Want insights from someone who is crushing it in the Local SEO game? Meet Levi Williams-Clucas, SEO specialist at StrategiQ, an award-winning full-service agency in Suffolk.
This agency works with a huge variety of both local and national businesses and has produced some incredible results.
Levi has excellent insights to share. If you love everything local and are ready to nerd out a little bit, tune in to today's episode! New Local SEOs, in particular, might really love the insight at 13:44, where Levi shares the amount of time it takes to get results for clients.
Levi's Biggest Google My Business Challenges
Levi says that the support Google has been offering is pretty non-existent.
"It's not their priority because it's a free service. They've had all their staff working from home. There are reasons behind it, but it's been frustrating."
She says the other major challenge is client-based.
"Getting clients to really embrace reviews. I think a lot of people really underestimate the value of reviews. It's something I'm really passionate about. I talk about it all the time. I tell my clients: please, get more reviews. You have to push. You have to ask for them."
Recommendations for Review Generation Strategy
Garrett asked what Levi's recommendations to her clients were in regards to generating reviews.
"The first thing I always say is: are you actually doing a job that's worth the review? Assess what you're doing. Are you doing a 5-star job? If you're not, make sure you are before asking for nice reviews. If you're asking for reviews, people are going to be honest."
As for generating more reviews?
"We find the most success in email campaigns, in general: emailing existing customers, generally loyal customers, people who tend to come back a lot. Just after the purchase, right after they've got that really nice serotonin boost from making a purchase. Automated, if you can."
Levi says they use a script that sends people to all the different review platforms so they get a nice spread against all the different ones the client uses.
She again stresses the need to ask.
"Just say to people, look, if you had a good time today, if you think we did a good job, please leave a review. The number of people who will do it, just because you ask nicely!"
Getting Reviews in Industries that Face Review-Generation Challenges
The industry that Levi has seen struggle the most with review generation is the medical and pharmaceutical industry.
"Obviously there's a lot of sensitive stuff that goes on in that industry, a lot of stuff you can't just talk about."
She says that finance tends to have the same sort of problem.
"Some people don't want to talk about the companies they work with, even if they've done a fantastic job."
B2B also struggles, but Levi has solutions.
"Don't go to the business owner. Don't go to the company as a whole and ask for a review. Go to the individuals.
The actual people that are either in the company you've serviced, the individuals that have experienced the service, perhaps one step down, not directly dealt with you, felt the benefit of the company they've worked with.
That's the sort of person you want to target for reviews."
She also has solutions, in general, for all industries that struggle to get reviews. She tells them to stress the fact that customers don't have to get into the gory details of the service or product they received.
"All they need to say is the company is worth contacting or worth working with. Sometimes you don't have to say that, you can just leave a star rating, do it under a pseudonym, whatever works."
Certainly in other industries, we've spent some time going over how one might get meatier, more useful reviews. But if you're working with an industry where you're struggling to get them at all? The focus is probably going to have to be on getting a good star rating and a few words in the review text, rather than getting an in-depth review.
Take a look at competitor reviews and see what might be reasonable for you to expect.
Local Keyword Research and Strategy
Levi warns that Local SEO in particular may need to approach keyword research a little differently, thanks to regional differences in how people might say different terms.
Here in the United States, for example, we might say "cat door." In the UK, they say "cat flap." We might say we want someone to install it, they would say "fit me a."
She urges Local SEOs to layer keyword research with actually performing the searches in the local areas.
"It's one of the things that makes local underestimated. You don't understand how much manual work goes into local, especially keyword research. Getting it right you can see those map pack listings come up. It's such a buzz when you get it right and it works."
The Amount of Time it Takes to Make an Impact with Local SEO
One thing that's nice about Local SEO? It can take less time to generate results.
"Usually we start to see it in a couple of weeks. Thankfully that's normally the case. It's taken 3 or 4 months in the past, but it has [also] taken two or three days in the past. There's so much variation."
This is even true for clients who didn't already have a great deal of local visibility!
Insider Tricks that Can Generate Excellent Results
When asked about insider tricks, Levi spoke about trust signals.
"You would not believe how much reputation makes a difference. People really think all SEO is, is pushing things in a specific way for an algorithm. But it's really not like that anymore, especially in local."
In local, Levi says:
"It almost is like Google literally is a person and is looking for the thing. It can tell if your reputation is rubbish and you're making it up. Not having any reviews is a tell-tale sign of that. And they just won't trust you. It's all about trust."
She also stresses that Local SEO is about a lot more than GMB.
"It's not. We know well enough now it's about pages on-site. It's about reviews. It's about consistency. It's about creating an online entity."
The One Feature Google My Business is Lacking
Levi says she'd really like Google My Business (GMB) to update some of their features regarding open hours.
"I know a lot of people who can't display what times their classes are, or what times their opening hours are, if you've got more then two sets of opening hours. For example independent fitness classes or training courses that might differ to office hours. There's no good way to do it aside from putting it in posts or putting them in the description."
A lot of businesses do offer classes and variable hours, so it would be a useful feature.
Levi's Opinion on Whether Pay-to-Play is In Google's Future
It's probably one of the great anxieties of the local SEO world, that Google will transform GMB into a pay-to-play platform.
Levi doesn't think it will be an issue.
"It defeats the point of Google in general. If you're doing it so that the more people pay, the higher up they go, then it just doesn't function the way Google should. People will notice that and move elsewhere and use something else."
She also worries the move would kill lots of small, local businesses."I think there would be too much uproar over it."
Which led to a mention of competitors showing up in the GMB listing.
Levi admitted this move made her uneasy.
"I get it. I understand it from Google's point of view. Trying to provide everything to the users. But at the same time, it's a little bit of a stab in the back to people that have trusted those features and started using those features. It's a little bit backhanded."
What's your right now cause?
Levi is concerned about empowering and supporting other women.
"That might be donating to women's shelters, it might be helping to boost women-owned businesses, especially minority women."
She adds: "Protect women, support them, empower them, and allow them to feel like they don't have to protect themselves all the time."
Levi’s Industry Shout-Outs
Connect with Levi Williams-Clucas
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