Taking all of our knowledge, and using it for good
  86. 86. The Problem Google my Business Internal Score Quality Managers CRM Operational Staff Customer Service SEO
  87. 87. The Vision Google my Business Internal Score Quality Managers CRM Operational Staff Customer Service SEO
  88. 88. Highlighting these issues can be sensitive matters Who the hell are SEO anyway? We already have a good rating system in place There‘s no budget for that No one pays attention to Google Maps anyway That negative review is FAKE, I am the BEST at what I do
  89. 89. Preach the good word of Local SEO We make heck tons of revenue $$$$$$$
  90. 90. Preach the good word of Local SEO No channel revenue bragging but making people cash horny We exist only to benefit the company’s goals – it’s in our best interest Highlighting the fact that Local Entity reviews are publicly visible Compromises: incorporating GMB reviews with the operational staff goals.
  91. 91. This is geniunely tricky. You need patience, positivity, and a politician (Thorsten – Director SEO)
  92. 92. Gather a local army to fight your battles! Your best assets are on the ground.
  93. 93. Unique content! Your best assets are on the ground Local links! Photo flagging! Correct data!
  94. 94. Working with Operational Staff • Education workshops for operational staff and region managers, in HQ and country. • Created specific how-to guides based on the most common listing problems, e.g. how to flag reviews, who to contact for issue x • Branch opening questionaire to source important information and content from the get go. • Mindset of „Help us, help you“
  95. 95. „This SEO stuff is awesome“ But: be careful. The more education, the more people start to believe a) You have a direct line to Google b) They can do it themselves.
  96. 96. Use Knowledge Management Platforms for consistent local entities Collecting and optimizing our entities in one space
  97. 97. Local Management Platforms
  98. 98. Be pushed to all major directories
  99. 99. Automated data updates and suppression is a dream
  100. 100. One central way to review respond
  101. 101. Pushing the need and importance of reviews SEO team led initiatives across the countries.
  102. 102. Set-up of review notifications Send information directly to operational managers.
  103. 103. Preaching the good word of Local SEO Reviews make you get rich quick $$$$$$$
  104. 104. Some Winning Review Push Strategies Communication (nicely): A quick mention to happy customers that their feedback is valued. No review gating though! Incentives: Refreshments for waiting customers, adorn with review shortlinks. Make it easy for them, e.g. with tablets in-store, Free WIFI Competitions: in-branch for most mentioned in reviews staff member, in regions and countries for highest rated location. Helping negative reviewers and asking them to reconsider. Actually delivering a good service ;)
  105. 105. SOLVED! LANGUAGE TARGETTING HASSLE Google Map listings have no hreflang. BIG COMPANY POLITICS The command chain and time-to-implement is increased massively. INTERNAL FEEDBACK PLATFORMS Existing features in place for staff performance compete with public reviews. MORE LISTINGS, MORE BULLSH*T Keeping data consisted and content enriched at scale is impossible. üUnforced, browser lang. Based redirects üCompromises & better education of company benefits üMaking operations our local rockstars, and Yext üA long time of internal education, scary meetings. Being pro-company KPI SEOs.
  106. 106. How did all this work for
  107. 107. Google my Business Internal Score CRM Operational Staff Quality Managers SEO Customer Service
  108. 108. Reviews & ratings impact
  109. 109. Current review and rep management process üLearnings from review push initiatives being spread worldwide by SEO country managers üNegative reviews (in some cases) get changed to better scores after issues are properly dealt with üP.S. – review responding had an awesome impact on local pack rankings. 10/10 would recommend. üCreated Google Data Studio dashboards for top stakeholders per country.
  110. 110. Reviews are BOOMING (all over, but this is UK)
  111. 111. Local Pack Rankings & Visibility
  112. 112. Local Pack Ranking Share (Sept. 2019) ENTERPRISE branches UK: 420 SIXT branches UK: 51 ENTERPRISE local pack share: 40% SIXT local pack share: 34%
  113. 113. Local Revenue Performance
  114. 114. Reviews impact on Revenue 2018-19 (UK) Amount of reviews (Yext + GMB) vs. Local Organic revenue (GA + UTM) May – Aug 2019
  115. 115. US, UK, DE, FR, ES Amount of reviews (Yext + GMB) vs. Local Organic revenue (GA + UTM) May – Aug 2019
  116. 116. Local performance increase YoY US UK DE ES FR Unique Visitors Revenue +68% +77% +65% +95% -50% -18% +119% +131% +77% +67% GA data Jan – Sept 2019 YoY
  117. 117. Local is the dream traffic source CvR BR ToS +111% -42% +32% UK Local GA data Jan – Sept 2019 YoY
  118. 118. Offline impacts on online performance: -Operationalperformance(reviews)hinders yourawesomeonsiteSEO&CRO -Valuablebusinessvisitscanimprovelocal rankings -Inversely,youcanuseyourdigitalknowledge toimproveofflineperformance Wie geil ist das?
  119. 119. KEY TAKEAWAYS üLocal entity rankings and prominence are way more important than organic (beat aggregators and zero-click SERPs, etc.) üEnrich the hell out of your listings with unique, relevant, and aligned data to ensure you have the final say above Google and Local Guides. üFeed services like Q&A & photos with your own data and take control, inversely use these to enhance on-site content. üEducate and motivate your business and operational staff to be your Local SEO superheroes. üIncorporate Local SEO performance within your businesses core KPIs.
  121. 121. Join the fabulous SIXT SEO crew –>
  122. 122. THANK YOU 🔥 😘 I‘m Izzi Smith, Soon-to-be: Technical SEO Analyst at Ryte @izzionfire