Knockout Your Local Competition with a Winning Local SEO Strategy

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Hey everybody, my name is John Paglio. I work for flyte new media, I'm the Digital Marketing Specialist here at downtown Portland, Maine. Today we'll be talking about knocking out your local competition with a winning local SEO strategy. I'm going to give everyone maybe another minute or so just to get into the chat or into the lobby so we can get started.

I’d just love to hear from where everybody's checking in from today. And I hope to have you done before lunchtime, but I can also stick around to answer any questions for you. All right, let's get started. So let me just do a little intro about myself before we get into everything local SEO.

Like I said, my name is John Paglio, flyte new media Digital Marketing Specialist with a SEO and local SEO background. It's funny because I'm a super impatient person, and as we all know, SEO is a long-term game. So it's funny that I fell into SEO and local SEO, just because of the nature of things don't happen overnight, not even a month from now or two months from now, it's a long term play.

And like a marathon, I really enjoy crime shows. My wife and I can sit for hours and watch Criminal Minds or CSI, Bones, for hours on end and just really enjoy getting in the mind of those criminals. Sports are fun and I like to play them. I play a lot of golf, especially this summer. Great time of year. Not a lot of rain up here in the Northeast, so I really got out there three, four times a week. And really data is everything. I'm a huge data nerd. I'm in Google Analytics or any of the SEO tools that we use here at flyte for multiple hours a day, if not all day. Because really at the end of the day you can't make a good decision without any data.

Today's takeaways that I want you guys to learn with local SEO and building that winning strategy is how to get here, how to get onto the search engines, and with not only the search engine but also the map pack as well. I want to be able to show you how you can leverage your own website to increase your local visibility as well. And then finally how to put all the pieces together, how to create a 360 degree marketing strategy that can reach your local clients online.

So the first thing that I really want to point out here is that the search engine result page is getting heavier and heavier with different aspects of how you can rank. So you have Google Ads, you've got your local map pack, you've got discipline ads which are shopping ads, so a lot of product based ads. You've got people also asked for knowledge panels, which is technically organic in SEO nature, but it's taking up you can see at least two spots on the search engine in a user to view. Next, you have videos within YouTube and sometimes Vimeo, you've got news articles or amp pages, and then you've also got images that can show up as well.

And then with all of these different aspects of the search engines, you have organic search squeezed in to all of the other listings that you can show. But really what I want to focus on today the most is your Google map pack and how to be right there in front of somebody when they're searching for your service or your product in a certain city, state or county.

And obviously beating out your competition is all about better service, having better products, having better communication. However, new users don't necessarily know about all of these great things about your business. So how do you use your digital platforms to take advantage? Should you be updating your citations? Should you be using your Google My Business more? Do you want to use your website for local visibility, but also national visibility? Within this presentation, I'm prepared to answer all of those questions for you.

So let's first talk about citations. So what are citations? Citations is your name, your address, your phone number and other pertinent business information. If you're a local business owner, you probably receive multiple spam calls a month letting you know that directories aren't seeing your website and you need to act now. You just need to pay them a quick $99 or a quick $150, and they'll get you on all of these citations just so you can show up better within the Google map pack. I'd be willing to bet you've never heard of some of the citation websites that these spammers are bringing to your attention like, We Go Places, Rate My Area, Biz Highway, iGlobal. You see my point.

As I've mentioned in my write-up, in all the advertising we've been doing for this webinar, I recently took part in White Spark’s three-day local SEO Summit, where they brought in 20 – 25 local SEO experts of all around the country to talk about all kinds of different aspects. And the keynote was Darren Shaw who works at White Spark, and they do a local SEO ranking's research every year. And one of the biggest takeaways that came out of that report was the devaluing of local citations.

This local report should be dropping soon, I'm not exactly sure exactly when. But just to give you a little insight, this is one of the biggest takeaways. Over the last five years, local SEO marketers have been finding that citations are becoming less important to ranking within Google's map pack. So there are other ways that you can increase your visibility locally that doesn't have to do with making sure that you have a hundred citations that are all correct across the board.

So what I want you to do instead of going back and making sure that your business information is correct on We Go Places or Rate My Area, I want you to focus on the major players. Those major players right now currently are Google My Business, Bing, Facebook, and Apple Maps is really seeing a surge up the value list right now. So those are your four major players that I'd like you to focus on the most. And then, consistency matters. So for the last five to 10 years, citations with consistency has been the number one thing, make sure that all of your citations are consistent across the board. That still rings true with these four major platforms, but I just want to make sure that you're not wasting your time on all of these small citations when you could be doing other things that can help you rank better.

