Local Search Optimization
Start with Local Search Optimization. Local results factor into over 50% of today’s search engine results. Local results feed everything from primary aggregators of information (Google, Acxiom, Facebook, etc.) and distribute this information to thousands (yes, thousands) of secondary and tertiary sites which contain your business information. Every other step in optimization relies on solid and accurate business information.
Once Local is established, the next step is to create hundreds of new citations over time. For each location. Yes, you heard correctly. You want to make sure that the local url is the one used for each of the local listings (except for the primary location, where you use the root domain). And remember to get the correct NAP the first time. There’s nothing worse than either waiting for the aggregators to make a correction, or doing it manually yourself when you find out you missed a suite number.
Next: Correct and Update On-Page and Content
Next thing to focus on is On-Page optimization, but in tandem with Adwords tuning. Here’s why: As an example, Adwords success relies on relative Ad Rank. Ad Rank is a factor of Quality Score. Impression Share is also a key factor in understanding ads, which we’ll address another time. But in short, the Quality Score for any given ad is a judgement of the quality of the ad relative to the landing page for that ad. Thus, great increases are gained not only through the content, but even nuanced improvements in page markup (incidentally these are also related to the Google Analytics’ analysis of how well the page performs – a discussion for another time).
“But didn’t we just cover that?” No. I mean for real-real tuning. There are many levels to OLA (Online Advertising), and this post can only cover so much. Since ads, rank, scores and cost all are relative to competitive analysis, literally, and because the competition is continuously in motion, Adwords (or any other platform for that matter) must be tuned. Aim for weekly or daily updates, but at least do monthly ones. But there is no “set it and forget it” in advertising, and the same is true in digital. If you’re doing this, you’re leaving yourself open to wasting money, or being buried by competition online.
Here is the huge catch: All aspects of SEM are inter-related and affect all other aspects. Organic is affected by Paid. Paid is affected by On-Page. On-Page is affected by the user’s experience. Search is affected by markup. Off-Site (backlinks, content, citations) affects Organic and Paid. Clout is affected by social.
The Core Business Benefit
All told, the savings can be great and represents an enormous financial upside if executed properly. Although it might not be immediate, over the next few months you should see a significant increase in traffic and clickthrough rates, which is perfect if your business is bolstered by online. If done in individual components, each suffers to some degree, without the others being managed in tandem. The warning here is to engage in one or a few of the above hoping for the massive effect. It works best when done simultaneously, by one architect, period.
Achieving the Zen
The biggest advantage in proper execution is the combined effect in not just changing what is reviewed, but actually the way in which it is reviewed. “Time on Page” and “Depth of Visit” tactical concepts give way to strategic “Improved User Experience” and “Customer Value”. Over time we find that not only what we’re doing has changed, but how we’re thinking about doing it. The team’s mentality has shifted from widgets and sales to value.
So get ready, plug into Analytics, set goals, track and pass parameters for everything from first touch through checkout and conversion, and get addicted to the analysis. And concentrate on providing value. In digital, it’s the only way to roll.