What is Local SEO and Why is it Important?

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Local businesses such as small companies, or those that have multiple locations can grow their customer base using local SEO strategies. Brand Equation, a full-service consulting and digital marketing agency based in Raleigh, NC, shares their expert insights into what local SEO is, and how companies can leverage this opportunity to grow their businesses.

An Introduction to Local SEO

Local Search Engine Optimization, or local search engine marketing, helps businesses to promote their offering to local clients who are interested in those products and services, at the exact time they are searching for them online. This can be done in a variety of different ways that can be quite different from standard SEO practices (and in most cases are simpler and more effective).

Understanding ‘Local Search’

Local search queries are different from standard informational searches, as the results that are shown will be based on location. As an example, any business based anywhere in the world could potentially rank in the SERPS for a search like ‘how to repair a pool pump’, but if the person searching has ‘local intent’ and they’re looking for a pool repair company, they’re likely to only see the results of businesses that are close by. This makes sense because if you’re based in Raleigh, you want a pool repair company that services your area, but if you’re wanting to make the repairs yourself, it doesn’t matter who published the guide on fixing a pool pump yourself.  

Why is this important? Because according to Google, 46% of searches have local intent, and search engines have evolved to understand when the searcher is looking for business suggestions that are location-based. So, a strategy for ranking in the local SERPS is vital for local businesses.

What are local SERPs?

Ranking in the ‘local pack’ or the ‘3 pack’ is what local businesses are aiming for to improve traffic to their websites. This ‘pack’ refers to the business listings that appear at the top of the search results below the map after a user does a Google search that has local intent. 

And you’ll notice that the results look different, featuring opening times, reviews and often photos of the business. This information is pulled from the local company’s ‘Google My Business’ profile.

Getting Started with Google My Business

Your Google My Business (GMB) is your business’s profile on Google, and this information is used for displaying results in the local pack as well as in Google Maps. It includes all the information that you choose to submit, including your services, contact information, a description of your business and opening times. Having an up-to-date, accurate GMB profile gives the business a better chance of appearing in the local pack and will also encourage a higher click-through rate.

Building on the Basics

Once you have your GMB in place, it’s time to start building your online presence by:

  • Building citations, strategically listing your business’s NAP (name, address, phone number, and website) information online in directories and business listings. 
  • managing reviews and ratings, to showcase the quality of your service and grow your authority
  • Getting high-quality, relevant backlinks, from reputable websites to establish your website as trustworthy.

Brand Equation is a full-service consulting and digital marketing agency that has the right combination of experience and expertise in local SEO marketing. They are uniquely positioned to offer local businesses creative, results-driven, local-ranking packages to help them grow.

The company specializes in assisting clients with brand-creative services, website development, customer software integrations, mobile web development, mobile apps, reputation management, social media marketing, and omnichannel digital ad campaigns.

5 Ways to Improve Your Online Brand and Reputation Management

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Your brand online is an essential asset for your business, but it can be difficult to know where to start with online reputation management because there are so many different platforms available on the web. Many local businesses tend to think that a website is all they need for their online presence, but this leaves them open to negative reviews and comments that they can’t control. And it’s these reviews that show up when potential customers search for their businesses which, in turn, will have a negative impact on buying behaviour.

In essence, businesses are allowing other people to dictate the narrative. To turn this around, they should take proactive steps that put the control of the brand’s reputation online firmly back in their own hands.

There are five key areas to focus on:

1. Grow Your Online Presence

Aside from your website, the top three places where you’ll want to have a presence is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but there are many other sites that you can use to expand your footprint. The best way to decide which platforms are going to work for you is to determine where your target market spends their time online. Visually appealing consumer products might work well on a platform like Pinterest, whereas LinkedIn might be a good choice for B2B companies. If you’re targeting a younger demographic, it will mean keeping an eye on emerging channels such as Snapchat.

Growing your brand’s presence makes it easier to control the top search results for your business should you have negative reviews, as well as allowing you to effectively connect with your target audience.

2. Focus on Your Social Channels

Your social media accounts are an important way to stay in touch with your customers. But they need to be regularly updated and be actively managed in order to grow a following and increase your influence. 

This is especially true for online reputation management where social media accounts that aren’t managed may accumulate negative reviews that you aren’t aware of, but are being seen by potential customers.

3. Generate Positive Reviews and Address Negative Ones

The best way to build trust and a good reputation online is with good reviews. If you have happy customers, encourage them to leave reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp – even on your own website.

Online reputation management should focus on collecting positive reviews and addressing negative ones. In these situations, it is important to treat the reviewers with respect and to come to a resolution. If this is handled well, the person that originally left a negative review will often be happy to update their feedback.