With that being said, you should pay very close attention to all of the citations and how they act on the search engines. There are far more ways to rank just like using your Google My Business or your website. And we'll get into that in a little bit. So instead of worrying about all these small and obsolete citations that your business has to be on, according to your inbox, I want to provide some alternatives for you to think about next time you approach your address, not being right on Brown Paper Bag, or iGlobal. Do a quick Google search for your products or your services and look at the page one and page two of those local search results. What do you see there?

So for flyte new media when we searched for ‘digital marketing agency Portland, Maine’, or ‘paid search services Portland, Maine’, we noticed that Clutch is coming up a lot. Now Clutch is a directory for digital marketing agencies, and we're finding that people are leaving reviews there. So what we've done in the last three to six months is really start focusing on our Clutch profile. How can we increase visibility via our Clutch profile that is indirectly getting users to our website? So if you're a restaurant, you're in the tourism/hospitality industry, you'd want to use Open Table, you want to use TripAdvisor, you want to use Yelp. For home remodelers, you'd want to use Houzz, for auto dealers you'd want to use Dealer Rater, and so on and so forth. Some of these niche industries will actually surprise you.

Just the other day personally, I just downloaded the Next Door app where you can put in your address and your name, and basically it'll just start populating a bunch of people who live around you as well as businesses around you who are doing things in the community. If I've got something for sale or I need help raking my leaves, those types of things will show up on the Next Door app. But what I've started to notice, there's actually a lot of local advertising going on there. So what that tells me is the Next Door app is someplace that you need to be. Are you a community based business that will kind of blend into the Next Door feed, or is Next Door almost too hyperlocal for you? And if that's the case, then you wouldn't use Next Door, but I just wanted to give you a real life example right there.

So we're using citations or we're talking about citations and about Google, and that citations are devalued in a way. You still want to do them, but they're just not as important. You want to make sure you're on the top four citations that I listed. And also if there's any niche in directories that you can be on that also have a review platform. We noticed that Clutch has reviews for digital marketing agencies so we started thinking about pushing more people to leave us a review not only on Google, but on Clutch as well. And we can talk about more reviews in a little bit, but what I really want to focus on today though is Google My Business.

What I've been reading a lot about recently is how Google My Business is becoming the new homepage of your website, and it can be a place for your pre-website conversions. So citations aren't important as I keep saying, and I'm going to harp on it. The accuracy of your Google My Business profile is critical. If you haven't done this, I give you full permission to leave this webinar right now and go get that verified and fixed, because you can catch the rest of this later because we're recording.

Many of the local SEO experts are comparing your Google My Business profiles as your new homepage. Think about it, you have your business information, you've got your service and your product information, you've got pictures of your business, of happy customers, you've got testimonials, and you’ve got frequently asked questions. We need to start giving Google My Business more love. Two things could be happening right now with your competitor; A) they're either doing it, or B) they're not. And if they're not, you need to set the pace. You need to make sure that your competitors can't catch you get in front of them before they can get in front of you.

If they are doing it, what are they doing? Right. Are they getting a lot of reviews? Are they uploading a lot of pictures? Are they doing a lot of Google posts? What can you learn from your competitors? I tend to do this with all of my clients, I tend to do a Google search of their industry in a different city, or even a different state, and start to understand what's working for them.

Let's say plumbers in Illinois that I could then bring into my client who's based in Massachusetts. Because if I know that there are people who are searching for clients in Illinois that are leaving great reviews, that are responding to the Google My Business posts, that are doing frequently asked questions, all of those different things you can learn from just doing some basic research on your industry, just in a different state.

I mentioned a few times now about what these pre-website conversions. So what is a pre website conversion? A user can make up their mind before visiting your website based on your Google My business. So already, if you're giving them as much information as possible with your Google My Business info, you're able to then help that user make up their mind that “Oh, I want to make sure that I will contact this business or I buy a product from this business when I enter the website”. So you're setting them up to convert and succeed.

