Hyperlocal marketing has been growing in business potential and impact over the past few years, and it’s expected to come to a crescendo in 2019.
This growth has directly correlated with the dominance of mobile over desktop search behavior, plus the adoption by the general domestic population of home assistants and personal speakers (think Amazon Alexa).
Whilst there are many traditional tips for optimizing for local SEO, hyperlocal brings to the table extra nuances and opportunities for business to explore, and this is what I focus on within this article.
Understanding Hyperlocal Marketing
Location optimization has been a staple for most businesses online marketing for many years.
The notion of creating and optimizing Google My Business (GMB) accounts, Bing Places, building location pages, and creating local media links, as well as locally based citations, is fairly common practice.
Hyperlocal by contrast is still in its infancy, and often overlooked on the assumption that historical approaches to location optimization are the same thing – but it’s not!
Hyperlocal marketing goes beyond country, city and regional targeting, and can employ new technologies (consider Google Beacons) and tactics to embed your brand with you local audiences and derive truly competitive advantages online and offline.
46% of Search is Location-Based
Nearly half of all search queries completed on Google include some degree of location intent.
As a business, this means that approximately half of your online marketing attention should include some involvement in location optimization.
If you are like most companies, this is likely to be miles apart from the actual state of play, and that needs to change.
To put the scale of the hyperlocal opportunity into perspective:
At Secrets of Local Search conference at GoogleHQ. Now 46% of searches have a local intent – quote from Google rep official presentation. That‘s increased since I last took note of that stat
#1 – Proximity-Based Marketing & Google Beacons
If you operate from offices or shops and have physical business premises, you have a new means to target people as they walk past (or within any given radius) your location(s) using Google Beacons.
The technology behind Google Beacons is not new, in fact, its been around for a few years now, but what has changed in the functionality of them, plus the capabilities they bring to target users on mobile devices including text and voice search, as well as through apps.
The Google beacon platform enables you to manage your beacons remotely, integrate with Google services and help users’ devices to discover content and functionality across Android, native apps and the web.
Source: Google Beacon Platform.
Practically for businesses, this has many marketing ramifications, a few of these detailed next.
Tips for using Google Beacons for business:
- If you have a shop you can send via SMS or mobile app a discount to people walking past the store, enticing them to take action, improving footfall
- As a local business unit, you can promote the latest company marketing to people based on delivering unique content to local devices; showcasing expertise, local company events, and improving brand awareness plus social engagement
- A retail outlet can promote in-store sales and promotions, alerting people while they are shopping in the store about the key products being targeted while they look at the shelf or are active within any specific aisle. This provides added control and influence on stock levels and reinforces the main ROI items, or overstocked goods needing to be sold sooner
- A museum can leverage Google Beacons by delivering unique app and augmented reality (AR) content to visitors while they look at individual exhibitions and display items. This can enrich the user experience and fuel social sharing and engagement – all key items for local optimization and new business gains
- Any company can track hyperlocal conversions with Google Beacons. For example; you want to test the success rates of an AdWords campaign for driving in-store sales. You can track people who have seen that advert on their mobile device and then gone into a store which has a Google Beacon in place. From this, you are able to allocate that user (person) and their previous onlininteractionsns, to the final in-store purchase
- A restaurant can enable diners to order food directly from the table without the need for initial table service by placing Google Beacons on each table (showing the hyperlocal opportunity). This can expedite the time people take from order to eating, increasing the user sentiment and potentially increasing volumes of people served in a day during busy periods
As a business getting started is quite straightforward with Google Beacons. You can buy numerous systems from manufacturers that support the Eddystone (Google Beacon platform) format and set up the system following Google guidelines.
#2 – Integrating Offline With Online
Integrating online and offline marketing channels is a frequent pain point for companies, often tied to the fact that segmented teams or external suppliers are all uniquely focussed on one channel or the other.
The average consumer has many more touchpoints now than at anytime before, plus they are expecting a seamless search experience whether this is offline, online or various combinations of the two.
Google recently introduced new cross-device capabilities in Google Analytics (GA) which have been included by default. This provides added data awareness and understanding of how your users are behaving, enabling companies to target them across their multi-device journey more effectively.
When Google announced this they stated:
Analytics will now help you understand the journey your customers are taking across their devices as they interact with your website, giving you a complete view of the impact of your marketing so you can run smarter campaigns that deliver more tailored experiences to your customers.
Offline we have already discussed the role that Google Beacons can play including tying in offline and online marketing campaigns, plus there are numerous other tactics to integrate these disperse marketing channels more effectively, some of which are covered now.
Tips for integrating online and offline marketing for hyperlocal gains:
- Ensure unique marketing campaign terms are used and consistent online and offline – these can be benchmarked in Google Search Console (GSC) and impact tracked during and post events
- Deploy Google Beacons to add to the hyperlocal data picture. This helps ensure that paid advertising can be traced back to traditionally offline measurements including footfall
- Check the new cross-device capabilities (discussed earlier) in GA for added data completeness
- Use #CampaignSpecificHashtags tied to local specific targeting to measure campaign progress through social media, search, and offline impact
- QR codes unique to locations can be deployed on brochures, posters, and other printed marketing media (flyers etc.) to drive the offline opportunity to online for marketing purposes and controlling the journey through to completion
#3 – Embracing Voice Search
If there is a single paradigm shift in SEO (and marketing generally) for 2018 it has been the rapid inclusion of voice search in our everyday lives.
Here are some details on this from another post I created recently:
By 2020, at least 50% of all searches are expected to be voice oriented. Consumers are increasingly reaching for their phone to speak commands, rather than type them. They want to know about the latest deals, sales and promos; receive personalised assistance and find instant business information…
Ever since the Hummingbird update, Google has been actively growing its AI-backed speech accuracy capabilities. In May 2017, its speech recognition accuracy rate reached 95%. This number is also the threshold for human accuracy, meaning that algorithms are now equally good listeners as we are.
Source: ‘How to prepare your content for voice search‘.
There are many approaches to take for marketing to target for voice search gains, and a few of these are covered below.
Tips for optimizing for voice:
- Gather as much search query data as possible and use this for targeting the 4-5 longer-tail search queries typical of voice-based search behavior
- Focus on Google Answers and Rich Results. These facilitate most of the voice results supplied
- Create single page apps, and traditional apps that enable inclusion within the personal assistants and home speakers
- Use schema.org to add structured data to your website everywhere it is applicable. This will help with content understanding, context and delivery within voice results
- Use free tools such as AnswerThePublic in addition to your other data points. From this, you can create more question and answer content to target the user queries commonly used in voice search
- Create new content, and reposition existing relevant content for mobile digestion and voice delivery. This can include new voice trends like; near me, close by, and nearby
- Ensure that all the mobile optimization items are effectively used such as; responsive design, fast loading times, time to first byte updates, mobile friendly, mobile content delivery, content targeting mobile behavior, accessibility etc.
- Turn your thin value location pages into content-rich destination pages. Include user generate content, unique location based staff updates and profile, plus wider location specific news, blog and associated content reflecting the location needs and pain points