In this episode of the I’ve Heard That podcast on the Hurrdat Media Network, host Max sits down with Local Search Manager Alexi English and Social Media Director Kirsten Smith to chat about how local businesses can use social media and local SEO to get in front of more local customers.
What can you do on social to help local SEO?
Smith: I think the most important thing is to always claim your Facebook pages. There are multiple times where someone will go to a business, check in online, and then that’s the end of it. It’s just a floating Facebook page that’s out there that businesses don’t even know exist. So claim all of your Facebook pages and optimize them with correct imagery and About page information. Fill everything out, and do it all accurately.
English: I don’t think a lot of people realize that Facebook is one of the top five directories that you should claim as a business owner. Your business name, address, phone number, website URL—make sure all that information is on your Facebook page. The About section is huge, so make sure you’re filling out completely.
How do extra Facebook Pages function?
Smith: You will have your “parent page,” then you will put the others in the hierarchy of the location pages. But it’s still going to be pulled up based on where you’re located, too. There’s no way to turn new location pages (child pages) off because people check into them, and if they mistake the location, it’ll create a new page that’s wrong, and it’s just going to be out there. You can do low-maintenance work on them, like making sure the information is correct or turning off settings so people can’t post on that page. But they’re not going to go away, so there’s going to have to be a little bit of management.
English: Facebook is a directory, so you should want to have a page with all your locations, but location pages are also another way to manage your reviews. A lot of businesses only have one page, but have 20 locations, so all those reviews would go to that one page, rather than to the location page they actually belong to.
What features has Google rolled out to keep up?
English: One feature is Google Posts, which a lot of businesses neglect. Not only does it take up real estate on a search engine results page (SERP), but I would go to a business listing quicker if I saw there were Posts there. If you’re going to be posting on other social platforms like Facebook, why wouldn’t you post on Google as well?
Smith: It’s nice because you don’t have to reinvent the wheel with your Posts. If you post on Facebook, you already know what your audience likes and what they want to see. So why not use that same strategy with Google Posts as well?
How can you implement direct messages into your strategy?
Smith: It’s another way to execute great customer service and gives you an opportunity to create that connection with a customer, which is what a lot of people online are looking for. But you can’t just set it up with a bot and then forget about it. You need to have a strategy. There’s still that human interaction that people want, even if it’s through a chat.
English: In Google Messenger, it will actually get turned off for your business if you don’t respond within 24 hours. That’s why we tell business owners, if you want to turn on this feature, you better be prepared to respond promptly.
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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to I’ve Heard That. The podcast from Hurrdat Marketing that discusses digital marketing trends, tips, and more.
Speaker 2 (00:10):
Welcome back. I have two amazing experts here with me today. Welcome, Kirsten. Welcome, Alexi.
Speaker 2 (00:17):
Tell us what you do at Hurrdat.
Alexi English (00:19):
My name is Alexi English and I am the local search manager at Hurrdat. I manage the local search team every day and optimize business profiles in search engines and directories so businesses can be found in local search results.
Speaker 2 (00:34):
Awesome. And you Kirsten?
Kirsten Smith (00:36):
Hi, my name’s Kirsten Smith and I’m the director of social marketing and brand communications. I oversee all of our organic social media at Hurrdat, running a social media for our clients and also all of our own brands.
Speaker 2 (00:48):
Awesome. Well, today we have a super important topic for small businesses. Well, enterprise businesses, I guess everybody, so I don’t know what I’m saying there.
Speaker 2 (00:59):
For local, can you break it back down for us, Alexi? I know it’s been awhile since season one, since we had you on. Share with me what is local search and what do we do for small businesses? I keep saying small businesses guys. I’m sorry everybody.
Alexi English (01:16):
Speaker 2 (01:17):
Alexi English (01:19):
Local SEO is a type of search engine optimization aimed to increase a business’s relevancy in the local search results for relevant searches with local intent.
Speaker 2 (01:30):
So if you’re looking for a coffee shop, obviously we have coffee. If you’re looking for a coffee shop and you search in Google coffee shop, Google’s going to show you the nearest one. It’s heavily weighted towards proximity.
Alexi English (01:44):
Most prominent one.
Speaker 2 (01:45):
It’s probably going to show you a Starbucks because they’re everywhere. It’s also going to show you a coffee shop and not an ice cream shop, so relevant, right?
Alexi English (01:53):
Speaker 2 (01:54):
Awesome. And then how, and where does that overlap with social? Because obviously we have Kirsten here today, too.
