Z (In Store Visits)/ Y (Website Sessions) = X (Local Conversion Rate)

Solving the Conundrum of Organic Local In-Store Conversion

If you own a salon and you’re considering actually investing in legit SEO, how can you possibly know if it’s going to be worth it for your business? Just how many people visiting my site is going to represent an actual increase in the number of people coming in the door and making purchases? That’s where it gets rough.

How many sessions to instore visits?

There’s very, very few local service businesses even trying to keep track of how many clients they have vs. just counting their revenue from receipts. Even fewer are asking where people found them, recording that information and using it. It seems none of those unicorns are making those numbers public, so how can we find out what a “rough, general” conversion rate for local service businesses to in-store visits? I mean if you’re a virtual office, you will want to know just how many more people walking in the door to become tenants came from your investment in SEO. I asked some experts, and got SOME information…we’ll see if we can find that white whale!

[Thanks for all the experts who suggested other experts who might have an idea: Aj Kohn, Jon Henshaw, Mark Traphagen, Ian Lurie, Andrew Shotland, Darren Shaw]

Anecdotal & Personal Experience On Organic Local In-Store Conversion

“There are a lot of dependencies on this. We usually see 3-7% net conversion rate (i.e. 25% from landing page to call, 25% from call to customer / patient) from paid search visits in local, but organic is much more leaky.

That’s based on a few hundred clients, but it’s by no means statistically significant.” – Will Scott of Search Influence


“When I was at StyleNet, I only knew of 1 salon (out of ~ 5000) that seemed to do a good job of tracking this. The numbers they shared were about 100 visits to 1 new service client. At the time, we weren’t tracking calls & salon customers didn’t really use the contact forms on the salon websites. Times are alot different now but this was specific to your salon industry example. My experience was in 2010 but it looks like the studies are old too: 2013 & 2014.” Ross Jones of 2TheTop Design

Relevant Data & Studies On Converting Visits To Your Store

There are some conflicting but generally “directionally consistent” data points and studies. These don’t answer your precise question but here a few generally relevant studies. Greg Sterling of Local Search Association

Have We Found The White Whale?

 

  • Mobile: If 50% of consumers visit a store after a smartphone search…
  • Desktop: “34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same [visited a store after a search]”

Unfortunately, Google keyword planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs and other keyword tools don’t provide mobile search traffic estimates for queries… so we’ll need to use the lower number of 34%.

We can use my rough process to estimate  potential organic traffic,  with [nashville spa] as a quick example of a local service/retail query: 480 people searched for the query monthly, if we approximate that #1 placement will get 35%, that’s 168 visits.  If we use the lower desktop percentage of 34% that represents 58 in-store visits in a month.

Challenges: 

  • In these studies were these retail purchases at shoe stores or service businesses? Is there a difference between the two?
  • How many of these site visitors already knew about the business and just used local searches to verify location? (Counter-point- If location information couldn’t be found would they have chosen another business? How many?)
  • Does that ACTUALLY reflect reality of DIFFERENT industries represented in local search/local service businesses? Anecdotes suggest “100 visits to 1 new service client. [1% conversion rate]” &  “3-7% net conversion rate (i.e. 25% from landing page to call, 25% from call to customer / patient) from paid search visits in local”… Can real local organic search REALLY be such a high conversion rate to instore visits??Do I have this totally wrong? Am I interpreting studies wrong, or are the samples of those studies outdated? What do you think based on these anecdotes and data?

Musings on Service Area vs Location

So I have this Nashville roofing client( Hell yea that’s a followed anchor text link to them. Not sure when we got so scared to link out! But that’s another rant for another day.)

Annnnyyyyways, they do roofing for Nashville and it’s surrounding cities, but they happen to have chosen an office located in Hendersonville, a small suburb North of Nashville.

Of course, when we connected he wasn’t ranking organically for any Nashville area related keywords or phrases in the first page. Nor was he ranking in maps, outside of Hendersonville.

