3 Local SEO Tools That Are Flying Under The Radar

by 21 11/19/2012

If you own a local business, hopefully you know the basics of local search optimization by now…

Things like claiming and optimizing your business’ listings on Google and other local search sites, building citations, and getting positive reviews are a key part of a strong local search presence.

While these things do a lot of the heavy lifting in local search, there are plenty of other strategies out there that can give your local search efforts a boost.

Here are 3 under-the-radar local SEO tools we’ve been using for our clients (pay particular attention to #3…the most under-the-radar, and most intriguing, of the bunch).

1. Tracking Phone Number

Okay, I know this flies in the face of everything you’ve probably read about local search optimization.

All the advice tells you that everywhere your business’ name, address and phone number (also known as the NAP) appears on the web, it needs to appear EXACTLY as it does on your Google+ Local page.

Yes, having that consistency is a key factor in your local search rankings. But it has a major drawback…

…It makes it hard to track the results you’re getting from your local search optimization efforts.

And you want to track the results of your marketing, right? Right?!

Well, that’s not so easy with local search. There are a number of reasons why, but one of the biggies is that you can’t tell whether your local listings are making the phone ring.

So to try to better track calls from local search results, my team tested the use of a call tracking number. The main concern was that using a call tracking number would negatively affect rankings because it would mean a business’ NAP wouldn’t be consistent everywhere it appears online.

After a lot of testing, we found that using a call tracking number only has a small negative effect on rankings. And this can usually be overcome by creating additional citations over the long haul so we believe the benefits of call tracking outweigh any slight drop in the rankings.  Here’s a great place to get started with citations.

Two key things to keep in mind when using a call tracking number for local search…

1. Be sure to use a local phone number with the area code your business is located in. We’re not trying to trick the search engines or prospects here, we’re just trying to better measure results…so don’t get a toll-free and/or spammy number.

2. Use the same phone number for all your local search listings. We don’t recommend using one number for Google, another for Yahoo!, another for Bing, etc. While it’d be nice to know exactly which local search sites are producing the calls, using a different phone number for each would surely tank your local search listings.

But, wait! There’s another advantage to using call tracking…

Conversion Optimization

We use a call tracking service for our clients which provides reporting, records calls and has other useful features (we use Century Interactive’s service but there are plenty of similar call tracking services you can use).

The data from this service has helped some clients improve their results.

Here’s how:

In the reporting for one client, we noticed they were getting a lot of inbound calls where the person hung up after just a few seconds. What we discovered by listening to the recordings of the calls is that their phone system didn’t give people the option of pressing 0 to get an operator.

So when someone called and the only option they heard was to enter an extension number, most people hung up. As soon as the company added an option to speak with an operator, the number of calls that lasted just a few seconds plummeted and leads increased.

You can also use the reporting to see patterns such as particular days/times that get high call volumes. For example, if you see that there are a lot of missed calls after hours, say between 6PM and 8PM, it may be worth hiring someone with a friendly voice to answer the phones during that time to get people’s contact information and let them know someone will get back with them the next day.

2. Yext

Yext does a lot of advertising so they may not truly qualify as “under the radar”. But we use their service for some of our local SEO packages and I wanted to share why.

Yext has one very big advantage that no other company I’m aware of offers. They have direct database access that lets you instantly update your business’ local search listings on over 40 key sites. While this doesn’t include Google, it does include other biggies like Yahoo! Local, Yelp, CitySearch, and Superpages.

It can take hours to update all your business’ local search profile pages by doing them one at a time. Being able to log into your Yext dashboard, make a change and have it get pushed out, almost immediately, to 40+ of your local business listings is a huge time saver!

Yes, there are other companies that allow you to update your information across multiple local search sites but it can often take weeks, if not months, for those updates to be reflected on your actual local search pages. With Yext, there’s no waiting!

This is particularly helpful if you have discounts/sales/offers that get updated frequently. One of my clients holds a huge sale every December. In the Yext dashboard, there a field where you can enter a special offer. On December 1, I’ll be entering the sale in that field and it will immediately get pushed out to the local search sites in Yext’s network.

