MnSearch Summit - Session - Darren Shaw - How To Not Suck At Local Seo

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What really matters in local search? Which activities are going to have a high return on investment, and which activities are just a waste of time? Darren breaks down the essential tasks to focus on …

What really matters in local search? Which activities are going to have a high return on investment, and which activities are just a waste of time? Darren breaks down the essential tasks to focus on in the 5 core areas of local search: website, Google+ Local listing, citations, reviews, and links. He’ll give you specific actionable advice you can get to work on as soon as you’re back in the office.

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  • There are 5 key areas in local search. Reviews… website… Google+ Local listing… citations… and links.
  • I’m going to start with reviews.
  • I believe that in some industries, reviews can be a significant local ranking booster. There is a huge opportunity right now in many industries to rank well in Google’s local results through reviews. I’ll explain why I think that.
  • First, about a year ago I took a random sampling of 100 locations for that enterprise consulting client and collected data on their rankings, location age, citations, links, reviews, categories, etc. When you sort the results by rank, it becomes absolutely clear that the locations that are ranking well are the ones that have reviews. It was the key differentiator between the other locations. Of course, reviews are not going to be the differentiating ranking factor for restaurants and hotels – they want to encourage reviews for different reasons - but in industries with very few reviews, I think they can have a significant impact.
  • Second, listings with reviews provide a better user experience.
  • And third, keywords in reviews seem to provide a ranking boost as well. This makes sense. When consumers mention those keywords in their reviews they’re helping Google to associate those keywords with your business.
  • You can even hire companies to write these fake reviews for you at $20 a pop. Don’t do that. It’s really pretty easy to just ask real customers for reviews, and I’ll be showing you some tools to make that easy. I particularly like the “nothing shady here” tagline this company uses. 
  • Google and other review sites track the IPs of incoming reviews, and if they’re all coming from the same machine, they’ll get filtered for sure.
  • These mobile handouts work really well. I gave them to my hair stylist, and in just 2 weeks he got over It makes sense. When is the best time to ask for a review? Right after the customer has done business with you.
  • So are you wondering how the Cosby’s are going to help you get keywords in your reviews? They’re just the first family that popped into my head. Plus, they’re awesome. The only way I know of to get keywords in reviews is to mention it to people you’re close to. The family and friends of an auto repair shop are likely going to get their car fixed there. So, since the business owner has a personal relationship with them, he could ask them to mention the service they had done. Brake replacement, oil change, transmission repair, etc. I wouldn’t go around asking all your customers to mention specific services, but for people you know, sure, it WILL help.
  • While, I recommend focusing your reviews acquisition efforts on Google+ until you get at least five, your second most important review site is Yelp. Without question, Yelp is the #1 review site on the internet.
  • People go directly to it to research businesses, so you want to make sure you’re ranking well internally on the site. To rank well, you need reviews, and keywords in reviews can help you rank here as well.
  • Besides the benefits that come from ranking well internally at Yelp, Google just loves ranking Yelp pages. Just look at these examples.
  • You’ll see Yelp showing up in almost every local query you run, so you want to make sure your listing is showing up and enhanced with all possible business info and reviews.
  • This is called Barnacle SEO. Will Scott coined the term way back in 2008 and defines it as attaching oneself to a large fixed object and waiting for the customers to float by in the current.

    And Yelp is the undisputed heavy weight champ for Barnacle SEO. It’s well worth it to work on your Yelp listing.
  • Yelp has a pretty strict policy about asking for reviews. Don’t do it. Don’t ask your customers to review you on Yelp. I don’t say this because you should be worried about getting busted. (although that has happened a few times).
  • You shouldn’t ask for reviews because any reviews you ask for are likely to get filtered. If you ask for a review the person will go to Yelp, make an account, leave you a review, then probably never use their Yelp account again. That is going to result in a guaranteed filter. You should only bother asking for reviews if you know that the person is already active on the site.