Now being a data nerd, I would love to be able to track what the users are actually thinking when they're looking at Google My Business. But unfortunately there's no software or anything for me to do that. I will say that I do harp on it a lot when I'm with my family and friends, I'm like, “Now, how did you find that business?” or “What made that business attractive to you?” Because I always just want to know. It's nice to hear an outsider's opinion after being in it all day and trying to make sure that I'm doing all the best practices. But just asking your family and friends how they find businesses or what they think looks good will, help you craft your own strategy when it comes to Google My Business.

So with Google My Business you're able to add photos, you're able to add interior photos, exterior photos, photos of your employees, photos of products. There's all kinds of different types of photos that you can upload. What you're doing with these photos is that you're setting visitor’s expectations about what they do, what they're going to see, how to get there, whether you take pictures of the outside of your building. I'm a very visual person and landmark based person, so if someone says “take a left at the Dunkin Donuts and then we're three buildings up from there”, that makes more sense than to me than saying “take Route one about three quarters of a mile and take a right on Oak Street and then you'll find us there”. I'm better with landmarks. So sometimes taking pictures of the outside of your building can help paint a better picture for that user.

You know, for example, there are plenty of industries, plenty of restaurants, or not just restaurants, but plenty of businesses that have easy photo opportunities. Right? So if you're a bagel shop, you have countless photo options of taking pictures of all kinds of different bagels, sandwiches, your pastries that you serve, the coffee, et cetera. But there's other industries that have a more difficult time with photos because they’re an HVAC company. What do people want to see? Just take the bull by the horns and think outside the box. Can you show before and after photos of when you installed a new unit versus what it looked like before? Can you take a photo of a new unit, but make it into an infographic that’s showing people all the different bells and whistles that HVAC unit has? There's no limitations of the texts that you can add to these photos, so if you need to add text to give context, that's never a bad idea.

So Google My Business posts I always thought it was something to use as a social media platform. But after attending the White Sparks event a few weeks ago, Greg Gifford of Search Labs really opened my eyes. I never thought about using Google posts as an extension of your Google ads. Which is very interesting because you can see here, you'll notice that the Google posts are buried way down at the bottom of your business listing. However, if you do a map search for a certain service or product that you offer, you'll notice that your Google post is being pulled in those search queries. Thus, if someone clicks on it, it's going to pop open all of your Google posts that are about that search query, which I found super interesting.

So let's talk about placing these Google posts. So it's free Google placement. I've never thought of that before. If Google's giving you free placement, you need to take it. Because there are plenty of people who are searching for ‘back pain Portland, Maine’, ‘back pain New York’, who are paying for those placements. And probably top dollar, you know, anywhere from $10 to $20 per click to be in number one position. So you need to use Google posts as an extension of your Google ads. And if you're not running Google ads, use these as a starter kit to then hopefully move into Google ads.

And what I'm saying here is, make sure that the first two to three lines of your Google posts are very powerful and succinct and really hit the nail on the head with what you're trying to accomplish. Like, are you advertising a service? Are you advertising a sale that's upcoming in your store? Something like that with a very strong picture that can help drive home the point. And once again, Google ads don't have photos. So here's a chance to enhance your Google ad by adding a photo with two to three strong pieces of text. And then you can add more text below it, because if the user opens it the rest of that text will be there.

Just like with adding photos to your Google My Business, you can also have text on your photos on your Google posts as well. Now, to be honest, I haven't adopted this new concept of using your Google posts ads 100%. I kind of like the hybrid model right now. I'm using the ad concept, but I'm also using it as a concept to whenever we post a new blog, we're posting it to Google posts. You'll see here with flyte new media, we have a new website launch we're going to put on our Google posts. I like to think it's dual serving, where there are some people who think that it strictly should just be about advertising your business, and then there are some people who think it's strictly another social media platform. I like to be in the middle where I'm going to use the hybrid model where sometimes I'm going to advertise my services, and sometimes I'm going to advertise blogs. And then obviously please don't forget your UTM codes.

There is no way to track your Google posts and analytics without UTM codes. If a user clicks on your Google posts and comes to your website, Google is going to recognize that mostly organic traffic, but sometimes it could just get thrown out of the direct traffic bucket. So you really don't know how well your Google post is performing unless you add a UTM tracking code to these posts.

So Google questions and answers are still pretty new in the Google My Business world. I've had a lot of conversations with people about why they would focus on something that users don't use. I can point to proof that your competitors are probably using them, that there are plenty of other businesses in your industry that are using them as well. This is another great place for pre-website conversions, or it can also lead to actual conversions.

