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Statista says 52 percent of global internet traffic is mobile. A third of all mobile searches on Google are local. Microsoft says the same thing — 53 percent of mobile searches on Bing have local intent.
This is pretty big on its own.
Then we see data showing that local searches are growing 50 percent faster than mobile search. This growth is amazing for local businesses, but many companies aren’t prepared to take advantage of this growth. If you have the right local SEO agency, that’s not a problem.
Do you know how to choose the right agency?
Here are some simple tips you can use to help you choose the right local search agency for your business.
According to a BrightLocal survey, the top local search metrics for businesses were:
The thing about these metrics is they’re all pretty practical; local businesses need consistent cash flow. Each of these five metrics has a direct impact on a local business’ revenue. If you’re hiring a local SEO agency, they should place special emphasis on the metrics that impact your revenue directly.
Next, focus on metrics that are specific to your business.
If you’re running a restaurant, for example, you may want to pay attention to your customer acquisition costs, repeat visits, customer retention, and the offers that brought customers back. Focus on your core metrics, then add additional metrics when you need more data.
There are more than 8,212 local SEO agencies listed on Clutch.co. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, most of these firms look great. You’ll see glowing reviews on most agency profiles, clear pricing data, and information on their service focus.
None of that tells you if these agencies are right for you.
Here’s a list of characteristics you should watch for. Use these to decide whether the agencies on your list are a good fit for your local business (or not).
There are two ways to look at this. You can look for agencies with a service focus that’s almost entirely SEO focused, or you can look for a full-service agency with experience in several different areas.
Here are the pros and cons of both.
If you work with a local SEO specialist, they probably won’t be able to guide you with your other campaign goals. If you’re wondering how you can integrate local search with your other marketing campaigns, a specialist may not be able to provide you with the advice you need.
A specialist will be able to come up with creative (and profitable) strategies in your local search campaigns. If you have the expertise or help you need to manage the other parts of your online marketing, this makes sense. If you need help with other areas and you have a limited budget, this probably isn’t a good idea.
Generalists can provide you with a comprehensive look at the performance of your campaigns overall. They’ll be able to tie your local SEO campaigns to other channels like social media, email, direct response, or advertising. An established agency will have the skills and the team you need to create content that improves your local SEO campaign performance.
If you’re looking for something specific, your local SEO agency should be able to provide you with the services you’re looking for. If you’re a local restaurant, you’ll want to choose an agency that has experience working with restaurants. If you’re focused on B2B sales, you’ll want a B2B specialist.
They need an in-depth understanding of your business.
If they have a good reputation, they’re willing to put in the work, and you’re eager to work with them, an inexperienced agency can work. As much as possible, you want to work with an agency that understands your business well.
Case studies, work samples, anonymized data, reviews, and reports are all helpful ways to measure their skill and performance.
When you’re looking for a local SEO agency, you want to find one that ranks well for a decent amount of keywords. If they don’t rank well for any keywords and they’re not present in local or organic search, they’re probably not good at SEO.
You’ll want to find this out ahead of time.
You can use Ubersuggest to analyze their rankings. This will give you a pretty good idea of their skills; it’ll also show you whether the agencies you’re considering practice what they preach. Some agencies neglect their websites, preferring to focus on client work instead. No problem, just ask them to show you what they’ve been able to do for other clients. They should be able to provide you with at least one recent (and detailed) example of a client they were able to help.
If they can’t give that info, they’re probably not a good fit for your business.
Your agency should have an established list of clients and case studies. They should be able to provide you with references and work samples if requested. You should be able to find online reviews from previous clients. They should also be able to show you that they have the skills to handle outreach and partnerships. They should also have a demonstrated ability to place content with local or regional journalists and publications to help promote your content.
It’s a red flag if agencies can’t provide you with any of the information above. It’s also a bad sign if there’s a lot of negative feedback about their agency online.
According to BrightLocal’s survey, 38 percent of businesses only have one SEO professional on staff. Only 10 percent of companies have more than 10 SEOs. Most local SEO agencies and SEOs work alone, so you’ll want to make sure that your agency has experienced SEOs on staff.