  • Here’s a guy you want a review from. He has 57 friends on Yelp, including Elite Yelpers like Phil Rozek. He has a profile photos, has left 10 reviews, added some tips, uploaded 27 photos, and he’s received some compliments. So, if you knew I visited your business and you knew I was active on Yelp, it would be great to ask me to review you on Yelp.
  • Oh, isn’t that easy? Just connect it to your email account and import. If the business has a customer list, import it to find which customers are on Yelp, then email those customers a friendly “hey, did you know we’re on Yelp?” email. Note: the import process seems to choke with huge contact lists. It couldn’t load my 5000 contacts from my main google apps account, but one thing I thought was cool is that it loaded these contacts from my gmail account, and I don’t have any primary contacts in there. These are actually coming from my Google+ circles. If you have large contact lists, like a company mailing list, you could break them up and import them into multiple gmail accounts. I’m guessing sub 1000 is the sweet spot for this to work, but I haven’t tested the limits.
  • If you’re a business owner, I bet your friends and family frequent your business, and I bet you’re friends with them on Facebook. So, run them through this to see if they’re Yelpers.
  • You have to earn these stickers, but we’re making some simple “find us on Yelp” stickers that you can print. We’ll be putting them up on our site soon as free downloads.
  • First and foremost, you can’t rank if your site is a technical mess of duplicate content,
  • The location landing page is the page linked to in your Google+ Local listing. For the vast majority of local businesses, this will be the homepage.
  • Multi-location will ideally use location landing pages.
  • Please. Don’t keyword stuff. Just pick a primary keyword and stick with it. If you have multiple locations in the same city, you can target different location pages to different keywords to diversify.
  • Now, you want to include as much content as you can on the page.
  • Often people will search for the address of the business, not the business itself. Make sure you search Google maps for the actual business placemark and embed the resulting map.
  • Look at that glorious content. So many words you can’t even read it. 
  • The description is NOT considered for rankings but it is looked at for spam. Adding keywords to this field could cause a ranking demotion, but they will never help improve rankings.

    It’s a good idea to enhance your listing with a good cover photo, photos, and social posts (share your good reviews as posts), but these won’t impact your rankings. They’ll just make people more inclined to call your business when they are looking at your listing.
  • To find duplicates, search in Google Maps for the business name and the primary phone number. In this case, results A and B are duplicates. This works better on the old Google maps. If you’re on the new Google Maps, you can switch back to old maps using the little question mark bubble on the bottom right of the map.
  • Next, you need to determine which listing you want to keep, and which to remove. The one with the most reviews is the one you want to keep. If they both have an equal number of reviews, then you’ll want to keep the one that’s the most complete: photos, categories, additional phone numbers, etc.
  • Tell the story of the storage company that fell out of the rankings when they added “business center” to their categories.
  • Tell the story of the storage company that fell out of the rankings when they added “business center” to their categories.
  • Tell the story of the storage company that fell out of the rankings when they added “business center” to their categories.
  • Went from #11 to #5.
  • Tell the story of the storage company that fell out of the rankings when they added “business center” to their categories.
  • These are mostly going to be nofollowed, but I still they’re important for a small business link profile.

Transcript

  • 1. Darren Shaw How to Not Suck at Local SEO +DarrenShaw @DarrenShaw_
  • 2. Reviews can be huge in some industries
  • 3. VS Listings with reviews provide a better user experience
  • 4. Google loves a good user experience
  • 5. These things suck
  • 6. Buying reviews sucks Don’t buy reviews. Seriously. There is no need.
