Refresh and Renew: A Guide to Staying Ahead with SEO in 2015

In with the new and out with the old. It’s the time of the year to complete a comprehensive spring cleaning of your company’s website. You’ll discover those classic online marketing techniques that require refreshment and dispose of items that have long since served their marketing purpose. Here, we’ll provide a comprehensive checklist of the items that require your immediate attention this spring, as we present our SEO spring cleaning checklist.

Begin with Analytics

Your site’s analytics are a pinpoint data guide to its overall SEO health. They tell you how the site is performing compared with your previously outlined objectives. As you begin the SEO audit process, complete a comprehensive review of your site’s analytics performance. Focus on pages that are receiving many visitors per month and answer the question “Why are these specific pages successful in getting views?”

You should also review your site’s performance across various devices. You might have strong engagement across desktop devices but poor engagement with mobile users. This could reveal the need to commit more resources to mobile site design. By extrapolating from your analytics data, you can gain a foothold from which to move forward in the site audit process.

Craft Fresh Content Regularly

Fresh, high quality and relevant content is ranked highly by Google’s current Panda algorithm. And companies that publish blog posts 15+ times per month generate five times more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all.[i] The first element of your SEO spring clean should be to analyze the type of content your company is creating. Are you getting a response online? It’s important to develop a content calendar that includes themes, topics and events. Content should answer important questions that searchers ask and it should always be relevant to the conversations taking place across the brand’s various online media platforms.

Companies can improve the freshness of their content by deploying company stakeholders within the content creation process. In 2015, your sales team should be able to offer critical insights into the types of questions your customers are asking. And these questions should be answered by compelling blog posts and social media updates. Maintaining a constant conversation with your brand audience will help ensure the site retains a high position in the rankings.

Commit to Social Media Engagement

Social media is now one of the most important ranking signals for growing companies. It’s a part of the reason that social media marketing budgets are projected to double in the next five years.[ii] Your brand should have a dedicated social media team interacting with online followers and sharing branded content that improves the company’s online image. As part of the social media engagement process, your company should be posting inbound links and bringing relevant content to lively social media discussions within your industry. Doing so can improve the business’s reputation as a subject matter authority and drive greater search rankings in the process.

An important element of achieving social media engagement will be proactive monitoring. What are your customers discussing online? What are the trending topics within your marketplace? Analyzing this data and acting upon it with relevant, targeted social media content can significantly improve SEO performance in 2015.

Maximize Site Speed to Ensure User-Friendly Performance

With the Penguin 3.0 algorithm update in 2014, Google made site speed a critical ranking factor.[iii] This move came with the search company placing an increasing focus on user experience. We know that, no matter how good your content is, users won’t wait for sites to load. The average user is becoming accustomed to ultra-fasting loads speeds and if your site stutters, you could lose a valuable customer. Sites that use uncompressed images, and don’t enable caching for users will see significant decreases in ranking in 2015.

Focus on Link Earning Rather than Link Building

Google has long placed an importance on the number backlinks to your website in its rankings. But quantity is now an increasingly irrelevant detail in comparison to quality. This means link-building is a relic of the past and link-earning is a strategy for the long-term future. Growing companies must reach out to the most trusted and respected members of their industry when crafting their link-building strategy. Building a selection of quality links from authoritative websites will empower your organization in moving higher within the rankings. Work on your website’s content and reach out to key influencers within your marketplace to ensure effective future-proof link-earning.

Review On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization is a continual struggle for many growing web brands. The near constant changing of Google’s search engine algorithms has made it difficult for some to know how best to optimize their site. However, there are a number of trends that point the way forward in terms of on-page optimization in 2015. Firstly, we know that keywords no longer have to be verbatim within content as the Hummingbird algorithm is becoming more adept at analyzing semantic search patterns. The keyword “Inbound marketing strategies” is now treated the same as “Inbound marketing strategy” by Google’s search algorithm. But keywords remain important in the context of search relevancy.

Keywords should appear in the site’s page titles, heading and image alt text, as well as appearing naturally through site copy. Remember to keep page title tags under 55 characters to drive clicks from Google. Remember also to maintain heading tags to show the search engine the topic of the content.

