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The 6 Best Local SEO Companies of 2020

Local search has exploded. Research from Think with Google, says local searches with the qualifier “near me” have grown by 150 percent faster than other local search queries. There’s been a 500 percent increase in “near me” mobile searches and a 900 percent increase in “near me today/tonight” searches.

When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. 

Google introduced us to something they call “micro moments.” They defined micro moments as “an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need — to know, go, do, or buy.” Businesses that rely on local SEO companies dominate these micro moments in the long run. 

Which company is best for your business? We’ll take a look at a few of the best Local SEO companies in the industry today. 

6 of the Best Local SEO companies

1. NP Digital – Best for Conversion-Driven Local SEO

A lot of SEO companies obsess over vanity metrics like rankings, impressions, or traffic. It isn’t easy to find an SEO company that focuses obsessively on building top-line revenue. When I started my very first business, a job board called Advice Monkey, I was clueless. I didn’t know how to build traffic, generate leads, or boost revenue for my business. 

I saved up enough money from picking up trash and cleaning restrooms at a theme park. I gave my money to a marketing firm, and they ripped me off. I had nothing to show for my money. 

This is the experience most people have with their local SEO firms. 

I know what it’s like to be ripped off; to lose money. You may need to keep your business going. That’s why NP Digital, my agency, is focused on conversions and revenue. We give our clients a carefully planned local search campaign that provides A to Z coverage. We work with small, local mom and pops businesses all the way up to large, multinational brands with locations all over the world. 

But we focus on conversions and revenue. Client expectations coming in are high, but our case studies show we’re able to do some pretty big things for our clients. In one case study, we were able to grow our client’s organic traffic by 2.3x

We don’t separate local SEO into separate silos. We keep all of it — technical SEO, citations, reviews, on-page and off-page optimization, content marketing — in the same marketing bucket. 

NP Digital’s client list includes:

  • Facebook
  • Viacom
  • Google
  • GM
  • eBay
  • NBC
  • Thomson Reuters foundation
  • TechCrunch
  • Cheezburger
  • American Greetings

2. Searchbloom – Best for Local and Technical SEO

Searchbloom focuses on a methodology they call the A.R.T (Authority, Relevancy, Technology) of Local SEO. One of the things that makes Searchbloom so effective at technical SEO is the fact that they’re focused on optimizing their client’s technology stack. 

Here’s how they explain it on their website

“Local SEO is not all about keywords and search engines. It’s also about making sure the foundation of your website is sound. For example, the structure of your site needs to be optimized to deliver a fantastic user experience with fast load times, mobile optimization, and secure user data. If you were a search engine, would you reward a webpage with top rankings if it was not responsive to mobile devices, had broken links, or took a long time to load? I think we would all agree that the answer is no. Because of this, optimizing your websites technology or ‘tech stack’ is crucial for Local SEO success.”

They have a point. The easier it is for customers to use your website, the more likely they are to use it. They’re technical specialists, but they’re still focused on making sure their clients see a return. It’s part of their promise: 

“We have made a commitment to ourselves and our partners that we will never bring on a new partner client unless we KNOW we can generate an ROI.”

The other parts of their service seem to back their commitment up as well. Each client receives a dedicated analyst, custom strategies, and there are no long-term contracts. They guarantee a 24 response time, but the average time is less than two hours. They share several case studies on their site, including one where they were able to produce a 71 percent increase in organic traffic for their client. They have an aggregate review rating of 4.9 stars.

Searchbloom’s client list includes:

  • Tear-A-Part
  • ShirtSpace.com
  • Jitterbug
  • Bodyguardz
  • Moxie Pest Control
  • Wine of the Month Club
  • Schwartzapfel Lawyers 

3. BrightLocal – Best for Assessing Local Search Performance

BrightLocal makes all-in-one local marketing software for agencies and local businesses. If you’re a marketer, their local platform provides you with the tools you need to manage the specific tasks of local SEO. If you’re a sophisticated client or you already have a plan that you’re going to follow, BrightLocal is ideal because it allows you to handle the implementation yourself. 

What if you don’t have the know-how you need to handle it yourself? 

They also offer services — manual submission, citation building, and management services for your local SEO campaigns.  If you’re looking for a company that can help you in a supporting role, BrightLocal is a great option. What sets BrightLocal apart is the fact that they offer software and services to both brands and agencies.