So if I go back real quick here, you're going to see two different examples of Google questions and answers. And you're going to notice on the left side where Napa has gotten all these questions and no one's answering them.

So if no one's answering these questions, more than likely I'm going to go elsewhere and ask these questions elsewhere where they are going to get answered. But you also know here on the right, Fleet Feet answered the question and also provided a way for them to purchase those shoes by giving the store a call. So this is a great way for you to be proactive about making sure that you're answering all of your questions for your users, and it's just another place to check. There's plenty of people who are asking questions on Facebook or using other social media platforms to ask questions, but now Google My Business gives you another place to check for users to ask questions.

So there's absolutely, positively no SEO impact with these Q&A's at this current time on October 15th, 2020, there's no impact on your SEO visibility. But that doesn't mean you should ignore them. You need to use them to the best of your abilities. So many questions go unanswered from official businesses itself. There are plenty of Google local guides out there that are answering questions to boost up their ratings. Or there's also plenty of trolls out there that are just giving some weird answer that it’s just going to get a few laughs. So you want to make sure that you're giving the official answer because you are the official business.

Now I have plenty of people who are asking me or telling me, “I don't get any questions and answers, so what's the point of monitoring them?” That's totally okay because Google's giving you the options to ask those questions and answers yourself. So you're not going to get in trouble, you're not going to get your hand slapped, you're not going to get any ranking penalties. You're actually able to go in and insert your own question and then answer it yourself as well. So that way if you're getting the same four questions over and over and over in the sales process, make sure you're adding them to your Google My Business profile as a question, and then as the business you're answering them as well. When Google allows you to do something, you do it and you don't ask questions.

So I know reviews are everybody's kryptonite, and I mean everyone's. We always agree that it's important that we make it our initiative for Q1, Q2, Q3, internally to make sure we ask for more reviews. But in the same token, do we really want to know what people are thinking of our business? And the answer is always ‘yes’. Why wouldn't you want to know bad reviews? And granted, this is for bad reviews, bad reviews give you an insight to how to better your business. Now, obviously it's great to hear those good reviews because that means you're doing a really good job and it validates to your prospects who are looking for your product, your service.

But bad reviews, I always tell people that it's an opportunity to make yourself better. And I would rather have someone leave a bad review or call my store and tell me what I'm doing wrong, rather than go tell all their friends who tell their friends who tell their friends how bad service was or how bad the quality of our product is. I want to make sure that they're telling me to my face and not behind my back.

So creating a review strategy that works for you, your business, and your employee employees is very important. Are you making the shift manager, the foreman, the director of marketing, your point person for all your reviews? Are you using review software where it's all automated, it sends out automated emails on your behalf every three days for a week to try to get a review to Google or to Facebook? How about adding verbiage to your receipts, your work orders, or your emails to remind customers to review you? Making sure you have a strong strategy in place will ensure that there is an increase – positive or negative – of reviews.

So when you're coaching your employees about reviews, remember you have to have them to ask for reviews and not promise. And what I mean by that is, you want the review to be authentic, not because they're going to get 15% or 20% off their next order when they come back. Because what you're going to get is, people are going to start only leaving this review so they can get 20% off their next order. And if people start to catch on, then you're going to get a whole 15, 20, 30, reviews of people who are just saying that, or just leaving a star review rating, that in turn isn't going to help you any. Yes, it makes it look like you have more reviews, but if I'm a prospect and I'm looking at your reviews and everyone's just rating you five stars but not giving an authentic review about how great their service was or how great the product was, that's not going to tell me anything. So I may be more likely to go find a business that has less reviews, but their reviews are authentic and gives a good paragraph about the given service or the product.

So at responding to bad reviews, you could easily get into the mindset of, “I can't wait to prove this customer wrong. I have all the receipts, all the communications, it was user error”. I would highly recommend you not do that. Take a few hours, take a few days to cool off, and then ‘boom’, hit them right in the kisser, “We're so sorry that you had a bad experience. We would love to hear more about your situation. Please give us a call at xxxxx or email us at xxxx”, and then take it offline. This is showing that you're taking initiative and you're owning up to the bad experience that customer had, but you're not going to sit there and argue with them online with all these keyboard warriors, because that's what they want. Because in turn, most likely what they're doing is, “Oh, I know my pizza wasn't great so I'm going to give them a one star review, hoping I get a free pizza next time I call” or “I'm hoping I get 20% off my next service call when I give him a call about my air conditioning.” You don't want to do that. You don't want to play into their hand. So if you're killing them with kindness and showing that you're being proactive, and if you are aware of the situation before they even leave the review, you might want to kind of call out that you've already talked to your employees or you're looking at your safety measures to make sure that doesn't happen again. You can kind of call out those specific things to be totally transparent with other people who are coming to your website saying, “We're aware of these situations and we're willing to work with you to make them better”.