Secure and Improve Site Performance with HTTPS

Online security has become a leading consideration for both web users and companies in recent times. And Google is now emphasizing the importance of utilizing HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure). Traditional HTTP websites are slowly being phased out and it’s no wonder, with Google making HTTPS an important ranking factor in 2015. By making a commitment to a more secure website and implementing HTTPS, companies can achieve a bump in rankings while protecting customer and site data over the long-term.

Add Flexibility with Mobile Optimization

In May of 2014, mobile platforms including smart phones and tablets surpassed desktop in time spent using digital devices.[iv] And 67% of people now use their mobile phone every day.[v] By now, we know that Google promotes sites that are mobile-friendly within their search rankings. Google is adapting their search algorithms to meet the needs of mobile users with its focus on user intent and conversational search terms. The evolution of Hummingbird and the increase in users with voice-activated search technology on their mobile phone means mobile users must be taken seriously.

Remember that less is now more. Content must be optimized to fit a smaller screen and designers must only show web users what they absolutely need to see on the site. Your site’s calls to action are going to gain in importance during this process. Are you instructing the user on the actions you want them to take? Give clarity and direction to your site content to engage the mobile user. And remember that one third of all searchers are now location based.[vi] This means it’s important to place geographic identifiers within your content to assist in achieving local SEO results.

Change is important to achieving forward momentum in the online marketplace. The ever-shifting SEO landscape is set to experience even further tectonic movement in 2015. Business owners that conduct a sweeping audit of their website now can position their brand at the head of the field, readied and prepared for any future search algorithm changes.







In-House SEO Part II: Getting Others Involved

450259755A well-executed SEO campaign requires a number of steps to implement, and for in-house SEO, cooperation with other departments is often necessary. Keep reading for advice on how to foster an environment conducive to productivity and positive results.

Educating Management and Departments

A good starting point for an in-house SEO professional is to make sure management fully understands the program’s goals, processes, and potential results. While a full explanation of day-to-day operations may not be necessary, management should be regularly updated on general trends, challenges, and successes.

Maintaining open lines of communication with decision-makers and departments can help ensure everyone is on the same page, as well as reduce the risk of future misunderstandings or roadblocks. For example, it may be a good idea to engage your internal IT/Web Development team early on so they understand and can prioritize technical changes to the website that impact SEO. Providing simple guidance on relevant best practices that can be handled by individual departments not only bolsters SEO efforts as a whole but makes everyone part of the solution instead of part of the challenge of implementation.


A successful SEO program is a holistic one. Educating your entire team and company departments about the complexities of SEO as well as its interconnectedness with user experience, social signals, content, and website design is key. In addition to educating coworkers about SEO, include them in projects to build momentum for the program. Requesting participation in a proactive manner can help demonstrate the need for interdependence and stimulate synergy among coworkers. Furthermore, proper communication and planning is a good way to establish mutually beneficial workflows. To start, try getting your team involved in small SEO projects or initiatives for ideally quick successes. This will help get your colleagues excited about SEO and deepen their understanding of the processes involved.

Sharing the Wealth

SEO is not a one-time task, so reinforcement is key to maintaining momentum. Sharing the successes (and failures) of the program is as important as educating your team about best practices and goals.

To encourage continued participation, explain how positive results— such as high engagement numbers or blog post views—are good for SEO.  When an initiative isn’t as successful as anticipated, turn the setback into a learning opportunity. Incorporating key individuals and departments in overall problem-solving and strategizing is yet another way to increase your team’s general awareness about SEO.

Are you an in-house SEO professional? What steps do you take to increase integration and positive results? Let us know in the comments!

Leveraging Social Advertising and Paid Search

164653172 (1)Social advertising and paid search are both powerful digital marketing tools that can be leveraged to increase traffic as well as E-commerce sales. Individually, each advertising platform has its own merits, but how can marketers integrate their digital marketing initiatives to make all the elements work better together to achieve greater overall sales success?

Paid search and social advertising can be utilized to promote awareness and visibility of a brand or product. Although the average click-through rate is lower for social ads than paid search, social advertising allows you to promote original organic content in a way that is not possible with paid search.

Where there’s push, there’s pull

Pull marketing typically applies to situations in which users have stated a need, and push marketing applies when a need has not been specified. In a digital space, the lines between push and pull strategies are becoming increasingly blurred. Because of the advanced targeting options on social media, most notably on Facebook, the line between push and pull is hard to define. While paid search targeting is determined by keywords, social advertising allows for targeting by location, age, gender, marital status, and more. Although the ad is still being pushed to the user, this allows for some pull because businesses can craft and push messaging toward prequalified target audiences. Social advertising isn’t a “pure push” tactic because users are targeted based on specified interests; nor is it a “pure pull” tactic, because users are not actively seeking information.

