Beacon technology, first introduced by Apple in 2013 at a national developer’s conference, has been a buzzworthy item ever since it hit the scene. Since the technology’s debut three years ago, marketers have been jumping onto the beacon boom with retailers and businesses both small and large adapting the technology. But what does this tech mean for SEO? Specifically local SEO? Before we get into the details of a beacon bonded local SEO future, let’s start at the basics.
Beacon Technology: What Exactly Are Beacons And How Are They Being Used?
In short, beacons are Bluetooth transmitters with a localized range. When a smartphone is within range, the beacon technology can recognize the device and send a push notification to the passerby. Retailers and businesses are able to directly communicate with consumers on their mobile devices and, in theory, enhance their in-store shopping experience. Beacons are low cost and small enough to be mounted to a wall or placed on a countertop.
According to Business Insider, “the beacon installed base will consist of 4.5 million active beacons overall by year end 2018, with 3.5 million of these in use by retailers”. To-date, beacon technology has been implemented in retail stores, airports, movie theaters, sporting venues and restaurants, to name a few. How might these locations utilize beacon technology specifically? As an example let’s say a retailer is having a sale on jeans. The store could set up a beacon to send a passerby with a Bluetooth enabled device a push notification. The notification might advertise that if the walker stops into the store and shows the promotional notification to a sales clerk, they can redeem a coupon for 50% off all jeans. This direct notification increases engagement, offers more relevant and direct offers to customers, which in turn leads to an increase in sales and offer redemption.
Local SEO: Why is it Important to Beacons?
So, beacon technology is obviously pretty cool right? The question at hand, however, is how this new tech impacts your local SEO strategy. To some businesses local SEO isn’t of the utmost importance. A shift will be needed though as there are a few reasons beacons push local SEO into the priority lane.
- Limited Range- Obviously, beacon rage only reaches so far. In order for push notifications to interact with a customer they need to be within the specified range of the beacon set by the business. Knowing this, local SEO optimization needs to guide customers within the beacon range based on the products/services they are searching for.
- Near-Me Searches Dominate: According to Search Marketing Daily, 82% of searches contain the words "near me" and 85% of searches containing "restaurants in" are conducted on smartphones or tablets. These hard facts make it pretty clear that customers now more than ever are relying on local SEO to guide them to what they want, when they want it, and exactly where they want it. Gone are the days of sifting through endless results. With near-me searching, customers rely on the SERPs to quickly guide their decision making while on the go.
How Beacon Technology Can Positively Impact Your Local SEO
Now you should have a pretty good handle on what a beacon is and why local SEO is important to beacon technology’s overall effectiveness. Next you’re probably wondering, “Well yea that’s neat and all but what are the tangible positive impacts for me and my business?” Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
- Positive Impact on Online Reviews: Overall, proximity marketing has been pretty well received by both businesses and consumers alike. Also, local search engines love online reviews. So, you should see where I’m going here. If your beacon advertising campaign is customized, targeted correctly, and unobtrusive, it would be fairly easy to gain an increase in positive reviews for your business and, in turn, gain some pretty solid local SEO authority.
- Increase in Landing Page Traffic: Beacon advertisements themselves are highly customizable. Since the push notification can range from a coupon to a content related landing page, there is prime opportunity here to either a) boost visitors to your homepage and increase your standing with Google and overall brand reputation or b) increase traffic to a content related landing page. Local SEO wise this could be an informative location based page to increase engagement and overall customer experience.
- Possibility to Become Local SEO Ranking Factor: A handful of SEO experts agree that it is a strong possibility that beacon technology becomes a ranking factor due to Google’s ability to collect data on locations and foot traffic from the beacons. Matt Brooks, co-founder and SEO expert at SEO agency SEOteric, states “Google already has a strong local influence on search results based on where I am located and what is around me, so beacons could be used as an additional local ranking signal.” He continues, “as a user looking for something like ‘restaurants near me,’ beacons could play a role in giving additional local ranking signals based on that mobile search. Google is already doing this based on your IP address and location, so beacons could improve the quality and accuracy of these results.”
Beacon Technology and Local SEO: The Way Ahead
Well there you have it. A quick round-up of informative beacon bits and how they tie into your local SEO strategy. As it stands, beacon technology is set to have a pretty serious impact on the way businesses interact with consumers and vice versa. Let’s wrap things up with some intriguing stats collected by Search Engine Watch to really emphasize the importance of beacon technology and how it will impact not only local SEO but overall marketing campaigns in the future:
- In 2015 and 2016 in-store retail sales influenced by beacon messaging were valued at $4.1 billion.
- Statista estimates an increase in 2016 to $44.4 billion in retail sales triggered by beacons.
- 91% of male internet users and 76% of women internet users between the ages on 18 and 34 have admitted to being influenced by personalized in-store advertising.
- Through beacon technology, 71% of retailers have noted being able to track and understand customers’ buying patterns.
- 24% retailers who employed beacon technology saw an increase in sales and/or an increase in offer redemption.
As you can tell, the numbers don’t lie. Beacons are making a steady impact on consumer behavior and, to stay relevant in a tech driven society, it’s important to move forward with a strategy that will yield the best results possible. Combining beacon technology with local SEO optimization techniques, not only shows you’re on top of the latest technological developments but also inches you that much closer to addressing your customer’s wants and needs.
Contact marketing@directagents to start implementing your SEO strategy.
by Stephanie McNevin, SEO Analyst