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Self-Managed vs Automated Strategies: A 2017 Local SEO Guide

I’m sure we’re all aware of how many amazing software options exist for automating local search tactics, but in this local SEO guide, I’m going to argue that perhaps a human-managed strategy is very vital in seeing major results.

For more than five years, the world of digital marketing has seen a massive increase of “Local Search SaaS †– (Software-as-a-service) tactics emerging and presenting different monetary and value proposals for companies that have a physical store location.

Typically speaking, these platforms help companies by storing business location data (ie. Name, Address & Phone Number) in a central location, and then proceed to push that data out into other channels.

Even though SaaS tactics help digital marketers in managing listings of local businesses on social platforms and search engine channels, the companies themselves are generally hoping for better visibility through organic search results throughout this process – unfortunately this is not always the case.

SaaS platforms generally require brand marketers to budget their human resources/assets to not just simply manage the strategy on a daily basis, but to also take into consideration other various organic rank aspects which are vital in the maintenance of a booming SEO program.

Even though SaaS programs are typically seen as simple solutions that work automatically behind the scenes, those internal resource costs will still have to be factored into your overall ROI on top of your general SaaS subscription and any fee’s.

Don’t get me wrong, automation does have many benefits, but there remain several elements of local SEO that must be properly managed, monitored and moderated by actual human beings on a daily basis. This includes:

—> An accurate analysis stating where individual local business listings are turning up in searches through Google, Bing, Apple, etc.

—> Position rank and data accuracy

—> Visible local-business-listing percentages for keywords and phrases (on desktop and mobile)

—> Managing content and better user experience/SEO performance optimization

—> Analysis and measurement to properly inform major tactical adjustments

—> Analytics tracking

—> Identifying which channels are contributing to conversions

At the same time that SaaS strategies can aid in concentrating sections of your local SEO tactic to be much more effective, a self or human-managed approach that applies both technology and experts in digital marketing can supply better earnings. Below, I’ll break down the advantages of each method as well as point out the differences:

SaaS Programs for SEO

A great many SaaS platforms help brand marketers to easier centralize, distribute and authenticate their business data across various networks and directories. The amalgamation of data is distributed directly to numerous search engines, social media platforms and various directories, which aid companies in scaling location data and gaining organic rank.

It’s imperative to keep in mind that most SaaS platforms participate in shared revenue agreements, because of this they offer paid inclusion programs that aid in updating any listings you have much faster and with added and upgraded content fields – for a price though. That being said, paid inclusion programs can generally only be influenced to heighten your ranking in local business directories (ie. Yelp,, etc.). The major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Apple don’t allow these kinds of paid programs to affect any organic rankings.

Benefits of SaaS Platforms

—> Guarantee business listings stay updated with appropriate content

—> Publishing social content

—> Distributing citations to various directories

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—> Pin verification that allows you to know an exact locations (latitude & longitude)

—> Analysis of citations (ensuring NAP is relevant on every directory)

—> Assembling reviews from various sources

On top of distributing data directly to channels, you also have the option to use database aggregators to push the location data to various directories that aid in building citation. The principal companies who have lists of channels they push to include, Factual, Acxiom, Infogroup, and Neustar.

When all is said and done, SaaS programs help to automate facets of your local SEO platform, but automation can only do so much.

Managed Services & Technology Platforms

Digital marketing is obviously made much easier by technology in so many ways, but still – managing a suitable local business listing and local SEO program involves actual human tactics to drum up the data, channels, strategy and performance in order to optimize properly for enhanced ROI.

Google search console, web analytics and paid search data must be meticulously analyzed and assessed to make sure the appropriate actions are taken – you must create, distribute and optimize content, and citations should be monitored regularly. On top of that you must continually evaluate backlinks re-directing to the main brand domain and make sure they are in place and are evaluated for ranking and authority.

Following Google Venice and Google Pigeon updating their algorithms, there has been a continuing integration with traditional organic rank factors and local search results. It’s fair to expect that there will be many more changes happening soon as the local search systems continue to evolve; and given that Google has a compelling investment in ranking the web, companies are able to prepare for any new changes by concentrating more on the core fundamentals of SEO: content, links and site structure.

Even though a few of the automation programs on the market today can act as a centralized storehouse for your data, what happens to your data once it’s centralized is the most critical element in your local listings strategy. none of the automated technologies or SaaS programs by themselves can undertake the primary SEO aspects that directly impact ranking -it just isn’t possible. Brands need to implement a all-inclusive tactic that includes:

—> Strategic execution and analysis to increase exposure of your local resources and to assess a ROI relative towards a favorable local listing management platform.

—> Consistent analysis of paid search performance data by way of web analytics, hence providing actionable analysis for agencies to make advantageous changes.

—> The structure of your site, the content and link analysis are the backbones of SEO and must be managed and evaluated consistently in order to boost opportunities for organic traffic.

While local listing management becomes even more complicated, the demand for organic optimization has become mush more important than ever for gaining higher rankings. Obtaining a SaaS program running your SEO strategy eventually becomes challenging. Some other SEO aspects play a part in affecting higher rankings, and when you solely use software programs, you’re doing your entire local SEO strategy a disservice.

When you have real live humans consistently monitoring and managing the intricacies of a solid SEO strategy it’s going to be extremely more effective in the long-term technique which is vital to SEO itself. When you just click a box that initiates SaaS tools, it’s not going to be the same as having a strong and distinct SEO strategy. Yes, SaaS platforms allow you to make updates to your local listings, but even then you still have to implement human tactics that are accountable for integrating in your day-to-day plan of optimizing the program to retain the optimal organic ranking.

In addition, someone has to be liable for performance and analytics, and SaaS programs can’t provide you with that information – once they’ve executed the campaign their job is basically done.

In Conclusion…

In summary, it is clear that well-founded SEO strategies just can’t be automated, when you take shortcuts by solely using automated tools your results will be less than satisfactory. Also, when you stop implementing SaaS tactics, your organic rank and authority lessens on account of rich listing content like any local images usually get taken down – while NAP information becomes more defenceless to changes (or a lack of them).

I’ll leave you with a little analogy to clear this up even more than I already have: a SaaS could be comparable to renting an apartment, and having a managed approach is like having a mortgage on a house. When it comes down to it, renting an apartment is fine, but it means you personally don’t own the capital you’ve been paying.

If you decide to take a hands-on approach that involves real humans doing real work, you will see rewards throughout the short and long term. Companies shouldn’t settle for the minimum short term rewards that SaaS platforms provide, they should actually be demanding palpable and longer-term performance and results that only come along with a managed SEO approach.


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