They’re local search specialists, and they have deep in-depth knowledge in this area. They work with small, local businesses and large national clients like Valvoline. They have an aggregate review rating of 3.8 – 4.9 stars.

BrightLocal’s client list includes:

  • Valvoline
  • IKEA
  • Kumon
  • Havas
  • RotoRooter
  • Halfords

4. Digital Marketing Agency – Best for Worldwide Local Search

Reviews: 3.7 – 5 stars (aggregate) 

DMA is an award winning international marketing agency offering full-service marketing and advertising support for growing local businesses. If you have a regional or national multi-location business and you’d like to expand, you’ll need a provider that can help you enter new markets successfully. 

DMA has 10 offices on 4 continents. 

They work with small, local brands, but they’re specialists at handling large, multi-national accounts for a variety of large, blue-chip clients. They can manage local search campaigns from beginning to end, across a range of markets, including markets with different languages, cultures, and expectations. 

They have a 3.7 – 5-star aggregate review rating and a strong reputation in the industry. While other firms are focused strictly on the SEO side of things, DMA can handle any creative, development, or marketing requirements as they come up. If you’re looking for a skilled generalist, DMA is a great place to start. 

DMA’s client list includes:

  • Kohler
  • Blockchain
  • TripAdvisor
  • Promogo
  • Makeable

5. HigherVisibility – Best for Franchise / Multi-Location 

HigherVisibility is an agency that specializes predominantly in organic search engine optimization and local SEO. They’re really good at local SEO for small businesses, franchises, and multi-location companies. More than 50 percent of their clients are small, local business owners who need more traffic, leads, and sales. They share the results they’ve achieved for other clients in their online case studies

HigherVisibility was previously recognized as Agency of the Year by Search Engine Land in 2018 and a Top 10 SEO Agency by UpCity. They have an aggregate review rating of 4.8 stars. 

HigherVisibility’s client list includes:

  • Allied Van Lines
  • East Coast Wings Franchise
  • UFood Grill
  • Sonx Therapy
  • Memphis Medical Society
  • Magnolia Homes
  • Barefoot Luxury Villas

6. Instaboost Media – Best for Low Budget

Instaboost Media specializes in two areas. Paid ads (e.g., Google ads, Facebook ads, Bing ads, etc.) and Local SEO. They got their start with Local SEO. They’re one of the top SEO companies listed by Clutch.co in 2020, and they have an aggregate review rating of 4.1 – 4.8 reviews online. 

“We began in 2016 as a Local SEO company based in Orange County, CA. Initially, Local SEO was our bread and butter and we helped hundreds of clients rank on the front page of Google’s search results. After great success with Local SEO, many clients began asking for other ways to improve their business online. Starting in 2019, the Instaboost team started branching out into paid advertising on Google and Social Media.”

They’re a small team that’s focused on lead generation for local businesses. They offer straightforward pricing on their website — $299 to $499 per month. Their services are focused primarily on generating traffic and leads. If you’re a medium-sized business or a local business with multiple locations, Instaboost is probably not the best for you. 

Instaboost media has 750+ small business clients and glowing reviews on Google, Clutch, G2, and others. 

The 7 Characteristics That Make a Great Local SEO Company

A great local search company should demonstrate the right characteristics and qualities in their own business. It’s a serious red flag if the company you’re considering is missing some or all of these characteristics. Here’s a list of the traits you should be looking for: 

