When someone uses the term “agile methodology,” I immediately drift off into thought, relating local SEO tactics to a story you hear in business school, the story of Harley Davidson.
Back in the early 1980s, out-of-touch managers had created an overhead inventory-conveyor system nearly 3.5 miles long that carried hundreds of parts — gas tanks, handlebars, engine parts, seats… you name it. Workers could reach up and grab their particular part when it passed. Workers hated it, it was inefficient and it nearly bankrupted the motorcycle manufacturer.
Harley Davidson refinanced in 1985 with the promise of adopting Japanese management principles used by car manufacturers that led to Toyotas and Hondas becoming the most reliable cars in the world. After just two years, Harley Davidson had reduced inventory by 75 percent, reduced scrap by 68 percent and increased productivity by 50 percent.
Based on their new philosophy and management style, Harley Davidson became more nimble and worked on a lean, just-in-time philosophy.
As this style of management became more widespread, we gave it new names, like Agile and Lean. Even today, there’s an Agile Marketing Manifesto expressed in these seven principles:
- Validated learning over opinions and conventions
- Customer focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy
- Adaptive and iterative campaigns over Big-Bang campaigns
- The process of customer discovery over static prediction
- Flexible vs. rigid planning
- Responding to change over following a plan
- Many small experiments over a few large bets
Your shop might not be a manufacturing powerhouse like Harley Davidson, but you can still look to Agile Methodology to help your business in several ways — one of which is SEO.
Applying agile methodology to local SEO tactics
There are three common threads running through the Agile Methodology’s seven points:
If you can keep hold of these three threads, you can use Agile to boost your shop’s local SEO. Whether you’re a barber, baker or boutique owner, help your business stand out in the crowded Google landscape.
Let’s apply those three key points of Agile Methodology to local SEO tactics.
1. Focus on your customers.
Your customers have likely been telling you what they want for years. Have you been paying attention? Do you know which products they’re buying? What special offers make a real difference? Is your customer service is up to snuff?
If someone found you because a friend told them, set up a referral rewards program. If it was your website, add more useful content, like instructions, videos or testimonials. If it was your inventory selection, replace your lowest selling items with new lines.
Whatever appeals to your customers the most should drive where you spend most of your efforts.
If your customers don’t like it, or didn’t notice it, it’s time to pivot your strategy. Conversely, the things you thought were important might not even be a blip on your customers’ radar. You have to be prepared for what you find out. This can be a blow to your ego, but remember, your goal is more traffic (both digital and foot traffic) and increased sales.
2. Measure, measure, measure.
Your customers’ opinions are a good starting point to figure out what works. But unless you’re a professional market researcher, a customer survey is not going to give you the full picture of what you need to know.
Check your rank and traffic results every week. Pay special attention to pages visited, traffic channels and even geolocations. See if you’re getting a lot of visits to your Contact Us and Directions pages, or an increase in mobile traffic and more traffic from your local area.
Then try new experiments. See if you can move the needle a little further. What happens if you add a coupon to your Directions page? What happens if you write more blog posts? What happens if you create special mobile-only pages? If you have multiple locations, do the same techniques work for each location, or do they vary?
It’s even more important to measure your results because Google’s SEO rules are always changing. You have to keep up. Plus, you never know when your competitors might start working on their own local SEO efforts. So you need to make sure you’re firing on all cylinders.
3. Adapt and change.
SEO is not a one-and-done activity. The rules change, processes improve, and even your competition can get better. That means you need to make your own improvements and changes.
You don’t know what will work and what won’t until you try it.
Rather than blindly following a plan all year, set up a goal with a basic roadmap of how you’re going to get there — write one blog post a week, share more on social media, add videos or start a podcast. Set goals and milestones, and then measure which efforts worked and which ones didn’t. Keep in mind, not all goals need to be monetary.
I’ve seen companies spend weeks creating year-long editorial calendars and schedules for thousands of tweets. And then I’ve seen them scrap it all after the industry changed, new laws passed, or a product line was discontinued.
An effective local SEO strategy will not be one you’ve mapped out on a daily and weekly basis. It will be one where you set your final goals and created monthly milestones — 1,000 new visitors by the 3rd month — to ensure you’re on the right course.
If you find you’re falling short, or you reached your goals too quickly, then change your plan, set new goals and milestones, and try again. Measure those results, and make corrections to the course you’re taking.
Local SEO is not something you do once and then can forget about. And it’s not something that needs a large and bulky campaign either. Just listen, measure, and change to what you’re already doing, and you’ll start seeing improvements to your efforts.
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Also published on Medium.