Social advertising allows marketers to utilize the rich behavioral data available on Facebook and other social media platforms to reach a specific audience. Although still lower than the average paid search click-through rate, which recently hit an all-time high, Facebook has seen an impressive 148% increase in click-through rates year-over-year. This can be attributed to improved audience-targeting capabilities.

Your objective matters

Facebook ad click-through rates averaged 0.36% globally during the second quarter of 2014. With paid search, one can expect a click-through rate of about 2%; with a well-executed strategy, that rate could increase.

Social ads tend to perform better than paid search in terms of building awareness and hitting reach/frequency targets, but if easily-measured ROI is your only goal, paid search may be the better option.

A paid search campaign can capture impressions, but social advertising can help fill the gaps of your marketing campaign. With social advertising, you can reach consumers who may or may not be actively engaging with your brand or even considering your brand. In the 2013 State of Search Report, 55% of respondents expected social media spending to increase in 2014. Research shows while spending on both paid search and social advertising campaigns has increased year over year, growth in social advertising spending has been significantly higher: paid search spending saw an increase of 19%, versus an 81% increase in social advertising spending.

Synergy between search and social

Social advertising can also be used in tandem with paid search to create synergy of message across multiple channels. Using targeting to reinforce the tactics employed via other digital marketing vehicles can create a powerful and effective campaign.

Here are a few ways you can use social advertising and paid search in tandem:

  • Research the behavior of your target audiences. You may find that a specific demographic searches for certain keywords more than others. To create synergy between paid search and social ads, use social ads to target that demographic. This creates a cohesive campaign that targets the correct demographics in paid search and social ads.
  • Ad content can be repurposed between the two, allowing consumers to make a connection between them. Integrating ad messaging with targeting could help boost brand recall and perhaps even sales.
  • Analyze conversations that take place around social media campaigns and then use those discoveries to find new keywords for paid search campaigns.

Paid search and social advertising are two very effective digital marketing tactics, and both can be implemented as components of an integrated, holistic campaign. It is important to understand the expectations and potential results of each and know how you’re going to measure success against each one. Once an overarching strategy is defined, you can make better use of unique social advertising features to reinforce what you’re doing via paid search and other vehicles and then leverage each to drive conversion as you define it.

How do you incorporate social advertising in your digital marketing campaigns? Let us know in the comments.

How to Practice Integrated SEO

search marketing integrated approach to search engine optimization

What is Integrated SEO?

You have your content marketing team, your PPC team, business operations, and sales team. Are these departments working together toward common goals? SEO is one way to build your brand’s visibility on the web, and bringing everyone into the loop can help you accomplish that in ways you might not expect.

An integrated SEO program is one that is intertwined with broad organizational goals as well as synchronized with the individual activities of other departments. It requires understanding that on-site elements—such as content and the website’s technical focus—need reinforcement through off-site components, such as social signals, link signals, and user signals. Here are some steps you can take to implement an integrated SEO program across all departments.

Define Your Goals

What are the business goals of the organization? What are the goals of the marketing department? How do marketing goals relate to the larger business goals? Before beginning any program, you must know the goals and how you will measure them. For an integrated SEO program, understanding the overall goals of the organization will help you make informed decisions. This understanding is crucial in helping you determine the specific operational goals of the SEO program. By defining goals from the outset, you can make sure your SEO program is enhancing an overarching marketing strategy rather than becoming a separate (and potentially misunderstood) component of it. Since this is an integrated approach, all initiatives must be working together.

Another point to consider during this preliminary process is how the success of the SEO program will be measured. Defining success metrics can help you choose the best tools to operate and track your program and manage expectations for the program as it evolves. Building shared metrics or KPIs is a great way to ensure collaboration and integration from the beginning.

Enable Success

It is important to keep your team informed about SEO objectives and how those efforts connect to the overall marketing goals. In addition, it may be beneficial to equip other departments with resources to help them incorporate SEO best practices into their routines. For example, a list of the top 20 keywords can help the marketing department, PR, and other teams better focus their efforts and message when working on their initiatives. Building shared resources and project plans make it easier to work together for success and maximize results. Open lines of communication and education about SEO can help keep everyone on that same path toward success.

