SMX Live: Hardcore Local SEO Tactics - Driving Online & In-Person Traffic

Feb 28, 2012 - 11:54 am 3 by
Filed Under SMX West 2012

Live Blogging Coverage SMXBelow is live coverage of the Hardcore Local SEO Tactics - Driving Online & In-Person Traffic panel from the SMX West 2012 conference. This coverage is provided by Avi Wilensky of Promedia Corp.

Disclaimer: The coverage is brought to you in real time, using a custom live blogging tool. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments for inclusion into the live coverage. During the live event, live notes will auto-scroll with newest entries at top. After the session is complete the archive version will have the oldest entries at the top. We ask you to please excuse any typos, as these are live notes.

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Avi Wilensky: 9:02:05 am
Session is about to kick off
Avi Wilensky: 9:02:38 am
Chris Sherman moderating. This session hashtag = #smx #11c
Avi Wilensky: 9:03:52 am
Starting off with Mike Ramsey of Nifty Marketing
Avi Wilensky: 9:05:19 am
Solid onsite tactics will increase your 1. Google Places Rank, 2. Organic Rank 3. Conversions!!!
Avi Wilensky: 9:05:50 am
URLs and local search: recommend homepage if single location company in Google places location box
Avi Wilensky: 9:06:23 am
Pick 5 categories and build 5 pages linked from homepage and navigation. Both organic and places can't rank 2x, so get double placement in serps.
Avi Wilensky: 9:06:48 am
CTR skyrockets with both listings according to Mike
Avi Wilensky: 9:07:29 am
Very underutilized onsite tactic - missing out on ton of traffic if dont
Avi Wilensky: 9:07:37 am
Lets talk titles and meta tags
Avi Wilensky: 9:08:29 am
Looked at 50 companies in different markets - all have in common location in title tags using the following prefered format = Main keyword + location | business name | more keywords
Avi Wilensky: 9:08:50 am
Recommend using phone number in meta description tag! Great tip!
Avi Wilensky: 9:09:33 am
Calls to action are the most common missing element on local sites - coupon, free consultation - make it phone and form compatible - except both.
Avi Wilensky: 9:10:06 am
Never stop testing! Test everything! It's easier to get leads from traffic you already have and to double the conversion rate, than to double traffic - finite area - focus on CRO
Avi Wilensky: 9:10:40 am
NAP + MAP. NAP = Name, Address, Phone #
Avi Wilensky: 9:11:19 am
Likes Google Places custom maps - use tools to create fun maps with poly's around service area, can do whatever you want - cross browser and platform compatible.
Avi Wilensky: 9:12:04 am
Use hCard and microdata - instead of chosing one, try both. Recommends to generate the code.
Avi Wilensky: 9:12:45 am
Could be a factor to get the map plus box associated with organic listings.
Avi Wilensky: 9:14:15 am recommended to create KML file that includes lat/long coordinates and upload to root of website. Link from sitemap.xml. Can help give you landmark status - hard coded in map. More factors than that but helps with the trust factor.
Avi Wilensky: 9:14:23 am
Link to KML from sitemap as well.
Barry Schwartz: 9:15:06 am
Avi Wilensky: 9:15:45 am
Recommends 3 types of images to use - people - you and your staff - most business takes place off line - don't use stock photos, real images. Images of locations and vehicles, service and product. What people look for is who you are and what you do. Imagery should hit on those. Test images for conversion. Do they want to see staff? Need to test.
Avi Wilensky: 9:16:11 am
Trust symbols - national, industry, local. BBB = national for example.
Avi Wilensky: 9:16:56 am
Testimonials are crucial - use hReview over schema to get the top review in snippet. hReview gets one testimonial in rich snippets.
Avi Wilensky: 9:17:29 am
Testimonials are not as trustworthy as 3rd party reviews, but increases CTR/CR.
Avi Wilensky: 9:17:59 am
Double star review in snippets - not so common.
Avi Wilensky: 9:18:17 am
Test markup with the Google rich snippet testing tool.
Avi Wilensky: 9:19:19 am
Google+ and places - tie together. Add rel = author tag to author page and link to profile. Link from places page to author page, and can get image in SERPs.
Avi Wilensky: 9:20:02 am
Shows nice infographic that has all this. Thanks Mike! Great preso!
Avi Wilensky: 9:20:45 am
Next up is Thomas Ballantyne from Bulwark Exterminating
Avi Wilensky: 9:21:27 am
Will talk about online reviews!!!!
Avi Wilensky: 9:22:23 am
Cites study from Bently College from 2006 on eBay - guys that have reviews make more money. Small businesses want reviews!
Avi Wilensky: 9:22:46 am
Fake reviews: Buy reviews for $5 on Fiverr - don't advise this.
Avi Wilensky: 9:23:57 am
Cites examples of bogus review - found all the same review from same person.
Avi Wilensky: 9:24:18 am
Fake reviews are everywhere. Even on google. Don't do it or get embarrassed.
Kiki G: 9:24:26 am
Phone number in title tag...great idea.
Avi Wilensky: 9:24:58 am
click for full size
Avi Wilensky: 9:26:23 am
Surveys to ask for reviews - his company saw a 94% response rate.
Avi Wilensky: 9:26:38 am
Used reviews in PPC ads for higher CTR
Avi Wilensky: 9:26:57 am
Attributes his growth to increase in online reviews!
Avi Wilensky: 9:28:11 am
Asking for online reviews increases customer satisfactions. Get a review mentality for business. Not just good for online marketing, but business be a better business.
Avi Wilensky: 9:28:56 am
Get a review strategy - #1 - dont suck! Do some internal surveys before asking reviews. If you do it in reverse order, may backfire.
Avi Wilensky: 9:29:41 am
#2 - ask for reviews. That simple. Find a way to get customers to review you.
Avi Wilensky: 9:30:34 am
#3 - make it easy to get reviews. Has a page on his site that has all the local review sites.
Avi Wilensky: 9:32:01 am
Has his techs ask customers to review the service for his boss....
Avi Wilensky: 9:32:52 am
Beware: Don't offer money or product to write reviews. up to you, but google doesn't like it.
Avi Wilensky: 9:33:41 am
Want customers to be advocates - real reviews are more rewarding / fun.
Avi Wilensky: 9:34:08 am
Google / Yelp both remove real bad reviews can be good for you.
Avi Wilensky: 9:36:00 am
