5 Keys to Local Search Success in 2014

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Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com 5 Keys to Local Search Success in 2014

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Download this Slide Deck bit.ly/5keyslocalsearch

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This presentation is about how to stand out from the crowd and perform in competitive local niches, not about how to do the basics of Local SEO. Caveat

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I.E. If you’re trying to get listed in this block: Check out a resource like this one.

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But if you’re trying to have a dominant local listing presence like this, forge on! Straight-up domination

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Local businesses must be doing something unique, memorable, & marketing-worthy to stand out in competitive online results. #1:

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Unique: San Diego’s Cucina Urbana lets you buy wine at retail, then charges corkage, rather than the usual markup

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SEO Benefits? The quantity of mentions, links, articles, and coverage of Urbana’s unique wine pricing almost certainly helps their rankings (and their Yelp, Urbanspoon, Zagat, etc. ratings).

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Marketing-Worthy: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival realized that without young theatre-goers, they would eventually be out of business, and thus launched low-priced tickets for patrons between the ages of 19–35 years old.

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Business Benefits? Although theater attendance nationally has fallen, OSF is breaking their own records every year, achieving 85-95% of seat capacity filled (in a season that runs from March-November) Via http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131110/NEWS/311100340/-1/TEMPO

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Creative: In 2011, this bookstore in New Jersey pre-wrapped books, hid the titles, and relied on the clever descriptions and surprising concept to sell the product.

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Results: The marketing concept spread like wildfire (some articles online suggest it began first in libraries). Today, hundreds of bookstores use it.

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The Wallingford Beast? Using an old newspaper article as inspiration, the crew from Seattle’s Archie McPhee concocted an entire series of videos, a website, and a tourist attraction inside their store.

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Margins on $0.50 Tchotchkes Suck. To survive, McPhee had to become a remarkable, unique destination for Seattle’s residents and its visitors. Flexing that marketing muscle over and over again has led to online success, too.

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Remarkability is what creates the potential for virality and inspires the act of sharing. Those who do/will not create share-worthy local businesses will likely find their niche dominated by someone who does.

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Breaking up your web presence will seriously get in the way of the rankings you’ve earned & deserve. #2:

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Main website Where I schedule appointments Where I find discounts & specials

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Lack of consistency costs: Each of those pages was used as the primary site on different listing sources (for a while, Google even had Bang’s Schedulicity page as the primary map result for their brand)

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Their main site has everything you might need in a single place, and they’ve never used any other web addresses.

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Ranking #1, even without the reviews or references their competitors have.

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Don’t do this. You cannot control the user experience, nor can you guarantee you’ll always have that address.

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Ditto here – splitting up the main site from the blog can cost citations, visits, and link equity.

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Saving potential customers a single click or a few seconds can mean the difference between a sale and losing out to the competition. #3:

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Our brains are rewiring themselves.. As generations who grew up with technology mature, consumers’ expectations for instant gratification from the web & apps will continue to accelerate.

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Let’s try an experiment: I’m visiting Northern Queensland and check out local attractions on my Tripadvisor app. This crocodile one looks cool…

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But are they open today?! Tripadvisor usually has an “hours” field, but I guess it’s not here so I’ll have to visit their site. Maybe they have a really complex schedule or something.

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Oh great, a non-responsive website. Let me just pinch and zoom around and accidentally click the wrong menu item until I click the right one and… man, if they only had the hours on the homepage!

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8:30am-5pm every day of the year?! Why didn’t Tripadvisor have that information?! Ugh. Three clicks and almost 200 seconds down the drain!

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Actually, I was wrong about Tripadvisor. They don’t have an hours field, but they do allow businesses to put hours into their description/info field. This is a very useful hack for all sorts of FAQs you might get.

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Compare & Contrast: This is my optometrist’s mobile site. It’s not much to look at, but it does get me every piece of info I need extremely fast.

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Many Platforms Let Consumers Save Time. Filling out Foursquare’s hours, location, menu, etc. can all save an extra click.

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Many Platforms Let Consumers Save Time. Enabling apps like Yelp to directly hook into a reservation system can yield more bookings.

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A Basic Checklist: Are the 5-10 most common questions asked in-store, over the phone or in search queries answered (or at least obviously linked-to) on the site’s homepage? Is there a process to regularly review information online (on your site and on any portals) for accuracy? Are the sites that rank in searches for your business name as complete with information as possible? Does the mobile version of your site load quickly and display properly on iOS, Android & Windows Mobile? Have you enabled features that may save consumers clicks/time on popular apps & listing sites?

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Ignoring non-Google players in the local ecosystem can be fatal to your long-term success. #4:

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Even if you think your customers only use Google.. Watch out. Local listings are often playing second-fiddle to content sites, local aggregators, and roundups.

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Barnacle SEO: The process of optimizing your listings, site, business, and marketing to appear in OTHER sites that rank well may be a huge win. Excellent piece by David Mihm here.

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Side Benefits: Outreach to content sites, inclusion in listing sites, and the process of jumping through the hoops to get these mentions yield links & citations that help rankings. Link & address citation!

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Creativity and willingness to invest in web/inbound marketing are becoming less the exception, and more the rule. #5:

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Some marketing ideas are simply awful

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But, hey, at least they’re trying something.

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Critical Mistake: Many local businesses assume that if the message/marketing doesn’t reach their target customer, it’s not worthy of investment. Reality: Reaching influencers (press, media, bloggers, online reviewers, social accounts, etc) may actually have a stronger impact that trickles down through increased mentions/links/rankings/etc.

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How does domination like this happen?

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Not only is Canlis the first brand on Google, they’re also at the top of most of the other lists in the SERPs

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It almost seems unfair that brands can have this level of influence in the SERPs.

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But there’s a pattern to all of these businesses

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They invest an overwhelming amount of time and energy into marketing efforts – most of which fail.

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Memorable: Pittsburgh defense attorney Daniel Muessig launched his independent practice with a video that received national media attention.

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Web Results? Despite Daniel’s tragic lack of investment in any web marketing (no website, no local SEO efforts), searching for any keywords around his video brings it up, often above the local results.

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“I’m trying to run a business here. I don’t have time to figure out the web or try crazy marketing stuff. I need to focus on my customers and my bottom line.” -The 99% of local businesses that don’t dominate their niche

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“Remarkability lies in the edges. The biggest, fastest, slowest, richest, easiest, most difficult. It doesn't always matter which edge, more that you're at (or beyond) the edge.” - Seth Godin

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5 Keys to Local Search Success in 2014 Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com bit.ly/5keyslocalsearch