When Local Search Marketing is Important

Local search marketing applies to any business that has a catchment area that draws clients into the business.  Examples abound but include; dentists, massage therapy, retail shops, restaurants etc.

Local search refers to the process used by potential clients to find (“search”) for your business.  If they can’t easily find you, you may never get their business.

For businesses of these types which sell local face-to-face service, Local Search Marketing is likely Mission Critical.

Gameplan Contents

This GamePlan;

  • connects and configures the BrightLocal Local Search Marketing (LSM) tool
  • takes an initial benchmark of your current LSM rankings
  • helps you prioritize what steps to take to improve your LSM for several factors including;
    • Local SEO Rankings to show your success with your chosen keywords
    • Local Search Grid results for LSM ranking in the various locations in your catchment area
    • Reputation Management by monitoring and improving your reviews
    • Google Business Profile which is one of your most important assets for good search engine rankings
    • Google Analytics which shows where your marketing leads are coming from
    • Citations Management in the important online directories like Yellow Pages

LSM is very important for all businesses that draw customers from a catchment area surrounding your place of work.   Since your catchment area will be limited by competition from other businesses in your profession in nearby areas, it is very important that you promote your business as well as possible to capture the greatest share of your possible market.  Such businesses include local service businesses like dentists, therapists, lawyers and building trades and local retail businesses that consumers use infrequently and are like to search for like plant nurseries and used cars.

LSM is also a long-life tool.  Once set up, it takes a few months to maximize returns but then it markets for you largely at no further cost.  Your Search rankings will deteriorate over time due to e.g. changing competition, better marketing by your competitors and changing customer tastes.  Periodic LSM audits using this tool will show those area that are starting to weaken so you can address them before losing too many potential customers.

LSM is a “lead generation” tool at the start of your Sales Funnel whose purpose is to attract the most suitable customers from your service catchment area and expose them to your service offering in the hope they will take up your service.  

Read more about Gameplans & StrategyTrees on this link.

Read More about Analytics on this link 

BrightLocal and other Local Search Marketing tools

There are several tools available for you to manage your local marketing.  We have found BrightLocal to be particularly useful as it also has extensive training materials freely available.

Semrush also offer this resource.

Paid subscriptions to these tools is your decision and responsibly to manage.

The materials in this GamePlan use the BrightLocal tool kit but others will be similar.

Getting Help

From 12Faces

Depending what level you signed up for when buying this GamePlan you will have different levels of assistance from us.

As you get some experience with using this LSM GamePlan and its tools, you may want to upsize or downsize the amount of help you get from 12Faces.  You can change your plan on a monthly basis and before the next month is auto changed by emailing us on reception@backstop.business with your desired change.

You might also be happy with the GamePlan option you took but would like occasional, on-demand, assistance.  That is always available via you business coaching service.  See more about coaching and book on this link.

Outsourced Work

You may find some tasks are beyond your skill set or time you have available.  An example is creating new webpages to improve your SEO.

If you don’t have access to outsourced labour for these tasks, we may be able to help you either with our resources or to help you find a creditable third party.  To get started, email us on reception@backstop.business describing what you need.

GamePlan Progress

Every business will have different results from the initial, benchmark, LSM audit.

That means you will assign different priorities to the various elements of our comprehensive LSM process than another, similar, business will.

To help design the best approach for your business, we have a personal LSM Scorecard that you update with your progress and which then suggests the next most beneficial step to undertake.

You can learn more about using the LSM Scorecard on this link

A copy of a Google sheet with the current version of the ScoreCard can be found in your Google drive folder.

Sprinting to Improve Local Search Marketing

Short ‘sprints’  are part of the GamePlan methodology for progressing as rapidly as possible down the best path to the best outcomes (more on this link). 

The idea of sprints are that they are short (1-2 weeks) and complete work modules. 

The actual time period will depend on how much time you have to devote to improving your business. 

Done properly, you will get a clear results (good, bad or indifferent) by the end of the sprint.  If it has not worked out, you have not lost much time.

Sprints are best run using the PDCA Cycle which stands for Plan, Do, Check, Adapt (more info in this link).  This is a well proven methodology. Each sprint comprises;

  • Plan of what you want to do and how
  • Do where you execute the Plan
  • Check where you see the outcome of the “Do” and 
  • Adapt where you integrate what you have learnt and achieved into your current work practices then
  • rinse and repeat.

Your actual sprints will be guided by the Progress Scorecard mentioned above.  We suggest you convert each task that your set yourself to improve into its own sprint and focus pretty much exclusively on getting this sprint done before looking at another element of LSM to improve with its own sprint.

Our recommended Sprints / tasks are in the Scorecard as “Items”.  However, you can make any changes that you like in the Scorecard.

The Scorecard should be updated after each sprint so it gives you an indication of the most useful area to focus on for the next sprint.

