Human Management vs. SaaS Platform: Local SEO

By June 5, 2017Local

As local SEO continues to grow in importance in digital marketing, so does the number of local search SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platforms claiming to have the ability to automate local SEO efforts. Though there are many different SaaS platforms on the market, they all have the same core goals for their clientele: organize a company’s location data and push it out to various local channels from one dashboard. This may sound like a local SEO one-stop-shop to some, as local SEO can be a tedious task to undertake manually, but taking the easy way out by strictly relying on a SaaS platform is not going to render the same results as a strategy that utilizes human management.

Using a SaaS platform for local SEO does have its benefits and can help automate some of the more monotonous aspects of citation building. The ability to store a company’s location data and then push it out to publish on over 50 websites from one dashboard is a game changer. Not only will the company’s information be published on various local channels such as search engines, local directories and social media outlets, but their information will be accurate and consistent. This is perhaps the most appealing aspect of using a SaaS platform because it can save a company time and money on citation building efforts. Utilizing a SaaS platform takes away the need to manually search each local directory website and claim or create a listing.

In addition to data management and citation building, here are a few more benefits of using a SaaS platform for local SEO:

  • Duplicate suppression: Some SaaS platforms will suppress or completely remove duplicate listings for a company based on their NAP (name, address, phone number) information. This is an important feature as duplicate listings can hinder local SEO efforts by creating confusion for the search engines.
  • Citation building on more websites: The site distribution list for most SaaS platforms include websites that do not offer free listings. These websites, such as Yahoo! (major search engine) and Insider Pages (aggregates data to other websites), are often very important for local SEO.
  • Review management: Some platforms offer review management which typically includes the ability to aggregate reviews from different sources into one dashboard and respond to them.
  • Social media content publishing: SaaS platforms also offer the option to push out content to various social media outlets from one dashboard, all at the same time. This can be convenient for companies with several locations and many social media accounts.

The SaaS platform will get a company’s location information published across many different websites, but after they are published, that’s it! The SaaS platform’s job is complete. Meanwhile, in the search marketing world, a local SEO strategy is never complete. It is an ongoing process that requires continuous optimization as the internet continuously changes; this is where the human management portion of a successful local SEO strategy comes into play. After the listings have been published and cleaned up, they need to be monitored for their positioning and accuracy. In addition to monitoring performance, there are two more critical reasons for including human management in a local SEO strategy: site specific information and compliance with the overall SEO strategy.

For more information on all of these processes and how human management is essential to their success, take a look below:

  • Positioning: A way to determine if a local SEO strategy is helping online visibility for a company is to monitor the positioning of their local listings on the websites that are most important to their industry. For instance, a plumber might want to monitor their listing’s positioning on Google (because Google is important for every industry) and Angie’s List (because ‘plumber’ is a service area business). This positioning data is not available through a SaaS platform and therefore needs to be done manually. If a company is not monitoring their positioning, then they will not know if the SaaS platform they paid for is helping to increase their online visibility.
  • Accuracy: Although most SaaS platforms promise 100% accuracy of listing information, this does not always happen. Listing information can be changed due to user edits to the site or due to the site’s existing database of information. This is another example of how human management is extremely important even while using a SaaS platform. The SaaS platform will not alert you that your listing information is inaccurate, and most of the time, the issue will only be resolved by reaching out to the site directly or by working with the support team for the SaaS platform.
  • Site specific information: There are some websites that offer additional fields of information that cannot be filled out using an automated service. These fields must be filled out manually by logging into the account. A perfect example of this type of listing is Yelp. In addition to the usual listing fields, Yelp offers an area to include the business’s history and the business owner’s name, background, and photo. Without human management to go in and fill this information out, the listing would be left uncompleted and might be outranked by other listings that are more thoroughly filled out.
  • Compliance with overall SEO strategy: Perhaps the most important reason for including human management in a local SEO strategy is to ensure the local strategy complies with the overall SEO strategy for the company. This is not something any automated platform can handle, as it includes: evaluating categories, evaluating keywords in business descriptions and products/services, evaluating where to direct traffic to…etc.

The growth of local search SaaS platforms in the digital marketing world has helped agencies and companies automate the tedious tasks that come with local SEO. They help to consolidate listings and ensure accuracy across various local channels. Although there are many benefits to using a SaaS platform, it should not be viewed as a one-stop-shop for local SEO. Solely relying on a SaaS platform for a local SEO strategy will get your listings published and cleaned up, but that’s about it. Without the human management aspect, you will not know if the platform has helped your online visibility (or what needs to be done to help it), inaccurate listings may slip through the cracks or listings may be left incomplete. Most importantly, you will not know if the SaaS platform is aligning with your overall SEO strategy. For more information on local listing management, contact us today.