Key Local SEO Platforms
If you’re just starting out with local SEO and are researching what you should be doing to fully optimize your site for improved local search visibility, you may already have noticed that some platforms crop up time and time again.
Whether you’re reading up on best practice local SEO tactics or compiling a list of tasks to complete on your client websites, names like Google Business Profile, Yelp, and even Facebook are sure to appear multiple times. The reason for that? These platforms are tied to known local SEO ranking signals, meaning you should expect to use them regularly to fully optimize your search presence.
The key local SEO platforms you will need to be familiar with include:
- Google Business Profile
- Google Business Profile Insights
- Google Analytics
Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is closely linked to local SEO success in a number of areas, making it the most important platform on your radar when it comes to attracting more local visitors to your website or bricks-and-mortar location. In fact, our research suggests that Google Business Profile accounts for around a quarter of your Local Pack and organic search ranking overall, with Google referencing different components of your Profile in order to determine what your business does and how relevant it is to a user’s search query.
You can think of Google Business Profile as a business listing, which you set up to tell Google (and local consumers) all about your business. This includes:
- The nature of your business
- Your physical business location (or areas covered if you’re a service business)
- The products and services you provide
- Your opening hours
- Contact information
- Accessibility information
- Customer reviews
- Business updates and more
In other words, a Google Business Profile provides everything that Google or a local consumer could possibly need to know before deciding whether you fit the bill and offer the product or service that they’re searching for.
Google Business Profile Insights
Most marketers will agree that the more useful data they have, the better their campaigns perform. For small business owners, accurate and accessible data can be hard to come by, especially if you’re not a marketer by profession and have limited time in the day to dedicate to wading through analytics.
Google Business Profile Insights provide a happy middle ground. This tool sits within your Google Business Profile dashboard and gives you useful information related to your local search presence and Google Business Profile performance, without being overly complex.
You can expect to find data such as how people are searching for your business, the Google properties that they are using to find your business, and the most common actions that are taken by those viewing your listing; did they call you, for example, or request directions to visit?
Data gathered from Google Business Profile Insights can help you understand your local search presence better, spot trends, and pinpoint where performance can be improved.
Google Analytics is an analytics tool that tracks how visitors interact with your website, how they find you, and what they do once on the site. This is a more advanced tool than Google Business Profile Insights but can be invaluable if you’re looking to dive deeper and really understand how your local business website is performing, how visitors interact with your site, and where opportunities to change strategy or close performance gaps exist.
Google Analytics allows you to organize and query the data via a series of different reports. These are split by topic and include ‘Acquisition’ (how traffic found your site), ‘Engagement’ (how visitors interacted with your site with data split by event, pages, and screens), ‘Monetization’ (revenue your site generated, by item, coupon or promotion) and ‘Retention’ (how long visitors stayed on the site and how often they return).
Analytics data can also help you to understand your audience better, by providing demographic information, categorized by details such as age, interest or location, and the type of device used to access your site.
Due to the wealth of data on offer, Google Analytics is arguably the most advanced of the local SEO platforms you’ll use. As such, there is a learning curve involved but, once you master the basics and understand which reports are most useful, the data extracted can inform smarter decision making and make it easier to refine your local SEO strategy for improved success.
If you’ve ever found yourself in need of a local business, wanted a recommendation for a nice bar, a decent restaurant, or a quality hair salon after moving house, then the chances are you’ll have turned to Yelp at some point.
An online directory known for its crowdsourced reviews and recommendations, Yelp is part Yellow Pages, part online review portal. For that reason, it’s one of the six key local SEO platforms you’ll almost certainly find yourself returning to time and again during your local search marketing campaign.
Yelp plays an important role for local consumers, with more than 90 million people visiting the platform each month to find local businesses and 97% making a purchase thereafter.
In many respects, Yelp functions in a similar way to Google Business Profile. You can claim your free Yelp listing to share useful information about your business with Yelp’s users, including your street address, service areas, web address, telephone number, available products and services and hours of operation. Like your Google Business Profile, it’s also a place where you can gather and respond to reviews from customers, answer questions and share images.
Facebook needs no introduction but, what you may not know is that—in addition to being useful for your overall marketing—it can also help to bolster your local search visibility. This, in turn, makes it one of the more important local SEO platforms you’ll find yourself using on a regular basis.
Why is Facebook useful for local SEO? The answer lies in Facebook’s status as a top review platform, its popularity with consumers looking for local business information, the ease with which you can build a citation, and the potential to engage with local prospects.
Perhaps the most powerful contribution Facebook can make to your local SEO strategy is that you can use it to gather reviews and ratings for your local business. We know that reviews are a primary ranking signal so the more reviews you can garner, the better your search visibility.
There are other, indirect benefits too. Much like a Google Business Profile and Yelp, your Facebook Business Page is a treasure trove of useful information about your business.
Research carried out by Square suggests that 52% of consumers have discovered new businesses on Facebook in the past year – more than any other channel – making it a valuable source of traffic. What’s more, the information you present in your Facebook profile can help a consumer confirm what they have discovered elsewhere, giving them the confidence to plan a visit or make a call.
Local SEO is continually evolving and best-practice tactics, based on emerging research, data analysis, and trial and error, often change. Add in the frequent addition of new tools and features across these popular local SEO platforms and the pressure to keep up and make sense of everything can be crushing.
BrightLocal brings together a series of helpful tools, such as reputation management and automated local search audits, with useful content hubs, thought leadership pieces, how-to guides, and expert advice. It’s a one-stop resource that helps you to execute certain parts of your local SEO strategy while also helping you to understand how to make the most of these and other local SEO platforms, tactics, and tools.