- Posted by Aaron Johnson
- On June 7, 2016
One in five page views in the United States occurs on Facebook as more and more people are using Facebook, and logging in more frequently. As friends, family, and brands are utilizing the social media platform, more time is being spent searching for information using the Facebook search bar.
16 million local business Pages have been created as of May 2013 which is a 100 percent increase from 8 million in June 2012 (Zephoria). The only way to ensure that your business is being found is by optimizing your local presence on social media. If the proper steps are taken, and there are a lot of them, your brick-and-mortar location can be found more readily by consumers who are using social media and searching for key terms that will lead them through your front door.
The Way It Was
From 2010 to 2012, a massive change in SEO occurred, forcing brands to earn rankings through quality, user-focused content or face penalties in search. You can read more about that here.
Major updates from Google enforced stricter regulations on keywords, content quality and over-optimization. This significantly impacted how results were indexed. Brands who did not comply with new regulations, like JC Penney and Overstock, had their names dragged through the streets to set an example.
Improved localized SEO results were listed directly in SERPs to organize all local information and offer new advertising opportunities. Additionally, a generation of growing social media influence brought social results to search as a driving force. In this period, Google+ was born along with the +1 button, both of which played a significant factor in boosting content visibility.
To successfully optimize a website, marketers developed valuable and shareable content focused toward users. Content that was shared throughout the web and social media created valuable backlinks and engagement that built authority. These trends led to the dawn of the information age — the fast-paced, personalized, and more engaging web we know today.
How Can I Be Found Locally On Social Today?
In 2012, after Facebook continued to grow in amount of users and time they spent in the platform, the company began to notice that more users were searching for content in the search bar as if it were a browser, andthat enough content existed that people were finding answers within the names of Facebook Pages.
This realization opened a new door to possibilities by indexing content, event Pages, groups, public figures and giving preferences to popular and relevant information.
Previously, to earn a “verified Page” on Facebook, a Page had to be acknowledged by a Facebook employee. The process for getting this selective attention was secretive and not formalized. Eventually, a process was created and a formal application was launched for the “blue checkmark.”
In 2015, with the acquisition of Instagram, Facebook began a formal application process to obtain a “gray checkmark” for physical locations in order to claim ownership of geotags for photo sharing. This created a need to manage geotags and a process was needed to merge unmanaged Pages that had geotags. This process became more transparent and complicated for businesses that did not have experience with social media management or backend advertising tools like Facebook Developers or Power Editor.
The last step, which is only a few months old today, was when Facebook launched Places, a local search tool that allows users to search for industry listings by category with results being optimized by relevance and proximity to the user at the time of search. This information has been updated in the Facebook search bar, making Facebook a local search engine that is accessed by 1.49 billion users.
The badges help people “find the right and authentic accounts” for local merchants. Verified Pages will also show up higher in search results. The first step to verifying your brand is to make sure all extraneous duplicates and incomplete Pages are consolidated into one brand or location Page.
There are currently 45 million business Pages on Facebook, and verifying your Page will ensure that no one else can claim your business name in your area, secure a vanity URL, and claim the physical address for geotagging for your location. Facebook has updated its help Page about verification with more details about the badges. With 75% of Facebook’s users accessing the platform through a mobile device every day, this step is crucial to make sure your business is found over the competition by eager consumers.
Facebook’s current SMB strategy can be seen, in part, as an attempt to soothe business owners who remain upset about the crash of organic reach because reaching Facebook users via the News Feed is much more difficult than it was when the social network was younger and smaller.
For years after the launch of Pages in 2007, Facebook representatives recommended that businesses marketing on Facebook build their Page fan bases to take advantage of the free access to people’s News Feeds, but with growth in users and businesses causing competition for that space, a rugby scrum of content eventually crowded out many marketing messages. Verification is a step for those that show vested interest in optimizing content to match local listings and filters legitimate businesses from the half-cooked start-ups and spam.
There’s a feature on Instagram that many people either don’t know about, or don’t really understand how to use: geotags. The benefits of using geotags on Instagram are valuable to your business, if you use them properly.
Instagram defines geotagging as “a technical term for storing the latitude and longitude of your current location with your photo. This data is collected by the GPS device in your phone or tablet and is accessible to Instagram if you grant permission.”
Basically, when you take a photo, the coordinates of where you were are attached to that photo. If (and only if) you tell Instagram to publicize this location, you can tag your photo with the location where you are. To be clear, Instagram will not post your location data on any photo until you choose the “Add to Photo Map” during the upload process.
As a user, if you choose to add your location to a photo, when you click the slider to activate the geotag (the Add to Photo Map button on the upload screen), you have the option to choose the location of your photo. When you tap the “Name this Location” option, a list of local businesses, events, locations, and attractions will appear. You can select the option that represents where you are and that location will now appear in your post when uploaded to Instagram.
Because Instagram has very little user support, and was acquired by Facebook, geotags are often updated from Facebook. If your business is registered as a location on either of these platforms, you should find that your business appears as a listing for geotagging. Remember, if you create a custom location, that’s only available to you on your account. It doesn’t make it public to everyone.