  1. A good reputation: The company you’re considering should have a good reputation — this could be positive reviews on Clutch or Google reviews, strong testimonials on social media, or great case studies and references from happy clients. You want to see that their reputation shows they’re trustworthy, they deliver on their promises, and they perform consistently. 
  2. Ironclad ethics: Your agency should focus their attention on proven, white hat strategies, and tactics. They won’t take unnecessary risks with questionable grey or black hat strategies. They’re ethical, open, and transparent about their work. This means they’ll follow the rules and obey the terms laid out by other platforms like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and others. 
  3. Highly-trained employees: Their employees should have several years of experience and multiple local search campaigns under their belt. Your account shouldn’t be in the hands of inexperienced interns, and you shouldn’t be paying for your agency to learn the ins and outs of local search on your dime. You’ll want to see that employees are certified, regularly trained, and good at what they do. 
  4. Uses up-to-date strategies and tactics: Local SEO is always changing. Your agency should be on top of the adjustments taking place in the industry. They should be able to explain which updates or changes they’ve decided to incorporate and why. They should also be able to share a few sources outlining the changes they track. 
  5. Good communicators: A good agency provides clients with regular updates on their campaign’s performance and relevant industry changes that may affect their business. They’ll work with you to create a schedule (e.g., weekly or monthly) and keep you posted on the work in progress. If something goes wrong, they’ll reach out to you proactively telling you what went wrong, why it happened, and how they’ll prevent it from happening in the future. They’ll also do this if something goes well. 
  6. Achieves consistent results: An experienced agency gets local businesses. They know local businesses are under a lot of pressure; many companies are struggling to keep their doors open. Experienced agencies focus their attention on producing the kind of results their local clients need to grow. 
  7. Makes realistic promises: An experienced local search company won’t promise to “get you to the top in Google.” They’ll help you keep your expectations grounded, and they’ll tie campaign performance to your business goals and objectives. 

If you’re considering a company and they don’t display these characteristics, it’s a serious red flag. If you’re going into a partnership with a marketing company, these characteristics are the basics. 

What To Expect From a Great Local SEO Company

Google says there are four game-changing moments in local search that matter most.  

  • I-want-to-know moments: When someone is exploring or researching, but is not necessarily in purchase mode.  At this stage, people rely on broad, informational search queries (e.g., camera, tablet, truck); they’re not looking for something specific — they don’t have the education they need yet.  
  • I-want-to-go moments: When someone is looking for a local business or is considering buying a product at a nearby store. People at this stage are more focused on transactional search queries. These can be specific keywords that include specific destinations (i.e., Legoland California Resort) or generic keywords (i.e., kids vacation ideas in California). These people are near the end of the conversion funnel, and they’re preparing to make a decision.
  • I-want-to-do moments: When someone wants help completing a task or trying something new. Like the I-want-to-go searchers, these people are near the end of their research process. They’re using transactional keywords, and they have a pretty good idea of the type of activity they’re looking for. Their keywords can also be specific or broad. 
  • I-want-to-buy moments: When someone is ready to make a purchase and may need help deciding what to buy or how to buy it. At this stage, people are searching for something specific. They know what they want. They’re using navigational keywords to find what they want to buy. 

A great local SEO company will have the people, process, and products they need to put you in front of local searchers for each of these micro moments. A reputable company will build your strategy around current local search ranking factors

  • Google My Business Signals — keywords in the business title and description, proximity, and the right categories. 
  • On-Page signals like the name, address, and phone (NAP) of your local business, keywords in titles, and domain authority. 
  • Link Signals including inbound anchor text, linking domain authority, linking domain quantity, etc.
  • Citation Signals from generic, niche, and hyper-local sources. Citations should be consistent, accurate, and clear. 
  • Review signals, including review recency, quantity, velocity, and diversity. The stronger your review portfolio, the bigger the impact on local search performance.
  • Social signals, engagement on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

The local search companies you’re considering will tell you what they’re going to do for your company, in detail. They’ll also outline why there doing it (i.e., be included in Google’s local pack) and the results they hope to achieve for you. They won’t overload you with lots of technical jargon. They’ll keep things simple. 

If you’re inexperienced, they’ll explain the ranking factors I mentioned above. They’ll outline each of the factors above in as much (or as little) detail as you need. If you need it, they’ll provide you with examples or evidence that demonstrates these ranking factors in action.

Great local SEO companies will tie all of this back to revenue. They’ll show you how the work they do will lead to more traffic, leads, and revenue for your business. They should be able to provide you with reasonable estimates and projections that are more accurate over time. 

Conclusion

As the research from Google shows, local search continues to grow. Every year, more people are searching for the local providers they need. The best local SEO companies help local clients optimize their business around the micro moments that matter. 

Finding the right local SEO company takes work; choosing the right company is easy if you ask the right questions. Use this post to find the SEO company that’s right for your local business. 

The post The 6 Best Local SEO Companies of 2020 appeared first on Neil Patel.