He was more and more worried that given his competitors closer locality to the centroid he was never going to be able to rank for Nashville queries in Maps.

 My View On Service Areas

Here’s what I suggested we do. Change his location to a service area, improve his website, build local links AND cleanup and expand his citations at the same time. Once we started surfacing organically for Nashville queries, then we would look to see if our Map rankings followed suit. If not, then we would look into opening a new office in Nashville proper, and build out the citations for the new locale.

What would you have done?

My View On Brick & Mortar

Another person I recently talked to was Jeremy who runs a Nashville residential & commercial cleaning company called The Cleaning Executives. He DOES have a brick and mortar office location, but really does provide services at his client’s location. So in this situation, I recommended we check for his citations…of which he had 3 or 4. So we checked out the top ranking competitors with Bright Local’s citation tool  and came up with a game plan to get 2x as many citations as the top competitor.

Nashville SEO “Group Therapy” Session #2

Depressed about your website’s current lack of rankings and traffic?

Frustrated with your conversion rates?

Are you feeling sad, lonely and confused about SEO for your business? Why not get together and talk it out.

Join me to talk out your current SEO frustrations in a friendly group setting. I’m more than happy to chime in with my own suggestions and advice and give you the opportunity to hear from other Nashville small business owners who might be struggling with the same issues. So come join me, and whoever else shows up for some FREE SEO CONSULTING. 

Where:  Thistlestop Cafe  – West Nashville
5128 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209

When: Wednesday, 9am, CST

What: A friendly meetup to talk about SEO

How much: Free!

Where to start in the Local SEO Ecosystem

David Mihm of Moz and his Local Search Ecosystem: http://moz.com/blog/2013-local-search-ecosystems

It’s a Jungle Out There

Every expedition started in the drawing room, with a map. The reality is that getting your local business visible is a challenge that is generally too daunting for most small business owners, but is also a high reward activity when done correctly. Each listing doubles as an advertisement on those specific sites while also boosting your signal to Google, Yahoo and Bing about your business’s actual location which is key to driving local prospects. 

Order in the Chaos

As insane as that image looks, when you get down to it there are 4 major data providers that funnel information to the majority of the web. Getting in here is key. Unfortunately, these data vendors make it really difficult to actually find where and how to submit/correct your business listing. After some research I found the direct sign up pages for these vendors as a shortcut. There may be cost associated with some of them, but most of them “seem” to be free. 
GOOD LUCK
Localeze: http://www.neustarlocaleze.biz/directory/index.aspx
Acxiom https://mybusinesslistingmanager.myacxiom.com/
InfoGroup: http://www.expressupdateusa.com/

Factual: http://developer.factual.com/contribute-or-correct-data/

Dear Realtors You Have to Choose One City

Dear Realtors,
Sorry. I am really sorry but I have to tell you a hard truth. You may not want to hear this, so I understand if you click away, or stop reading. 
You have to pick one city as your primary marketing target online. I know you actually do service multiple cities. I know you want to reach customers in your entire area. But the hard truth is that it is not possible in our online marketing world.
Here’s why:
  • The competition is to thick with every city boasting it’s own cadre of professionals, each building a local footprint greater than yours can possibly be.
  • Google’s mapping for local search is very sensitive to your actual location, so ranking further from your business listing address is more and more difficult.
  • You just might actually be the best choice for a client 70 miles away from your office.
So embrace your city. Build local content and be the most badass resource for your city possible and you just might find your reach extending further organically overtime as you gain referrals and build credibility.

Round-up: Jeremy’s Articles and Blog Posts

Howdy! I haven’t had an active blog for a while but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing and creating good quality content elsewhere like Raven Tools. Here’s a round-up of my recent articles, and guest posts around the wild internet.

SEO metrics that matter: A Raven Tools Hangout recap

Raven Tools Hangout on SEO Metrics

While I admit that for this post I didn’t actually have ti write very much for this one but it is a recap of the Hangout on Air I hosted for Raven Tools on the topic of SEO Metrics with AJ Kohn, David Harry, Steven Shattuck, Jon Henshaw, Annie Cushing, and Demian Farnworth which was very enjoyable, informative and worth giving watching.


