For this TNI Podcast, we interviewed Natalie Vasilyev of The Net Impact team. In September 2011, Natalie joined The Net Impact to lead the web marketing department. Natalie will discuss local search marketing, mobile search, directory listings and geo-targeted and geo-modified campaigns.
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Sammi: Hi and welcome to the TNI Podcast Series where we interview web, social media, and interactive marketing professionals. Today, we are talking with Natalie Vasilyev from The Net Impact team. In September 2011, Natalie joined The Net Impact to lead the Web Marketing Services Department. In this podcast, we’ll learn about local and mobile SEO strategies.
Natalie, thank you for joining us.
Natalie: Thanks for having me.
Sammi: We’re really excited to talk to you about SEO strategies. And to start off, I just want to discuss a little bit about local search, maybe just kind of say what it is and who needs a local strategy.
Natalie: Sure. So local search is a practice of promoting a business or a service with the geographical location in mind. People search for information about what they are looking for and where they want to find it — for example, St. Louis dry cleaners or dry cleaners and a specific ZIP Code. Google tells us they are considering three factors when serving local search results. First one is relevance. So for example, for keyword “St. Louis cleaners,” they would look for dry cleaners and the appropriate dry cleaners and their website.
Second, prominence. It looks at website quality and popularity. And third one is distance. Google uses IP addresses to serve locations closest to your geographical targeted area.
Sammi: So would you say local businesses need a local search strategy then?
Sammi: Well, so if they do need it, how would you optimize it?
Natalie: So to optimize for local search, you need to create a website targeting that desired service area, performing keyword research analysis to know what keywords people use when they are looking for dry cleaners in a specific area. For example, people search for dry cleaners in St. Louis or do they search for dry cleaners in Chesterfield? You need to submit your business information to local directories and local search engines. These directories include Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Bing Local, Insider Pages, Yelp, Urbanspoon, and TripAdvisor for restaurants, Citysearch, Yellow Pages, and many others. It’s very important to submit accurate information like address, phone number, your website, hours of operation.
To track performance, we recommend using a site analytics. For example, Google Analytics, this tool provides website activity like site visits, keywords that were used to find your local listings, goal attainment, your bounce rate, and others. It’s important to track website activity in order to measure the success of local search marketing.
Sammi: So you’re talking about finding businesses in a specific area. Can you tell me a little bit about geo-targeted and geo-modified campaign, if there is a difference between the two?
Natalie: Absolutely. When talking about geo-targeting versus geo-modified, you are talking about paid search campaigns. With paid search, you can launch it to your targeted campaign, which is a campaign that’s geo-targeted on a back end to a specific area. Only results within that area would come up when people are searching and your site would appear.
For example, you are targeting St. Louis. No matter what type of geo-targeted keyword versus not geo-targeted, your ads would serve. Some people could search for dry cleaners but because you are targeting a specific area, your ad would serve. Versus a geo-modified campaign would target the entire U.S. However, only keywords that have St. Louis in or other geo-targeted area in mind would serve your ads.
Sammi: So how would you suppose people are searching for these businesses? Are they just using their computer? Are they looking from their phone? What’s the most popular way to search for these?
Natalie: Sure. People are using both. However, mobile search result or mobile search devices are used twice as much as a PC when performing a local search. It’s very important to have, again, very accurate information. People are looking for driving directions, coupon, the address when they are trying to find your business, and contact information. It’s important not to forget about mobile search when performing or evaluating a local search strategy.
Sammi: All right, so let’s take it up a notch. What does your local search program look like at The Net Impact? What benefits does a local search have for a company?
Natalie: Sure. So at The Net Impact, we are considering a holistic approach to local search and geo-marketing. It’s important to have a proper website to drive users for information. Using localized search engine optimization tactics, we make sure that our client’s website is found in the local search result in the area that is desired to them. We review our client’s local footprint on Google Maps, Yahoo! Local, Bing Local, Yellow Pages, and many others. We make sure that the information we find is accurate; otherwise, we will make sure that we update all of their information. We implement creative strategy to draw people to the website and highlight their goal. So for example, if it is a dry cleaner and they have a certain promotion on certain days, we would like to highlight that not only on their website but also in the creative ads that we use.
And finally, we implement site analytics to measure and evaluate performance. For example, we know what are the keywords used, what was searched, and how popular they are. We also know the conversions and how we attain our conversions to the goals that we set. The information we receive from site analytics measure the success of our actions and provide future test opportunities. It is a constant reevaluation of performance against our strategy.
Sammi: So it definitely seems like businesses should take advantage of search engines to get the word out about their business. I really appreciate you coming in and talking with me. We are nearing the end of our time. So for anyone who is listening, for more information, please visit The Net Impact website at www.thenetimpact.com.