Alexi English (02:01):
I think for local, a lot of times when you search a local business, you will see social profiles show up in the organic search results. And also in the knowledge panel, sometimes Google will scrape your social profiles and put your social profiles there.
Speaker 2 (02:16):
It’ll also show, “Hey, here’s their Facebook page.” And then sometimes it pulls over reviews from Facebook. It’s really heavy on Facebook and Foursquare.
Alexi English (02:23):
I feel like when I search a local business like Facebook, in the organic result is probably one of the top three, at least top five in the search results.
Speaker 2 (02:31):
Definitely. What kind of content, Kirsten, can they put on their social channels? Facebook specifically typically. To help give visibility to their searchers that are finding them on Google?
Kirsten Smith (02:47):
I think the most important thing is to always claim first all of your Facebook pages. There’s multiple times where someone will go to a business, check-in, do that thing and it’s a floating Facebook page that’s out there that a business doesn’t even know exist. I think that’s the most important thing is to make sure you’re claiming all of those… They used to be called children pages, but now they’re called location pages, claim all of those, making sure those are optimized with correct imagery, correct about information, [inaudible 00:03:18] with your main page in your location pages, fill it all out, optimize it, make sure you’re talking about what it is. Also, too, make sure the location is correct, which usually pulls from Google. If that’s not pulling correctly, you know that your listing could be wrong on Google, also.
Speaker 2 (03:36):
That’s a great indicator. I think what we’ve talked about in previous episodes regarding local searches to use the same data set, use correct and consistent information and that’s really important when you think about Facebook as you mentioned, because people could be checking in and it’s more… If you didn’t create it as the business, it’s probably user-generated or created that way and it’s probably incorrect and going unmanaged, and as a brand, you definitely don’t want to be putting that foot forward because it’s usually not on brand.
Kirsten Smith (04:08):
You’ll see photos on there that are not on brand, comments that are not on brand, postings that are not on brand. Making sure you have control, there’s a lot of businesses don’t even know they exist out there. That is really important to make sure that they are out there.
Alexi English (04:27):
Sorry, back to the business information. I don’t think a lot of people realize, we consider Facebook another directory. It’s top five in the directories that you should claim.
Speaker 2 (04:38):
It’s very influential to Google because it does have such relevant signals and engagement from the audience on Facebook. So Google’s saying, “Hey, this is valuable. We see people interact with this. Let’s give it some weight.”
Alexi English (04:52):
Your name, address, phone number, make sure your website URL’s on there. Facebook, like you said, has so much area for you to put your business information. The About Me Section is huge, so make sure you’re filling it out completely.
Kirsten Smith (05:05):
People use Facebook a lot of times as their website. A lot of small businesses actually, that’s their website, but then also us as users look to Facebook to get more information about the business also. The service section, what do you have to offer to the audience? Making sure you’re filling that out. Correct contact information so people can call you or jump on your website if you do have one.
Speaker 2 (05:31):
I think a question that we get a lot is from businesses that have multiple locations, they’re, “Look, can I just ignore them? I don’t want to do 12, 15, 50 Facebook pages on top of the page that we’ve spent so much time and energy to optimize for our brand page.” In that example, what do you tell the client who says, “Can I opt out? Can I turn these off? Or is there a way to manage at scale?”
Kirsten Smith (05:59):
There is no way to turn them off because like I mentioned, people check in and they’re going to exist out there. You can do very low maintenance on them just to make sure that the information is correct. You can also turn off settings where people can’t post on that page or be able to… So you don’t have to manage the postings on there, you can do a lot of settings, but they’re not going to go away. So there is going to have to be a little bit of management off of those.
Speaker 2 (06:25):
You can’t just put your head in the sand, you have to do something with them. And of course, for them to not go unmanaged, claim them at least at a bare minimum, make sure that information is correct and consistent. And then, you mentioned they used to be called child pages, now they’re location pages, but can you still put them into a hierarchy then?
Kirsten Smith (06:43):
You can within Facebook. You will still have your parent page as it used to be called, too, and then you put them in the hierarchy of the location pages, but it’s still going to be pulled up based off of where you’re located, too.
Speaker 2 (07:00):
When you search in Facebook, say for, we have Scooter’s Coffee in front of us, I don’t know if we can say that. [crosstalk 00:07:06] we can. When you search for Scooter’s Coffee, it could show you their brand page or it could show you the nearest location to you and you would want to make sure that all of those are optimized should somebody use Facebook like a search engine and come across your location pages.