28 SEO Metrics you can Report and Sell to Clients

Make the connection between your SEO work and a business meeting its goals

I’m very proud to have co-authored this white-paper with the very talented Arienne Holland.

“As an SEO, you know that when it comes to reporting results, every client wants something different. Some clients want every detail; some just want highlights. But all clients want to meet business goals. If a client understands the connection of your SEO work to their business goals, they’re far more likely to pay you — and keep paying you.”


Marketing Voices: SEO Metrics that Matter and
Marketing Voices Part 2: Changing SEO Metrics

16 SEO experts on SEO MetricsMike ArnesenPhil BuckleyJon Cooper, Demian FarnworthDavid HarryJon HenshawDavid IwanowDanica JonesAJ KohnJustin MattisonMegan PrittsAdonna PruetteChris SavageJonathan SchikowskSebastian Wenzel and Jesse Wojdylo all contributed to this article, getting to the bottom of SEO Metrics from the perspective of these 16 different experts working in capacities from in-house, agency, freelance and affiliate marketer.


Choosing the Right SEO Metrics

“The reality of search engine optimization – or any marketing, for that matter – is that it won’t fix a fundamentally broken business or pave over bad business practices.”


Ultimate list of Google Authorship Resources

“Today you can see the impact on results pages in the form of author photos, their +1 count, and a link to additional articles by that author in SERPs. Author Rank has the potential to become a ranking factor as powerful as Page Rank.”


An OPEN approach to social media based outreach

• Observe how people use that social media network
• Participate in that network in a natural way
• Engage people on that network with you own unique contributions
• Network until you’ve built a list of contacts who have become so familiar with you and your strengths that it makes sense for them to include resources from you to share with their own audience.


Ultimate List of Marketing Twitter Chats

The Ultimate list of Marketing Twitter Chats

“Twitter is a hub for influential people – including authorities on SEO, social media and online marketing. The difficult part is separating the valuable messages from self-promotion. One way to cut through the noise and get to the good stuff is to find and participate in Twitter chats that are relevant to your industry.”


Technical SEO: The ABCs of 404 errors

“After 15 hours on the road to Nashville from California to fill the position of Product Marketing Manager for Raven, it was time to find our hotel for the night, but things weren’t looking quite right. My wife had copied and pasted the address into her navigation, and turn by turn it quickly became apparent that we were in a less than savory neighborhood – and nowhere near a hotel.  

We’d just received the real world equivalent of a 404 error, caused by a small typo when they left the “North” off the street name. ”


Ultimate List of Conversion Optimization Tools

Sunrize Donuts & seafoods
Is your website as appealing visitors as this restaurant? Here’s the tools you need to find out.

“The goal of any website is to get a user to take action. Whether you’re trying to get them to subscribe to your blog, buy a product, fill out a contact form or anything else, it’s all about improving your conversion rate.”


Community: The best local SEO strategy you’re not using

You don’t have to wear a kilt, but events can be a big link-building advantage

“Telling your story is important, but telling the stories of your community is the best local SEO strategy you’re not using. When you’re establishing your website, determine what makes you unique within your industry as well as what’s special about your community that you can connect with.”

Lessons from messing up your Google Places Settings

By Jeremy Rivera
I took up a job to find out why these paralegals in Riverside were suddenly no longer ranking for local oriented searches. After a little poking around, I found that they had changed their Google Places setting:

They had changed this setting to be “Yes, this business serves customers at their locations”, instead of serving at their location. If you have a brick and mortar, your site/business and citations are treated differently! If you DO have a location, then make sure you play that card for all it’s worth. Otherwise, you need to make sure you’ve got enough area specific keyword references backing up your listed service areas if you don’t have a brick and mortar address.

