Welcome back! It’s day two of BlueGlassX here in sunny Tampa. After last night’s party, everyone is a little…let’s say subdued. :-) But we’ve had another delicious breakfast, and there’s plenty of coffee—not to mention the promise of more fantastic BlueGlassX information—so we’re all raring to go again. So without further ado…
This is probably going to be one of my favorite sessions. Not only is local interesting and very relevant right now, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Michael Dorausch, Founder of Planet Chiropractic, speak before, and not only is he passionate about the subject, he always brings a unique perspective to it. Right beside him is David Mihm, President and CEO of GetListed.org. Rounding out the panel is moderator John Denny, who is the VP of Marketing at Advance Digital. I have no doubt you’ll come away from this one with a lot of actionable information!
John starts things off by giving us a snapshot of the current state of mobile and local.
He collected some data. In January 2011, sites had 2% mobile device page views. In September 2012, that number was 40%. He’s never seen an increase like that before. This is just the beginning of the shift. He shows a graph of the increase in mobile search. “Once people get rid of their BlackBerry and get a real phone, this is what you see.” Hey, I’m just taking it down. You BlackBerry fans will have to take that up with John. ;-)
More smartphones + more local search
Across PC and mobile, there is an enormous market for local search. Ed Parsons from Google recently reported that 1 in 3 searches are local. Overall, more queries are triggering local search results. The Google venice update provided a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably.
Bottom line: This is an area that you as a digital marketer need to pay attention to.
Here are John’s slides:
Next up: David Mihm. His presentation is “Harnessing the Changing Local SERPs.”
Today, we have blended search. Author markup, site info, place info, etc.
“We want to show everything we know about a business.” – Joel Headley paraphrase.
Include business title in title tag, name address and phone number in HTML. Get more advanced by putting that info in schema markup.
KML markup language is what Google map is built on. geositemapgenerator.com is a free tool to create a map for you. If you operate any business with multiple locations, highly recommend.
Two to pay attention to: local business schema and rich snippet reviews
- Local business schema doesn’t help with rankings, but you get more real estate in the SERPs.
- It helps Google associate location with your business.
- Yelp uses rich snippet reviews, and gets an extra line in the SERPs—the review stars.
- It’s a good way to get additional clicks.
Website + Local Page
- must have a crawlable store locator
- unique page for each location
- submit individual location page to G+
Strong Citation Profile
NAP – Name, Address, Phone
+W – website
Why are citations important? In 2004 when Google rolled out mapping, very few small businesses had sites. It didn’t make sense to have this information available. But now they’re important.
Primary data providers in local search
- Yahoo local
He shows slides with Tier One and Tier Two citation sources. I recommend you seek out his slide deck to get all the detail he’s showing. It’s great stuff.
The process of Google crawling the Web for mentions is standard in any country. If you operate a business in any other country, each one will have it own local search ecosystem. You may have to do some research or hire a consultant to figure it out.
Here he shows a slide explaining the Apple Maps Ecosystem. Big providers: Yelp!, Acxiom, TomTom, and several others.
Finding Niche Citations
- Can be the differentiating factor, especially for SMBs
- Mine your existing links
- Bonus tip for larger companies: job listings; list individual location where you’re hiring
- Remember highest authority document concept
Great tool for finding citations: whitespark
If you don’t want to pay for that, he collaborated on a study with Mike Blumenthal:
[Sorry, I only got the beginning of the URL before he flipped the slide. Check out his deck!]
Cleaning Up Your Data
- Make sure you only have one listing.
- You’ll lose link equity if you have more than one.
- Type in any old address information that might be out there into Google to see if it comes up.
- Reclaim your old listings with updated information.
Keep in mind it can take a long time for it to get into Google’s index.
Ensure you only have one canonical listing here. It’s a wiki mapping interface. Any user can change information, so make sure yours is accurate.
Link Profile with Local Scent
This isn’t as important for SMBs. If you have a handful of good links, you’ll rank in local search. Doesn’t take a huge link building campaign.
He surveyed local search experts about what will be popular and effective in the coming year
quantity of inbound linked to domain from locally-relevant domains and to places landing page URL from locally-relevant domains
Of course, exact match anchor text is not as important as it once was.
Links with local scent
- local blogs
These can get you in front of a lot of influential local people. Local radio stations will also have local sponsors, so look at that.
Strong Review Profile
This is becoming much more important with Google+ integration. It’s critical in high competition markets: hotels, restaurants, etc.
Reviews are increasingly valuable
- +local slight more important
- site diversity still important
- keywords (long tail and head)
- power reviewers – review from them is worth its weight in gold
Quantity over quality. If clients are worried about 3-star reviews, the more of those you have, the better it is, the more customers they’ll get, and then they’ll get better reviews, if they work on it.
- Segment customer with Gmail addresses
- Consider the ease of leaving a review for someone without an account
- Incorporate feedback into everyday processes
Yahoo allows sign-in with Facebook. Make it easy for people without Gmail account to leave reviews.
The Next Big Thing
Power Reviewers – people who leave a lot of reviews in a community. Build relationships with them. There’s a lot of “black hat” stuff that goes on around review solicitation. Yelp actively filters out businesses that solicit reviews.
How do you find them?
Do a custom Google search for “title=”Elite 2012″” portland site:yelp.com/user_details
Yelp and Google also have community managers. Use FollowerWonk to find people who follow both Yelp and Google community managers. That’s the core group of people to build relationships with.