How Google Local Guides Improve Visibility

As a business owner, you know reviews and fresh content are essential to your success.

Suppose you’re passionate about promoting your business. In that case, you likely spend a lot of time creating new blog articles, crafting social media posts, or developing video content to keep your audience engaged.

But there’s another, more passive promotion method that can help grow your business and boost your local search results: Google Local Guides.

Launched in 2015, Google Local Guides—also known as Google Guides—took over where Google Cities left off. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the closest comparison is the Yelp! Elite Squad.

Google Guides allows users to add reviews and other content in exchange for various perks ranging from storage space to clothing.

Since its launch, the Google Guides community has proved hugely popular. There are 120 million local guides, spanning 24,000 cities and towns.

There are several potential benefits of Google Guides for your business and its online visibility.

Let’s take a closer look at the Guides system.

What Are Google Guides?

The idea behind Google Guides is simple. It uses user-generated content (UGC) to enrich the information available on Google Maps.

Or as Google explains it, Guides are:

… a global community of explorers who write reviews, share photos, answer questions, add or edit places, and check facts on Google Maps.

Guides’ additional content can increase your business’s visibility and make it easier for consumers to get the information they need.

Becoming a Local Guide is simple. Potential Guides sign up through their Google accounts, choose their locations, and be ready to go.

Once signed up, members of the Google Guides community receive points for each action they take.

All Guides start with zero points and work their way up through 10 levels, earning various perks along the way.

Creating Lists

Once Guides reach level four, they can start to add lists. These lists may consist of favorite places, destinations the guide plans to visit, and saved locations.

As you might expect, each list a Google Guide adds must meet specific requirements. To be eligible for publication, Google state a Guide’s list must:

  • have a title (i.e., a custom list, not be included in Want To Go or Favorites);
  • include a minimum of four places; and
  • be shared publicly.

Google Guides Perks

One aspect that makes Google Guides appealing to its members is the perks. Although these can vary from time to time, examples of the incentives include:

  • early access to new Google products
  • free music trials
  • discounted video services
  • storage space
  • partner perks
  • digital newspaper subscriptions
  • t-shirts and socks

Other bonuses include invitations to the Google Guides convention or Connect Live events, which are open to a limited number of community members.

There’s also an active online forum that helps fuel the community feeling and allows guides to share tips, favorite images, and other information.

How Do Google Guides Points and Levels Work?

Community members start at level one and can work their way up to level 10, which offers a maximum of 100,000 points.

google guides profile example

To try to ensure that Guides play by the rules, Google will close an account if a Guide violates the program’s policies.

Some violations that may get a guide removed from the program include:

  • participating as a business
  • duplicating reviews
  • spamming the site
  • posting offensive content
  • adding inaccurate information
  • including unnecessary keywords

How Does Your Business Benefit From Google Guides?

Since you can’t take part as a business owner, you might be wondering how Google Local Guides can help you.

Let’s start with one of the most crucial elements for businesses today: getting found online.

Increased Visibility

With most consumers heading online to search for local businesses, and mobile search on the rise, increased visibility is more critical than ever before.

This is where the content Google Guides compile can prove invaluable to your business and potentially help your local search rankings.

A Google my Business Insights Study revealed that high-quality images are vital to your listing.

The survey revealed that profiles with more images receive increased clicks, queries, and inquiries for directions.

Let’s look at the stats. Businesses with over one hundred images received:

  • 520% more calls than average
  • 2,717% more direction requests
  • 1,065% more website clicks

In addition, the research suggests several search benefits from image-rich Google My Business profiles.

Businesses with more than 100 images received:

  • 960% more search views
  • 3459% more map reviews
  • 1038% more direct searches

Although Google Guides and Google My Business are different products, they’re closely correlated, with both providing information for Google Maps.

This insight means the more detailed information about your business on Google Maps, the higher the likelihood consumers will find you online—and offline.

The Ability to Keep Your Profile Updated and Accurate

As we explained at the start, Google awards points for editing listings.

Making sure your details are updated is imperative because inaccurate information such as out-of-date phone numbers or an old address reduces the likelihood a customer will find your business offline.