  • 7. Review stations suck Don’t set up a review station
  • 8. Having no reviews sucks Don’t have no reviews
  • 9. Getting all your reviews from one source sucks Don’t get all your reviews from only one place
  • 10. How to not suck at reviews
  • 11. Get at least 5 Google+ Local Reviews Get 5 Google reviews, get the stars Nice
  • 12. Get at least 5 Google+ Local Reviews http://www.whitespark.ca/review-handout-generator/
  • 13. Get at least 5 Google+ Local Reviews http://www.whitespark.ca/review-handout-generator/
  • 14. Get at least 5 Google+ Local Reviews http://www.whitespark.ca/review-handout-generator/
  • 15. Get at least 5 Google+ Local Reviews http://www.whitespark.ca/review-handout-generator/
  • 16. Get at least 5 Google+ Local Reviews The mobile review handouts work amazingly well!
  • 17. Get at least 5 Google+ Local Reviews http://getfivestars.com/
  • 18. Get at least 5 Google+ Local Reviews http://getfivestars.com/
  • 19. Get at least 5 Google+ Local Reviews http://getfivestars.com/
  • 20. Get at least 5 Google+ Local Reviews
  • 21. Get keywords in reviews If friends and family are reviewing, ask them to mention the service or product.
  • 22. Increase awareness of Yelp
  • 23. Increase awareness of Yelp To rank in Yelp 1) Get reviews 2) Get keywords in yelp reviews
  • 24. Increase awareness of Yelp
  • 25. Increase awareness of Yelp
  • 26. Increase awareness of Yelp Killing it!
  • 27. Barnacle SEO Credit to Will Scott of SearchInfluence for coining the term. @w2scott
  • 28. Barnacle SEO How to do it 1) Claim and complete your Yelp listing 1) Get lots of reviews (keyword rich content) 2) Link to your listing from anywhere you can 3) It helps if the keyword is in the business name (because then it is added to the title tag)
  • 29. Increase awareness of Yelp Awareness, NOT solicitation
  • 30. Increase awareness of Yelp Awareness, NOT solicitation
  • 31. Increase awareness of Yelp
  • 32. Increase awareness of Yelp
  • 33. Increase awareness of Yelp If only there was a way to find to find friends on Yelp
  • 34. Increase awareness of Yelp
  • 35. Increase awareness of Yelp Thanks Yelp!
  • 36. Increase awareness of Yelp On your website
  • 37. Increase awareness of Yelp In your email
  • 38. Increase awareness of Yelp On your door
  • 39. Increase awareness of Yelp On your counter Download this printable sign I made! (I’m so proud) bit.ly/1lsv4m9
  • 40. Diversify Review Sites GetFiveStars makes this easy
  • 41. Reviews Super high value Super low effort 2 minutes 15 minutes 15 minutes
  • 42. These things suck
  • 43. Keyword stuffing sucks Don’t spam the hell out of your landing pages Keyword Use Edmonton: 32 times Photographer: 34 times
  • 44. No content on the homepage sucks (really bad) Don’t have a home page with no content
  • 45. No services content sucks (really bad) Don’t have a services page with only bullet points
  • 46. Trying to keyword spam dozens of locations sucks Don’t jam every town within 100 miles in the footer
  • 47. Anchor text optimized footer links suck Don’t stuff the footer with internal links
  • 48. Pumping out low quality content sucks Don’t fill your blog or site with useless thin content
  • 49. Duplicate content sucks Don’t have duplicate content all over the place
  • 50. How to not suck at local website optimization
  • 51. Fix any technical problems I highly recommend Nick Leroy for this! http://nickleroy.com/
  • 52. Optimize the location landing page(s) Single location: link to homepage
  • 53. Multi-location: link to a dedicated location page Optimize the location landing page(s)
  • 54. Include city and primary keyword in the URL Optimize the location landing page(s)
  • 55. Title tag 1) Include primary keyword. 2) Include city & state abbreviation 3) Include same business name as on Google listing Optimize the location landing page(s)
  • 56. Add a couple of good paragraphs of "about us"/"this location" content. Optimize the location landing page(s)
  • 57. Include name, address, and phone in schema.org Optimize the location landing page(s)
  • 58. Embed a Google map, the right way Optimize the location landing page(s)
  • 59. Embed a Google map, the right way Optimize the location landing page(s)
  • 60. Embed a Google map, the right way Optimize the location landing page(s)
  • 61. Write high-quality long form content on the services pages OMG YES. 4500 words on DUI Law in Alberta pringlelaw.ca/practices/1-impaired-driving
  • 62. Write high-quality long form content on the services pages It’s working out quite well for them #1 Organic #1 Local
  • 63. Optimize the location landing page(s) Read these posts by Aaron Weiche! http://bit.ly/1yTKgzT
  • 64. These things suck
  • 65. Spamming the description sucks City in description can cause a ranking drop. For realz. Don’t add any keywords from your categories to the description It’s ok to add a link or two to the description, but don’t do any exact match anchors X X
  • 66. Using a PO box or fake address sucks It’s against the guidelines. Use a real physical address.