Measure Results

A well-executed SEO program will require the use of various on-and off-website tools. Defining goals and metrics early on can streamline the tool selection process.

Competitive situations, business goals, and marketing goals all play a part in the selection of keywords, so it may be wise to invest in a keyword research tool. Other tools will analyze content and suggest changes in structure or verbiage. Integrating SEO with an overarching marketing program also requires providing an education on best practices and reinforcing them through the reporting process. In addition to research tools, you may want to acquire reporting tools that will help you effectively analyze and present the results of your optimization efforts.

With the right tools, you can track the success of your program and compare your program to your competitors over time. It is a best practice to examine comparative data month over month, as well as year over year, to properly account for the impact of seasonality.

Bring Everyone to the Table

SEO is a changing and evolving tactic that is often misunderstood. Instead of practicing SEO as a stand-alone service, integrate SEO wherever possible. It is a best practice to include all company departments involved in marketing initiatives, especially those responsible for content creation and website design. Keeping everyone in the loop helps connect the dots between individual departments. It also helps the organization capture every opportunity for optimization, such as time-sensitive or impromptu campaigns, partnerships, and promotions. In some companies, keyword research also impacts product research teams, as users’ needs may be expressed through queries and also through the words they use to describe products.

Key Takeaways

The results of an SEO program will vary depending on the specifics of your organization. Understanding goals, agreeing on metrics, and involving everyone in the process makes it easier to discuss objectives and how to achieve them as the program evolves. By understanding where SEO fits, setting realistic expectations, and fully integrating the idea of SEO into your organization, you will establish the foundation required to produce measurable results.

Does your organization practice an integrated approach to SEO? Share your tips in the comments!

It’s back – the SEMPO State of Search Survey

SEMPO State of Search Marketing Survey Research StateofSearch Research

Yes, it’s that time of year again – when marketers assess what went right (and wrong) as well as look forward to fresh beginnings.  This time of reflection is also the perfect opportunity to take a few moments to participate in SEMPO’s 10th annual State of Search Survey.  The survey continues our well-established template of capturing and segmenting data relevant for both marketers/clients and agencies so it is open to all digital marketers, whether they are SEMPO members or not.

We are also pleased to announce that this year we are partnering with Third Door Media (publisher of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land) to field the survey and report the results.  This edition includes focus on digital marketing trends including Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Advertising, Social Media Marketing and other digital channels in the following areas:

-Channels being utilized and changes in investment by channel/property

-Ability to measure return-on-investment (ROI) by channel/property

-Technology and tools utilized to manage channels/properties

-Resource/Personnel allocation and/or fees paid to third parties to manage channels/properties

-Prioritization of challenges in managing channels/properties

As always, in return for your time and participation in the survey, you will receive access to a free, advance copy of the in-depth report, normally worth $400, when it is published. You will also be eligible to win a new iPad 3, courtesy of SEMPO, or a FREE All-access pass to SMX West in San Jose, CA, March 3-5, 2015, courtesy of Third Door Media.

So now that you’ve read this far, why not take the few extra minutes to take the survey now by clicking here:

Multi-Cultural and International Search: Trends and Opportunities

search keys 478x359As the world becomes increasingly globalized, the roles of multi-cultural and international search in search engine marketing are shifting as well. What trends and opportunities do marketers anticipate?

SEMPO asked industry insiders what trend they think will have the biggest impact on international search within the next year. Jose Saldaña, Elena MacGurn, and Daniel Hucks provide their insights.

Daniel Hucks of Digital Strategies, Inc., thinks mobile-friendly sites and content will drive the greatest impact on international search.

Jose Saldaña of Covario agrees. According to Jose, it will definitely be mobile consumption.

“Search is becoming more specialized,” adds Elena MacGurn of Covario.

“A successful search campaign in this maturing market now requires a multi-channel network of seasoned subject-matter professionals, e.g., mobile, usability, UI, local, social, and content marketing experts who specialize in the variety of marketing verticals,” MacGurn says. “With so many facets and opportunities for your brand’s presence on Google, there’s a lot more we now have to take into consideration.”

The opportunity to capitalize exists, but how do global search engine updates affect international budgets?

