What’s hot about heatmaps? Local SEO heatmaps have been in the center stage of digital marketing for a while now. They are efficient tools in understanding the behavior of your users as they engage and interact with your website. Here are some of the things you need to know about using heatmaps in tracking your online presence and optimizing local SEO to boost your digital content strategy.
What is a Heatmap?
Imagine if you could see which buttons were often clicked, how pages were scrolled, and how long each user stayed reading your content. That’s exactly what heatmaps do—they show you how users engage with your site!
Heatmaps are tools that visualize information to help you understand the behavior of your website users and how well your pages (or specific types of content) are doing. A heatmap uses colors to represent data sets, usually from cool to warm colors (i.e. blue to red). The warmer the color, the higher the engagement level in that particular area or page.
Here are some common types of heatmaps that will be helpful for your platform:
This heatmap shows how users are scrolling through a certain page in your site, especially your landing page. This helps point out how far down users scroll and if they are missing out on important content (i.e. content placed far too low on the page).
Click maps visualize which parts of your website are getting the most clicks. This is one of the most useful types of heatmaps as it shows how users are interacting with your website. It indicates if your website features (content links, buttons, sidebars, etc.) are experienced by users the way you designed them to be.
Also called hover maps, movement maps feature which elements or parts of a page are being hovered the most. This type of map also indicates the direction of a user’s mouse pointer and how it navigates across a page. It can tell you the areas or content on the page where users are staying the most.
Heatmaps are really useful instruments as they enable to measure various data sets. They provide a better understanding of your websites by visualizing complex information, which can help you improve and enhance the impact of your platform. Another way to use heatmaps is to use them in boosting your local search website optimization strategies. Let’s explore that in the next section.
How to Use a Local SEO Heatmap?
Compared to general SEO, local search engine optimization focuses on optimizing your website to be found on local search results. Since SEO centers on search engine behavior and what people search for, it relies heavily on constantly changing algorithms. These algorithms will eventually create fleeting trends which may be hard to keep up with and study. This is where a heatmap helps a lot; it can visualize trends for you!
Now that you have your data visualized and pinned down, you can now start integrating them to enhance your marketing strategies. Content, right keyword use, and link building are some of the ways to do local SEO marketing. Here are four uses of a local SEO heatmap:
One of the unique things a heatmap offers is it provides an opportunity to understand user intent. Which parts of the page get the most traffic? Which features of the site are used more often? Where do users drop off or link out? These are some of the important questions you need to consider to better understand the behavior of the people coming in and interacting with your webpage. You can also use your heatmap data alongside your website analytics to infer reasons why people leave or log off your site. Knowing what content, features, and areas your users care about the most can inform and enhance your future content and campaigns.
Content is a vital aspect of a website. By using heatmaps such as click maps and movement maps, you will be able to see how your audience is moving and clicking on your current content. Heatmaps can inform how you optimize the position of your banners, photos, and other media on your page. They can also help you pin down the optimal length of your content. Consider the areas the audience drops off, the amount of information an audience reads before they leave the page, as well as the next action they take (i.e. Are they leaving your site for good? Are they moving to the purchasing phase?).
Improve website navigation
User experience is always the top consideration when building a website. Heatmaps can be a helpful tool in reviewing your website design. They can be your second set of eyes that can track how the users are interacting with your new launch, redesign, or new features. You can use them to identify which elements your users find confusing. For example, a click map can tell you the areas where your audience expects to encounter clickable links. This information can help you go back and add the links in order to meet your users’ expectations. This builds a better experience for your users and of course, better audience retention for your site.
Build linking strategies
Search engines recognize the structure of your website through internal links. For example, Google will be able to understand the context of the target page through the anchor text you used to link to various parts or pages of your site. A local SEO heatmap (i.e. a click map) can measure the performance of the links and you can use these insights to improve link placement and even drive traffic to specific pages.
Another thing (that might come as a surprise) is that outbound linking is also helpful in boosting your local search website optimization. Linking out to reputable sources signals to the readers AND the search engines that you are providing legitimate and useful information. This goes the other way too; a link to a sketchy site decreases your credibility to your audience. Using click maps and scroll maps can help you decipher which links are the most interesting to your users.
Building good linking strategies—both internal and outbound—strengthens your website’s identity and place in the online space. This is especially helpful if you are relying on content to grow your site. The right links inside and outside your website can definitely boost your ‘findability’ online.
How does a Heatmap Help your Local Business?
Yes, local SEO heatmaps show you if your users are navigating your site the way you intended it to be, or which parts of the site make them click out and close their browser window. But what’s in it for your business?
