Building a Strong Digital Marketing Strategy: Video #3 — Local Listings – PCT Online

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Editor’s note: Go Local Interactive is a digital marketing agency that works with a number of pest control firms. The following is the third in the video series “Building a Strong Digital Marketing Strategy.” In this video, John Jordan, co-founder of Go Local Interactive, reviews how local listings help you establish local relevance in the markets that you serve and can be the first step in an organic strategy. Below is the transcript from this video.
A Recap of the First Two Digital Marketing Videos: Hi, this is John Jordan, co-founder of Go Local Interactive. And this is the 3rd video in a multi-part series where we’re describing how to build a strong digital marketing program from the foundation up.
In the first video in this series, we described this house analogy. Where you build your website, establish local relevance through your local listings, ensure crawlability and readability through SEO, establish topical relevance through content, and then use paid media as a way to increase your exposure where and when you need it.
In the second video, we covered website and analytics in a little bit greater detail, discussing how having your website set up to capture all the appropriate data and to be able to accomplish everything you would want to accomplish, from a goals perspective, was critical to the success of all your digital marketing that would follow.
In this video we’re gonna be covering local listings. And we’re gonna specifically discuss how local listings can help you to establish local relevance in the markets that you serve and be the first step in that organic strategy that we’re seeking to build.
Why Local Matters for Your Pest Control Business: The first thing I’d like to discuss with you is why exactly local matters. You may be asking yourself “does local even matter for my business?” I would say, yes it does, especially in the home services vertical. And let me give you analogies to help you better understand where I’m coming from with those comments.
For example, you might think there’s only a limited number of ways that soft drinks are described throughout the US. This map depicts, through a study, exactly how differently we view soft drinks throughout the country. Some areas of the country we use the terminology “soda”. In other areas of the country we utilize the term “pop” and yet, other areas of the country, “coke” is the prominent description of soft drinks.
If you can understand how just a simple thing like a soft drink can be described so differently in different areas of the country, it starts to help you better understand exactly how different user behavior is for everything, from all different types of products and services across the entire country.
Let me use another example for you, barbeque. Seems like a simple concept, right, but it means something different to people living in different cities throughout the United States. I’m from Austin, Texas and barbeque here means, typically, brisket or maybe sausage. If I was in the North Carolina or South Carolina area, it most likely would mean pulled pork, pork butt, or a whole hog scenario. So depending upon the area of the country you’re in, barbeque can mean something completely different. Again, just another fun analogy to kinda help you better understand where we’re coming with and how search behavior, even though you’re typing the exact same term, in this instance barbeque, can mean something completely different from one area to the next.
What Local Means for Pest Control: Now let’s get into specifically pest control. Here’s a few examples that are probably a little more familiar to you. Terminology such as pest control and exterminators. In this instance, we’ve taken a look at three different markets: one central United States, one west coast, and one east coast, to kinda demonstrate how users are searching differently utilizing that terminology. In a city like New York the terminology exterminator is much more prominently used in almost 20% of total search activity, being attributed to exterminator searches relative to pest control searches. But in a market like Portland, on the other end of the country, you can see only 5.9% of the search activity was attributed to folk using the term “exterminator”. That’s a pretty wide difference. And understanding that difference is one step in understanding why local matters when it comes to your digital marketing strategy.
Not only understanding that this is the terminology that is being used, but even taking it one step further, understanding how are users actually utilizing that term? What does it mean to them? Is a search in Portland for exterminators synonymous with a search for pest control or is that customer typically looking for a completely different type of service from your company when they search in that manner. Same thing with New York, same thing with Austin.
Understanding the context of the usage of that term and what exactly it means to that user can be critically important to your success, especially when you start to decide things like “where should my budget be allocated? Should I be going after those folk more aggressively that are using the terminology “exterminator” because it means something that’s more synonymous with the services I wanna sell? Or should I be going after “pest control” cuz that’s where the bulk of the search activity is?”
These are just two terms out of hundreds and thousands of terms that are being used by consumers that we would need to better understand at the local level so that we understand how to utilize them in our digital marketing.
Here is yet another example. This one may be surprising to some of you watching this video. It has to do with just the order in which the terminology is being used. You might think “well, this isn’t important. What if someone searched “Boston Pest Control” versus “Pest Control Boston”?, that shouldn’t really make a difference” but it actually does. If you conduct this search, you’ll notice that the search results you get back from Google actually are different, cuz Google is interpreting them differently. And so it was important for us to show you or demonstrate through this example, that it’s very different from market to market how people search, even when utilizing the exact same keywords in their search query.
In this instance, for Boston as you’ll notice, the term “Boston” appears before the term “pest control” 86% of the time and only in 14% of the searches conducted in that area, does pest control actually appear before the term “Boston” or the geography being defined.
In Las Vegas it’s almost the inverse of that. You see 23% of users searching with “Las Vegas” in the geography they’re defining before the actual service they’re looking for “pest control”. Whereas the majority of the market, 77%, actually searches with “pest control” in front and “Las Vegas” in behind.
