PubCon live blogging: Local Search Engine Optimization

Moderator: Jake Baillie
Speakers:
Justin Sanger, Founder & President, LocalLaunch!
Michael Dorausch, President & Founder, Planet Chiropractic
Eric Bramlett, Mover/Shaker, EricBramlett.com
Google Representative, decided to skip out actually

Eric Bramlett – a local Austin SEO

Eric starts off by talking about the heart of it, the keyword “Area Industry”, like Austin dentist, Austin chiropractor.

SEO 101 says, keyword = “area business”, so get links from topical websites. Topic 1 is ‘area’, topic 2 is ‘business’.

Old-school ways to get links:

  • Reciprocal link exchanges – usually these links just don’t make sense. Google has devalued these significantly in the past few years
  • Directory submissions – the problem is they don’t drive traffic, and they’re often not relevant.
  • Article directory submission – once again, they have lost value
  • Advertised link buys – Google doesn’t like it, especially if the site advertises that they sell links
  • Buy, Sell, Trade forum threads – rarely good long term

Defensible methods to get links locally:

  • Legitimate link buys
  • Legit directories
  • Natural reciprocated links
  • Guest blogging
  • Editorial links
  • Create interesting content that others will naturally link to

Legit link buys:

  • Local charities
  • Local business association
  • Local managed directories – search for ‘austin links’ or ‘austin directory

Natural links: there are only so many charities, local directories etc., but getting more links is hard – No one wants to link to my boring local real estate site. Solution, incorporate a blog and write about local topics.

  • Naturally reciprocated links: link out to bloggers, notify them (smoothly), wait for them to return the favour. Just be persistent, and eventually people will start to link back
  • Guest blogging: Bloggers like to feel important. Let one know his/her blog is important enough to take on guest bloggers, namely you, stroke the blogger’s ego. Write great content, include and author bio with a link. Rinse and repeat.

Next up Michael Dorausch

This guy is actually an LA based chiropractor who has learned over the years how to rank locally for his business. Local search is not only about ranking but also about conversions. Michael’s advice is to get granular. Don’t just put ‘austin texas’ in your title tags, start creating your content based heavily around your community. Make sure every variation of local search phrases make it on to your site: Say downtown Austin, use your full address, use different ways to write out your address, in fact, even if you’re a dentist, you can talk about how great the downtown Austin area is and how they went green with neon.

Michael’s approach really is heavily investing in creating local content. He recommends finding out what kind of local things people are searching for, and start writing about it on your blog. You want as much local exposure as you can get (even someone searching for ‘Austin marathon road closures’ – they’re local, they should know your dentist office exists, just be sure to tell them what roads are closed during the Austin marathon!).

Location + Events – write about this local stuff on your Austindentist.com/blog blog, because it’s what people are searching for:

  • Austin boat show
  • Austin carnival
  • PubCon
  • South by Southwest (SXSW)
  • Austin Reggae Festival
  • Austin Marathon

Be an evangelist for your community. These are the types of practices that will earn your standard boring dentist site local links. Michael goes on for some time about the Austin marathon as an opportunity for local businesses to get involved in the community. People are searching for long-tail queries like Austin Marathon and their own name, to see the results. If you can find the results, write a post that is a congratulations to everyone who finished the Austin marathon, and list all the names. Link out, people might link back.

For events do posts about:

  • Maps
  • Highlights on volunteers
  • Photos (post on flickr and blog, use descriptive words)
  • Videos (post to youtube, embed on blog, use descriptive words)
  • Race results (blog post with links)
  • Success stories (focused on the community)

Location and landmarks:

Google maps are becoming more and more popular. Do a detailed post about ‘how to get from here to here’, include links to business along the way, namely yours. We write blog posts about how to get to our office from starbucks, from home depo, from whatever places people are searching for. See what people are searching for: monuments, state capitols, airports, the haunted hotel – talk about these things, or include the airport code that’s local to you JFK, LAX, YUL in your posts and title tags.

Universal search rocks for what we’re talking about. We want to show up in the SERPS for local photos, videos, etc.

Next up Justin Sanger from locallaunch – bought by HRDonnelly, who invented the yellow pages

Justin’s presentation is much less based in the practical, much more based in the the big picture. In local search there are three segments: the user, the publisher and the advertiser.

Kelsey Group reports that 70% of local cunsumers are using the internet to find products and services locally. That’s a lot. 2.2 billion monthly search queries that are local.

In the past we had: word of mouth, yellow pages, classifieds and local newspaper. Static, stale settings. Contrary to the modern online arena. Now people reference search engines, internet yellow pages sites, and local search sites.

People are going to the internet very early in the buying cycle and very late in the buying cycle. When they start by researching online, and eventually once they’ve decided what to buy, they perform a local search for where to buy it.

Publishers include:

  • pure local search engines like google local
  • search engines and local paid search Google geo target
  • internet yellow page sites like superpages.com
  • local shopping loke shoplocal or krillion
  • vertical search like housevalues.com
  • online classifieds like craigslist
  • city.com like boston.com
  • local media sites like the Chicago tribune or metromix.com
  • socal networking like facebook insider pages angieslist or yelp

How do advertisers succeed in local search?

There are hundreds of ways, local, social, vertical that you can be found in. ‘Atomization’ is about spreading out your business information irregardless of you even having a website.
At least he admits he is speaking in abstracts – this is not a presentation for people who want to rank locally, it’s for people who want to think about how people think about things like local search. Reign it back in Justin… because you’re too far out there. The audience is admitted to being half local businesses, they want to know what to do.

You must put your local business information in whatever site will let you – google maps and yahoo local and local.com.

Justin’s advice is to do all of the long-tail searches out there, and instead of trying to outrank who is there, just buy space on their sites. Look for seattle dentists shows superpages number one, yelp in the top five – just get on those pages. Here’s a practical tip, finally: look at the SERPs before you pay for a yellowpages or superpages listing, and see which category is ranking, choose that category to be included in.

Finally someone is talking about an explicit local query and Google’s local business results. Bah, they’re not talking about ranking factors though! That’s what people want to know!

In the google maps settings, use google’s local overview, details, reviews, web pages section. This is where we should study things that affect google local listings rankings.

Future of local search: tomorrow local search will be about being part of the conversation, and taking control of your identities, regardless of where they live on the web
Local, social, mobile and vertical will converge. We will move from collective intelligence to smart agents and AI. Fortunately, he didn’t go on and on about this. On to the questions!

The Q & A

Q: how does google’s local rankings work (see, told you the audience wanted to know this!)

A: based on immature things – businesses brick and mortar location, number of comments and ratings, keyword stuffing in tags can have an effect. For most cities the A listing is the center of the city, and it takes from work to shift that. How did he do that? Old domain, a hundred reviews on places like yelp and stuff, have a lot of content. A cumulating effect of those things. Ask your good clients to write a review on Google local.

Maps.google.com is different – proximity or distance is important. The local algo looks for consistency and accurate core business address in multiple sources. In local your address is a cornerstone. They take into account things like yellow page sites that list your address, yelp page with your address, etc. Put as many pages up as possible that have your address listed.Get on google business center, claim your business, add information to it, upload pictures.

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