Local SEO in 2017 and beyond: managed strategy vs. automation
There are many great software options for automating local search tasks, but columnist Andrew Beckman argues that a human-managed approach may still be necessary to see results.
Over the past five-plus years, the digital marketing world has seen an influx of Local Search SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platforms emerge with different value propositions for brands with physical store locations.
Generally speaking, these platforms allow companies to store business location data (Name, Address, Phone Number) in one central location, and then subsequently push that information out to various channels.
While SaaS platforms allow digital marketers to manage local business listings on social media and search engine channels, brands themselves are actually expecting greater visibility in organic search results in the process, which does not always occur.
Brand marketers are also realizing that using a SaaS platform requires that they must also budget the human resources to not only manage the platform on a day-to-day basis, but to also consider the various other organic ranking attributes that are needed for a successful SEO program.
While SaaS platforms are often presented as turnkey solutions that operate automatically with need for little else, the aforementioned internal resource expenses still need to be factored into an overall ROI in addition to the general SaaS subscriptions and fees.
While automation has some benefits, there are still many aspects of local SEO that need to be both monitored and managed by real human beings on an ongoing basis. These include:
- Analysis of where individual business listings are appearing in Google, Bing, Apple, etc.
- Data accuracy and ranking position.
- Percentage of visible business listings for key search terms and phrases (mobile and desktop).
- Content management and optimization for better user experience and SEO performance.
- Analytics tracking, measurement and analysis to better inform key strategy adjustments.
- Which channels are actually contributing to conversions.
While SaaS platforms can help streamline portions of your local SEO strategy to be more effective, a managed service approach that utilizes both technology and actual digital marketing experts can provide even greater dividends. Let’s break down the benefits of each approach and highlight some differences as well.