“It keeps the budgets shifting at a much faster pace through the different specialty areas,” says Saldaña.

MacGurn notes that several big international search engines, including Google, Baidu and Yandex, have recently implemented a number of anti-spam measures targeting poor quality backlinks, link farms, and excessive use of links to game ranking algorithms.

“These anti-spam measures caused a natural shift in the amount typically invested in link building and content marketing for those markets,” she adds.

MacGurn anticipates an increase in the importance of multi-cultural and international search.

“Our analytics, attribution, and local targeting options are becoming more sophisticated to allow for additional customization and localized approach, creating the type of content that can better meet local demand,” states MacGurn.

According to Saldaña, cultural embracement helps build trust in consumers.

“I see [multi-cultural and international search] of critical importance, especially as the purchasing journey continues to integrate new and emerging touch points outside of search that empower consumers to have more information and options,” shares Saldaña.

Daniel Hucks isn’t quite as convinced.

“Maybe on the B2B side,” he states.

What trends and opportunities do you see in multi-cultural and international search in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Multi-Cultural and International Search: Research and Strategy Q&A

As the world becomes increasingly globalized, multi-cultural and international search are becoming an integral component in search engine marketing. What are the best international search campaign tactics and how are marketers implementing them? SEMPO asked its members for their insights.

1. How do you conduct research for international search campaigns? Can you share any tools or tricks?

Jose Saldaña of Covario:
“First, I understand the market by researching demographics, general interests, and whereabouts. Secondly, I investigate preferences and search behaviors and patterns, and lastly I integrate emerging topics and opportunities.

Common tools:
1. Market & Demographics – Display Planner, Hitwise, ComScore, SimilarWeb
2. Target Audience – Keyword Planner, Bing Keyword Tool, YouTube Keyword Tool, Google related results
3. Trends & Insights – Google Trends, Trendsmap, Google News, Google Alerts

I use Google advanced operators to narrow down to various criteria and to discover geographically relevant terminology that I then combine with a list of purchase oriented (or other categories) terms to ID highly refined keywords.”

Elena MacGurn of Covario:
“Covario’s strategy for international search campaigns relies on proprietary technology, as well as local search engine platform services. When researching local markets’ organic demand, we also look at local paid campaign insights, user-generated content from local social activity, product reviews, competitive data, internal search results, and related data.”

Daniel Hucks of Digital Strategies, Inc.:
“Generally, the research is industry specific first and country and culture more secondary.”

2. In what ways do you accommodate international holidays and events into your search efforts?

Jose Saldaña:
“We celebrate local culture and incorporate seasonal campaigns, exclusive offerings, and semantically-related content for broader non-brand coverage.”

Elena MacGurn:
“Seasonality and local search patterns are very important factors in understanding local demand for most verticals. Accommodating international holidays, seasonal events, and any ongoing marketing efforts already targeting local markets is a significant component of our international search campaigns.”

Daniel Hucks:
“Only if they are relevant to a campaign.”

3. What search tactics do you feel are the most beneficial to reach a multi-cultural audience?

Jose Saldaña:
“1. Cross-referencing between content languages for awareness
2. Finding emotional connections to invite reviews and user generated content 3. FAQs for broader content coverage”

Elena MacGurn:
“When dealing with multiple cultures and international search, I believe it is important to go a step beyond geo-targeting in order to accommodate any blended search needs of the local consumers. At Covario, we work closely with local trending topics, localized content, local social networks and search engine tools to boost engagement and capture search demand within multi-cultural markets.”

Daniel Hucks:
“Have content written by one who is native to the language and culture.”

4. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge in multi-cultural and international search?

Jose Saldaña:
“1. Acculturation – Understanding the different marketing languages of the target audience.
2. Cannibalization – Competition between various geographic areas of the same brand competing in one same area and impacting customer journey to purchase. 3. Scalable process for managing href language annotations.
4. Regional search engine updates. Centralize frameworks that make regional adoption a long or impossible process.”

Elena MacGurn:
“The biggest challenge in multi-cultural and international search is understanding real-time local demand and making the most out of those insights to target new and existing content. Scaling this effort across multiple countries or regions often results in missed targeting opportunities at a local level.”

Daniel Hucks:
“Understanding cultural nuances and regulatory environment.”