Better not to have a problem, but problems that are resolved perfectly score higher...if have a problem with service and get a bad review - fix it. Hunt them down. Call them. Ask them to update if problem has been resolved.
Avi Wilensky: 9:36:37 am
If you cannot get ahold of them offline, find them online and be polite. Invite them to contact you directly.
Avi Wilensky: 9:37:34 am
Cites example of his tech that fixed a pest control problem and changed customers flat tire. Go above and beyond.
Avi Wilensky: 9:38:53 am
Great preso. Follow @thos003 and @bulwark_ext.
Avi Wilensky: 9:39:21 am
Now up is Chris Silver Smith of Argent Media - @si1very
Avi Wilensky: 9:40:08 am
Chris has an agency that focuses on local seo, local search columnist on SEL.
Avi Wilensky: 9:40:37 am
Ranking factors for local search. Specifically the listings with the maps/reviews and map search results.
Avi Wilensky: 9:41:20 am
Many ranking factors - 200. With local it's more complex because there are more variables. User location, location of business, local keywords associated with biz, and categorization.
Avi Wilensky: 9:44:30 am
#1 Relevance #2 Distance #3 Prominence. Will talk about #3 today. That's the hazier area that Google doesn't talk about so much. Popularity of business when other factors are similar. Uses PR to determine prominence. Mentions/citations in a way that Google can detect. Will go into deeper. "PlaceRank" - a business located in a popular location might be more important. How can you influence it? More info on facors see David Mihm's blog on Local Search factors.
Avi Wilensky: 9:45:53 am
What are citations? Documents that mention the business, phone number, address, or any factor related to the business to determine ranking. Links of course too. Mentions of URLs may be a citation as well. Non linked URLs might be a considered a citation.
Avi Wilensky: 9:46:31 am
Classic sources for citations - directories, newspapers with directories, vertical directories industry specific -,,, etc.
Avi Wilensky: 9:48:54 am
Look at competitors place pages that are ranking well and look for their citations. Look at their sources. Look for unorthodox sources. Wikipedia articles - tricky for businesses if not noteworthy, may be advantageous. Is the building or shopping mall noteworthy? Add business to the wikipedia page of shopping center. Is the founder well known for an article?
Avi Wilensky: 9:49:22 am
Wifi hotspots - offer free wifi and get listed in a large number of free wifi directories.
Avi Wilensky: 9:50:19 am
Geocache locations, national register and state historical marker locations. Gov directories may pick it up.
Avi Wilensky: 9:51:19 am
Chamber of commerce sites, and other orgs can get you into directories. Bizarre things like pressed penny machines, ATMS, weather monitoring station can get you in niche directories.
Avi Wilensky: 9:51:34 am
Speciality directories - spanish speaking, eco friendly, etc.
Avi Wilensky: 9:52:38 am
Write a book about your business! Mentions of location in the book within book search can get you a citation. Host a wedding or charity event at your business - can get you picked up. Offer discounts to local groups that can get you listed on their sites.
Avi Wilensky: 9:53:29 am
Checkins can be an interesting ranking factor. Google may look at it to differentiate popular vs. not popular and difficult to game. Google Latitude has checkin service with leaderboard.
Avi Wilensky: 9:54:59 am
Last factor - PlaceRank - adopted wikipedia data as a layer within Google maps. Larger icons are more important places. Google might use this info. Could be a signal. Events, festivals, may help.
Avi Wilensky: 9:55:14 am
That is all. Thanks Chris!
Avi Wilensky: 9:55:43 am
Chris Sherman: 20 awesome places on Google maps by CSS on SEL is one of the top articles.
Avi Wilensky: 9:56:35 am
Up now is Manish Patel of Where 2 Get It Inc.
Avi Wilensky: 9:58:38 am
Today will talk about some tidbits - key challenges - understanding the local ecosystem. Mobile / social still an after-thought. Another challenge is assumption of ranking well because of big brand. Another one is quality and consistency of data - analysis paralysis.
Avi Wilensky: 10:00:56 am
Key challenge #1: This is not my department. Need to educate. Has a diagram / IG that shows the ecosystem. Think of yourself as a broadcaster. Push your info far and wide on the "owned" platform such as website, fb, social profiles, local profiles, etc. Broadcast data - hours, coupons, events to ecosystem far and wide.
Avi Wilensky: 10:01:48 am
Local FB integration: One client got 15% traffic lift by putting a like button on store locator page.
Avi Wilensky: 10:02:05 am
Pinterest: Put a pin on pages you control, and allow consumers to pin locations.
Avi Wilensky: 10:02:42 am
Checkins: Big key as Chris mentioned.
Avi Wilensky: 10:05:11 am
Challenge #2: No need to rank since big brand. The branded local long tail. Losing to scraper sites, etc. Local microsites / landing pages. Point to it from many places, make it the center of the ecosystem.
Avi Wilensky: 10:07:11 am
Challenge #3: Quality and consistency of the data - Prescribe the pain - Random SERP. Pull ranking reports. Show social data divide. Show mistakes and opportunities. Basics that need to be covered - large scale is a problem.
Avi Wilensky: 10:08:32 am
Syndication - Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and NAVTEQ (for GPS) are the big players.
Avi Wilensky: 10:09:23 am
Lots of manual work to keep adding and claiming at scale.
Avi Wilensky: 10:13:13 am
Key Challenge #4: Analysis Paralysis. Just keep an eye out on Cost Per Lead per channel. Give clients basics. Show growth of mobile and local. Optimize landing pages from mobile perspective! Measure engagement - interaction with map, check-in, like, send info to email, etc. Plot data on map - allows to focus on areas if looking at tabular info.
Avi Wilensky: 10:13:35 am
Thanks Manish! @where2GetI
Avi Wilensky: 10:13:51 am
Q+A Time!
Avi Wilensky: 10:14:22 am
Q: How would you apply all these best practices to mobile - is it different or the same?
Avi Wilensky: 10:15:30 am
Responsive design is a good solution - just changing the layout based on browser width. Learn responsive web design, see huge trend.

