9 local SEO tips from the best experts

Earlier this month, marketers from around the world joined the latest LocalU virtual conference, organized by Local University.

Symposium topics were filled with local marketing tips from top experts on everything from fake review management, SEO predictions, and more.

Attendees engaged in lively discussions on Twitter during each session, highlighting the speakers’ most helpful and tangible suggestions.

Below are the main findings of each speaker and their respective session.

1. Write for customers first and Google second

Charli Hunt, ProofContent

Image credit: LocalU.org

“If you only write content for the Google algorithm (and not for users first), you will be dropped from your position at the top of the rankings.”

Include local identifiers based on what customers are already looking for. Be it neighborhood, county, city, etc.

Create dedicated pages for your customers’ top frequently asked questions. This alleviates the need to answer these questions again and again.

Identify your unique points of sale (USP). If you’re not sure what they are, talk to your customers to help identify them.

Charli Hunt is about writing content for users, not about an algorithm.Image credit: Twitter.com, screenshot by author April 2022

2. Contesting 1 illegitimate review equals 11 positive reviews

Curtis BoydImage credit: LocalU.org

Curtis Boyd, The Transparency Company

It pays to challenge fake reviews. Illegitimate reviews are bad for ratings, which has been shown to hurt revenue.

Removing legitimate negative reviews isn’t the goal. The reviews obtained are good; purchased reviews are not. Silencing real customers isn’t good or legitimate. This is not what this is about.

Your boss shouldn’t ask you to review the company, unless it’s on Glassdoor. The main types of fake reviews come from suppliers, business owners, current employees, untruthful customers, and review groups and third parties.

Challenge fake reviews on the mobile app versus a desktop. Having data to prove reviews are fake has a removal success rate of around 380 times higher.

If you’ve been hit with a bunch of negative reviews, it’s best to partner with a Google Product Expert using the GBP Help Forum.

3. Work smarter with the practical uses of Google Data Studio

Amanda GiordanoImage credit: LocalU.org

Amanda Jordan, RicketyRoo

With GDS, you’ll spend less time reviewing your data. You can create easily digestible local SEO reports not only for you, but for your customers as well. There are many templates created to connect and play with your data.

“Use Data Studio to find and rank keywords and find new ways to use the data they’re providing.”

There are many free connectors with GDS to help you integrate your data, such as Google Analytics, BigQuery, Google Sheets, Search Console, and more.

Additionally, there are free tool connectors for GDS, including Ahrefs, ContentKing, DeepCrawl, SEMRush, and more.

Use the data controls in Data Studio. They allow you to manipulate data by date, type of visitor, type of device and more.

4. Be strategic with your spam fighting efforts

Joy HawkinsImage credit: LocalU.org

Joy Hawkins, Sterling Sky

The percentage of fake ads varies greatly by industry. Repair of garage doors, junk cars, and personal injury were the main sectors with fake ads.

“87.6% of garage door repair lists were spam. This is incredibly bad for brands and because fighting spam can help legitimate brands.”

Fighting spam isn’t a long-term strategy, but it’s something you should try to pursue. Spam can always come back, and Google doesn’t always enforce all of its guidelines.

If there are duplicate lists, do not delete one. Merging lists can actually help them rank.

If you’re in an industry with moderate amounts of spam lists, it’s probably worth taking the time to report it.

5. We only buy from people we know, like and trust

Matteo CacciaImage credit: LocalU.org

Matthew Hunt, Automation Wolf

Use LinkedIn as a trusted source rather than a stranger. Relationships are built in comments, not posts.

It takes 7 hours with 11 different interactions, in 4 different locations to earn a user’s trust, in order to create opportunities to work with and sell to them.

Leverage LinkedIn with short-form content that users can discover. Then, create long-form content where there is some sort of interaction (course, webinar, etc.). From there, build a community of trust so users keep coming back to you.

Make sure you have a personal profile, not just a company page. Create a compelling personal title that shows who you are and what you do.

The winning formula for a personal title: Role + Competence + Value.

6. Content without data leads to poor results

Student NoahImage credit: LocalU.org

Noah Learner, October 2nd

Create your content based on customer goals by collecting data, cleaning the data, then creating topics based on this data.

Market what is most profitable for you. Make sure you ask your customers what their biggest earnings are during the onboarding process.

Google has a hard time knowing what to show, which is why it’s important to make it clear what your content is about.

There is a big difference between search trends from Google SERP auto-suggest and Google Trends. The automatic suggestion is personalized, while the trends are not.

7. Proximity is much more important with neighborhood updating

Yan GilbertImage credit: LocalU.org

Yan Gilbert and Colan Nielson, Sterling Sky

The closer you get to a business listing, the greater the chances of the listing being ranked.

The neighborhood update has allowed many more business listings to rank, thanks to the variety of map packs.

Keywords without position were the most interested.

Keywords in your business name aren’t as simple as they used to be. Don’t use keywords

Colin NielsonImage credit: LocalU.org

stuffing as a strategy. Google is attempting to balance the GBP of spam while allowing real companies to rank.

The main actions of the nearby update are:

  • Focus on explicit keywords
  • Create more properties in GBP
  • Use retargeting ads in areas where you have lost rank or traction
  • Look for a wider variety of keywords to minimize the damage
Local U chat on Vicinity updateImage credit: Twitter.com, screenshot by author April 2022

8. SEO predictions can help answer key business questions from stakeholders

Andrea ShotlandImage credit: LocalU.org

Andrew Shotland, Local SEO Guide

The key questions stakeholders want an answer to are:

  • How much will I earn?
  • How long will it take?
  • What is the ROI?

SEO forecasts must take into account the uniqueness and objectives of the individual business. Do more than use your experience and data to make predictions.

Sometimes accurate predictions don’t matter, as long as you’re realistic and set good expectations. Don’t falsely inflate your forecasts to look good and get budget approval.

A good scientific method is the RICE Score. (Reach x Impact x Confidence) / Effort = RICE Score.

However, a good RICE score may not return a lot of revenue, even if it’s easy to implement. Determine what’s more important: high revenue or a high RICE score?

9. You have an obligation to make sure your reviews are authentic

Mike BlumenthalImage credit: LocalU.org

Mike Blumenthal, Near Media

The firm is responsible for the operation of the review platform, as well as the conduct of SEO and reputation management companies.

The new FTC corporate marketing guidelines include:

  • No revision control
  • No selective review display
  • Positive and negative reviews must be treated equally
  • The incentives must be made explicit

Suppressing reviews doesn’t work. Customers can see the difference between your site and Google reviews.

There is no need to post offensive or inappropriate review content. Make sure you have a clear TOS posted on your site explaining the FTC guidelines and post anything that meets those guidelines.


LocalU’s virtual symposium focused heavily on real-world updates that impact businesses, as well as content tips that can help anyone with a physical business or listing.

If you’d like more detailed information about the sessions, be sure to join the #LocalU conversation on Twitter and connect with the speakers. You can also purchase instant access from the local university here.

At the end of the conference, the Local University announced his return to the events in person. They will host LocalU Advanced in Denver, CO on July 28. If you are interested in attending, be sure to stay up to date with the local University for more information.

Featured Image: MaDedee / Shutterstock

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