This is, again, really important when you’re talking about your local marketing efforts and understanding exactly why what the context of that search is and how those users that are searching in those different manners really differ in what they’re looking for in the marketplace.
Then targeting them based on how well you think you fit the mold for what they’re looking for with that search query.
But again, all of this is intended to kinda show you why local matters. Now that we know why local matters, let’s talk a little about local listings.
What is Local Listings? I mentioned this in our prior slides, in our prior presentations, but local listings are your best avenue to establishing local relevance with the search engines. You have very little chance as a home service provider or pest control company to establish local relevance without a physical brick and mortar location in the markets that you’re serving. That is your best way to send a clear signal to Google that you’re in the market and that you actually do service customers in that area.
We can say all day long on our website that we’re serving this community or that community, but if we don’t have a physical location in close proximity, we’re gonna be hard pressed to find ourselves ranking organically or showing up in the map packs would certainly not be an option for us.
How to Win Local: So, two factors to winning local: one of which we just discussed, understanding regional search variances and then the second one I just touched on which is proximity for service areas. We have to be very deliberate in how we define, for the search engines, the areas that we’re actually servicing. That’s not only with the local listings, which we’re about to cover in more detail, but that also pertains to your content, your SEO efforts, and the targeting used for your paid media programs that you’re running. Really, really important that we clearly define where we service customers, very explicitly and even to the degree that “we don’t service customers on the other side of that highway”. We need to make sure that all of our campaigns reflect that, our targeting and listing reflect that, etc.
So let’s talk about Google first and foremost, cuz they’re, as everyone knows, they’re the biggest player in the space and the one that’s most critical, at least as it relates to how prominently we show up in Google search activities.
In this instance, we’re talking about the Google Business Profile, also referenced as the map pack. There are a variety of things I’d like you to consider as you manage these listings. I’ve bullet pointed them for you here.
The first one being “claim and clean up”. This is always the first step for us in the process. Where there’s acquisition activity or merger activity in a market, that convolutes things even further, meaning there might be multiple listings out there under previous business names that have to be kinda cleaned up. That’s one of the first things we look for. How many different business names are represented at the address of the listing we’re trying to clean up? And we try to get all of those cleaned up and out of there so that we have one listing that Google recognizes at that physical business’s address. So we claim that listing and then we start the process of actually completing that profile, once it’s claimed and we have ownership and control over it.
Data Consistency in Local Listings: The first piece that I want you to know about that process is we wanna pursue data consistency. The more consistent that listing information is, across the entire digital landscape, the better your local relevance will be with Google. The more confidence, the confidence factor is one of the ranking factors we know for Google in the map pack, so the more confident they are in your listing in the information you’re portraying, the higher the likelihood of it being displayed. So in this instance we want data consistency with the business name, the phone numbers being portrayed, the business hours, the products and services being offered, the service areas.
There’s a large number of things we wanna see consistent. Not only with what’s portrayed through your website, but we also wanna see that information consistent across all local listings. So not just Google we’re talking about here, we’re talking about your Apple Maps listings, your Bing listings, your Yelp listings, your Facebook listings. We want the same information being portrayed through all these listings to raise that confidence factor with Google and increase the likelihood that your listings are gonna show up in that map pack. So that’s kinda step one.
Defining Your Service Area in Local Listings: The next piece, as we discussed earlier, is defining that service area. And really you could do this in a variety of ways. The easiest way is to set a radius around your location, but realizing that that doesn’t always properly define areas that you service. Maybe you travel 30 miles west but only 10 miles east from your physical location. It’s often a better idea to actually physically draw out within that Google account, for that listing, the service area and define it more clearly for Google. Then we can reinforce that through things we do on the website as well.
Actively Managing Your Pest Control Listing: Next we want to make sure that we are actively managing the listing. I think a lot of times the big mistake that’s made is a company will go out, they’ll claim their listing and then they more or less forget about it. They let it kinda set it and forget it. That’s a really bad idea for listings for a variety of reasons. But the number one being that information does change over time. Google will go out, they’ll crawl the world then they’ll find other information out there that conflicts with your information you’re portraying through that listing. And if they see you haven’t been actively managing it and logging in and making updates and changes to it, they may believe the information they just found is more accurate and they may merge that information into that existing listing and thus start a problem for you where you’re portraying incorrect information to  users, even though you didn’t actually change anything.
So when I say active management, one component of that is actively going in, at least every month, and verifying the information portrayed through that listing hasn’t changed and it still reflects your accurate business information. There’s a lot more to that in terms of active management, which we’ll get into here in a few minutes, but that’s one piece.
Why Reviews Matter to Local Listings: The next piece is engaging and responding to reviews. Reviews are a known ranking factor, not only through your map pack listings, but also for your organic presence for your website as well. And so we want to make sure that Google sees we’re actively responding to those users when they’re leaving a review for us. It also shows, obviously, to users that are considering you as a business they wanna work with, it gives them a reason to believe that you’re actually actively engaged and care about the information you’re getting from users to continuously get better.