Kirsten Smith (07:21):
Do you know, also within that, because since there’s a lot of Scooter’s drive throughs, I could be across the street and have checked into Scooter’s and then I’m confused as a user when I’m, “Oh, I see Scooter’s is right beside me”, but it’s actually across the street because someone checked in to the wrong location, made that location page and then the business never managed it.
Speaker 2 (07:43):
That’s another great point that there’s duplicates out there. If someone made the page with the wrong information, then someone can go through and make the page with the right information, you also have to manage those duplicates, suppress them, or-
Kirsten Smith (07:56):
Speaker 2 (07:56):
… combine them. So that can happen.
Alexi English (08:00):
Another thing with not wanting to manage multiple location pages, like I said, it’s considered a directory, so you want to have a page for all your locations, but also with reviews, it’s another way to manage your reviews, also. A lot of businesses only have one page and they could have 20 locations and all the reviews for all those locations are going on that one page.
Speaker 2 (08:22):
And that doesn’t make sense if you’re a searcher “Well, how was your experience at that location?” Think about a restaurant or even a hotel, it varies so much from location to location that it would make a difference on if you were going to go to that specific location.
Speaker 2 (08:40):
Well, Facebook and Google definitely have a lot in common when it comes to features. Tell me about a few of the features that Google has rolled out over the past year, year and a half to keep up with Facebook on the engagement side.
Alexi English (08:57):
One is Google Posts, which I think a lot of businesses neglect and they shouldn’t be doing that. One, it’s a way to get more real estate in the search results. Why wouldn’t you do it? Another thing is if you’re going to be posting-
Speaker 2 (09:11):
It takes up more space. It’s what you were saying, for sure. Because the more information you’re putting on your Google My Business listing, it makes your listing physically longer. A post is a good block and it’s a visible image. It can be eye-catching, too, and that makes drive a click.
Alexi English (09:30):
I would definitely go to that listing quicker if I saw there were posts on it. And then another thing, if you’re going to be posting on social, if you’re going to be posting on Facebook, why wouldn’t you go post in Google Posts, as well?
Speaker 2 (09:41):
It doesn’t have to be additional work. I think that’s what we’ve seen, if you have a strong social strategy that you know is working for you like getting engagement from your channel audiences, then you can replicate that on Google. Google is like a broader net, so it’s still going to fit. I was looking at Wendy’s the other day and they’re doing an awesome job using those Google Posts. They had a post for downloading their app. And then you could claim an offer. They had a post to order and they’re doing some cool online ordering through Google.
Alexi English (10:14):
They were getting new menu items, stuff like that.
Speaker 2 (10:17):
They were doing a lot with Posts and it just made it a lot easier to know what you wanted to do and you can do it quickly. You don’t have to go to the site to go order. You didn’t have to go to the app to download the offer. They just had it right there in Google. That’s too easy.
Kirsten Smith (10:34):
And that’s, what’s nice about, like you mentioned, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel even with your posts, because if you have it on Facebook, you’re already analyzing every single post that goes out the door. You know what your audience is reacting to and once what they want to see and what they want to see more, they tell you even what they want to see. Why don’t you use that same strategy towards the Google postings and try it within that? And then not reinvent the wheel all the way.
Speaker 2 (11:06):
Tell me about a few of the post types because obviously Google makes it super easy. It’s not just a blank canvas. You have to figure out which of these categories your message goes into and then it prompts you on what to do or how to optimize that.
Alexi English (11:21):
There’s event posts, there’s product posts, there’s update posts. So anything that doesn’t fall in those categories could go in the update posts.
Speaker 2 (11:29):
COVID, there’s COVID [crosstalk 00:11:31].
Alexi English (11:30):
There’s code one, there’s a fifth COVID one, there’s a fifth one, but there’s many options.
Speaker 2 (11:34):
And then they have other CTAs, calls to action for this product posts [crosstalk 00:11:39]
Alexi English (11:39):
Book now, call now, learn more. There’s a lot.
Speaker 2 (11:43):
Driving to the website, of course.
Alexi English (11:44):
There’s a lot of options.
Speaker 2 (11:46):
That’s awesome. Messaging has been huge for Facebook. I know that a lot of businesses have implemented a messenger strategy. Tell me about that and how to execute that on Facebook. And then tell me about Google, too, because they just rolled out something similar not too long ago.
Kirsten Smith (12:02):
Messenger has definitely been growing within the social channels, especially within Facebook. It’s just another way to just execute great customer service. But I think that’s the thing, you need to execute the great customer service, you can’t just set it and forget it with a bot, which is easy to do. A lot of businesses will set it and be, “We will respond within 24 hours.”