Local Business Directories

Check for existing listings to take over, online localized directories may have already created a listing for your business if you have existed in any telephone directories as a physical location, because they buy up that data from 3rd party vendors like Localeze, Axciom, InfoUSA etc.

http://www.YellowPages.com: Requires phone verification to take control as a business owner, but will accept suggestions from customers to correct minor items of information. This process requires authorization by creating an account, and then you verify over a phone call or a temporary $1 charge to your credit card.

http://www.Manta.com

http://www.Superpages.com

http://www.Yelp.com

http://www.yellowbot.com

http://www.myhuckleberry.com

http://local.botw.org/

http://www.citysearch.com

http://www.merchantcircle.com

http://www.tupalo.com

http://www.insiderpages.com

http://www.kudzu.com

http://www.mojopages.com

http://www.local.com

http://www.cityvoter.com

http://www.judysbook.com

http;//www.foursquare.com

http://www.Switchboard.com

http://www.yellowbook.com

http://www.zoominfo.com

http://www.ibegin.com

http://my.citysquares.com/search

http://bckyrd.com/

http://www.stik.com/

http://www.ask.com/local

Voice Verification- The new challenge to Local SEO

If you’re working for a small business, it’s essential that you get your Local SEO game in order, and that means sorting out the client’s business listing submissions. Now Roboform is extremely handy in making those submissions pretty much automated, that’s not the whole story.

Phone Verification, and the Big Problem of Verification

If you’ve done any reading at all about Google Places, you’ll see complaints about the verification process. But your headaches may begin before you even get to entering that data. If you’re like me, then you like to keep your client’s profile organized, but very rarely does the client already have an existing Google Account, so you will need to create one. Unfortunately, this will sometimes trigger a request for verification via SMS message. Now of course, you can use your own phone number, but there is a limit to how many accounts it will let you create using 1 cell phone. So potentially, that’s one message you’ll need to communicate to the client.

Via Mail Or Phone, It’s Still A Pain

Next up is the process of verifying your Google Local account. This process is a key element to a successful Local SEO campaign.

Your Google Places profile whether it’s for a Riverside Tailor, or Rancho Mirage Realtor, will become a hub for those online citations, and reviews that will ultimately get you those client visits you’re looking for online.

There are of course 2 ways to verify your profile, one via a phone call, and the other involving a small hard to distinguish postcard. Keep in mind when you do the phone verification, it calls the business’s listed number. Naturally though, this makes verification of any business or consultant who has an extension extremely difficult, the only way is to see if a the corporate secretary can give a hand, but that may be impossible if the number goes directly to a call tree. Also keep in mind that Google doesn’t have a scheduler for the call, so be aware that it will call as soon as you click, meaning you need to hang up with your client so they can take the call.

Post Card? What Post Card?

As I learned from a previous case study, the postcard option has it’s own downsides. First, you have to make sure the client is keeping an eye out for this postcard that looks suspiciously like bulk mail. Now it does have the pretty Google logo on it, but it has been tossed by a number of secretaries in my time. Secondly, you lose 1-2 weeks waiting for it to arrive, not only that but if it’s missed then you can resend and wait another 1-2 weeks!

Bing Sent Me A Letter

It looks like Bing is also getting into the verification transmogrification, and is sending a “letter” to verify your local listing to their center. Fortunately, yahoo has not yet adopted any sort of verification to their Local submission, but we’re not clear if the Bing and Yahoo Alliance process will change that, now are we?

Yellow and Social Search Sites Want To Talk To You First

Very recently Yellowpages.com started requiring phone verification to finish their process, of course they don’t tell you that until you’re at the end of the proces so be aware

Putting My Mouth Where My Foot Is: Going Local

Howdy!

I am going to be re-orienting this blog and my posts to focus on Local SEO, and specifically on the city of Diamond Bar, CA. Why? Because I want to put my thoughts about “local SEO” into action, and I live in Diamond Bar. If you’re a Diamond Bar business, I can also provide you with consulting services to help you have a bigger impact. Thanks and stay tuned, I’m excited about future posts and hope you will enjoy the change up!