You can also use findpeopleonplus.com
Overcoming Centroid Bias
Myth: The closer you are to the city center, the better your business will rank. How do you outrank city center competition?
Technology is working in your favor. The centroid is actually where the user is located at any given moment, as mobile search becomes more popular. Pay attention to the outliers. Who’s ranking well far from the city center, and what are they doing?
Do a Google search, click on the map, and find the businesses far from the city center included in the map result.
- Get at least one good citation
- review volume
- keywords in reviews
He doesn’t think Google has the bandwidth to focus on local-social integration right now. They have to clean up the local stuff first.
How has algorithm evolved? Used to be title tags with geo keywords. Then we got the ten-pack with local results, even for generic search terms; based on intent. Now we’re back to blended search; site information matters. Next: Social/Offline + Local.
You need to do Local SEO, Traditional SEO, and Social Media to compete in Blended Local Search.
Dr. Mike is up next. I hear some of his presentation is going to be top secret, so I won’t be able to blog part of it. All the more reason for you to join us in person at BlueGlass conferences so you don’t miss out!
His presentation is “Local and Mobile Domination.”
When he travels, he asks, “Where am I?” Have to figure out where the centroid is. In Tampa, it’s a manhole cover. Seriously.
Google tells you how to get your site to show up on Google. Their solution is to run an ad. You don’t need a website, right? Google sends him these postcards every week. That’s Google’s ultimate goal.
Google has gotten better at understanding users. People don’t want to put in the effort, and Google knows that. They’re delivering increasingly more localized content, and they’re focused on selling ads.
Users have gotten better at understanding Google
- users seeking best result nearest their location
- searching form home (desktop)
- searching from work (huge opportunities here)
- your location from 8am to 6pm (M-F)
For example, if people look for a chiropractor, they’re going to look for one close to their work as opposed to close to their home because that’s where they spend most of their time. Something to consider.
He landed in Florida on Saturday. He picked 20 businesses at random and find out if he had competitors. Out of those 20, 11 had no sign of activity; Google+ page, but no one has claimed it, no one has posted anything.
He shows a slide with those 20 businesses, and a synopsis of their online activity. If he makes his slide deck available, do seek it out.
The place page for our hotel is pretty good, but the photos are the same as the corporate site. Good, but not great, but at least there’s a local presence.
But the restaurant inside the hotel has nothing. No photos, no reviews, no check-in activity, nothing. There’s a disconnect. Is it a separate business?
You want people getting active and checking in when they’re at your business. People will check in when they’re being social at the bar, not in their hotel rooms.
He shows a florist site as an example. Good presence, photos, but lots of bad reviews. Here’s what a local page should have:
- Minimum of 6 high quality photos
- 1 hi res logo
- 5 images: 110px X 110px (and 70x70px)
- 1 image250px X 250px (and 90x90px)
- EXIF Data: File name, GEO
- Info from owner (Google may scrape)
- Reviews (hopefully positive)
He uses a church as an example. He took a photo on his iPhone, and added it to the church’s page.
Content (Deep Granular)
- Do real research
- Historical Data
- Be first to Organize/Post
You’re better off owning the citations than getting citations from another source. This is what he does best—find deep granular content that no one else has to get high-quality links.
He got a USGS 1944 map. He found the Tampa centroid on it. Where do you think Google is getting its map information? The U.S. Government. So we should be using the same source. He went to that centroid. It’s city Hall.
The USGS 1956 map. It showed a radio tower, which is gone now.
First radio station in state of FL
May 15, 1922 Tampa Times Radio
Corner of Tampa and Whiting St(historic)
620 WDAE The Sports Animal (current)
Tampa Bay’s sports radio station
Yes, this is a lot of work, but this is how we go about it to get that one great link. So put together this story, and then pitch it to the radio station at that location. They’ll probably be interested in it.
Local Content Potential
Rattlesnake Cannery (Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like.)
Cruise Ship Terminal
Go down your list and template it out. There used to be all kinds of stuff here.
If you’ve never written about local churches, the architecture, etc., try it. People will automatically make assumptions about you because they know you from your church content.
We’re losing that historical connection with our communities. It’s an opportunity for anyone in local. Go visit your city. Go downtown. Check out the historic plaques. Take a photo, take a quote, search for it online to see if it exists. If not, write about it. Geo-tag it. This stuff should be online. People are interested in this.
He found a street paved in bricks. Bricks are engraved. He took a photo. When that street is covered in asphalt, those bricks will be archaeological artifacts, and now he has photo documentation of them before that happens.
- Society for Historic Archaeology
- National Register of Historic Places – that’s a .gov.
- You could have your business citation on those sites.
The opportunities are limitless.
For Apple Maps, you’d better be on Yelp. Everything is Yelp.
Work best for locations that are hip, trendy and frequented
Build direct relationships with your customers. Give incentives directly to your customers. Don’t use Foursquare to do it.
He hosted a BBQ for SEOs. With 85 SEOs checking in, tweeting, and doing other things online, his house knocked local businesses out of the local results.
And he wraps up with a super secret tip. I gotta tell you, his entire presentation was fantastic, he just blew everyone away with that one tip. So, we’ll see you at the next conference, right? :-) Here are his slides (minus the secret tip, of course):