Besides editing listings for errors, Google Guides can correct omissions. This added detail is essential in attracting new customers.

google guides local listing error review example

Statistics from Google show that 67% of your listing visitors would not feel the need to conduct further research if the profile includes essential information such as:

  • opening hours
  • locations
  • images
  • consumer reviews

The same study shows that 41% of users who come across an incomplete profile would continue with their research and leave the business’s profile, possibly depriving the business of an opportunity to gain a new customer.

Online Reviews

You know positive reviews inspire customer trust, but they can also help you get noticed online.

In an increasingly digital world, this online validation for your business is vital because:

  • 93% of consumers say online reviews affect their buying decisions
  • 91% of consumers value online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 90% of consumers will read reviews before visiting a brick-and-mortar business

Google is the first place consumers go to read reviews these days.

The search engine leads the way in online reviews, with over 60% of would-be buyers heading to Google when considering making a purchase.

Although there has been some debate about just how critical reviews are to SEO, Google confirms they play an indispensable role in local search:

High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.

Additionally, research from Moz confirms the importance of online reviews to SEO. Their 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors report found reviews account for 15% of local ranking factors.

Dealing With Negative Reviews

No matter how dedicated you are or how well you run your business, getting a negative review at some point is almost inevitable. It can hurt you personally, and you may be concerned that it can harm your professional reputation.

Let’s try to put this fear to rest.

Despite what you may think, your business needs negative reviews. Negative reviews allow consumers to make informed decisions. They also enable buyers to understand what could go wrong during a transaction, helping manage their expectations.

Instead of worrying about potential low reviews, your best approach is to positively and objectively respond to reviews.

Ask yourself:

  • Does the reviewer have a valid point?
  • Is it an issue you can address to make the experience better for the next customer?

All that said, there’s one type of negative comment that may concern you more than any other: the fake review.

Unfortunately, getting unwarranted negative feedback removed from Google Guides isn’t as easy as it could be. If the review violates Google’s terms, it will likely be removed.

But there’s no reporting option for fake reviews.

The best option may be to approach a Google Guides moderator. However, that doesn’t solve the problem of potential reputational damage over fake reviews.

Business owners can expect to, but this process is often time-consuming and frustrating for business owners who’ve experienced it.

How to Get Google Guides to Engage with You

You now know the benefits of Google Guides for your business. But how do you get them to find you and engage with you?

If you want to get more actively involved, that’s an option.

Here’s how to approach it.

Take Part in Meetups    

Businesses are welcome to partner with local guides for meetups, and even offer special discounts to them. Getting to know local guides is an excellent way for your business to engage with them and build relationships.

However, you’ll want to make sure that your company and the Guide adhere to Google policies. This means:

  • Local Guides mustn’t accept sponsorship in return for a positive review
  • Guides can’t accept payment for hosting the meetup
  • if your business sponsors the meetup or provides goods or services, Google Guides must clarify this in their meetup descriptions.

Also, Google Guides at level three and up qualify to host meetups, but they must get approval first.

Optimize Your Google My Business Page

Despite the apparent advantages of optimizing Google My Business, research has found over half of local businesses hadn’t claimed their listings.

Optimize Your Business Map’s Listing

Optimizing your map doesn’t just make it easier for locals to find you; it also makes it easier for Google Guides to discover your business.

To make your site stand out, optimize your Google map listing by:

  • adding imagery
  • responding to reviews
  • completing your profile
  • keeping your profile updated

Stress the Importance of Reviews to Your Business

There isn’t anything wrong with explaining to your customers how important reviews are to your business. However, be careful about the way you approach it.

If you need some basic guidelines on getting more reviews, Google has these suggestions:

  • Begin a conversation with your shoppers about reviews.
  • Make leaving feedback easy.
  • Share positive reviews.
  • Respond to online feedback.

Conclusion

Google Guides can help you attract new interest in your business. But you may be unaware of the potential advantages of being profiled by local guides.

Businesses with an increased amount of user-generated content (UGC) stand to benefit from increased consumer confidence in their brand, enhanced trust from Google and potentially improved local search rankings.

As a result, your business may experience an increased number of queries, enhanced visibility for your goods and services, and more visits to your offline store.

Do you have experience with Google Guides? Feel free to comment below.

The post How Google Local Guides Improve Visibility appeared first on Neil Patel.

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