Where would we be without monitoring ourselves?
I am constantly on the lookout for better tools to help my clients and always reserve the right to introduce something new or change what I am using if I think it will provide better information, especially for local businesses. I describe below a set of reports that I have been using for some time and which enable me and my clients to see how they look online, how that has changed and what their competitors are up to. Very often in local search, all you need to do is to be better than your competitors which is why some businesses can rank more easily than others in local search results.
The suite of reports that I use for local search (as opposed to online reputation management) currently comprises the list below and they save a huge amount of time as well as providing invaluable intelligence:
- Citation Tracker
- Reviews & Ratings
- Google My Business
- Local Search Audit
- Google Analytics
Why should a local business use them?
Each report is different so we need to answer that question for each. Bear in mind that all my clients get the full suite as part of my service and it is up to them to make the most of them with my help and guidance.
Track organic, local & maps rankings on Google, Yahoo & Bing. See rankings from any location and benchmark your progress against your main competitors. The dashboard below shows a summary and from there you can drill down to detailed analysis.
The detailed report below is a simple grid with the search engines across the top and up to 100 search terms down the side with the rankings shown in the grid together with changes since the previous report that you choose to compare with. This would take a very long time to put together and record manually.
Each of up to 100 search terms are tracked over time on each of the search engines so that you can see exactly how your ranking varies over time on each search engine. In the report below you can see one selected search term and how it has tracked on each search engine over time. This would take a lot of setting up to do manually and would be real chore each month to update.
There is also a time stamped overview of how many of your search terms are ranked in which bucket and the general idea is to have an increasing number in position 1, 2-5 etc. over time. Again, this could be done manually but would be a real chore and would most likely not be undertaken diligently.
You can track up to four competitors and see how they rank compared with your business against up to 100 search terms which provides a road map for improving your performance. You select which Search Engine at the top and the system displays the results in the familiar grid. This would be very tedious to undertake manually.
This report can be run on a regular basis to track changes over time which shows you if you are gaining or losing ground against your competitors. One of the advantages of a report like this is that you will be alerted to any changes that have been implemented by the search engines which affect your competitive position; these happen surprisingly often.
The image below is deliberately blurred but lists your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) and highlights if it disagrees with your template so that you can amend any incorrect citations. Google adds trust to your business if it sees citations but the NAP must be correct for it to do so.
You can see how well your location is recognised by search engines across the Internet (i.e. where your company is listed in a recognisable way). You get more value from the quality or your citations than from the quantity of citations and this report highlights the most important places (highest citation authority) to be listed which provides a priority list.
The Active Citations dashboard enables you to monitor your progress in getting your company listed if you choose to do this yourself using this dashboard. If someone else is doing it for you then you can use this report to see how many citations are added and when. You can drill down and see which have been added and even open them up to see that they have been added correctly.
You could undertake Google searches to try and determine where you are listed and repeat that every month to see if you can find any new ones but it would be an extremely time consuming thing to do, especially if you wished to check that your NAP was correct on each of the listings.
Reviews & Ratings
This report monitors all the review sites where your location is listed and pulls the reviews into the dashboard so that you can see what is being said about your location online. This saves you from having to constantly monitor multiple sites and enables you to direct reviews to your preferred sites.
Google picks up social proof from review sites and values reviews across multiple sites more highly than many reviews on just one site. This report shows you exactly where you have reviews and where you should be encouraging reviews if you want to spread them as recommended.
If you are concerned about poor reviews or wish to encourage more good reviews then please speak to us about our automated Client Feedback System.
Google My Business
This dashboard digs deep into the Google Local world which is quite different to “organic search” and helps local businesses to see how they are doing against their main competitors, thereby enabling them to adjust their listing to give themselves the best chance of outranking their competitors.
This report is restricted to five search terms and it reveals which companies rank best for those terms even if your company does not rank at all. In local search only the top 3 results are shown by default and this report lists the top 10 results so that you can see who occupies which spot. You can look at detailed statistics on each company listed (see the headings on the image above) which helps us work out why some businesses are ranking better than others.
Local Search Audit
This report examines the key Local SEO factors which affect your ability to rank high up in search engines (e.g. Google). We review each factor and then display the findings in a set of easy to read tables. The report is divided into 6 sections and each section has a clear explanation of these SEO factors. It is usually something to share with your webmaster.
The aim of this report is to pinpoint the SEO issues that your business faces and to explain the actions that you need to take to improve your SEO. By taking the right steps to improve your SEO you will greatly improve your search engine ‘ranking’ and thus your ability to be found by more local customers.*
* “Local Customers” means people searching for a product or service like yours near your location.
To set up this report requires access to your Google Analytics account and it provides useful statistics on your website traffic. None of this is unique and it would be available in Google Analytics but it is useful to have it included here so that you have one place to go to review your vital statistics and a monthly routine to do so.
At present the system connects to Twitter and Facebook. Subject to having your credentials in order to set up the report it will provide a list of your posts and reactions to them so that you can see how active and effective your social media accounts have been. You can quickly see which posts have been the most engaging which helps to guide your posting tactics in future.
To replicate these reports would take hours to set up and update. They provide vital information for local businesses where ranking in the top three spots in local search results is so important. The reports themselves don’t help you rank but they do provide information to guide your online efforts whether you do that yourselves or employ third parties to help you. You can try out various things to see if they work and, more importantly, you can see if they continue to work over time.