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#LSA18: Brands – Meeting the Local Challenge

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Greg Sterling began the session by posing a question to panelists about how important a business’s website in today’s local ecosystem. How does it factor into Google’s local ranking algorithm?

John Curtis, Senior SEO Manager at Walgreens, quickly reiterated Mike Blumenthal from the previous day: ‘You’re asking the wrong questions if you’re still talking about rankings’.  Elnora Cunningham, Head of Social Media Marketing and Listing Management (U-Haul) and Lindsay Lee, Digital Field Marketing Manager (Toyota) agreed.

Google will continue cannibalizing your website traffic as it continues enriching their local search experience with more information. “Google is your new homepage,” says John. Your website is still a critical component to a comprehensive local SEO strategy. Businesses need to accept that Google is the major touchpoint for customers because that is where people search for and expect information about your business. Remember, Google’s overarching mission is to collect and provide information to its user in the best experience possible.

Later in the panel, Greg asks John what a few local challenges the organization faces are.Data accuracy and communicating to the customer,” John says. Ensuring that Google always has accurate location information is important for SEO, but this can be a critical component to your customer service strategy as well.

Customers presume that Google is always accurate, and that when it is not, the brand is to blame. “The challenge is complex,” John says. Working within Google’s framework (i.e. Google My Business) helps prevent poor customer experiences, while at the same time enriching the wealth of knowledge you can provide directly to your customer through Google. John provides an example of leveraging Google Posts and Questions & Answers as a proactive way to engage and communicate with your customers in Google.

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