Alexi English (12:21):
Well, they never do.
Kirsten Smith (12:22):
They never do, yes. There’s ways to use bots to make communication tree. And if someone’s asking this question, then it can respond with this or someone’s, “Talk to a representative”, then you can get someone to respond. But I think that’s another opportunity to create that, just in that engagement and that connection with the customer within messenger and a lot of people that are online are looking for that.
Kirsten Smith (12:51):
Chat’s been huge for… If you even go to a website and you just want to talk to a representative instead of calling and doing all that, because like you, I’m already on the computer. I can get it solved right now. Social has been a good way for businesses to also do that.
Speaker 2 (13:07):
They make it really easy. And back to your point of using a bot, I’ve had good experiences with a bot and I’ve had horrible experiences. I’ve had experiences recently where I’m, “I just want to cancel your service.” And they’re, “Cool. Okay, great” [crosstalk 00:13:18]
Alexi English (13:18):
Airlines always want to use a bot at first.
Speaker 2 (13:20):
Oh, my gosh. And I’m, “Human. Person. Right away. Somebody.”
Kirsten Smith (13:25):
I think that’s where you really need to create also a strategy within messenger because you can’t just set it, forget it and think that a bot is going to take care of it because there’s still that human interaction that people want, even though it’s through chat.
Speaker 2 (13:39):
I know that besides the customer service issues that that can cause you can get yourself in hot water really quickly with the algorithm, too. Both Google and Facebook have SLAs, how quick do you have to respond to somebody before you get dinged, before you get turned off? Can both platforms turn off?
Kirsten Smith (14:00):
Speaker 2 (14:01):
They’re not good messaging? Google can?
Kirsten Smith (14:04):
… it’s that 24 hours, that’s why they’re, “Well, we respond within 24 hours.” And the algorithm, if you don’t, they’re going to… If people aren’t liking your posts, they’re going to think, “Well, you’re not relevant anymore. We’re going to just put someone else in front of you and just put you to the end.” That’s just always something to think about, too. It’s not just creating that great customer service. You have that algorithm, that big, scary word following you everywhere within social and in Google.
Speaker 2 (14:36):
Giving you points for when you perform and giving you thumbs down, negative points when you don’t. What about Google? What’s the best practice for response on Google?
Alexi English (14:45):
It’s 24 hours and I’ve never tested it before, but yeah, Google will turn it off for you. So if you’re going to be using messenger for Facebook, like Google Posts, you should use messenger and Google use the same exact strategy.
Speaker 2 (15:00):
I think Google just rolled it out where you can do messenger from your phone, too.
Alexi English (15:03):
No. It was only in the app originally, but now it’s in the desktop. Originally they couldn’t respond within the desktop, which that’s way more convenient, I think.
Speaker 2 (15:14):
If you’re a small business owner, I get why they wanted you to use the app because you’re on the go and maybe-
Alexi English (15:19):
That was literally the only place you could respond.
Speaker 2 (15:22):
And what a pain, because if you’re the only one with the app and you manage a team, if you’re really not the only business owner, then you’re going to want to task it out to somebody else to be, “Hey, when you’re on call, you respond her.” “Hey front desk, you respond.”
Alexi English (15:36):
That’s why we tell business owners, “If you want to turn this on, you better be prepared to respond within 24 hours.
Alexi English (15:43):
It’s really great if business owners want to use it, but they got to be prepared.
Speaker 2 (15:50):
Awesome. Any other insight you have for social and local?
Kirsten Smith (15:55):
No, I think it’s just really important… It’s funny how you don’t think about Facebook especially as a local listing or using it as a listing because you think of it as, “Oh, I’m just going to be social on it”, communicating, sharing pictures, sharing any business promotions or anything out there. I think it’s important to understand that people are also using Facebook to find you.
Speaker 2 (16:23):
And I guess you could say the same then, right? Alexi, for Google. Because in that people typically think about Google My Business as an SEO play, like a search engine optimization. Part of that strategy and not from the social aspect and it is a great place for you to engage as the business, back to those potential searchers.
Alexi English (16:43):
I definitely agree.
Speaker 2 (16:45):
Awesome. Well, thank you ladies for sharing all of your insights. I’m so excited to have you back in the studio. Thanks for joining me Alexi. Thanks, Kirsten.
Alexi English (16:54):
Speaker 1 (16:56):
I’ve Heard That is a part of the Hurrdat media network. For more information follow Hurrdat on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram, or visit hurrdatmarketing.com.
Speaker 5 (17:05):
Hurrdat Media production.