In my previous post, I wrote about how SEO is a big customer acquisition channel for us at Fiix (www.fiix.io) and how we grew it to more than 80K unique visitors a month from it. However, one of the areas of SEO we were struggling with was with regards to location based search queries from users.
Whenever a user would perform a search query with a geographical component in it, Google would render their “Local Pack” to showcase local businesses relevant to the query above the organic search results. And since we compete with other local businesses, such as brick-and-mortar car repair shops, we noticed that even though we ranked high on the organic search results on Google, we were getting pushed below Google’s “Local Pack”.
To add on to this, 46% of all searches on Google are local searches and 89% of local searches occur on a smartphone. And with the reduced real estate on a smart phones, it made it even more important for us to have our website/business showcased on Google above-the-fold to yield the most traffic.
From all of this, we knew had to conquer Local SEO. Below is how we did it.
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Local SEO is essentially the same as Organic SEO, except with a geographical component involved. When geographical component is present in a search query, Google likes to showcase Google Local Business Pages (when applicable), to give the user a better experience.
Google also treats Local SEO a bit differently than Organic SEO when they decide how to rank results.
The most important factors we found that are more specific to Local SEO than Organic SEO are:
Given these key factors, we implemented a strategy to tackle each area to make sure we show in the first position in Google’s “Local Pack”.
Since Fiix is a mobile business and covers 10+ cities in and out of the Greater Toronto Area, we decided to manually make a Google Business Page for each one of the cities we serviced.
This is because we know that people search for mechanics and car repair solutions in the city they live in or in a specific city they have in mind, so it’s important to attempt to have a presence when they search those location-specific keywords in their query.
We also approached optimizing each one of our Google Business Pages for Local SEO in the same manner as how we’d optimize our web pages for Organic SEO.
Key areas of the Google Business Page, such as the business title, service category, etc, needed to have the keywords and details for the queries we wanted to optimize for.
For example, since we knew a lot of people search for “[Location] mechanic”, we wanted to make sure those relevant keywords were present in our business page titles.
Notice how, for our Mississauga Google Business Page, we have the keyword Mississauga, “Fiix”, “mechanic”, and synonyms to “mechanic” all in our title. We also choose the best related category for our business: “Car repair and maintenance”.
One of the other main challenges we had to overcome for each Google Business Page was with respect to the location associated with each profile. Since we’re a mobile business, we don’t have a precise location. Instead we have the ability to move wherever our customers are, which is in multiple cities. As a result, we put a coverage radius around the core of the respective city for each one of our pages. That way if a user who was in Toronto were to search Mississauga mechanic, they know that we can also cover their area.
When it comes to location, proximity to the user is an important metric that Google uses to decide which businesses to show. The closer the business is to the user, the more convenient is for the user. If you Google considers you outside of a user’s zone, they won’t show your business to them. With a coverage radius listed on your Google Business Page, it makes it a bit difficult for Google to showcase precisely how far away you are from a user — which is a tradeoff we had to take to ensure that user’s know we cover multiple locations.
Setting up a Google Business Page was the easiest part of this whole process — anyone can set it up properly. But one of the most important factors that will set one profile apart from another is the reviews.
With regards to reviews, our primary goal was driving more reviews to all of our Google Business Pages from our customers. The magic number we wanted to hit for every one of our google pages was 100+ 5-star reviews. That way it would set ourselves apart from the other Google results neighbouring our Google Business Page in terms of quality.
To start, we knew that manually sending out review links to our customer base wasn’t going to work that well as it would feel spammy and likely not yield a high conversion rate. As a result, we had to figure out a way to integrate the “leave a review” action seamlessly in the whole experience while the user’s service was still top of mind.
While attempting to figure this out, we remembered that at the end of every service we performed, our mechanic fills out a vehicle status checklist for the customer which describes what work was completed on the vehicle, what issues were found, images of the vehicle, what next steps were, and more. After digging deeper, we found that this status checklist had a 64% open rate from our customers as it’s a crucial part of their Fiix experience and provides them with valuable data regarding their car. Knowing this, what we did was put a large call to action button at the top of this status checklist email that was sent which directed the user to fill a review. Through our platform, we customized the link in this call to action button to direct the user to the respective Google business page for the city where the user had their service in.
This worked extremely well, and led to a 36% conversion rate between when a customer receives a checklist to them leaving a review.
However, we still felt like we weren’t turning over every stone and that there was still an opportunity to capture the people who didn’t open up the email or who may not have converted after opening the email.
At this point, we set up a cron job (i.e. an automated scheduled task) that would retrieve the customers who didn’t yet convert and leave a review, and used Twilio to send a follow up text message to them with a link to their checklist and a link to leave a review for their experience.
What was cool about this was that text messages have roughly a 98% open rate. And because of this, out of all the text messages we sent to people who didn’t convert, it yielded us a 27% conversion from the text messages we sent to leave a review. We had to be careful though to make sure that the follow up text we sent was not spam and was actually of value.
After all this, we basically created an engine where for every service we perform, there was a 53% conversion from that service being formed to the customer leaving a review on the google business page.
For each Google Business Page that we created, we dynamically created its own respective location page on our website.
On each location page, we inserted the same keywords from our business page in key areas of the HTML, such as the first H1 tag, paragraphs, footer, etc. For example, notice how the main title on the image above has the location keyword, the keyword “mechanic”, and keywords for synonyms of “mechanic”.
We also added a specific map as an image to our pages so that when users click on the website from our Google Business Page to our website they’re reassured that they landed on the correct page and are about to receive an experience that is specific to their location, their query, and our Google Business Page.
The NAP (name, address, phone number) is also important to keep consistent between your web pages and your Google Business Pages.
Doing all this not only helps Google crawl your local web pages better and attribute a higher relevancy score between your local web page and your Google business page, but it also then improves core metrics that Google looks at when evaluating your domain (e.g. page session time, reduces bounce rate, etc.)
Once all of this was implemented, it meant we finally created our base engine that would allow our Local SEO to “bake” and grow over time. Our Google Business Pages were now getting over 100+ 5-Star reviews across all the cities, and because of this we were beating out our competition and getting more people visiting our website and calling our phone lines.
If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message through Twitter: www.twitter.com/ZainManji 👋
Thank you to the following people who helped us learn more about SEO and shape our growth efforts.