4. Listen to Your Customers and Make Amends

When you receive negative feedback online, it’s important to stay objective and try to understand if there is some validity to the complaint. A genuine response that seeks to apologize and make amends will go a long way to diffusing the situation and may result in the customer removing the negative review.

5. Use Online Reputation Management Strategists

Your online reputation will require investment in terms of both time and money and should form part of your core online strategy. An expert digital marketer brings their unique experience and skills to your business, which allows them to more effectively manage your presence effectively and, because they have prior experience, deliver results quickly. 

Managing your online presence can be time-consuming and may not get you the results you’re looking for, especially if you don’t have any prior experience in this area. Hiring a brand reputation specialist is the best solution if you don’t know where to start, or can’t allocate the necessary time or resources to the process.

Brand Equation with branches in Tampa, FL, and Raleigh, NC provides a range of web-based services to their clients. Their offering includes online reputation management services to help businesses build trust with their customers and grow their brand online.

Healthcare Digital Marketing Expert Says Location Data & Reputation Management is Critical

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(Brand Equation — October 8, 2018) Raleigh, North Carolina —

Health Provider Equation

Brand Equation is a full-service brand consulting and digital marketing agency based in Tampa, FL with special expertise in multi-location enterprises.

Healthcare Digital Marketing Expert, Lane Houk, teaches Healthcare executives that location data and reputation management is critical for Health Providers and Health Systems. Many, if not most, of healthcare providers are multi-location enterprises, whether that’s a 3 location primary care group, an Urgent Care network of 7 or 8 locations, a large orthopedic group with dozens of locations or a larger health system with hundreds to thousands of locations.

In fact, Houk says, “the larger the enterprise, the more locations you have, typically the bigger the problems because most large multi-location enterprises have never had a strategy coupled with proper technology to truly handle and manage, much less optimize, their location data for all these locations.” Lane Houk

“Add in reputation or online review management and monitoring along with social media management and monitoring and you have a real mess out there,” says Houk who is a recognized expert in this area of digital marketing. “Multi-location enterprises present a unique challenge because the data and online presence for a single location encompasses many dozens of data endpoints, business listings, social media and online review sites. Once you have multiple locations, the location data management becomes nearly impossible without a strategy and digital marketing software technology in place.”

Why should a healthcare executive in the C-suite care? Ask the customers who spent 45 extra minutes trying to find one of your imaging locations for a scheduled test but the Google business listing for said location had the wrong, outdated address on it which resulted in the patient being taken to the wrong address which resulted in a very upset and frustrated patient who ended up missing the diagnostic test thus leaving a 1 star review for the imaging center.

Real-life scenarios play themselves out like this every single day and for the larger healthcare providers with 50+ locations, this can ruin your brand name in the community quickly if left unchecked and unmanaged.

According to Virayo.com in a 2018 survey, “a company’s online star rating is the #1 factor used by consumers to judge a business” and in February 2017, Healthgrades conducted consumer research and found that “Consumers also hold physicians to a higher standard than they do other business service providers. They will not use a business rated below 2.7 stars, on average. But when selecting a doctor, they will not consider a provider rated below 3.2 stars.”

“One of the biggest challenges our clients face is managing their location data and their online reputation effectively and staying out in front of building a 5-star brand online across the directory, social and review ecosystem,” says Houk. Moving from one office to another or changing locations, getting a new phone number, or expanding and adding a new location to the business are just a few reasons that Lane Houk cites as reasons that most businesses are way behind in properly and accurately managing their online reputation and their online location data in directory listings and online business profiles such as Google MyBusiness, Yelp, Insider Pages, Citysearch and many others in this greater online ecosystem.

Brand Equation, the digital agency that Houk founded in 2010, is at the forefront in helping multi-location enterprises develop a system and strategy to corral the location data around each location which includes optimizing the location presence in the Google and Apple Maps ecosystems to help consumers navigate to the location properly in mapping apps like Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps. Additionally, Brand Equation has a technology platform that combines Listings Management, Reputation and Review Management and Social Media Management in one unified cloud marketing platform.

“Deploying a simple yet sophisticated technology marketing stack with a system and strategy yields great success for our clients,” says Houk. For those interested in learning more about the solutions Brand Equation offers, contact Lane Houk to schedule a live demo and consultation.

About Brand Equation

Brand Equation is a full-service consulting and digital marketing agency with core competencies in brand creative services, website development, custom software solutions, mobile web development, mobile apps, reputation management, social media marketing and omni-channel digital ad campaigns.