So remember those niche directories we talked about earlier. You want to make sure that you're spreading the love. You want to make sure that you're spreading those reviews out to all of the different niche directories. If they have reviews that means those reviews must weigh something somewhere in the internet universe. Google is obviously your main focus and Facebook would be a close second. But then Yelp, TripAdvisor, whatever it may be, you want to make sure you're gathering reviews there as well.

So enough about Google My Business, let's talk about how to leverage your website for local traffic and where it all starts. It starts with your title tags, which are on the search engines. So your title tag is the first thing that not only users look at, but Google's bots and spiders look at when they're crawling your page. They want to know what your page is all about, and this is where your title tag packs a punch.

You want to be specific and unique with every single one. So for example, for Snappy Equipment Services here, the third example in the slide. You don't want Snappy Equipment Services to be the title of every page on your website. You want to make sure that every page on your website is specific and it's unique. These title tags are setting expectations for those users when they click through, what am I going to get. Now granted, I typed in ‘lawnmower repair’, and this is what showed up. You’ll notice that Google could not find any lawnmower repair – well they can, they're here – but you'll notice that lawnmower repair isn't in the title tag, which is okay because these are all their home pages.

What I would like to see is possibly a lawn lawnmower repair page on their website. But you'll notice that these title tags are strong because they do have the locality to them, they all say they're ‘Portland’, ‘Westbrook’. Snappy, once again, doesn't have any location to them, but Google knows based on their contact page and throughout their website, that they are local to me.

In your writing for your audience with what you think your audience is looking for, don't write for Google just because you know they're looking for search terms. Make sure you're writing in a cohesive way that makes sense to the English language. Now there is a 50 to 60 character limit. They did do a study where if your title tag is too long and the three ellipses show up that Google is still reading after that ellipsis, but it just won't show it. So you can still rank well by having keywords in your back end of your title tag if it's too long. But that means nothing to the user, you're only appeasing Google search bots and spiders if you are putting keywords at the end of your title.

So Meta descriptions are equally as important. It helps solidify that a user's making the right decision by clicking on your results. So you're giving them the title tag, which is in this case, ‘bagels near me’. But also, what about the Meta description? Can you make it more enticing for users to click for it? So you'll notice these three examples. The first one has a good Meta description, very clear, concise description about their homepage, their Lewiston location. The next one is all caps and it's just kind of keyword stuffing with just making sure that they're hitting all their key words; bagels, cream cheese, sandwiches, breakfast, et cetera.

And then the third one you'll notice has their footer information, which is kind of interesting. So what Google will do is when you don't set your meta-description, it will automatically set your Meta description for you by taking the first piece of copy that they find on your website. And in this case, their footer copy is the first copy that they're finding, which is super interesting. So you always want to make sure that you're setting your Meta descriptions, and just like your title tags, they're specific and unique. You want to avoid duplicates, so you don't want to be like, “Oh, this description is great for my homepage, so I'll just copy and paste it to all my other pages”. That's not going to work because like I said, what you want to make sure to do is set those user expectations.

So like, okay, I'm clicking on a bagel place. Oh great, they serve breakfast sandwiches. They serve all kinds of different cream cheese, et cetera. The recommended limit for Meta descriptions is 160 characters, but I urge all my clients to push the envelope and go to 170, even up to 200. Because it's not going to kill you and you're not going to get penalized for it.

If you run your website through Moz or SEM Rush or any of those tools, it's going to tell you that your Meta description is too long. So sometimes it's to appease the tools that you're using. And sometimes you just have to extend your Meta description that extra sentence to get your point across. And if there's a key word in that last sentence, it will actually bring through that portion of your Meta description into the Google result to show the user that their search query is showing up in the Meta description.

So another big aspect to SEO and local SEO is about the images that you use on your website. So if I'm looking for a certain service in a certain area, photos are going to play a big role in that. And as we saw in a previous slide, photos do show up in the search results. So how can we make sure that your local photos can be shown in local results?

