Social media signals have always invited contradicting opinions. While some believe that social signals are a major part of the top 10 ranking factors, others oppose this by saying that there is just a correlation effect and not a causation effect. Thus, implying that social signals do not have any direct effect on local organic rankings.
I think I’ll go with the latter opinion. I totally agree that social signals and traffic do not have any direct effect on organic local results. But I also strongly stand for the point that social platforms, if used efficiently, have the potential to bring maximum traffic to your local business.
As I always say, local seo is all about being anywhere and everywhere where your customers might search for you. Also, you cannot deny the fact that people spend most of their free time on social media. Thus, it’s in the best interest of local businesses to have a vibrant social media hold.
Why is Social Media important for Local Businesses?
Let’s go through some of the most important points:
1. It raises awareness for your business
Generally whenever you post a photo, a tweet, a video or any blog on your social media profile, you create conversations. Online discussions get viral soon leading the news of your business to reach farther and wider.This helps your business reach new potential customers, ultimately contributing to increasing your leads.
2. It helps in improving your rankings
Google and Bing have confirmed that Twitter and Facebook profiles influence SEO results. So do, Google+, LinkedIn and others. The more your business is talked about, the better place it gets in the search results.
When your customers search for your brand, your social media profiles show up in the results as well. These create more click-through opportunities as they occupy a valuable spot in SERPs. If you do not optimize these profiles, you might miss on this referral traffic.
Let’s go through the example below:
3. It provides a great platform to connect with your customers
Let’s say you are a restaurant and you’ve posted a recent picture of the new “chef’s-special” dish on your facebook page.You can easily strike your conversations with the existing customers and work towards creating new ones.
4. It leads to offline sales
As discussed above, customers usually do their research online before going for a purchase. If your business is actively talked about on social media, you can occupy a good place in the local search results. This will in turn, drive more offline sales to your store.
5. Free Advertisement of your brand
You can always give regular updates on your brand’s product/services through images, videos, blogs on your respective social media profiles. You can effectively advertise your brand for free by following an active and engaging social media routine to make your brand interesting.
How to leverage social efforts for local SEO?
Effective local SEO with social media marketing is a time confusing, troublesome yet important task. Before getting involved in this, I would suggest you to take a moment and look at what you are trying to achieve. Also, you need to analyze which platform can help you boost your leads and traffic, and how depending on the type of business you run.
There has always been a debate over which is the most preferred social media channel for local businesses to reach their prospective customers and how to capitalize on them.
But I will suggest you to follow a multi layered and sustainable approach that includes prioritizing social media channels along with social media content creation that best fits your business objectives .
Start with the biggies
Facebook has a huge potential to engage the audience. It is the most powerful social media platform for local business today. Also, it has the highest engagement rates of all social media platforms. It’s therefore not wise to ignore Facebook right now as it offers great opportunities for local business.
Marketers can take some benefit from Facebook’s New Local Insights feature to capitalize on these opportunities. The newly added feature is helping the marketers learn more about the people (foot traffic) in the vicinity of their local store – well categorized into age and gender. For example, if you own a merchandize store and are recently running an ad campaign for the “christmas discount season” on Facebook, you can actually see what percentage of people who saw this ad are near your store! Amazing, isn’t it?
Also, with Facebook’s recent news feed algorithm changes, marketers need to keep the users engaged with more timely, relevant, trustworthy and original content/photos/videos to earn the likes and comments. Marketers can take advantage of Facebook by advertising their events and special promotions. People love to find “deals”. Local discounts are one of customer’s favourite search phrases. You can capitalize on them by sharing your coupons on facebook. Announcing any upcoming event is another great idea. For example, a local bar can announce and promote its “lady’s night” on Facebook.
Twitter, another active social media platform, also has the potential to bag the targeted attention in your niche.The Google/Twitter deal, leading to real time tweets being displayed in Google search results contributed towards increasing the significance of having strong and active twitter presence.
Number of followers, audience engagement and word of mouth marketing plays a crucial role in establishing your brand on twitter. Embedded tweets, capitalizing on the hashtags relevant to your niche, targeting the most trending hashtags can help you engage and connect with your target audience. Also, Twitter is a great place for local brands to run contests which can raise awareness for their products and services.
For example, some time back Red bull came up with a twitter based competition in UAE (at the time of Ramadan) to increase the awareness of its newly launched flavors. They posted a riddle every day and UAE-based twitter users had to answer it in the form of a tweet with a mention to @redbulluae and hashtag it with #ramadanriddles.
LinkedIn is a totally different, yet very important social interaction platform. It’s the world’s biggest online professional platform and also, a great networking platform for local B2B organisations. This channel usually works as a credibility checkpoint.
The engagement on this platform is often low but users visit LinkedIn to weigh the validity and authenticity of businesses. Therefore, if your business does not have a LinkedIn profile, users might get a negative perception.This platform will effectively get your brand exposed to more people.
If you would like to know more about the topic, read our article on how to develop an effective content marketing strategy on LinkedIn.
Being present (establishing and promoting local business) here will directly help you with SEO. Google+ effectively indexes photos, videos and reviews thus increasing the chances of your business showing up in the search results. It also assists your business in earning high quality links by attaching personal reputation to viral engagement of content.
When you claim your local business on Google+, your business details is distributed throughout the local search ecosystem.
Develop relevant local content
A strong social media presence has to be complemented with relevant local content for best results. You should develop local content which is relevant to your community or industry.
Search results in both search engines as well as social media searches are effectively driven by content which leads to generating “likes”, “shares”, “retweets”, “favourites”, ultimately contributing to local optimization.
You should include original, interesting and controversial topics and strategically place keywords.You can create local resources – a local map of tourist attractions, pet friendly places, a local event calendar or local guide to the best food joints, pubs/bars
If your content is liked by people, it will be shared across the web making it easier for the search engines to pick up the content as results for relevant search queries.
Customize your social strategy onthe basis of your business
Broadly speaking, local businesses can be categorized into two groups – retails like restaurants, hotels, eating joints, departmental stores and lead generation like contractors, legal service providers, medical practitioners, real estate professionals etc. Each of these local business categories should focus on their social media marketing strategy in ways customized according to the type of business.
For example, for the retail category, twitter will be most effective for driving foot traffic to their stores with tweets about special discounts, offers, product updates etc. Marketers can tweet about the “top-picks” in their store every week, offer exclusive deals or tell their fans/followers what’s new in their stores. Also, when organizing events, invites can be tweeted by talking about the activities or the prizes that could be earned.
For the lead generating category, Facebook or Youtube might be a better option. They can use Youtube as a platform to launch or feature a new product/service video or promote a post on some valuable or controversial topic on Facebook. Twitter can be a secondary option here to support the above activities on Youtube and Facebook respectively.
This was it! I hope the post helped you.
Now, over to you! What are your thoughts on the topic? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.