5. Do you find you are more likely to run ads globally or by country? What factors drive your media strategies?

Jose Saldaña:
1. Total market opportunity
2. Cost to reach audience
3. Brand affinity
4. Competition”

Daniel Hucks:
“By country; culture, language and regulatory.”

SEMPO thanks the contributors to this blog post and invites you to share your approach to multi-cultural and international marketing in our comments section. Also, come back soon as our contributors continue the discussion on multi-cultural search trends and opportunities.

Comprehensive Local Search Strategies Increase Online Visibility and Offline Conversions

Consumers who are searching locally are ready to buy. It’s not rocket science, just common sense! And being discovered through local search makes strong business sense too. The search landscape has evolved, and businesses must evolve their digital strategy too if they don’t want to risk getting left behind.

There are two main types of local search visibility that a business can achieve – intent visibility is being found when someone searches for a very specific product or service in a specific location. The intent is to purchase within that geo-locality. Extended visibility is being seen when a searcher is looking for a related product or service. For example, someone searching for flights to a particular city might also need a hotel, or car rental.

Quick wins can be earned with intent visibility.  Many national businesses concentrate on corporate campaigns, and national advertising – it may have worked hard to rank #1 for a national search (e.g. “insurance providers”) but if a local strategy is not in place, it will not rank as well for a local search (e.g. “insurance providers Chicago”), and these are the lower funnel searches, where intent to buy is higher. Local aligns naturally to audience intent.

So, what can a business with regional locations do to increase online intent visibility – not just from a search perspective, but also from a social perspective?

  – Website Optimization for Search Engines – First, understand what people are searching for to arrive at your site. At the very minimum, optimize your site for your product or service, plus a regional modifier. This can be best achieved by creating a website page for each and every location that the business serves. The pages should be rich with regional/location keywords, and linked to the appropriate local social pages (Facebook, Google+). Include locally relevant keywords in meta data, headers, body copy and urls. Keep page content unique, and specific to the local market you are targeting.

  – Mark-up Content with Schema if possible – This can result in higher click-through rate (although it will not have any direct impact on rankings).  Using schema to describe location information can be one area where you can use rich mark-up to communicate to the engines local information about your business.

  – Local Directory Listings – The impact of local directory listings on the local ecosystem is huge, and the accuracy of directory listings is vital for local SEO. When the name, address and phone number (NAP) on your website matches the same details on verified citation pages, Google sees it as more trustworthy and ranks it accordingly. Get listed on various local directories, review sites, hometown blogs, community websites etc. as this will not only help you build incoming links to your website, but having a strong presence on these types of sites is a huge benefit to local SEO efforts. Businesses with higher ratings from review sites are more likely to appear higher on Google for unbranded, regional search terms (and Google’s July 2014 Pigeon update reflects this approach – directories are being favoured over local businesses, which could be due to the authority that a directory has built up overtime compared to the local business listing).

  – Google+ Optimization – Google+ Local has a significant impact on local search visibility, and Google+ Local pages are directly tied to the appearance and position in a local search query. Ensure your physical address is up-to-date and accurate and make sure you are listed under the appropriate categories. Use relevant keywords and location information in the descriptions to increase your chances of appearing in search results. Google+ Local offers numerous advantages to local businesses, primarily inclusion in Google Maps and the local listings box of the search engine results page.  However, relying on visibility in the local listings on the search engine results page alone is not enough – Mediative’s new eye-tracking study, ‘The Evolution of Google Search Engine Results Pages and Their Effects on User Behaviour’ looked at the interaction users had with various elements of the Google search engine results place, including local results, and we discovered that the ability of local listings to attract attention and win clicks is dependent on the placement of the local listings box on the SERP, and on the nature of the search query.In the event that the local listings box is positioned further down the SERP, a strong on-site SEO strategy will help move your website listing further up the page.

This heat map from Mediative’s recent study shows how attention on the local listings box is greater than attention to the top two organic listings when the local listings box is above the organic listings. It’s a different story when the local listings box is below the top organic listings.

This heat map from Mediative’s recent study shows how attention on the local listings box is greater than attention to the top two organic listings when the local listings box is above the organic listings. It’s a different story when the local listings box is below the top organic listings.