Your BrightLocal will be set to update results at least monthly so it will be a good practice for you to put a reminder in your calendar to check the results each month.  Periodic reports will also be emailed to you.

Goals

It is vital to have a clear sense of direction for the business and for this GamePlan.  They acts as a compass to keep you focused on what to do next in order to meet those Goals.  You need both a longer term Goal for your business and a shorter term one for this GamePlan period.

You can read more on Goal Setting on this link

Setting Long Term Goals

Your Long Term Goals for your business are very personal to you so we can’t set them for you.

But it is important for you to at least outline them at this point because the way you choose your marketing catchment area and the effort you put into LSM will depend on such things as;

  • do you want to grow your business: you need to maximize sales
  • are you happy staying the size you are now: you just want to fill out your working week with your ideal clients
  • you want to sell the business: you want to maximize sales in order to maximize your sale price

Sample Long Term Goals: A profitable business with much the same staffing levels as present and running as efficiently and profitably as possible.  Our Sustainable Business Success Goal.

Setting GamePlan Goal

The GamePlan goal is primarily to optimize your Local Search presence.  You can modify the sample wording below as you wish. 

Sample GamePlan Goal: Optimise the Local Search Marketing for my current business size and economically fill available time slots with high value clients within the next 12 weeks.

More on Goals at different Lifecycle stages of small business on this link 

StrategyTree

Add the 3-5 Critical Success Factors (CSF) that will determine how well you reach the GamePlan Goals.  For each of these, note the several Necessary Conditions (NC) that impact on the CSF.

  1. CSF: choose the product range and service catchment area over which to maximize marketing potential
    1. NC: identify the “best” products and find the best keywords for marketing those products via search engine optimization (SEO)
    2. NC: identify the realistic service catchment area from which clients will come to your business rather than one in a different location
  2. CSF: optimise the local search marketing system
    1. NC: benchmark the existing digital local area marketing and monitor change each month
    2. NC: prioritise the weak areas of the current marketing for improvement
    3. NC: review the current product range to identify best products and focus marketing program on them
    4. Tune the Sales Funnel for best performance (lead generation, Waiting Room, Sales conversion, Retention)
  3. CSF: use business analytics to monitor health and opportunity
    1. NC: benchmark LMS rankings
    2. NC: add each period’s data to the analytics and review trends
 

Action:

  1. Write down your Goals in a space on the LSM Scorecard provided so they will be visible each time you visit the Scorecard as constant reminder
  2. change the “Condition” of the “Item – LSM GamePlan Goals” to 10 to reflect that that task has been done.

Configuring BrightLocal

We identify the best tools available when we offer them to you.  For Local Search Marketing, we have chosen BrightLocal.  It is an outstanding and specialized tool.  It has a great library of training on how to use and interpret the package. You can learn more on this 2:15 minute video from BrightLocal

As you will only set up BrightLocal once, we will do most of that step for you to save you time.

Initial Keywords and Service Area

We will need your help with the initial set of keywords and service area.  Please read the article on keywords and service areas  and provide;

  • up to 5 of your chosen highest priority services or products  and
  • up to 5 suburbs or town locations that outline the outer corners of the service catchment you want to draw people from.

We will combine these as e.g. dentist Redcliff  to prime BrightLocal for what to rank your current SEO presence on.

Access to Third-Party Apps

For best results, your BrightLocal can be connected to e.g. Google Analytics  to import information from those sources into your LSM ranking audits.

BrightLocal would like to connect to;

  • Google Business Profile (recommended)
  • Google Analytics (helpful) and
  • your Facebook page (useful if you get many reviews from your page)

Learn more about how to do this for the various apps on this article on integrating your apps.

Business Descriptive Information

There is quite a lot of information required on your business.  This gives a full profile as part of the plan to get all your listings in all locations (website, Google Business Profile, socials and citations) with the same information do that search engines like Google can match up your various listings and improve your ranking.

We will begin this process for you but would like a zoom session to with you to ensure that we have correctly entered the information.

This can sound a bit tedious but having a uniform public face is important. 

The necessary information includes the following.  Much of this might already be in e.g. your Google Business Profile so you can refer us to that if you are happy it is correct. The following information is required;

  • Business Name
  • Address
  • Postcode
  • Phone
  • Website
  • Email
  • Mobile
  • Business formation date
  • Main business category
  • Subordinate business categories (select during zoom session)
  • List of services / products
  • Description of business
  • Working hours
  • Payment methods accepted
  • Company logo – jpeg, jpg or png format only  – we might be able to get this from your website
  • Location photo –  jpeg, jpg or png format only – we might be able to get this from your website
  • URL to any social profile links required (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest

Action:

  1. update the relevant Scoreboard “Item” “Condition” for when you have decided on your service keywords and catchment area and sent that information to 12Faces on reception@backstop.business  so we can load them up 
  2. update the “BL Setup completed” Scoreboard “Item” “Condition” when you have forwarded the Business data and clarified in a zoom session that it is correct. 

