Local Brand-Building SEO: A Guide To Ranking With Good Reviews
What is Local Brand-Building SEO?
Local Brand-Building SEO is a process for improving online brand authority. It boosts your overall visibility in both general and local search results while generating positive online reviews and avoiding negative ones.
This process uses a combination of tactics across three media channels:
- Local SEO
- Social Media
PLUS a BONUS display tactic to boost positive reviews and stop negative rants.
Each tactic alone is considered a best practice. To see significant improvements in visibility and brand reputation, they should be done together in the correct order. Results of each tactic feed the next. When correctly executed, these efforts promote brand national visibility, local visibility, review ratings and online sentiment. This helps a brand boost conversions, i.e. sales, sign ups, donations and the like.
Three Signs Local SEO Opportunities are Ripe
- Google: Recently Google opened an SEO opportunity by dropping AdWords from the right column. Google monitoring tools saw a rise in the presence of Knowledge Cards. And next we saw Google offer a limited roll-out of new local business Knowledge Cards. In May Google, pushed mobile friendly signals even harder as a ranking factor. Studies by Google and others show mobile and local search intent is almost synonymous.
- Yahoo: Not long before Google’s recent updates, we saw the end of Yahoo Local Business dashboard and tools. However, Yahoo continues to be a major player in the local search ecosystem. Third party tools are scrambling to become Yahoo partner local data providers or partner with aggregators who already are.
- Apple: Last year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) witnessed big efforts by Apple to capture growth in local search. iOS 10 revamped Apple Maps to compete with Google Maps and Waze.
Local SEO Has Been Labor Intensive, Hard Work …Until Now.
Increased mobile internet usage is causing growth in the social marketing and local SEO industry. Local search has grown alongside mobile search. We are also seeing countless new social and local search tools, apps, directories, websites, data providers, networks and aggregators. It’s no surprise that this new technology enables us to automate tasks.
Even Google is providing tools to make local search visibility easier.
- Google recently published this guide to improve your local ranking
- In 2016, Google updated its structured data guide for local business using the newer, easier to implement JSON-LD to help control your business’s Knowledge Panel card
- Google updated its search quality rating guidelines in March which add emphasis to local, AKA “Visit-in-Person”
- In April, Google announced prominence as a local ranking factor, as well as review counts and rating score
Which Organizations Can Use It?
When Google Maps came out there was initially an opportunity for local brick-n-mortar businesses to engage in local SEO. But now the social and local ecosystem has grown, overlapping with SEO signals for the main search algorithm. So B2B and Direct-to-Consumer businesses can benefit from today’s online local ecosystem. Regardless of size or distribution channel, an organization can utilize local SEO for building links, brand mentions and citations. Reviews can show up on a variety of websites regardless of whether you are a nonprofit or for profit business.
But there is still a sweet spot where this strategy works best.
Top 5 Best Situations For Local Brand-Building SEO
- Locations Where Customers Come To You
- Locations That Serve (Go To) Customers
- New locations That Need To Build Traction
- Regional Corporate Offices
- Anyone With Reputation Management Problems
1. Locations Where Customers Come To You
If you have...
Stores, restaurants, shops, banks, showrooms, hospitals, doctor offices, or any other brick and mortar location where your customers find you.
This is the most obvious opportunity. You should be doing basic local SEO so your locations can be found. Having locations that can leverage local SEO is such an asset to a brand that black-hat SEOs create fake locations to use these ranking signals. You have legitimate locations that can each generate hundreds of links, mentions and citations that you can leverage for online visibility.
2. Locations That Serve (Go To) Customers
If you have...
Distribution centers, installers, home repair people, delivery trucks or franchisees who work out of a truck to cover a territory.
In SEO jargon, these are called service area businesses (SABs). Even though searches don’t need to get directions to your location, these are still geo centric businesses that are highly affected by local search signals. When a user searches in your service area, you should show up in maps and regular web listings.
3. New Locations That Need To Build Traction
If you are…
Opening new locations, need to promote them online and want to create some positive buzz.
Local Brand-Building SEO is the easiest form of link building, generating good reviews and the quickest way to put you on the map. It doesn’t require PR, influencer research, writing articles, creating infographics, speaking at events, etc.
4. Regional Corporate Offices
If you have…
At least a handful of corporate offices but your customers don’t physically need to come to them.