Now, a word to the wary here. If you work from home and you don’t want people to know where you live, do not post your location as a geotag in your Instagram posts. Learn how to remove your home from Instagram to keep your business separate from your home.
If you want to see all of your geotagged posts (or those of someone else), go to the little location button on the Instagram profile (second from the right just above your first row of gallery images). This will open up a map of the world and show you where are all of your photos are tagged. You can zoom in and see individual photos from all of the locations you’ve geotagged.
OK, so now that you can see how these geotags work on Instagram in general, let’s talk about how they impact you as a business. This is extremely valuable to location-based, or brick-and-mortar type businesses. Having your business listed as a location means people can “check-in” at your business through Instagram and Facebook in the Nearby tab.
There are several reasons why this is so valuable. First of all, others who click that geotag location can see all the other posts that people are uploading to the geotag. This can be beneficial in showcasing your products or services, but also for reaching new customers. Tourists or people new to the area can search the geotags to determine if they want to do business with you. Secondly, these geotagged images allow you to source user-generated content.
Photo uploads total 300 million per day (Gizmodo). Again, this is an indication of engaged users. It is also an indication that there are a lot of photos, as well as other information, competing for users’ attention, so target your efforts strategically.
New Call-to-Action Options
Facebook has updated Call-to-Action buttons for Pages. In the days of yore, Pages could select a button using a third party developer that took users to a lead capture tab, or it would take a user to an email prompt. The new, updated Call-to-Action buttons are optimized for users to connect to brick-and-mortar locations, or call centers!
- Get Directions: Direct people to your store and drive foot traffic.
- Call Now: Direct customers to call your business.
- Send Message: Communicate with customers through Facebook messaging.
- Learn More: Send people to your website for more information.
Not enough people hitting these buttons organically? Well, Facebook made sure to line these key performance indicators with advertising objectives in the new Local Awareness Ads!
Local Awareness Ads
Facebook’s local awareness objective is the best way to reach people when they’re near your business, whether that means walking distance or a few miles. Ads can be created right from your Page. Agencies like V Digital Services will help businesses pinpoint a budget, choose a photo and then create an engaging message for the people in your area to seize the local audience and deliver a message to drive foot traffic into your business.
If the user accesses Facebook via mobile while in the vicinity of your business, metrics can be reported on whether or not the user was delivered your ad and stepped into your physical location! Metrics have been provided in Page Insights to show Page managers the value and effects of their campaigns on a local level, measuring key performance indicators like People Nearby and Check-Ins.
Multiple Location Services
Before the Facebook update and integration of geotags with Instagram, businesses with multiple locations had to work with a Facebook specialist to purchase ads and earn trust with the company through the use of best practices, prior to receiving support through the building of a location Page structure. The old location management links were discontinued and a new location manager has been made available to Pages.
Location Pages can be managed by a central team with content published to all locations from the main brand Page. Additionally, regional or physical location teams can manage content for their specific location. Geotags are created, which allow for users to take photos and tag where they are, adding relevancy to your business and increasing check-ins, engagement, Page Likes, and search rank for your main brand Page.
Reviews Create Local Relevancy
Yelp took a pretty big hit when Google and Facebook got into the consumer review game, with more users being able to consolidate their consumer advocacy into platforms and browsers they use more frequently. Star ratings encourage more people to rate a business, making it eligible to appear in the news feed. This helps readers discover new businesses, while businesses create greater brand awareness. Star ratings are incorporated into a business’ Facebook EdgeRank.
Much like Google has its 200 ranking factors, reviews influence the relevancy score (a variable in Facebook’s algorithm) that determines where Page content will be prioritized in the News Feed.
Facebook Wi-Fi Messages
Customers may simply check in to your location on Facebook to connect to free Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi codes aren’t necessary and there are no new accounts to create. Customers can manually check in or choose a setting that lets them automatically check in whenever they visit your location.
When customers check in to use your Wi-Fi, their friends can discover your business by seeing the story in their News Feed. After checking in, people will be asked if they also want to like your Page so you can continue to connect with them on Facebook.
More check-ins and engagement with your Page will improve how it ranks in search and the Nearby tab on the Facebook mobile app
Do You Have Time to Optimize Your Social Presence to Be Found Locally?
Properly managing your social media content and engaging your customers with an authentic voice is key to transforming passive consumers into fanatical cheerleaders that share your brand and their customer experience with you to new potential customers.
On platforms like Instagram and Facebook that use an algorithm to determine how many people see your business opportunities, every misstep could set you back countless hours in trying to regain an audience. Specialists are expected to capture your voice, analyze your audience, and provide an environment that allows your business to exponentially grow through word-of-mouth advertising.
For most managers, it makes sense to outsource social media management to a specialist to save time and money. An experienced social media specialist, like those at V Digital Services, will know the proper steps to verify your Page, optimize your social presence to assist with SEO rankings, and localize your information so that mobile users can find your location and business offers using the best practices in the industry. For more information, contact V Digital Services today.