SEO

The Power of Local Search: More Conversions for Less Traffic

Busy day? If this blog post is TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read), click through the slideshow below. We summarize the whole post in 4 slides.


 

At my agency, Mediagistic, I work with dozens of HVAC companies on their digital marketing strategies. For them, local search visibility is indispensible. After all, while in some parts of the country people search for furnaces and boilers, in other parts of the country people are looking for heat pumps. It’s all cyclical and seasonal, and their business depends on showing up in local search for crucial keywords at just the right moments in the year.

If you’re in the local digital marketing business (aren’t we all, at this point?), you know it’s both volatile and complex. Ever since the Pigeon algorithm shift, the local search results have been skittish and flighty, just like the algorithm’s namesake.

We have noticed one stable trend emerging, though: the more local packs you have in a local search, the better your conversion rates are. twitter-icon

local-pack-indian-food

The convincing correlation between local packs and conversions

Take two of my HVAC clients. We’ll call them Company X and Company Y. Both companies are based in major metro areas. Both companies have been around for roughly ten years. Both companies have strong brands bolstered by offline advertising strategies. For each, organic search is their #1 traffic source.

Here’s the fascinating thing: Company X actually gets about 9 times less organic traffic, but twice as many conversions as Company Y.

conversions-vs-traffic-local-search

This view is from our proprietary ROI tracking software that’s part of our internet marketing program, Leadbuilder. Leadbuilder is a turnkey internet marketing program designed to generate calls and leads at the best ROI possible.

Monthly conversions for Company X (with roughly 700 organic visits per month)

monthly-conversions

Monthly Conversions for Company Y (with roughly 6000 organic visits per month)

monthly-conversions-y

Naturally, we wanted to understand what made Company X so successful when it came to their incredible conversion rates. We wanted to replicate that success for all our clients.

It was difficult to figure out that key factor. We assumed it was brand and offline marketing luck. That is, until we included Company X in the Searchlight’s Search Experience Tracking, right before C3 2014.

We used Searchlight’s Search Experience Tracking to find relevant SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) with local packs for different devices and localities. Search Experience Tracking showed us that Company X had an unusually high number of local packs on first page keywords rankings, for both desktop and mobile.

Here’s a very small sample of Company X’s tracked keyword set in Searchlight. As you can see, they’re ranking extremely well in local packs.

search-experience-visibility

After we discovered this, we decided to launch a much larger investigation across our client base to determine if this was a pattern. We assessed clients for a correlation between local pack presence and high conversion rates.

After some time, we felt certain: there is a positive correlation between a high percentage of local packs and high conversion rate.

After some time, we felt certain: there is a positive correlation between a high percentage of local packs and high conversion rate.

At that point, we adjusted our global local search strategy to focus on increasing percentage of local packs on first page keyword rankings.

In concert with Searchlight’s onsite optimization recommendations, we have begun to focus heavily on a combination of local search tactics — reviews, directories, Google Plus, local links – to get all our clients in a high percentage of local pack results.

Local Search and Thinking Bigger than Traditional SEO

We’re seeing a pattern: a data-driven local search strategy has a positive impact on conversion rates. But I think this is representative of a much bigger, more important pattern at play.

It’s the fact that focusing solely on traditional SEO (technical SEO and the ten blue links) just doesn’t make sense anymore. twitter-icon You need to truly have a grasp on your earned media’s presence in the web as a whole. That means thinking about how your customers experience the web: in different dimensions, like local search, and in different channels, like YouTube or Google Plus.

You need to implement technical SEO, yes. You must have schema; you must have a quick site. But those will only get you results when it’s alongside a bigger Web Presence Management strategy.

You need to implement technical SEO, yes. You must have schema; you must have a quick site. But those will only get you results when it’s alongside a bigger Web Presence Management strategy.

I like to think of it this way: Doing good technical SEO is just an entry point. It’s a ticket to the show; it’s an invitation to the party. Traditional SEO gets you in the door, but it’s what you do when you’re there that matters. twitter-icon

What are you seeing in your own metrics?

Rich Snippets for Video: Test Data Proves They Can Potentially Hurt You

Read More