- Drive Local Engagement on Facebook – Businesses with multiple locations must have a dedicated Facebook page for each location in addition to a brand-level page. This gives each location the ability to deliver unique content that targets its neighborhood’s demographic. Fans are more likely to engage with content that is relevant to them. The key with social media is using people’s networks and peers to influence them into choosing your business over a competitor – pulling people out of the open market of natural search where they could potentially choose any brand that is listed on the search engine, and engaging instead through a social channel.

  – Local Search on Mobile – Mobile search users have a higher purchase intent than their desktop counterparts because their search indicates a sense of urgency, therefore mobile optimization must be a priority for local businesses. Responsive website designs will automatically adapt to the visitors screen size, eliminating the need for a separate mobile-friendly website. Take into consideration what a consumer needs when they search for your product or service on a mobile device – as they are on-the-go they likely need information such as location. Retail consumers might want product information, whereas food and beverage consumers would be looking for a menu, or ratings and reviews.  Note: While 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases, according to comScore’s latest Local Search Study many searchers believe that they can find more complete information about local businesses on a desktop rather than a smartphone or tablet. Therefore, it’s equally as important to optimize your local online presence for desktop and mobile experiences.

  – Incorporate paid media into your strategy   Once your website has been optimized to maximize the chances of being found online, you can think about paid media, paying close attention to relevancy and searcher intent, in order to be seen.  Google paid ads, hyperlocal mobile display ads, retargeting etc. can all work to drive more people to your local business pages.

Note: Google has made an effort to simplify local marketing for SMBs with the introduction of Google My Business, making it easier for businesses to update their business information across Google platforms including Google Search, Google Maps and Google+

Case Study: Let’s take the example of a fictional car rental company – we will call it ‘ACME Car Rental’. Local online visibility is absolutely critical because, while quotes and booking can be completed online, the service is fulfilled at a physical location. What did ACME Car Rental do to ensure they were highly visible online for regional searches?

– First, ACME Car Rental created a specific website page for every one of their 53 national locations.  These pages were rich in local keywords and even linked to a few partner sites (such as a local hotel and restaurant – services often required alongside car rental), which in turn, linked back to ACME’s location pages. Also included were links to ACME’s Facebook page for the same location, and to its Google+ Local page.

– A Facebook page was also built for every rental location (the actual location, not just the city), and ACME proactively targeted consumers through social media with local deals, check-in contests, and even offered real-time customer service support, listening and responding to customers.

– ACME also invested in some Google Paid Ads – creating a specific campaign for each market served and leveraging geo-targeting options and ad messaging to specifically promote the location.

– Going a step further, ACME decided to use hyperlocal advertising to strategically target potential customers in competing car rental locations in the same region with discount coupons to their smartphones, increasing visits and new customers to ACME’s location.


Hyperlocal Mobile (HyLoMO) allows advertisers to target users in the right location and at the right time (where their intent to buy was at its greatest)

Hyperlocal Mobile (HyLoMO) allows advertisers to target users in the right location and at the right time (where their intent to buy was at its greatest)

Taking local strategy seriously, ACME was able to significantly increase online quotes, phone calls to locations, bookings, and ultimately revenue, at each location.

Local marketing for local businesses is nothing new – in fact, local businesses have been marketing in some form or another for centuries. The problem is, businesses were not necessarily communicating with consumers when they were open to being marketed to – that is, when they were ready to buy. Search engines have become cluttered with messages from a slew of advertisers who are trying to attract anyone and everyone! From organic search, mobile search, and social media has emerged local search –purchase-ready consumers discovering what is around them. A digitally savvy business will capitalize on this to increase local visibility, driving more online traffic, and in store visitors.







About Mediative:

Mediative is a digital marketing company that provides performance services and access to media platforms designed to help businesses enhance their digital presence and influence consumers’ path to purchase.

Location and research-based data fuels our knowledge, which we leverage across our range of services, online properties, and location-based marketing platforms.

With precise and unmatched insights into how shoppers buy and how users behave, we take a holistic, consultative approach to drive the results you need.


What is your agency’s reputation for client service?

3 Ways you can use your client focus to win new business.  

How does your agency differentiate itself? Do you focus on the experience of your team, the awards you’ve won, or your impressive client portfolio? There are many ways to stand apart from the competition, but there is one that is resonating more with decision makers today: a real commitment to client service excellence.

Chances are you’ve heard a potential partner or competitor tout its commitment to customers. Perhaps your agency even claims to be ‘customer-centric’ as well. What does this really mean? You send out client surveys? You have your ‘go-to’ client references or testimonials? Your agency’s client service values are listed on your website?