( is a good example of a site that uses responsive web design - shameless self plug!)
Avi Wilensky: 10:16:50 am
Q: Legit reviews being filtered - how do you get filtered reviews back live? How do they determine what's legit.
Avi Wilensky: 10:17:43 am
Many factors - how long member, review count, social signals.
Avi Wilensky: 10:18:18 am
Google looks at users, profiles them by influence. Length of text tends to be a good review.
Avi Wilensky: 10:19:30 am
Chris Sherman asks: Are we getting to a tipping point with reviews? Went to the highest ranked Vietnemiese restaurant in SJ and was terrible.
Avi Wilensky: 10:19:54 am
Look more granular - look at the ratings at the "dish level" for example.
Avi Wilensky: 10:20:44 am
If a business has only glowing reviews, its harder to trust. A mix looks more natural, if you get in there, can turn lemons and lemonade. More assuring to see a bad review responded, than change it. People want to see companies take care of problems.
Micah West: 4:14:03 pm
It is impossible to tell which reviews are legit... Cornell and the University of Illinois are projecting 30% of product reviews and 10%+ (growing) service reviews to be fake.
Micah West: 4:17:07 pm
Today show uncovered agencies with whole divisions that write reviews... good reviews for your business and bad reviews for competitors...
Micah West: 4:28:29 pm

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