Study: Brands “Get” Websites, Still Behind on Other Location Tactics

Despite the headline, not all multi-location brands have great, location optimized websites and, not all brands are behind when it comes to critical location tactics for digital marketing success. However, a recent study shows that brands are doing pretty well when it comes to website effectiveness in search and discoverability.

Placeable recently released the NatLo Top 150 report which “measures…four key dimensions of local online marketing: Visibility, Depth, Precision and Reach.”  The study analyzed over 1,000 multi-location brands, giving a score for each of the dimensions and providing an aggregate “NatLo” score.


Of the four dimensions, visibility – a factor of site structure, page optimization, web and mobile site performance and local and geo-related search factors – had the best overall score at 69.  The rest of the scores hovered around 54, suggesting a definite contrast between website location practices and the other dimensions.

“Depth” looked at accuracy of published location content; precision analyzed geographic accuracy of location data; and reach examined data consistency and coverage across third party sites. The study provided a complete look at just how effective brands are at location based digital marketing and the results showed there are still opportunities galore.

Visibility being the best performing dimension and depth the worst, here is what Placeable had to say about these results:

From a visibility perspective, the leaders demonstrated a superior overall digital presence, with optimized web and mobile locators…But across the board there was room for improvement in the areas of mobile site performance and page optimization tactics such as breadcrumb usage and inclusion of social reviews.

With respect to depth, the leading brands excelled at publishing basic location content…but even the top brands fell short when it came to providing richer and more engaging content like localized promotions, videos, payment types, and multi-language support.

It seems logical that more fundamental practices like website structure, page optimization and local search factors are being addressed by brands, while more technical and often illusive factors like lat-long and pin placement remain challenging. Nonetheless, 69, the score for visibility, is still a “D” on most grading scales.

It probably goes without saying but when going down to the industry level, a tremendous amount of variation was found.

  • Visibility: Retail had the lowest score (65), Transportation and Storage had the highest (80);
  • Depth: Entertainment had the lowest score (43), Hospitality had the highest (66);
  • Precision: Childcare had the lowest score (46), Automotive had the highest (64);
  • Reach: Childcare had the lowest score (37), Restaurants had the highest (63);
  • Overall: The highest average scores were earned by Financial Services and Hospitality, while Childcare Services, Transportation & Storage and Business & Professional Services scored lowest.

So what does all of this mean? Brands still have a long way to go in optimizing location based tactics. Placeable’s study provides a good look at how far.

At LSA|15 we will explore this relationship between location and national brands in more detail during a session titled, “The Brand Perspective Or How I learned to Embrace Chaos.” National-local advertisers from Toyota, Advance Auto Parts and another brand (TBD) will discuss the challenges of managing location data, search, mobile and other channels in a fragmented and chaotic media universe.

Similarly, during “Advanced Uses of Mobile Location,” Factual, Dstillery and PlaceIQ will explore case studies showing how location is being used in many unexpected ways to define audiences, enable personalization, measure traditional media and reshape media buying and planning for brands. Join us April 20-22 in LA and don’t forget about the SMB Digital Boot Camp on April 19.

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