Yext also recently added a reputation management tab to their dashboard. This lets you see all the reviews that people have left for your company on all the local search sites Yext has access to. This is quite handy so you can keep track of what people are saying about you around the web from one place.

There’s just one negative in my mind about using Yext. It’s an annual service and, if you stop paying for it, all the profile data and enhancements you entered through Yext get removed from the local search sites Yext supplies data to.

My understanding is that it won’t remove your profile completely…your profiles will just revert to the state they were in before you started using Yext.

Despite this drawback, for many businesses, the annual fee is well worth it.

3. Single Platform

This is a relatively new and very intriguing player on the local search stage and the one I’m most excited about.

Originally Single Platform was a service that restaurants could use to upload their menus to a number of local search/restaurant sites. But it ain’t just for restaurants anymore!

Now any business can add a “menu” of services and products to their local search listings using Single Platform.

While they don’t provide instant database access like Yext, Single Platform does partner with over 200 sites that businesses can submit their “menu” to…including Google and Facebook.

There are two major benefits of using Single Platform that I’m most pumped about…

First, when you use it you get an “enhanced” listing on many local search sites. Look at the below screenshot from the Google+ Local page of a rock climbing company in Seattle.

Notice that little menu icon next to the red arrow? That’s not there for most businesses but is for this one because they’re using Single Platform.

And when you click on it, you can see their “menu” of services along with descriptions and pricing (it’s up to you how much detail you want to add here)…

There’s really no limit to how many services/products you can enter into Single Platform. And it’s the only way I know to pack so many juicy keywords about your business into your Google+ Local and other local search pages.

Which brings us to the second big benefit of using Single Platform…

All that menu content is currently indexed on some sites (YP.com being one of them) and the plan is that it will be soon be indexed on Google and other search engines!

That’s right…if/when that happens, every product and service you enter into Single Platform will get indexed so your business can be found when people search for those products/services on Google.

So if you’re a restaurant in Topeka that offers calamari, enter that in Single Platform and when someone types “calamari in Topeka” into their smartphone or on Google, guess who’s local listing can pop up?

And if you run a sporting goods store in Biloxi that sells Nike golf balls, then entering that into Single Platform, can get you to show up in the search results for related terms in your area.

There’s a lot more to be said about Single Platform. It’s a relatively new service that we think is going to be a big part of the future of local search. After we put it through its paces some more and the indexing on Google takes place, I’ll report back on what we find.

So there are 3 of the under-the-radar local SEO tools my team’s been using. Do you have any favorites you’d like to share? If so, tell us about them in the comments section.

About 

Adam Kreitman coaches business owners on how to make their websites more compelling to their prospects.. and to Google. He owns Words That Click, a firm specializing in Conversion Optimization and managing Google AdWords campaigns for small businesses.Follow him on

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21 COMMENTS

Travis Van Slooten

Adam:

Great tips here. I wasn’t aware of Single Platform. Thanks for the head’s up. And I’m still torn on the whole tracking number issue. I still tend to be conservative on this issue so I continue to advise my clients to shy away from tracking numbers on directories. However, I’m all for tracking numbers on the website itself by placing the number on the site as an image – so as not to screw up the NAP consistency.

Travis Van Slooten

November 19, 2012 Reply

    Russ Henneberry

    Hey Thanks for coming by Travis and adding your expert opinion!

    November 20, 2012 Reply

    Adam Kreitman

    Hi Travis-

    Yes, Single Platform is really cool and looks like it’ll get even better once that info gets indexed on Google. I’m looking forward to seeing how that may influence local search results.

    And I totally understand the hesitancy to use tracking numbers in directories and knew that would be a controversial tactic to share. You mention putting the call tracking number on the site as an image which brings up a really under the radar tip…

    If you’re worried about NAP consistency between the directories and a website, you can use the business’ “real” number on the website as an image and put the call tracking number in the alt text of the image.