  • 67. Putting your map marker in the ocean sucks This will seriously impact your ability to rank. Image courtesy Linda Buquet: http://bit.ly/1pGmZLP
  • 68. Using a call tracking number on your listing sucks What?! Nooooooo. Not a call tracking number. I just needed a screenshot.
  • 69. Redirecting your listing’s URL sucks Pretty sure that’s bad. I heard it was anyway. Not a redirecting URL. I just needed a screenshot.
  • 70. Category dilution sucks Each additional category seems to reduce the effectiveness of the others. Stick to the core categories.
  • 71. Having the wrong primary category sucks We changed the primary category for a client and they went from #11 in Places to #5 in the local pack.
  • 72. How to not suck at optimizing your Google+ Local listing
  • 73. Clean up duplicate listings
  • 74. Clean up duplicate listings
  • 75. Clean up duplicate listings
  • 76. Clean up duplicate listings
  • 77. Clean up duplicate listings
  • 78. Clean up duplicate listings
  • 79. Add a descriptor then register the assumed name People are reporting ranking jumps from adding descriptors. Never include a city name in the descriptor. Business Name: •Your title should reflect your business’s real-world title. •In addition to your business’s real-world title, you may include a single descriptor that helps customers locate your business or understand what your business offers. •Marketing taglines, phone numbers, store codes, or URLs are not valid descriptors. •Examples of acceptable titles with descriptors (in italics for demonstration purposes) are "Starbucks Downtown" or "Joe’s Pizza Restaurant". Examples that would not be accepted would be "#1 Seattle Plumbing", "Joe’s Pizza Best Delivery" or "Joe’s Pizza Restaurant Dallas".
  • 80. Add a descriptor then register the assumed name You should “go legit” and register the name variation as an assumed name or DBA with your Secretary of State!
  • 81. Add a descriptor then register the assumed name There are even services for this. Only $99!
  • 82. Pick good categories, and only the key categories
  • 83. You must nail the primary category!
  • 84. Write a good description for humans, not robots Think of this like a meta description for your Google+ Local listing. Won’t help rankings. Will help conversions.
  • 85. These things suck
  • 86. Building thousands of structured citations sucks Once you get the core structured citations (150ish), the rest are too low quality to bother with. Don’t waste your time. This is ridiculous
  • 87. Incomplete citations suck Sad trombone :(
  • 88. Incomplete citations suck Trumpets! :) Not fully completing your citations is a major lost opportunity.
  • 89. Call tracking numbers on your citations suck There probably isn’t anything worse you could do to destroy your chances of ranking in local. I need a screenshot, so let’s just pretend that’s a call tracking number ok?
  • 90. Inconsistent citations suck ?? Your Google listing
  • 91. Stressing about 100% address consistency sucks Google normalizes addresses, so variations like the ones above are no worries mate! Street vs St Northeast vs NE Suite vs Ste Floor vs Flr. 98115-8222 vs 98115 Stratford vs STRATFORD (206) 729-1200 vs 206-729-1200
  • 92. Duplicate citations suck You gotta get the duplicates removed.
