Why Local Search Is the “Bunt” of Digital Marketing
Don’t let anyone fool you — local SEO is easy.
When you break it down, optimizing a business’s physical location to be more “findable” online falls into four simple steps:
Claim Your Listings – Google My Business, Bing Places, Apple Maps, Yelp, YP.com, etc.
Fill Out Your Listings – Brand name, address, phone number, website, etc.
Add Content to Your Listings – Images, categories, descriptions, etc.
Pay Attention to Your Listings – New features? Reviews? Inaccurate information? etc.
Claim. Fill out. Add content. Pay attention. That’s it. And if you wash, rinse and repeat your way through those steps consistently, you’ll ensure that you’re not missing out on a customer because you haven’t minded your Ps and Qs.
But if it’s that easy, then why do companies still struggle with executing local SEO? Because it takes time, and you have to commit to staying on top of it.
Let’s leave local search for a second and take a similar example, but from the sporting world: bunting.
Bunting has been and will continue to be an important part of baseball. Whether you’re the speedster looking to ignite a rally, a dead-pull lefty taking advantage of a shift or simply a player sacrificing himself in order to move the baserunner into a more dangerous position, it’s a simple case of putting the ball in play.
And in the scope of professional baseball, bunting should be easy. A player holds the bat in the middle of the strike zone and waits for the oncoming pitch to make contact with it. There’s no swinging. No guessing.
Yet even successful professional baseball players have trouble executing a good bunt. As a fan, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing professionals being paid millions of dollars struggle with something relatively simple. Trust me, I’ve yelled a few choice words at my TV screen after watching someone pop up a bunt to kill a rally.
But how can they mess up something so “easy”? Because bunting is taken as a given. The speedster thinks he can beat out even a bad bunt. A power hitter assumes he won’t be asked to bunt. And the other guys just assume they’ve practiced it enough that they’ll be fine when asked to bunt.
The reality is that it takes time and commitment to learn how to bunt. Then, practice and patience as you go through the motions of perfecting it so you’re always ready when the time comes.
That’s where the parallels start with local SEO. It’s a simple concept, but difficult to execute unless you’ve put in the time to claim, fill out, add content and pay attention to your listings. For example, if I tell a client to claim and optimize a Yelp listing, do they even know where to start? Do they know what’s important? Do they know how involved it is?
The truth is that they probably don’t know. Heck, we have a 12-page guide on how to do it.
Twelve pages. And that’s just for Yelp (see it here).
And just like the ballplayer skipping a few bunting reps during warmup, a lot of brands skip the necessary steps to make sure their local listings are optimized.
And in the same way that a team may lose an out, rally or runs because of an unprepared hitter, you may lose a potential visit, purchase or loyal customer if you don’t put in the effort on your local SEO.
In the end, local SEO isn’t like hitting a 104 mph fastball off of Aroldis Chapman, even though some agencies and platforms will try and make it sound like it is.
Perfecting your local SEO is really all about practice, experience, situational awareness and good ol’ fashioned hard work (especially the last part).
That’s what works. So it may not be flashy, but when executed correctly, local SEO can help move your businesses into a better position.