Brand Equation

4030 Wake Forest Rd
Raleigh, North Carolina 27609
United States

Online Reputation Management for Executives & Professionals Critical

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Executive Reputation Management

Executive Reputation Management Experts

More and more professionals and executives are starting to hear the term “Executive Reputation Management” or “Online Reputation Management” but most are still wondering why online reputation management for executives and professionals is necessary or, as we put it, critical in today’s digital economy.

Here’s the really simple and short answer: 87% of people surveyed reported that the next thing they do after being referred to a business or a professional is…. you probably guessed it, they Google search the person’s name, the business name or both. What do they find about you is the next question? Can they find you on page one of search results? If they do, what do they find? Is everything they find strategically in search or are you relying on Google exclusively to show your prospects and customers what it thinks is best?  Is it positive, negative or neutral? You get the point.

Want another equally critical statistic to know if you are a professional? —90% of executive recruiters Google candidates before making a hire and 75% of all HR departments are required to search online about a candidate before a hiring decision can be made. 

Online reputation expert, Lane Houk, teaches the CSuite and executives on why they can no longer ignore this area of online personal brand management. “Buying decisions are made on trust. Namely, trust that the desired outcome will be achieved. In today’s digital economy, people search, scan and quickly arrive at trust-based conclusions simply using reviews and online reputation ratings as the basis for their conclusions,” says Houk, CEO and Managing Partner of Brand Equation, a brand consulting and digital marketing firm based in Tampa, Florida

With 90% of the US population owning smartphone, that’s approximately 270 million daily users with instant access to the internet and information on anyone and anything. Google’s search algorithm is very “brand-centric” and the algorithm looks to identify brand names, and yes that means personal brand names as much as company name.

Establishing Your Personal Brand Online

Managing your reputation online as an executive or professional certainly means doing business with honesty and within all ethical standards for your industry but to truly build a 5-star reputation online, your customer experience needs to be designed for a 5-star experience. This means strategy needs to be applied. Once you have a customer journey mapped out and married to proper delivery system(s) for your business, you can then shift to the effort of translating 5-star customer experiences to your online reputation.

Every executive and professional should have their own name, company name and variants setup in a free Google search alert. This would be absolute minimum for monitoring your online reputation. Companies like Brand Equation offer reputation management software which automates much of the reputation management process. Great reputation software will also help the user proactively build a 5-star reputation online with reputation marketing automation and social media integrations.

Company executives should have all C-level executives in a robust reputation management campaign. Quite frankly, companies can no longer afford to think of this as optional. The stakes are too high and the costs too insignificant comparatively to justify inaction.

How to Get Started with Executive Reputation Management

Getting started is fairly straightforward and simple at a high level. Develop a pro-active strategy to monitor, manage and market a 5-star reputation for your personal brand. Monitoring can be as simple as free Google alerts to more robust solutions. Managing means delivering a 5-star customer experience consistently and predictably as much as is possible. This does not happen by accident and many companies would be well-served in retaining the consulting services of a company like Brand Equation to identify gaps, weaknesses and opportunities in the customer experience (cX) journey and delivery/fulfillment systems.

Reputation management tools and software are largely ineffective unless they are married to a well-documented strategy. Each personal brand is unique and carries with it it’s own set of unique characteristics that should be accounted for in the executive reputation management strategy and mindmap.

If you are looking for a reputation management consultant or a customer experience consultant, contact recognized expert, Lane Houk with Brand Equation to setup a complimentary initial consult.

Executive Reputation Management

Raleigh Marketing Agency Brand Equation

Lane Houk from Brand Equation Marketing Agency in Raleigh Announces New Location

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January 5, 2018 – Raleigh, NC

Brand Equation, a national brand consulting and digital marketing agency, has announced the opening of their new marketing agency location in Raleigh, North Carolina says Lane Houk, Managing Partner at Brand Equation. “We are excited about our expansion into the Research Triangle region as we continue our growth serving businesses throughout the Southeast United States with their branding and digital marketing needs.” With its new Raleigh location, Brand Equation will focus on serving the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, Cary, Garner, Knightdale, Triad and Charlotte markets.

About Brand Equation

Brand Equation is a full-service brand consulting and digital marketing agency with core competencies in brand creative services, custom software solutions, project management, digital analytics and reporting, executive reputation management, business reputation management; website development, mobile websites, mobile apps and full-scale e-commerce websites; local and mobile marketing, SEO, social media and online advertising platforms.

Brand Equation helps its clients maximize profits and grow their business by evaluating their customer experience, business systems and use of technologies, digital marketing, reputation management, sales funnels, and client conversion and retention processes. As subject matter experts, Brand Equation employs proprietary methods and strategies that produce measurable, predictable results.

Because Brand Equation’s proprietary approach is so targeted and effective, Lane Houk reported that they intentionally limit the number of clients taken on in any given industry niche and geographic market.