So the first thing I would urge you to do is give it a unique file name with the location and the service or product that you're offering. Make sure the size of the photo doesn't hurt your website load speed. So if you have a ginormous photo of 3,500 x 3,500 pixels and its taking three to four seconds to load on your website, that's going to hurt the overall structure of your website. And it could cause a user to be like, “Oh, that's a great photo”, and click through. But then they're like, “Well, it's taking too long. So I'm out.”

Setting your alt text is super important. So alt text was originally intended, and actually it still is, for impaired users as part of a screen reader. Google and marketers have deemed it essential now for ranking photos, so we've kind of ruined alt text, really. Alt text is not a place where you can spam your keywords and just put in a bunch of keywords. Make sure that your alt text makes sense. So if I were to strip away all of the copy on your webpage and your webpage just had photos on it and I was using a screen reader, would those photos make sense on any given webpage. And when you're creating your alt text, I would recommend making sure that you're under 125 characters. The more to the point you are the better.

So I'm just going to show this slide as an example. So if you are on WordPress, this is where you would set your alt text, would be right here when you're uploading media to your page or a blog post. So let's get into the page copy of your website. So it's really important for people to understand that there are two different ways that you write on your website. There's writing local page copy, and then there's writing local blog copy.

So with your page copy, with all of your pages, it's the foundation of your website. It's meant to be a sales page. It's meant for me to come to your website and be like, “Okay, I want to bowl. All right, this sounds good. I'm calling right now to reserve my lane.” It’s targeted at broad keywords. So it's targeted at ‘bowling’, ‘bowling Portland Maine’, ‘where to bowl Portland, Maine’, how to find bowling lanes’, whatever it may be. It's those high, top of the funnel keywords that should be going on all of your service or your product pages.

Now when it comes to your blog copy, it's all about supporting your products and your services. So if I have blog copy that is helping me drive home the fact that you need a better heating system, so I want to provide the eight home heating myths for you, or I want to let you know how you can avoid frozen pipes, all of these things that I'm talking about right now are longer tailed keywords, where people may not be searching right away for heating or plumber. What they're searching for is they could have just gotten out of the winter, winter up here in Maine is terrible, but they've noticed that their pipes froze a lot this winter so they want to make sure that their pipes aren't freezing next winter. So what can they do to ensure that when I'm searching for frozen pipes and I'm still landing on your website, but I'm planning to come back to your website because you're building that trust on your blog? You want to make sure you're answering FAQ, any problems that you're seeing, any ideas. And this is a way to make yourself an authority figure and a forefront in your industry, especially localized.

There's this plumber on YouTube who actually was just a plumber. He started making YouTube videos, he was blogging a little bit, and now he's going to Social Media Marketing World, his YouTube channel has over 10,000 subscribers. He took his small plumbing expertise on a local scale, and he has blown it up to be a nationwide authority figure when it comes to plumbing. So what can you do to make sure that your blog content stands out to be the authority figure every time someone goes to Google searching for a service or a product?

And lastly, what I want to make sure that you're doing on your website is you're creating service area pages. Now I'm not saying creating a Portland to South Portland, or a Saco to Scarborough page, when you serve all of those areas. What I'm talking about is if you have a business in multiple areas. So let's say your Google My Business location has multiple locations, you've made it to multiple Google My Business locations, and you want to make sure that each one of those locations has its own page on your website. Because what you can do there is you can then serve location specific needs on that certain page, and you can drive traffic there via Google My Business, via local Facebook ads, via local Google ads, local Instagram ads. You can drive specific local traffic to specific local pages to hit the needs of the people who are living in Portland versus the people living in Boston.

If I've got a Portland location and Boston location, I'm sure my clientele is very different. You know, I'm probably going after two different audiences in two different locations, so I'm going to make sure to talk about living in Portland. Time goes by a little slower here, but in Boston time goes by really fast. So if I'm a breakfast place, maybe I talk about sitting down and having breakfast in Portland. But in Boston it's all about grabbing and going, on the go, in Boston with my breakfast sandwiches. In being able to have these different location pages, you're able to cater to the user search query as well.

Going back to my Portland versus Boston example, if you serve both locations and you have a physical business in each location, and I'm searching for breakfast in Portland, obviously your Boston location won't come be served in those results, but your Portland location will. Now you're obviously being served in the map pack, but you're also being served organically. So being able to show two different places on the SERPs, the better.