User behavior, content optimization, and link-building are all vital in creating a good local search website optimization strategy, which boosts your online presence. Securing an exemplary online presence means your audience (which are your potential customers!) can easily find you. This is especially true for brick-and-mortar businesses since more than half of local searches lead to actual purchases, and around 75% of those purchases take place in-store offline.
Using a local SEO heatmap is also helpful in looking at the visibility of your business in a particular location compared to your competitors. This will help you recognize local trends, market saturation, and ‘cold’ areas where you might need a boost.
You’ve had all the basics covered, so…now what? It’s time to take a look at some of the FREE tools you can use on your website to optimize your platform.
Google My Business Directions Heatmap
There are lots of heatmap tools available online but you can start by exploring the one by Google My Business if your business has a GMB listing set up.
In 2014, Google My Business first released the directions heatmap feature into their Insights section. The heatmap feature allows you to see where people get driving directions from to get in touch with your business.
Years later, in 2018, Google My Business made significant updates to how the heatmap works. The community manager, Allyson Wright, announced that the new directions heatmap allows businesses to “to track which areas customers request directions from, at various zoom levels (post code, city, country).”
With this update, you get even more useful information about how customers engage with your business listing. At the same time, it gives you a better understanding of your customer base which helps you better optimize your local SEO strategies using Google My Business.
How to Use the New Google My Business ‘Directions’ Heatmap for Local SEO
Now that Google My Business has released a helpful tool for businesses to see more information about your local customers, it will further help you optimize your business in the local sense. These are ways you can use the heatmap feature for your local SEO efforts:
Targeting of Local Ads
Knowing where your customers are requesting directions from can give you an insight as to how you can adjust your PPC target locations. But aside from PPC, understanding the proximity from your customer’s location to your store can help you in every area of your local advertising.
Localized Social Media Activity
Driving directions heatmap feature can also greatly help your social media efforts. This also helps you better understand what specific areas you should be creating content for.
Know Where Your Customer Base Is
Related to the last point is the insight that can be gained into how far customers are prepared to travel to the store—and whether any service-level improvements could be made to address this.
Local Keywords and Location Pages
Having a better grasp of where your customers are coming from could influence your choice of targeted local keywords. You’ll be able to make informed decisions about what city pages or location pages to add to your website.
Now that you know where most of your customers are based, you can use this information in reviewing your list of links meant for link-building. The more you go for hyperlocal links, the better it is!
Other Heatmap tools to track your local online presence
Ready to further boost your online presence to the next level? As promised, here are some of the FREE software you can use for optimizing your local SEO.
Local Listings Health Scanner
This free tool helps you see how your business appears in listings and citations online. It gives a health score based on the consistency of your business’ data across websites. It’s a good jump-off point to know the big picture of your business’s online reputation and ranking.
Other listing management platforms that are free are Postamatic, PlePer Local SEO Tools Chrome Extension, and Google ID and Link Generator.
Another way to know how your website is doing online is by looking at rankings. Local RankFlux is a monitoring tool that keeps track of the fluctuations and movements for a local search. It can show you the volatility or sudden changes across 14K+ keywords and indicate possible algorithm updates.
Other readily available SEO ranking tools are SERPTrends SEO Extension for Chrome, GS Location Changer extension, and Google Mobile Rank Checker MobileMoxie SERPerator.
Da Vinci Tools Extension for Chrome
On-site SEO is another category of tools that can help you improve your webpage. Also referred to as on-page SEO, on-site SEO is simply about optimizing your website’s content and its HTML source code.
Da Vinci Tools is a good way to bring together various platforms that make Google Analytics easier to understand. It uses heatmaps, tables, and graphs to quickly digest the data sets at a glance.
Answer the Public
Lastly, a keyword-focused SEO tool will be helpful in times when you feel like you are stuck in the muck when it comes to coming up with new content ideas and keyword searches. Imagine if you can see all the questions asked in search engines for a certain keyword or topic visually–that’s what Answer the Public does for you!
Just type in your keyword or phrase and voila: all the possible content ideas you can create your content around graphed visually and grouped by query type for better sorting through.
Consider Partnering With Local SEO Experts
Of course, there are a lot of amazingly free local SEO heatmap tools out there that you can use and integrate into your local search optimization strategies. If you are feeling a little intimidated by the tremendous amount of free tools out there, finding a local SEO expert will definitely help, and RxMedia got you covered. RxMedia’s specialties range from local and national SEO to website design and even content marketing. Give us a visit at 2121 NW Savier St. STE 124 Portland, OR 97210, contact us at 503-974-3297, or come say hello at our online place.