Multi-Location Specialists

Brand Equation has special expertise with multi-location systems, franchises and businesses. With our unique multi-location knowledge, strategies and digital marketing technology stack, we help multi-location health systems, businesses and franchisees get found online by their target audience(s) in local searches including Google search, Maps search, Mobile search and Social Network searches along with Display Ad campaigns driving new business and the bottom line.

Business enterprises that operate multiple locations have specific challenges in properly managing their location data, also referred to as the NAP, short for business Name, Address and Phone Number, and the location’s online reputation. Lane Houk reported that over 90% of all multi-location business owners he meets with have moderate to significant issues with their website, online NAP consistency and online reputation for most if not all of their locations. “Most businesses do not have their website properly setup and coded with their locations and each location’s specific NAP data set plus it’s related online reputation,” reported Houk. “We counsel our clients that ignoring the location data and reputation of each location can and will have incredibly negative consequences. The problem is that these business owners are not aware of how much these issues are really costing them” said Houk. “It comes down to an issue of they don’t know what they don’t know” he said when referring to the fact that business owners don’t know and can’t quantify how much business they lose to the competition when their own business location(s) are not doing well online in local desktop and mobile searches by their target audience.

About Lane A Houk

Voted as one of Florida’s top business leaders by Gulf Shore Business in 2008, Lane Houk is the Managing Partner of Brand Equation. Lane is also a Level 6 Google Local Guide and a frequent guest speaker to small and large groups of business owners, health system executives and other professional groups on various branding and digital marketing principles and strategies.

Being found online with a 5-star reputation is likely the most important factor to sustainable growth year over year in the new digital economy. 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. Brand Equation has proprietary reputation management and reputation marketing software which helps its clients proactively build a 5-star brand and leverage that five-star reputation to grow through increased conversion rates.

This press release was also published at: http://www.fox8live.com/story/37200010/lane-houk-from-brand-equation-marketing-agency-in-raleigh-announces-new-location

Brand Equation At Forefront in Online Location Data and Reputation Management

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Tampa, FL United States – November 21, 2017

Brand Equation, a Digital Agency based out of Tampa, Florida, has been recognized as being a front runner and industry leader in Online Location Data and Reputation Management.

Brand Equation has been operating in the digital marketing agency industry for 10 years. Brand Equation is a boutique digital agency with a consultative approach to helping its clients grow using the leverage of an optimized, five star brand and online presence along with proprietary software and strategies.

Lane A Houk, Brand Equation’s CEO and Managing Partner, and recognized industry expert, spoke about some of the decisions and motivations that led to the focus on online reputation management 6 years ago which now also encompasses location data management especially for multi-location health providers, franchises and companies.

“When Brand Equation was founded, it was made abundantly clear we wanted to be the kind of company that was known for its authentic mission which is to give its clients the advice, knowledge, and innovation to help them to stand out from the crowd locally, digitally, and with a stellar, five star reputation. “We produce results that are measurable, keep incoming leads on the rise, offer tangible ROI, and most importantly, give our clients the chance for a more predictable and profitable business.” One of the biggest challenges our clients face is managing their location data and their online reputation effectively and staying out in front of building a 5-star brand online across the directory, social and review ecosystem. Moving from one office to another or changing locations, getting a new phone number, or expanding and adding a new location to the business are just a few reasons that Lane Houk cites as reasons that most businesses are way behind in properly and accurately managing their online reputation and their online location data in directory listings and online business profiles such as Google MyBusiness, Yelp, Insider Pages, Citysearch and many others in this greater online ecosystem. In fact says Houk, “the sheer growth in the directory listings and social media platforms has exponentially grown both the opportunities and the need for executing best practices in Online Location Data Management and Online Reputation Management for all companies, big and small.”

Lane Houk also mentioned Brand Equation’s primary focus involves companies and franchises in the Home and Auto Repair Services industries reach their target audience leveraging new digital channels and traffic sources unknown to most companies and other PR and digital agencies. Brand Equation will use its deep industry experience in the healthcare industry, home and auto repair services niches along with its own proprietary internal strategies and software to achieve even better results and a better overall customer experience for new clients in these niche industries.

Brand Equation plans to maintain its position at the forefront of Online Location Data and Reputation Management for years to come, building on its success to date, and finding new ways to serve its business customers in the Greater Tampa Bay region including businesses in Brandon, Apollo Beach, Sun City Center, Bradenton/Sarasota, St Petersburg/Clearwater, Plant City and Lakeland.

This release was first published on https://marketersmedia.com/brand-equation-at-forefront-in-online-location-data-and-reputation-management/267274