Leveraging Augmented Reality For Local Businesses
by Al Gomez
Augmented reality brought a new landscape to gaming a few years ago. Gone are the days where you have to stay indoors and spend most of your time in front of your computers to enjoy the game. With the release of AR games like Niantic’s Pokemon Go, gaming has been brought in the outdoors. People went to places to experience the augmented reality in gaming.
While there is no doubt that AR reshaped the world of gaming, for local businesses, it is still a question whether augmented reality will sooner or later dominate the local search.
But here’s a fact: augmented reality is no longer a new medium for local marketing. There are local businesses that are already engaging in AR to promote their business.
Let’s take a look at some improvements brought by using augmented reality.
Improved Shopping Experience
Some companies like Ikea now provides consumers with an improved shopping experience by allowing them to put products (virtually) in their homes to see what it really looks like. In June 2017, they made deal with Apple for their AR app.
In the fashion industry, augmented reality has been a big help in helping consumers visualize how they would look like with a certain dress without experiencing the hassle of trying several sets of clothing. This has long been used since 2011 by Topshop, a store in Moscow that launched an AR fitting room using Microsoft Kinect.
It’s no longer a new idea that as the digital world continuously serves consumers with more information with no need to visit physical stores, the brick and mortars are gradually losing foot traffic.
However, we’ve also heard and perhaps experienced personally the disappointment when purchasing online.
Yes, the digital and in-store shopping has their advantages and loopholes. It may seem that this two shopping media are far different from one another. Luckily, with AR technology in business, we could bridge the gap between these media.
Buying decision whether in the digital or in-store purchase has been made easy. And with more willing to invest in this new marketing approach, we could expect AR to change the local marketing landscape.
Ads Right In Front Of Consumers
I came across a stunning augmented reality ad from VISA. Ads like this where consumers can enjoy an experience are perhaps the best way to encourage consumers.
Blippar, an Augmented reality provider also released last year the first-ever AR digital ad unit that doesn’t need an app. ARDP or Augmented Reality Digital Placements only request access to device’s camera feed to function. ARDP also allows content to be shared on Facebook and locally.
With programs like this, you can see yourself in coffee shop choosing the best pastry to complement your Americano espresso through your phone’s camera. Or while on the street, you can point your camera to a boutique to check on their current sales and promotions.
For local marketers, promotions and sales can be served to the customer in a more enjoyable manner. It can work just like a push notification does. Just imagine a virtual giant burger falling from the sky in the middle of the street. You can encourage customers towards your business even if they have no intention of purchasing at first.
These are just two of the current innovations in local marketing which can also impact local searching.
Let’s take a look how.
Local Search Can Get Even Better
In distinction, augmented reality unlike virtual reality is dependent on user’s location. That alone can make AR an extremely promising innovation in local marketing.
Imagine yourself on a busy street, filled with cafes and restaurant. You scan the surroundings and you get to see information about different establishments. How cool is that?
I personally believe that augmented reality as a key player in local search is not a far-fetched idea. Once search engines have capitalized in augmented reality and consider it a new avenue for local search results, you better get your business ready.
Put these important local SEO elements in your checklist.
Google My Business Listing is the first stop of searchers when searching for relevant information about a local organization or businesses. Through the years, GMB has been a crucial factor in the local SEO efforts of businesses.
If it happens that augmented reality will enter the local SEO scene, we should expect Google My Business Listing to be a critical factor for business to make the cut in Augmented Reality search results.
In a regular listing, you can see text-based information such as operating hours, phone numbers and related images. With augmented reality, by using an app or wearables, you can scan the surroundings to see the relevant details about certain business including NAP and website.
Perhaps, other similar businesses can also be seen on the sideline and you can switch from one business to another to see information about other establishments.
If this happens, you need to prepare you GMB listing. Make your Google My Business Listing as compelling as possible to attract the crowd.
Reviews And Citations
Reviews are extremely important for local search results. A business review could influence the decision of a consumer. This is why you need to maintain positive reviews for your business.
How will reviews play a part in augmented reality? Real-time reviews could be made possible. Imagine yourself walking to a café down the street and just when you about to enter, you see a fresh but negative review about the store. Total turnoff right? That’s how important keeping your reviews clean.
Citation, on the other hand, may work a little bit different. Citation sites like Yelp maybe planning to engage in augmented reality themselves. If this is so, you need to be present in local citation sites so when they serve consumers with an array of business listing in your geographic location, yours will be included in the list.
Your Structured Data Markup
Local structured data markup is an important factor to rank higher than competitors in local search results. This allows Google spiders to crawl more information relevant to your business.
Local Structure Data Markup could be an essential factor for local augmented reality marketing. Search engines may use schema markup to provide precise and concise AR results for searchers. It could also be a vital element in ranking results if this augmented reality technology in local search could be made possible.
Local Paid Search Ad
When Pokemon Go was released, some businesses purchased a “lure” module to drive customers to their store.
This could be an inspiration for search engines to translate local paid search ad in augmented reality. Business could bid an ad to show in AR result. For example, once a user used his AR app in a certain location, a business with a paid ad will be in a more noticeable visual with directions such as “ATM 30 meters away”.
This way, ad results may stand out from the usual search results.
Augmented Reality Down The Local SEO Path
There is no way we can tell when exactly augmented reality will enter the local search playing field. But one is sure; it is not impossible and local business has no other choice but to prepare. Don’t wait for augmented reality to go mainstream before taking an action.
The best way to prepare for this technology is to practice good quality SEO. If Google decides to engage in this technology, definitely quality SEO that follows guidelines will be playing an important role in keeping the results precise.
So put more attention to your local SEO. It is about time to make changes when you have to improve your website’s performance. So that when the time has come for new innovations to dominate the world of search, you are already a step ahead of the competition.
April 26, 2018