So we've talked about Google My Business and how we can leverage that in your local strategy. We've talked about your website and how you can build up your local audience there. But it's really about your 360 degree marketing strategy as well. So what you can be doing on social media, what you can be doing with your email marketing, how you can build more reviews, your website, your SEO, your paid search, how can you bring it all together so you're all saying the same thing on all kinds of different local platforms?

So the first obvious one is social media. You can't be everywhere and we recognize that. So where is your target audience? If you’re B2B you should you be on LinkedIn. If you're B2C, you should be on Facebook and Instagram, and you should be hitting those heavier and heavier. Finding your audience is super important.

Once you find your audience and where they like to live between the hours of 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM, and then from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, is just as important as finding out where they live during the workday as well. Where are they making their business decisions? Are they making it in bed at 10 o'clock at night or is it a business decision that has to be made at 11:00 AM?

Transparency is super key right now on social media and my Director of Marketing, Liz Bell, will attest to that. You need to be as transparent as possible when talking to your audience on social media. So whether it's behind the scenes, photos or videos, or whether it's going on a Facebook Live and just kind of talking about problems, talking about solutions, giving your social media audience a taste of what it's actually like to run a local business, the better it will be received on the user side of things.

And then you can also use paid ads. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, any of the social networks. And you can actually hone in locally, you can hone in on cities or even counties, zip codes. Sometimes I like to get super creepy and be like, if I run a flower shop, should we be targeting the areas of funeral homes or hospitals? Super morbid, but just to kind of take that hyperlocal targeting one more step. Could you be targeting certain areas that would benefit from your services?

Email marketing, super important. You own your list. There's no one that can take that away from you. They have opted into your list because they feel that they can trust you and that you are a really strong or authoritative voice in the industry and they want to learn more from you. So what can you give them in their inbox? Is it daily? Is it weekly? Is it monthly? How can you make sure that you're part of the local community? By being in someone's inbox. Because a user feels safe in their inbox because they're giving you their information. So you can also include offers on your website to build the list so you can offer local community guidelines for your services. So different states or even different counties in Maine right now are doing different things based on COVID, so you could offer, “Here’s everything we're doing in Maine to be safe”, “Here's everything we're doing a New Hampshire to be safe”, those types of things.

And then your email is your hottest audience. It's your hottest audience in terms of making a sale, making a lead, because they already know, like, and trust you, so they're more apt to opt into what you're offering.

So with the whole transparency thing comes video. The more video content you create, gives a whole other level of all the content that you're already creating on your website, social media, and on your blog. And mix up that content. Maybe you're doing some ‘how to’ videos, or maybe you're doing some talking head videos, or you bring in an animator and you start doing an animated series. That'd be pretty cool. So by mixing up your content and giving people a fresh perspective of what you're doing locally. Maybe you're doing a live in person cooking demonstration, but you're also going to stream it on YouTube. So that would be cool. Your video gives you a place to, you know, it's your personality. Your personality can show like, yeah I can read your blog post and get a good sense of who you are. But now I have a good personality, so when I walk into your store you're going to be the same person as the person who's beyond the camera right now. And that's kind of a cool parallel that you can draw.

Lastly, YouTube presence. We've seen that YouTube videos show up in Google search results. So the more videos you create, the more videos that are now having a chance to be shown on Google.

Lastly, paid search. I like to call it the ‘quick fix’ for a lot of companies who don't want to take the time for SEO or super impatient paid search. It can be that quick burst of traffic thing that can get those local users into your website or into your storefront quicker. But it's not going to have that long lasting effect that SEO might have. It helps solidify your SEO and your local SEO strategy by seeing what people are searching for. Whether they're searching for ‘plumbers near me’, ‘plumbers Portland, Maine’, ‘plumbers Cumberland County’, ‘top rated plumbers’, whatever they're searching that's going to help solidify the copy that you're using in your Google My Business in your website, in your blogs, even in your social strategy.

And then within Google ads, you're able to push specific products or specific services. So for a digital agency like us, if our web design is slow right now but we're really busy on the marketing side of things, we'll put more money towards web design ads and take less money away from your digital or your SEO strategy ads.

So I know that was a lot. But I would love to keep the conversation going with you. So shoot me an email after this, connect with me on LinkedIn. We can exchange some DM’s on LinkedIn and go back and forth. But I know that was a lot. We went over Google My Business, we went over citations, how to leverage your website for local traffic, and then really bringing it all together as your marketing stack, your 360 marketing strategy.