First Results from BrightLocal

Once your BrightLocal is set up, it will run and generate your first lot of results.  It will send these to you by email and you can log in to your copy of the program and look at them in more detail online.

These results are your starting benchmark data so you can measure improvement against them.

Adjust your Configuration

It is likely that issues will be thrown up during this first pass that will lead you to make changes to your configuration and to your other assets like Google Business Profile (GBP) and website to bring it more into line with your current LSM reality.  For example;

  • some things you expect to appear (e.g. citations, reviews) don’t show up.  These might need changes to e.g. your business name, address, Google Business Profile  and other assets to align them with what BrightLocal discovered. 
  • In particular, you want to get your so-called “NAP” (Name, Address & Phone) data correct and the same everywhere they appear else Google may struggle to connect all your LSM assets together and boost your search result ranking.
  • service keywords might not rank as well as you wish and competitors might have “better” keywords you can learn from.  You can change your keywords but do reflect back on why you selected them in the first place. 
  • your citation listings are often all over the place and may have outright wrong data like bad addresses, previous occupants of your current rental space, wrong phone numbers.  Note error these for remedial action over time using the modular sprints outlined below.

Build out your Scoreboard

Based on these results, you can now fill out the “Condition” part of each LSM “Item” in your Scoreboard.

Once done, you have a visual reading on the condition of your business and a suggested prioritization of what to work on next.  We discuss how to do improvements in a section below.

The results here vary greatly with each business.  Sometimes your previous marketing efforts will pay off for some modules but results will be dismal for others.

Peeling back these layers is a really exciting step because it will show you just where and what can be done to improve your Local Search Marketing (LSM)

Action:

  1. update ScoreBoard with the current “Condition” of each LSM “Item”
  2. clean up any configuration issues that are easily done
  3. update the Scoreboard  again after doing these changes and running BrightLocal again
  4. you now have a Scoreboard that will recommend priority tasks for improving your LSM as beneficially as possible taking into account the module importance in LSM, cost and time for response.  Read following sections about what to do with this information

Launch your PDCA Improvement Cycle

We discussed the Plan, Do, Check, Adapt Cycle early on in this GamePlan outline.

Now you will execute 1-2 week sprints on each of the modules making up your LSM profile to improve them and hence the number of customers you get.  

We suggest you set 1 sprint per week and focus on it exclusively.  If you find you can’t get it finished in a week, extend your Sprint length to 2 weeks.  Remember, short, fast, sprints will get you to your Goal much faster.

Plan

You can pick your next sprint however you like.  We outline a method that seems to work well here for your considfertion. 

Steps;

  1. pick the next module to improve.  Normally, pick the one with the best “Benefit / Cost” in your Scoreboard
  2. read the specific articles we link to in each module to learn more about how to do the sprint
  3. jot down the tasks  that needs to be done in the sprint
  4. decide if you have the time and expertise to do that task yourself
  5. if not, decide how to outsource the task.

Outsourcing Tasks

We encourage you to prepare a dot-point, written,  “brief” for the outsourcer for what you want done. 

Use this to give them guidance and to hold them accountable for doing what you want.  Spoken briefs are easily misunderstood and forgotten. 

If using an outsourcer, they might not get the work done during your sprint time frame.  In this case, it is acceptable to park that sprint till you hear back from them and move onto another sprint you can execute personally.

Outsourcing costs you money.  The amount that you outsource at once will depend on your budget.  If you can afford to pay more, you could set up several outsourced tasks to run simultaneously while you focus on just one that you do yourself,

Do

Either you or your outsourcer do the required tasks.

Check

Once competed, run the BrightLocal checks again and study the results.

Note that some activities will take longer than others (see the “Time for Impact” column in Scoreboard) so don’t always expect immediate improvement.

Adapt

Update the “Condition” column in your Scoreboard and study the changes in e.g. the “Benefit /Cost” column. 

Remember that modules other than the one you just worked on may improve as well so check each module, each PDCA cycle, and update all their “Condition” data.

Based on that, you can start the next PDCA Sprint cycle at its Plan stage 

Introduction to Search Modules

The BrightLocal app collects information from the many sources that Google and other search engines use to decide where to rank you in the search results displayed.  It displays them under several menu headings we call “modules” for convenience.

As part of our ‘sprint’ philosophy discussed at the “Sprinting to Get Ahead” section top of this GamePlan, we suggest you dedicate a sprint to each module and work on improving that module before moving on.  We encourage you to use the PDCA method outlined immediately above this section.

The order in which you do them is up to you and is also discussed in the previous section.

Each module is outlined below.  For many, we provide a link to a separate article specifically on that topic.

