New research report published today based on a survey of 1400+ local marketers - in-house and agency - by SEO software developers MOZ concludes that:
"[Google]have successfully created not just the platform for customer journeys, but also the tools to analyze those journeys..."
Some key points:
Investment in Search Engine Optimization pays off - How Google's 1 August 2018 algorithm affected brand websites as a function of full-time SEO persons on staff:
- 6 or more SEOs: 52% reported positive effect, 0% negative
- 2-5 SEOs: 18% positive. 11% negative
- 1 SEO: 14% positive, 13% negative
- No SEOs: 7% positive, 9% negative
"Google is the new homepage for local businesses": 64% of marketers agreed,8% disagreed.
Rankings in organic search are strongly correlated with inclusion in Google Local Pack: 65% agreed, 7% disagreed.
Google reviews and ratings impact Google Local Pack rankings: 91% agreed, 1% disagreed.
Marketing services most in demand by local businesses (top 5):
- On-page SEO (19% mentioned)
- Website design (12%)
- Analytics - ranking/traffic/conversions (12%)
- Content development (10%)
- Social media (10%)
Aspects of marketing local marketers said they need to learn more about in 2019 (top 5):
- Organic SEO (24%)
- New Google Local features (14%)
- Coding (12%)
- Link building (11%)
- Paid ads including Google Ads and Local Service Ads (11%)
Level of SEO proficiency reported by sub-enterprise business local marketers:
- None - don't do SEO (4%)
- Little (15%)
- Can apply basic concepts (60%)
- Deep understanding (22%)
Share of local businesses with no link-building strategy: 35%
Local businesses with an effective review-management strategy in place: 27%
Local businesses with websites fully equipped for Google's mobile-first index: 55%
Local businesses paying Google for ads or leads: 69%
Number of SEO software tools local marketers say are in use at their company:
- One or none (25%)
- 2 to 5 (65%)
- 6 to 10 (9%)
- 11 or more (1%)
Tools local marketers are using for tracking, analysis, reporting, measuring ROI (mentioned by 50+%):
- Google Analytics (93%)
- Google Search Console (76%)
- Google My Business Insights (65%)
Challenges for local marketers:
- Business owners/managers don't understand local search, and care too much about rankings and traffic vs. conversions and revenue.
- Google dominates, and uses proximity as top ranking factor.
- Difficulty in finding good local SEO tools and training resources
- Finding marketing techniques competitors aren't using
Those results show that too many local businesses still aren't up to speed on 2019 digital marketing basics:
- Google - deliverer of 93% of US search results, 96% of European - cannot be ignored. But some local business marketers are doing no SEO for local search.
- Link building - still a key Google search ranking factor - isn't a top-5 priority for the local businesses surveyed, and 35% said they have no link-building strategy.
- Nearly half (45%) of these companies' websites aren't fully prepared for Google's mobile first single index.
- Only 27% of marketers surveyed have an effective review management plan in place.
- Many companies aren't seeking out and using necessary software tools and training for SEO and other current marketing technologies.
And I have to believe that marketers themselves - both in-house and at agencies - share some of the blame for this for not educating the owners/managers of those businesses on the connection between effective marketing and business success.