  • 93. How to not suck at citations
  • 94. Get 1 accurate & complete listing on the major data aggregators You really must be listed on all 4 of these
  • 95. http://moz.com/learn/local/local-search-data-us Used with permission from David Mihm Get 1 accurate & complete listing on the major data aggregators
  • 96. Get 1 accurate & complete listing on the major data aggregators Moz Local is pretty great for data aggregator distribution.
  • 97. Go to http://www.expressupdate.com to find and remove incorrect listings. Clean up duplicates on the major data aggregators
  • 98. Go to http://www.neustarlocaleze.biz to find and remove incorrect listings. Clean up duplicates on the major data aggregators
  • 99. Go to https://mybusinesslistingmanager.myacxiom.com to find and remove incorrect listings. Clean up duplicates on the major data aggregators
  • 100. Go to http://factual.com/data/t/places to find and remove incorrect listings. Clean up duplicates on the major data aggregators
  • 101. To update or remove: factual.com/contact Clean up duplicates on the major data aggregators
  • 102. Get 1 accurate & complete listing on the second tier citation sites
  • 103. On each of these sites, use the internal search function to find and remove incorrect listings. Clean up duplicates on the second tier citation sites
  • 104. Get some quality unstructured citations Feature local artists at the business
  • 105. Get some quality unstructured citations Host events at the business
  • 106. Get some quality unstructured citations Offer student discounts
  • 107. Get some quality unstructured citations http://www.localstampede.com/citation-building-strategies-list/ Tons of great ideas here:
  • 108. Get a handful of city-specific and industry specific citations
  • 109. Get 1 accurate and complete listing on the remaining top 50 citation sites
  • 110. Clean up duplicates on the remaining top 50 citation sites
  • 111. Get 1 accurate and complete listing, and remove duplicates on the remaining top 50 citation sites https://www.whitespark.ca/citation-audit-and-cleanup-service
  • 112. These things suck
  • 113. Spammy links suck I suspect everyone here already knows what kinds of links suck 1) Link directories 1) Cheap and crappy guest post links 2) Comment spam 3) Forum links 4) Blog network links 5) Etc.
  • 114. How to not suck at local links
  • 115. Clean up any spammy links Do it yourself…
  • 116. Clean up any spammy links or, hire a professional
  • 117. Get the typical basic links from citations, social profiles, etc
  • 118. [0047] When the document falls within the broad area (block 460--YES), then a location prominence score associated with the document may be determined (block 470). The location prominence score may be based on a set of factors that are unrelated to the geographical area over which the user is searching. In one implementation, the set of factors may include one or more of the following factors: (1) a score associated with an authoritative document; (2) the total number of documents referring to a business associated with the document; (3) the highest score of documents referring to the business; (4) the number of documents with reviews of the business; and (5) the number of information documents that mention the business. In other implementations, the set of factors may include additional or different factors. Get at least 1 super link
  • 119. Get at least 1 super link SS Scholarship SS Sponsorship
  • 120. Get at least 1 super link Their home page
  • 121. Get at least 1 super link Their scholarship page
  • 122. Get at least 1 super link Killing it!
  • 123. Get at least 1 super link
  • 124. Get at least 1 super link
  • 125. Get at least 1 super link
  • 126. Get at least 1 super link
  • 127. Get at least 1 super link
  • 128. Get at least 1 super link
  • 129. Get at least 1 super link
  • 130. Get at least 1 super link Sponsorships 1. Boston inurl:sponsors 2. site:.edu boston supporters 3. site:.edu boston sponsors 4. site:.org boston supporters 5. site:.org boston sponsors 6. site:.k12.ca.us supporters 7. site:.k12.ca.us sponsors
  • 131. Get a handful of local links http://www.localstampede.com/citation-building-strategies-list/ X
  • 132. Thanks! Any questions? +DarrenShaw @DarrenShaw_