Local search results are becoming an ever more important factor for small-medium offline businesses. Whilst Google and the like have allowed globalization and ease of communication across the face of the earth, consumers are increasingly looking for offline products and services with local intent.
The convenience of finding items close-by still outweighs the tie of having to be at home for when a parcel is delivered. In addition to the convenience, there is a growing sentiment of anti-corporation preference, encouraging people to support local businesses, however ironic, these people often use one of the world’s largest corporations (Google) to find said local businesses so it is essential that some effort is made to increase visibility in local search!
So you have seen the potential value that local search engine optimisation could have on your rankings and have read some of our other articles on how to optimise and automate the process, but now you want to measure the results of your efforts. Let’s start with benchmarking.
Benchmarking Your Local SEO
As with any measurement process it is important to record your stats at the beginning so you can track changes accordingly. There are enterprise level tools to help you with this, but it needn’t be difficult if you want to do it manually. Simply list the search terms you are wanting to record/track and then search for them in Google listing your ranking in the main search and in the local search ‘seven pack’ (your searches will have to have local intent for the local results to appear). Store these figures in an spreadsheet document along with the date they were recorded.
(Top Tip: try to use both local and general searches to get a view of how you are ranking in various regions/countries/general. The Moz toolbar allows you to do this or you can use the pws=0 parameter to disable personalized results (e.g google.com/#q=google&pws=0), you can set another country geo location using the gl paramter (e.g google.com/#q=google&gl=us))
Once you have recorded all the rankings you are currently achieving, you can set about your Local SEO process; whether this is content creation, directory listings, citations or any number of other processes, benchmarking will allow you assess it’s impact on the results.
Using a ‘control’ in Local SEO
If you have several locations, you could avoid optimizing one of the locations and use this as a ‘control’. You should track this in the same way you are measuring the optimised locations to see if the impact is as a result of your efforts or other factors un-related to your Local SEO. This is a process reserved largely for data-junkies who love knowing exactly what effect their efforts are having, but if you choose to do it, it can give you a more precise indication on where to focus your efforts going forward, as you’ll have statistical data backing up your process.
Results of Your Local Search Efforts
With SEO, and specifically Local SEO, it can take a while for your efforts to be rewarded. In the mean time other changes can come into effect whether they be within competitors or the search algorithms themselves. This makes noticing short-term fluctuations difficult to discern and is a great argument for using a control as mentioned above. Generally long-term trends are easier to spot and more reliable indicators of your search tactics’ success – or lack thereof.
Collecting and Analysing your Local Search Data
Whether you are using advanced tracking tools or manually recording your rankings, it is important to periodically review the results, tracking them visually on a graph works best as you can attribute trends with monthly activity, pursue successful activities and stop any processes that are appearing to harm your search visibility. Optimising and improving your search efforts doesn’t stop after a year or so; it’s an ongoing process that is ever changing in response to Google and other search providers’ algorithms and ranking factors.
The Local Search Conclusion
Local search is an essential process for the modern local business and to make the most of it, one should take careful notice of their performance. Measurements should be carried out frequently whether or not you have access to a tool, an agency or simply just Google itself