After any sprint, update the Scoreboard as best you can.  It is likely to take time for the results of your efforts to show up but you can at least improve the “Condition” score to reflect that you have worked on the issue.  If it later turns out there is more work to be done, you can reduce the “Condition” again to get it back into your work queue.

Location Summary

This is the first module in the list on the website and provides an overview snapshot. 

For any that are of concern, you can click on the “View Full Report” to see more.

There is no tune-up worl required for this module.

Rank Tracker Module

The overall health of your Local Search program is tracked over time with the Local Rank Tracker.  This tool is vital to show any downturn in Local Search performance; which will always be a threat in the dynamic digital marketing ecosystem.

Actions:

  1. Visit the specialist article on Local Rank Tracker and develop a workplan to improve lagging rankings
  2. update the “Condition” of this “Item” in the Scorecard once done

Local Search Grid Module

Check your ranking for each service you offer and at each locality within your catchment area with Local Search Grid.  This will indicate areas that you should work to improve.  Typically this will require website SEO improvement. 

Actions:

  1. Visit the specialist article on Local Search Grid and develop a workplan to improve lagging rankings
  2. update the “Condition” of this “Item” in the Scorecard once done

Citations Tracker and Builder Module

The term citations refers to your entries in the various on-line directories like Yellow Pages and TruLocal.  This process is in two parts;

  • Citation Tracker: which shows your current listings and
  • Citation Builder: which provides tools to outsource adding your business details to additional directories and cleaning up ones that are incorrect.

You can read more about both processes at the specialist article citations in on-line directories

Actions:

  1. Visit the specialist article citations in on-line directories and develop a workplan to improve citation listings
  2. update the “Condition” of the “Citations” “Item” in the Scorecard once done

Reputation Manager Module

Ninety percent of potential customers read reviews and 83% believe them.  Clearly it is important for you to have an attractive reputation for potential customers.  Learn more about how to Measure and Improve your Business’s Reputation

Actions:

  1. Visit the specialist article Measure and Improve your Business’s Reputation and develop a workplan to improve your public reputation
  2. update the “Condition” of the “Reputation Manager “Item” in the Scorecard once done

Google Business Profile Audit Module

One of the most critical local marketing assets is your free Google Business Profile.  This assembles all the information Google needs to determine your ranking position in any search results.  See our  GBP setup training here.

Actions:

  1. Visit the specialist article GBP setup training here and develop a workplan to improve your GBP
  2. update the  “Condition” of relevant “Items” in the Google Business Profile group in the Scorecard once done

Local Search Audit Module

The Local Search Audit (‘LSA’ for short) examines the most important SEO and local SEO factors that influence your ability to rank in search (e.g. Google). 

Its top-level summary provides a really useful guide to SEO performance and provides jump-links to the corresponding report sections. Each section is color-coded so you can quickly see which areas of your local strategy need the most attention.

Visit this LSA link to learn more

Actions:

  1. Visit the specialist article and develop a workplan to improve the areas of most concern.
  2. update the “Condition” of the Local Search Audit “Item” in the Scorecard once done

Google Analytics Module

This module imports key data from your Google Analytics  (GA) account.  Tuning your GA is a big topic not covered here.  However, you can learn how to better interpret GA results in this article

Actions:

  1. Visit the specialist article on interpreting GA results and develop a workplan to improve your data collection in GA
  2. update the “Condition” of the Google Analytics “Item” in the Scorecard once done

GamePlan Wrap-up

Once you have the Scorecard showing results that satisfy you, you can conclude this Gameplan.

But, keep in mind that you should set aside an hour or so each month to review the current BrightLocal reports for areas where your performance is dropping.

Falls in performance are almost certain to happen because;

  • you will get new competitors
  • your service technology will change so your keywords will change in importance
  • some of your marketing assets like citations, website pages and your Google Business Profile will get “tired” and drop off in performance.

Feedback Appreciated

At any point in this GamePlan if you come across something that will improve the GamePlan for those that follow you as users, do please shoot your suggestion to reception@backstop.businessBad news is particularly appreciated as it lets us improve the service for the whole community.

Password Protected Logins

For your convenience, we have gathered the various logins to your private resources in one place.  Each has password protection for your privacy.

Copy this URL into your browser and replace the “XXX” at the end with your Client number.  You will need the password separately.

Login URL

Access will be provided to any of the following resources you are enrolled in. 

  • Mission Control: managing CRM, Social Marketing, Google Business Profile, Reputation Management and a host of other features.
  • Google Drive Folder:  this private area holds any material you have uploaded or contributed.
  • TrendBoard: visual dashboard of important financial trends in your business on monthly, quarterly and multi annual basis
  • BrightLocal: Local area SEO, Google Business Profile, Citations and Reputation Monitoring and Management

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