Why Market Pages Matter to Local Listings: The next thing, though, is to talk about linking the location to your market pages. This is actually pretty easy to do but it is very common that we see this not done correctly. So, for each of your physical business locations, you’d like to have a corresponding location or market page on your website and that’s what you want your Google listing to link to. It confirms again for Google that you’re local to that market and it corresponds, it gives the users a way to jump directly from that Google listing into a page that’s more relevant to them and talk about how you service their area. Again it’s really important that that link be the same link that you’re portraying through all your other map listings that are out there, whether it be Apple, Yelp, etc.
Take Advantage of Products through GBP: Next one. This one is only applicable for Google and it’s implementing products. Some time back Google opened up an opportunity for us to portray the products and services we’re offering through what they call their products page. I’ll show you an example of this here in a little bit. But we wanna clearly fill out those products for each of our Google listings, cuz it does reinforce, again for Google, what we do and where we offer those services.
Properly Tracking Your Local Listings: Utilizing GTM, otherwise known as Google Tag Manager, for tracking is really important. This will give us greater insight into once a user visits the website directly from Google Maps, what happened, where’d that user go, and what interactions did we have with them on our website so that we can place a value upon that interaction and better understand what users are looking for when they’re actually coming from those map listings to our website.
Utilizing High-Quality Photos and Videos: Last piece I’ve listed here, again, there’s a lot more to local listings but I just wanna give you a good road map for the most important items, is to use high quality photos and video. We don’t wanna be reliant on the photos that Google has from their drive-by mapping software being our photo image. We wanna upload our logos and imagery of our technicians out in the field. We wanna make sure we represent our business in a way that’s consistent with how we want ourselves portrayed through any other marketing effort. So that involves a little bit of time and effort in making sure that we have high quality photos that are displaying properly on those map listings.
I mentioned this earlier but I wanted to show you an example of reviews. In this instance, this is an Austin based company. They’ve got quite a few reviews, about 1,024. Google’s rewarding them by displaying their listing fairly prominently in the Austin market. But I wanted to highlight or call out, for you, what a response looks like. Often we don’t really know “what do we say to a user when they’re leaving a review for us?”. This is a great example of how that interaction might look. You can go back and look at this video or pause here to kinda read it in more detail but I wanted to give you a good example of what it might look like to respond to your customers when they’re leaving positive, negative, or neutral reviews.
Very important, again, to show Google that you’re actively engaged with these listings by responding to reviews. That increases the likeliness, again, of your listing displaying because Google, the more frequently you’re engaging and interacting with these listings, the more confident Google is that the information portrayed through those listings is accurate, cuz you as a business owner are actively seeing it when you log in to respond to reviews. So it goes without saying that their confidence level is increased.
Here’s another example I mentioned earlier, products. So I wanted to show you a physical example of what that looks like. Again, another Austin based company. Wanted to show you how they had listed their rodent control, bed bug control, and termite control, as products offered at this particular location. So it is a good opportunity to reinforce for Google, when these listings are relevant to display to a user. In this instance if someone’s searching for rodent control in Austin, Texas, there’s a higher likelihood that this listing will show up because, again, they’ve defined, in one more way, for Google, we offer this service and where we offer it. You can’t reinforce those things enough, whether it be through these listings, your content, SEO, or other efforts. We have to continually remind Google what we do and where we do it.
Ok, so, once you’ve gotten through that step, and you’ve claimed your listing on Google and I’m assuming now you would’ve done similar processes for Apple, Bing, Yelp, and Facebook, what we would call the big five. Now you kind of have to worry about the rest of the universe out there of listings. There is an easier way to address those listings without having to individually go and pick them off one-by-one. That could be really time consuming and may not be worth the full effort you’d have to put forth to keep those listings accurate ongoing.
You can use these things called “business listing aggregators.” I’ve listed a couple of them here. Factual and Data Axle, where you can actually go and contract with them to distribute your business listings information to a larger population of business listing companies. This could be anything from your online yellow pages sites, to in-car navigation, to 4-1-1 records. You can update a lot of different sites through this one effort. Once these listings are out there, and the business listing information is being fed from these data aggregators, they’re referred to as, in this world, more as citations. So, Google likes citations, because again, they’re further affirmation that the information they have on file for your business is accurate. And by feeding these aggregators you’re giving yourself a higher likelihood of that information then being portrayed through these hundreds of other directory sites that are out there, accurately creating valuable citations for your business, that then increase the likelihood, again, increase that confidence level with Google, which then in turn increases the likelihood that listing’s gonna be displayed to users.
Local Listings is the Framework to Your Digital Marketing Efforts: Ok, so, that was a whirlwind about local listings. I hope that made sense and is helpful for you. Please join us on the sessions that follow where we’re gonna talk about SEO and content and paid media and until then, we’ll see ya next time. This is John Jordan with Go Local Interactive.

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