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At our digital marketing agency in Vancouver, we help businesses with physical locations optimize their local marketing reach and visibility using strategic local marketing techniques.
“Local marketing” means optimizing your business for Google no matter where you are. How often do you rely on Google Maps to find businesses, get directions or browse through reviews? How many times have you made a choice to choose or avoid a business, strictly due to the information provided on their Google Maps page?
If your business has a physical location, you need to pay attention to your local marketing. Here are 10 digital marketing tools and tips to help you do just that.
1. Refining Google Maps results tracking with location settings
Try searching for “best sushi near me” and see what pops up in your area. At our location based in Vancouver, we see the following result:
However, if we make the same search closer to the Burnaby area, we see the following results:
Your proximity to a business’s location is the number one ranking factor for local Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This means that if you’re searching for your business while at a remote location, while at home for example, you’ll get skewed results that don’t match up with your local clientele.
There are a number of ways to change your location by fiddling with your browser’s settings, and there are also a number of online tools like BrightLocal to help you see local Google results from any location. No matter which method you use (we use an in-house marketing tool), be sure that you’re wary of your search location when monitoring your local Google SEO.
Internet-savvy users should also note that a browser’s Incognito mode will NOT help you spoof your location – you will still need to use a marketing tool for this.
2. Get more insightful Google search results
Have you ever wondered why the top results on Google, are at the top?
At our digital agency, we use a number of plugins on our browser to get a slew of data on every Google search result that we see when making a search. Using plugins such as “SEOquake” and other similar tools, we can see a website’s relevant SEO factors within our browser search.
Here’s an example of how these searches look:
While some of these numbers may look like gibberish, these are all useful metrics for local search marketers to take note of. Of particular relevance is the Age of the website – we can see that the top search result is by Tripadvisor, a domain which has had an active page since 2003.
Search results with high relevance and a strong search history, are much harder to surpass than those that are new results or are ranking for fleeting, topical news (this is also why evergreen digital marketing strategy should be used alongside topical content for strong content marketing).
3. Dig deeper into competitor SEO data
There are a variety of online tools that help identify your website’s SEO marketing such as title tag, meta description, keywords and more. Some popular WordPress plugins for SEO include SEO Yoast and All-In-One SEO.
But, did you know that there are a wealth of tools that can help you do the same for your competitor’s sites?
Using one of the plugins mentioned above, SEOquake, we can easily pull the SEO meta data of any Google search result. Let’s go with Gaya Sushi, our #1 contender in the Local 3-pack for “best sushi near me” when searched in Burnaby.
Oops – at this time, it seems that they don’t actually have a meta description manually entered in the site, and Google is simply pulling text from their site in order to generate a description:
Maybe this could be a reason why they rank #3 for their own branded keyword? Unfortunately, this is where opportunities can shine for competitors to overtake a rival business in Google’s search results when a website is not properly optimized.
4. Create SEO Spreadsheets
While it’s easy to point fingers and identify weaknesses, it’s usually more helpful to look internally at the opportunities and ways one can improve. For us, we take our SEO insights and put them together in a carefully curated SEO spreadsheet (an SEO action plan, if you may).
This spreadsheet notes all of our pages, associated metadata, and our plans for change based on the SEO insights above.
This spreadsheet is a living document, that makes it easy for you to execute a marketing content audit not only on your on-page content, but your SEO metadata as well.
5. Create Benchmark Reports
Data isn’t useful unless it’s structured.
When it comes to SEO improvements, benchmarking is almost as important as performing the task itself. If you don’t know what you did in order to show an improvement, how do you know if it had any effect at all?
Take the SEO spreadsheet you created in Tip #4 and tie your action to a specific day, benchmarking all your keywords. After a couple days and periodically each week, check your rankings to see how your search engine ranking position (SERP) has changed.
At our digital marketing agency, we automate this task over hundreds of keywords to ensure that not only can we track improvements, but we can scale this task to a large set of keywords.
Our SEO benchmark reports are carefully curated, tying together at 5-6 sheets worth of data into one, easy-to-digest summary that makes it so that you can more easily track your SEO progress over time.
6. Invest In SEO Tracking Software
A lot of the time, you’ll find large weekly variations in specific keywords over time. One day your keyword may be on page 2, the next day it’s on page one, and suddenly it’s back to page 4. What gives?
Google is constantly updating its algorithm, and sites naturally see fluctuations in keyword rankings. Big fluctuations can make ranking for SEO keywords seem like stock marketing investing – but unlike the stock market, there are best practices that you can implement to directly impact your business’ search position.
Ultimately, SEO is a marketing field that takes time to see the results – and to keep an eye on the big picture you’ll need to see your results over time.
7. Get An SEO Dashboard
While tips #4 and #5 are useful in setting up a local SEO battle plan, you’ll need to keep a journal in order to track daily progress.
The daily movement of your primary and secondary keywords provide insights that can help you make micro-adjustments over time. For example, if a recent blog post helped push a primary keyword to #1, you should consider more of the same content, or further optimization along the same vein.
Without constant SEO review, how are you going to know to act on these daily micro-insights?
At our digital marketing agency, we automate this task to allow us to scale our work and generate insights on an aggregate basis. We provide a monthly report that starts a conversation as to where your traffic is coming from, where we’re placing our efforts, and how they help translate to sales.
8. Integrate SEO Into Your Content Marketing Calendar
You shouldn’t attempt marketing tasks simply because they work in a vacuum. Often, the best marketing campaigns scale and build on each other – a form of marketing synergy, if you will.
SEO generates inbound traffic, but one-time sessions don’t necessary lead to sales.
Sales promotions generate a good reason to purchase, but visitors may not be mature enough in the sales cycle to be convinced of your product or service.
Digital marketing ties together the value-added content created by SEO, and the conversion-heavy landing pages of PPC marketing, to form an effective ‘one-two’ punch that’ll knock your sales out of the ring.
For any boxing fans out there – you need a good combination of left jabs (content) and right hooks (sales) in order to successfully win a bout (sell your product or service). Put together a content marketing calendar in order to figure out your battle plan for victory.
9. Use Content Tools For SEO
Use marketing tools to help you scale the day-to-day tasks that have shown to work.
There are a number of content marketing tools that are also useful in SEO. None of these are “silver bullets” that help solve all your problems – but they do make your life easier when attempting to scale your campaigns using all our previous suggestions.
Here are some that you can browse through:
If you were trying to create content for “sushi near me,” for example, you could use an AnswerThePublic diagram (above) to help identify potential questions that your content aims to answer.
There are literally hundreds of tools we can recommend, that are not mentioned in this blog post. Some of them are amazing for anyone – while others may only be useful to a couple of businesses in certain industries.
For our last tip, there’s an easy way to quickly shift through all marketing resources and identify the best ones for your business…
10. Hire A Marketing Agency
In all honesty, digital marketing for local businesses is a lot of work. This is why we’re here to help!
Even if you use the methods above to identify weaknesses and opportunities in your local SEO marketing, executing on them effectively is a whole different story.
This is why our digital marketing agency uses local SEO best practices alongside a content marketing editorial to act on the insights observed using these methods and tools.
Test them for yourself – then let us know what you think! We’d love to help grow your business to the next level. Give us a call (604-559-7509), or stop by our marketing agency in Vancouver – we always have chocolate 🙂