    Another thing to point out is that the phone numbers we get for call tracking purposes can always be transfered over to the business if they decide to stop using the call tracking service so they wouldn’t have to go back and undo/redo all the citations.

    Thanks for the comment!
    Adam

    November 20, 2012 Reply

      Russ Henneberry

      NAP consistency would be NAME, ADDRESS and PHONE NUMBER consistency for those that are new to local SEO. Correct me if I am wrong Adam but when Google sees a consistent name, address and phone number in all mentions (citations) of the business they take it as a signal of trust. Google gives preference in their search results to those that they trust.

      November 20, 2012 Reply

Joy Hawkins

I was wondering, when you say “After a lot of testing, we found that using a call tracking number only has a small negative effect on rankings”, how many businesses did you test this on? Do you mind sharing what industries and cities they were in? I think the results would vary heavily based on how competitive of an area it was.

November 20, 2012 Reply

    Adam Kreitman

    Hi Joy-

    Great question! We’ve got about 20 clients actively using call tracking numbers right now. As far as industries and cities, we’ve done this in hyper-competitive markets including 2 law firms and a mortgage company and the cities are all in major metro areas, not small towns that have little or no competition.

    These were all established businesses and, as I point out in the article, while we may see a short term drop in rankings, in all cases they’ve come back strong.

    Thanks!
    Adam

    November 21, 2012 Reply

John Apretto

Thank you for sharing. Rank Tracker Tool is another tool to automatically monitor various parameters of a website such as serp, backlinks etc. http://www.ranktrackertool.com

November 25, 2012 Reply

Touch Point

Interesting article, Adam. I think I’m still a little leary about the call tracking number like a couple of others here, but I hear what you’re saying. And if you can come back strong afterwards, then great. Thanks for the tip about Single Platform. But I’m curious, do you have to enter prices for all of the “menu” items that you enter, or can you leave those blank?

December 1, 2012 Reply

    Adam Kreitman

    @Touch Point – You don’t have to enter prices for your products/services in Single Platform. It’s up to you what information you enter.

    Thanks!
    Adam

    December 3, 2012 Reply

      Touch Point

      I see. Ok, good! Thanks Adam, for the response and for the great tips.

      David

      December 3, 2012 Reply

Matt Wilson

Hi Adam, great article, thank you for sharing your secret weapons. I am always hesistant about SaS companies which try to give you “demo” or approach customers with “lets give you a call” rather then “here is our pricing”. Since you guys are using these tools with many clients, can you give us an idea about their pricing?

Thanks

December 4, 2012 Reply

    Adam Kreitman

    Thanks for the comment Matt.

    Yext and Single Platform are each around $500/yr. Century Interactive is around $30/month + $0.08 per minute.

    (All pricing, of course, is subject to change!)

    December 4, 2012 Reply

Matthew Hunt

i use Yext and Century Interactive (good product BTW). Not used single platform, but have heard of it. I guess if starts to serve more then restaurants it’ll end up on my radar b/c 98% of our clients are service based.

January 10, 2013 Reply

SEO Softech

Great tips related to local listing in search engine. You are saying right that if we want to see the ranking in first pages then we can also get visibility of website through positive reviews. But i think, i have no idea that only review basis we can get first page ranking, we should also do good SEO for website. If I am right then please reply?

July 5, 2013 Reply

Barbara Vega

I had never heard of single platform and just went to check it out. What a great tool for marketing restaurants! I will definitely be offering this to my customers!

August 12, 2013 Reply

Noor

This article is a few months old, though a lot of these tools are great, there have been some new tools that have come out since then.

localseochecklist.org is something I’ve been using pretty often nowadays because it tells me what are the most important things I need to do and stores my progress – WIN.

There’s also this tool called Synup that we use internally to track our citations on 200-ish sites and also monitor reviews and rankings — the free version of the tool does citation monitoring on 100 sites and weekly review monitoring on all the review sites.

February 9, 2014 Reply


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