Local SEO: How to be Present

Google has reported that over the last two years, mobile “open now near me” searches have increased 200%, and searches containing “buy” terms have increased over 500%.  Additionally, 82% of smartphone shoppers conduct ‘near me’ searches and 76% of local mobile searches result in a store visit within 24 hours

It is clear that current and potential customers are on the go, on their phone and looking for specific locations.

Local SEO is different from SEO or paid search as it is based on a unique algorithm and set of conditions. Even with a robust SEO and SEM program, there can still be gaps in the search engine results when it comes to local search.

For local information and results, Google relies primarily on information through the Google My Business platform. Apple Maps is powered by primary data partners and other third-party sites, Siri uses Google as a data source and Amazon’s Alexa gets a good portion of location data from Yelp. Additionally, each of these platforms check and verify the location information with other platforms.

The foundation of local search centers on basic information: name, address, phone number and website URL. This information powers what appears in the listings, however, the NAP (name, address, phone) is only the foundation of local SEO.  Additional strategies such as location information syndication across the local ecosystem, content-rich individual location pages on the website, sponsorship and links to local organizations, location-based social media and review management are all key components to the local ranking algorithm.

A local search program is no longer an option for retailers; brands that are not present online for most consumers is equal to not existing.

For more information on utilizing Local SEO in your campaigns, contact us here.

New Google Testing for Local Ad Options

Google continues to evolve with its local campaign options, which in turn continues to improve the value for advertisers. Earlier in the year Google added call clicks and driving directions as additional conversion options to original store visits. Additionally, they introduced the option of audience targeting or exclusion — a change that offered additional controls for advertisers. Most recently Google has been testing auto-suggest results within Google Maps.

On October 15, Thibault Adda tweeted that as he typed a search for “seafood restaurant” in the search bar, an ad for the seafood restaurant chain Red Lobster appeared in the auto-suggest results before his search query was even complete (see photo example).

Tests such as this are nothing new to Google, but it does seem to signal that local campaigns are now a permanent part of the Google suite of Paid Search campaign types. This is good news, as several True Media clients have already seen incredible results with local campaigns.

When examining results for Q3 year over year, one Farm and Home client saw a 1,250% increase in impressions, as well as a 86% increase in-store visits with 98% of all impressions coming from the local campaign.  Another client in the same industry saw similar results with a 2,623% increase in impressions.  Additionally, a Regional Banking client testing local campaigns saw similar results with September 2020 impressions showing a 236% increase over the previous year.

While advertisers do still need to be ‘whitelisted’ for Google local campaigns, retailers with physical locations who want to drive store contact via visits or calls, local campaigns can provide an unparalleled opportunity for brand reach and exposure.

For more information on implementing Local Search Campaigns in your media strategy, contact us.

Free Shipping: Optional or Required?

The importance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday isn’t new information to any retailers. But the question is — how does your company stand out in the crowd during the craziest shopping days all year? 

Offering free shipping is a crucial tactic to turn your audience from viewers to consumers. The percentage of US eCommerce transactions that included free shipping on November 25 rose from 72% in 2015 to 87% in 2018. Consumers love convenience, even more so when it is cost-effective. Most consumers have come to expect free shipping when shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monda and when it isn’t available will quickly abandon their cart and turn to a competitor that does offer free shipping. 

Etsy has recently joined the growing number of retailers offering free shipping during high traffic periods. Etsy is the go-to online store for personalized gifts, and their policy change really emphasizes the fact that not meeting the consumer’s standard of free shipping means a lot of lost sales. Along with the new policy, Etsy launched its first-ever TV campaign for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to promote the unique items they offer along with their new policy for free shipping. 

Unfortunately, some companies do not have the ability to offer free shipping. For these retailers, the best way to combat potential lost sales is to offer their customers Buy Online, Pick-Up in Store (BOPIS). This method provides a win-win for both consumers and retailers as the customer doesn’t have to pay for shipping and the retailer doesn’t have to eat the cost of shipping a product for free. 

Let us know in the comments: Is your company planning to offer free shipping this Black Friday or Cyber Monday?