Before you hire your agency, you’ll need to know that your agency has an appropriate number of people who are experienced and able to manage your account properly. If you’re uncomfortable with most of the work on your account being done by interns or freelancers, you may need to be more careful in your search.
In 2018, Google rolled out 3,200 changes to its search algorithm, up from just 400 changes in 2010. Search is always changing. If you’re planning on hiring a local search agency, you’ll need someone who can stay on top of these changes or respond on your behalf if something goes wrong.
After a minor update in 2019, many sites using good SEO practices were actually penalized. Google declined to clarify what changed, when it happened, or how to adjust.
“Some have asked if we had an update to Google Search last week. We did, actually several updates, just as we have several updates in any given week on a regular basis. In this thread, a reminder of when and why we give specific guidance about particular updates….”
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) November 12, 2019
When it comes to situations like these, most local businesses are in over their heads. They’re not particularly sure how to address the problem or even where they should start. Your local SEO agency should know how to deal with these situations. They should have procedures in place to help you address any issues that come from an algorithmic update.
A reputable local SEO agency isn’t going to promise you #1 rankings. They know businesses with large budgets are fighting for the same keywords you are. If you’re going to take the top spot in Google, it’ll take a lot of time, work, and resources.
Rankings shouldn’t really be the priority though.
Your agency should be focused on increasing conversions and revenue for your business. They should be able to provide you with consistent performance improvements over time. If they’re focused on vanity metrics, they may not be a good fit for your business.
They’ll address any unrealistic expectations you have ahead of time. They’ll make reasonable projections, and they’ll explain the reasoning behind their numbers.
You’ll want to set your agency up with the things they need to work with you. Here’s a shortlist outlining the things you should provide your agency with.
What about your relationship with your agency? To keep your relationship healthy, you’ll want to:
Give your agency the feedback, information, resources, and support they need to achieve the results you want. Be as open and transparent with them as you can so they’re able to work hard for you.
You can use review aggregators like Clutch.co, HubSpot Agency Directory, Sortlist, or TopSEOs to find the local SEO agency that’s best for you. We’ve created a helpful shortlist of some of the best local SEO agencies in the industry.
My agency, NP Digital, focuses on conversions and revenue. Clients have high expectations due to my reputation, but our case studies show we’re able to deliver amazing results. We have a 4.3 – 5-star rating online, and we’ve been able to provide consistent results for each of our clients. In one case study, we were able to grow our client’s organic traffic by 2.3x!
Searchbloom relies on its A.R.T (Authority, Relevancy, Technology) methodology to drive local SEO results. Searchbloom is really effective at technical SEO, which is due to the fact that they’re focused first on optimizing their client’s technology stack.
BrightLocal makes all-in-one local marketing software for agencies and local businesses. They also offer services — manual submission, citation building, and management services for your local SEO campaigns. If you’re looking for an agency to help in a supporting role, BrightLocal is a great option. If you’re looking for the kind of comprehensive help you’d receive at a traditional digital marketing agency, BrightLocal is probably not what you’re looking for.
DMA excels at handling large, multi-national accounts for established medium-sized or blue-chip clients. They provide clients with end-to-end local search campaign management across a range of markets, including markets with different languages, cultures, and expectations.
HigherVisibility is an agency that specializes in organic search engine optimization and local SEO. They’re especially good at local SEO for small businesses, franchises, and multi-location companies. The majority of their clients are small, local business owners who need more traffic, leads, and sales.
Instaboost Media works with tiny budgets. They’re perfect for local mom and pops businesses that don’t have the budget for large local search campaigns. They specialize in two specific areas, paid ads (e.g., Google ads, Facebook ads, Bing ads, etc.) and local SEO. They’re able to multiply tiny budgets, creating revenue for cash strapped locals.
Mobile search is growing, half of all global internet traffic is now mobile. Local searches are growing 50 percent faster than mobile. This growth is a huge opportunity for local businesses if they’re ready to take advantage of this huge opportunity.
When it comes to local search, most local businesses are in over their heads. With the right agency and helpful guidelines, you’ll be prepared to take advantage of the local search boom.
Use these simple tips to find, vet, and hire the right local SEO agency for your business.
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