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Digital Marketing Demystified

April 23, 2015

When people refer to Digital Marketing it seems like an enigma – mysterious, puzzling or just plain difficult to understand. In some respects it probably is! Over my next few articles that I’ll put together, it is my intention to explain the fog around digital marketing and provide a little more explanation around what it is that we do (and are so passionate about).

From Google Adwords, to search engine optimisation, to social media, we’ll look debunk and demystify the aura around Digital Marketing.

The first cab off the rank that I’ll discuss is Local Search – or on the down low, just Local.

 

Local Search (“Local”)

If you do an internet/Google search for Local Search, you’ll be bombarded with a lot of literature about how to improve local search.

 

But what is it?

Simply put, Local Search is the process of making sure you are a viable search option to people who are searching for your services within your specified locality – in other words, optimising your website for localised search queries.

It is estimated that a 30–40 percent of all searches made on Google are with local intent – i.e. a search made to find something or someone within a specific geographic area. Many bricks-and-mortar business such as hairdressers, plumbers, dry cleaners, pharmacies and cafes are found purely by a local search query. It is usually the case that someone looking for a hairdresser or a dry cleaner, for example, are looking for one in their current location.

Below is a screenshot of the local search results that come up for the search query ‘dry cleaners auckland’

 

 

In this case, Google’s local search results can be your best friend and play a crucial role in driving new enquiries or customers to your business. With the continued growth in mobile device use, more often than not, users are searching from their smartphones as opposed to desktop computers. Google have even added the convenience of having a ‘call’ button in the search results next to the listings.

Local Search is not only used by people looking for products and services in their immediate area however, it is also used by people who are looking for services within another location – particularly if they intend on being there.

Let’s look at two examples.

  • Holiday makers are a prime example of this. Do you live in the North Island but are looking at taking the kids to the ski slopes down South this winter? A search query you might type in could be ‘holiday accommodation wanaka’.
  • Perhaps you are moving from Wellington to Hamilton and need to find yourself a new dentist in Hamilton? A search query you might type in could be ‘hamilton dentists’.

At Apex Digital, we would expect that someone looking for online/digital marketing services in New Plymouth would type in Google “online marketing new plymouth”. Apex Digital are currently ranked number one in the local search results for this search query. Featuring in a prominent position in your local search results suggests to the user that you are a strong candidate offering the service that they are looking for and in the right location. Research also indicates that those in the higher ranking positions (particularly 1 & 2) are more likely to receive the lion’s share of visitors – it pays to be the local search star.[1]

Below is an example of what Local Search Results look like in Google’s search engine. Google continuously strives to deliver the most relevant results to the user – this is now even more apparent when there is local intent. As shown below, Google has produced a list of results based on what the user has searched for – these are all online marketing (or closely related) companies, based in New Plymouth.

 

So How Can I Get My Business in Local Search Results?

Just like organic search rankings, having your business feature prominently in local search results requires hard work, patience, persistence and incredible attention to detail. Below are a few tips to get you started in the right direction.

  • Have a verified Google My Business Local Page

Your Google My Business page is a quick and convenient way for businesses, products, brands, artists, clubs and organisations to create an online presence with Google. Through this dashboard, you are able to add your details to Google, build followers and share news, photos and videos and interact with these people.

In turn, your followers can leave reviews, posts and endorsements (the +1 button).

Below is the Apex Digital Google My Business page – you’ll see that our page is verified, as shown by the little tick under our logo, we have the full and correct address including postcode, we include our local phone number (as opposed to an 0800 number, which Google cannot identify as a ‘local’ phone number), a link to our website, and a listing in the correct category. We’ve also included our opening hours to provide a more accurate and complete listing.

It’s really simple to create your own Google My Business listing for your business, simply go to https://www.google.com/business/ and create your own profile.

 

 

  • Obtain Google My Business reviews

These are a great way to build your credibility as a business on Google. Reviews help businesses build and strengthen their relationships with their customers and audiences, and now more than ever, are becoming a big ranking signal. Reviews act as a true measure of success, so it is important that they become a part of your online marketing strategy. Once people start leaving reviews on your page, it is important to keep up the interaction with them by engaging in conversation with them and giving them a reason to continue coming back to your page. The more reviews you get from your customers, the more eligible you are for star ratings – which in turn helps you stand out from your competitors in the local search results.

Below is an example of a couple of reviews from the Apex Digital page:

 

 

 

  • Build Accurate and Complete Local Citations

Unfortunately, there is more to achieving a local search presence than just creating and verifying your Google My Business page and obtaining reviews. Google relies on a number of signals from all over the internet to determine that you are who you say you are and you are where you say you are, so to speak. These ‘signals’ are often referred to as citations.

Simply put, a citation is any website on the internet in which your business name, address, phone number (and even website link) appears. These citations, when accurately and completely populated, weigh heavily on Google’s algorithm which helps Google determine where you will feature in the local search results. So if you’re NAP (Business Name, Address and Phone) details are inconsistent across different websites, local search cannot determine if you are ‘viable’ and is likely to favour a more credible business over yours in the search results.

Our role at Apex Digital is to track down your NAP ‘footprints’, and ensure that they are consistent across the board. This way when a search is carried out, your business is looked upon strongly – it’s verified in multiple places and the information supplied is accurate. 

 

How Else Can I Improve My Local Search Presence?

While the above tips are a great starting point, with Local Search becoming more prominent in 2015, your site really needs to be a jack of all trades. Significant efforts are being put into local search from Google, and whether we like it or not, it is now part of the ranking game and we have to accept this.

We rely on a multitude of reliable SEO resources so that we can be prepared for any Google algorithm updates and not be caught by any nasty surprises that could have a negative impact on our clients’ visibility in the local search results. With this in mind, I’ve come across some sound advice from our friends at www.searchengineland.com.

  • Take a long hard look at competitor sites and keep in the mindset of doing what they do – but do it better and smarter. With customers and potential clients being spoilt for choice when it comes to finding what they want in the search results, you need to make your site stand out – be the site you want people to click on.
  • Keep content fresh, original and informative – and don’t forget to optimise it with local signals. Make sure that any location pages you have on your site are well-written.
  • Create local blog content, and share this on your social media pages.
  • Include your location in your title tags, headings and alt text on images. As Google can’t read images, it is important that the alt text in these can provide an understanding of what is on the page.
  • Use schema markup on your site. Schema markup is HTML code that tells the search engines what content means on your site. Applying schema markup to your contact details on your site will tell the search engines that ’40 Molesworth Street’ (for example) is the physical address and ‘New Plymouth’ is the town or city. If your site has schema markup installed, you are more likely to rank higher than your competitor’s sites. While this is not the sole reason for ranking higher, studies suggest that sites that have schema markup applied to their sites automatically have an advantage over sites that don’t.

 

Conclusion

As the fog begins to lift upon local search, you can see that it is important with ranking and that there are some simple actions that you can take to best serve yourself up to Google as a viable search result within a locality.

In the next instalment I’ll look to debunk further myths around Digital Marketing and provide you with a greater insight into what Apex Digital does for you and some basic action that you take to help increase your visibility in Google and ultimately attract more customers.

 

[1] http://websitehelpers.com/seo/

 

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Filed under Apex News \ Digital Marketing

Written by

Tess is one of our Digital Marketers and has been with us since February 2012. Being Google AdWords qualified, Tess enjoys managing client AdWords campaigns as well as carrying out on-page optimisation techniques to ensure that client websites can perform at their peak in the search engines.

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