These offices likely appear in maps or with a business Knowledge Panel. Even though your customers don’t need to come to your office, it makes a good brand impression to have these appear with a full profile of organization information and positive reviews.
5. Anyone With Reputation Management Problems
If you have…
Less than 3 stars in Google reviews, negative reviews that are out of control, or wish you could just get people to write some good reviews.
You may have heard that proactively responding to negative reviews can turn around customer opinions. It’s good but it’s not enough. You need to prevent customers from posting bad reviews. Start a private dialog with them before they go public. Then find those customers who like you and ask them to write a review. Just be sure to follow guidelines and terms of service of each review site.
How do you reach these people at the right time in the right place?
BKV marketing services can work with your CRM for a post-purchase email, as well as apply remarketing layered with behavioral targeting via our trade desk to deliver messaging that points customers where there feedback can make the biggest impact.
How It Boosts SEO
The Local Brand-Building SEO process includes the top essential local SEO tactics, covering 77% of local search ranking factors.
Additionally you can influence 25% of overall website ranking factors. The latest annual Moz search engine ranking factors survey and correlation study puts domain-level links at 15% and domain-level brand metrics at 10% of website ranking factors.
The local SEO part of Local Brand-Building SEO process covers business listing aggregator submission and manual submission/claiming for your listings on at least four major industry websites. This creates links, brand mentions and establishes your business prominence by putting your real business footprint onto the web.
How It Works In 5 Steps
1. Local SEO
Cover your bases on local SEO best practices.
- On-site local SEO including Schema tags for structured data
- Optimization and distribution of business listings via aggregators
- Google/Bing/Yahoo business listings optimization and management
- Ongoing citation management
2. Review Monitoring
Don’t manually monitor reviews. Use a listing tool to notify you when really positive or negative reviews are posted across the wide range of review sites.
- Monitor at least 50 influential review sites
- Flag negative or positive reviews for a response
3. Decision Tree Creation
Use a decision tree to pre-plan the most commonly needed responses. Everyone responding across the organization needs to know how to respond appropriately. Most importantly, have a plan for how to escalate issues to customer service.
- Example scripts define brand voice and how to respond
- Train others to manage responding
4. Respond To Reviews
Reviews are often managed by either a small staff at each location or centrally by an agency or social media team. A decision tree helps the local staff to avoid getting involved with the bulk of reviews and is only needed when an issue must go through local customer service.
- Follow the decision tree
- Route customer service issues to local staff/managers
5. CRM Review Solicitation
Customer surveys with simple conditional logic can help you avoid negative reviews and generate positive reviews. If you want to make it easy, the survey can be one question – would you recommend us to a friend?
- If they say yes…
That’s great! Put them right in front of a review site where they can rave about you.
- If they say no…
Give them a chance to vent in a message directly to you. Your agency or social team can respond according to review response best practices and funnel to your customer service if needed.
Bonus Tactic to Boost Positive Reviews And Stop Negative Rants
You can put a survey on your website, in a tablet on location (though most review sites frown on this), or email customers a survey after a transaction. However, if you want to boost your ability to get good reviews or prevent bad reviews, layer on intelligent media.
- Use dynamic creative to start the survey right in an ad.
- Retarget your customers after the right period of time for a good review.
- Leverage user signals to help determine if they are on the verge of writing a bad review. Then serve an ad offering to make an impact by sharing their experience on your feedback form.
Here’s How to Start
To get the boost in visibility and brand favorability, each of the above five steps needs to be done and done right. SEO and marketing fail hardest when not taken seriously as an art.
Think about super bowl half-time commercials. A brand pays 4.5 million for unmatched visibility. But we still see epic fails. In marketing, you can check all the boxes and still not see results. The same is true for SEO. It’s so important to do it well.
The easiest way to do this? Hire a professional.
Niche digital and SEO agencies often do some of the above steps. Your best result will be to execute them all in one house.
- Get a unified approach – no missed opportunities
- Get end to end reporting – make informed decisions
- Optimize to a feedback loop across the entire effort – maximize results
The Local Brand-Building SEO process was created by BKV’s SEO and Content Marketing team to help brands reach their full potential. According to SEO and Content Marketing Director, Gregory Lee:
“It’s a shame to see a brand with a local footprint and not put it online. Get credit in search for who and where you are. If you have happy customers, then you have positive influencers. All it takes is implementing a few mechanisms with feedback loops.”
Resources for Further Reading
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