While these actions can certainly make it appear you care about client satisfaction, there are actually many different layers to achieving true customer-centricity. Senior leaders must lead the charge and regularly reinforce its importance, employees need clear ‘line-of-sight’ into how their actions contribute to the client experience, action must be taken based on input received from clients, and so on.

How can you illustrate to potential clients that your agency actually ‘walks the walk’ when it comes to customer-centric attitudes and behaviors?

1. Describe your customer-centric philosophy. Your approach to maintaining an open and honest dialogue with clients; the formal feedback collection efforts you have in place; the importance you place on hiring the right employees and retaining them; setting business goals based on client experience objectives; the senior team’s involvement with each account; the escalation process if an issue arises. These are all areas potential clients will be pleased to hear about as they see how you’ve embedded customer-centric processes and behaviors in your organizational DNA.

2. Explain how you act on client feedback. It doesn’t matter if your engagements are project based or retainer based – having a systematic and disciplined process for gathering feedback shows potential clients that their satisfaction matters. Tell prospects how often you solicit feedback, who reviews it, and any procedures you employ when “closing the loop.” These actions provide further assurance that clients’ voices are being both heard and used to help inform important operational and resource decisions.

3. Outline the client experience metrics your agency tracks. Why would a potential client care about the KPIs your agency measures? Many prospects have been burned before – constant turnover on their account team, deadlines missed, poor ROI. Boasting about how successful you are at establishing true partnerships helps you differentiate from the competition. Net Promoter Score®, client retention, employee satisfaction, and the percentage of accounts that serve as references all provide verification that keeping clients happy is a top priority.

Potential clients are beginning to catch on: any company can announce that it’s customer-centric, but it’s quite different to actually live it. Give prospects the confidence that your agency will treat them better – you will not only win more deals but also retain and grow your existing accounts.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily SEMPO.

®Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score and NPS are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld

Identity Crisis: Do you know what I do for a living?

Recently, a respected veteran of the search engine marketing world – who also happens to be the head of search engine marketing for one of the largest and fastest-growing companies on the planet – asked something on his Facebook account that surprised me. I won’t give a direct quote, but the gist of the question was: What should I call my department?

Few would think that the head of SEO at one of the world’s largest companies would have such a basic identity crisis. After all, this search engine optimization thing has been around for a long time. I started doing “SEO” 15 years ago in 1998. There are others who I know who were in the profession well before then. And, very few people would argue that Search Engine Marketing is not important to most companies.

However, my friend’s identity crisis was real. In fact, I think it is a real crisis for many of us who are members of SEMPO and members of the search marketing community worldwide. It’s very rare that I meet a search marketer who describes the whole of their job as “getting stuff to rank in Google.”

We’re asked to be analytics experts, coding experts, content marketing consultants, conversion rate optimization specialists, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention that we are the ones responsible for knowing about that latest thing that Google did, or the new mark-up language requirements that need to be followed, or how Bing and Yahoo! will react to the new website. Then there’s also the fact that many of us end up being business consultants, guiding our clients and employers on basic business principles – the same principles that, if presented without an online component, they would have no trouble understanding. But, put a piece of HTML code in the mix … well, you get where I’m coming from.

What do you do when your job description doesn’t adequately describe your job anymore? In the real world, most ask for a promotion. I think that’s exactly what many of us need to do. I believe that the company website should be the center of the marketing universe for most companies. Everything a marketer does should aim to drive consumers to properties you own and control. This has been a controversial opinion in some circles. Why not just convert the visitor on Facebook or Twitter? That’s great if you can, but those conversions should be considered gravy instead of the main course.

Sustainable and scalable marketing comes from a consistent flow of customers through a variety of channels. Over-dependence on any channel is a recipe for long-term disaster. Those of us in search have realized this earlier than many other marketers. We learned because we have a harsh teacher. Google has taught us that what works today may very well not work tomorrow. Those who survive in the ranks of search engine marketers don’t just expect change – they embrace it. Most SEOs I know have a near obsession with solving problems, and that is what makes them more valuable every year.

That’s why I think search marketers need more than just a seat at the table. We need to run the table. The time is right. No, Mashable, SEO is not dead. We’re just switching to the big, comfy marketing chair at the head of the table.