Earlier this month, marketers from around the world joined the latest LocalU virtual conference, put on by Local University.
The symposium topics were filled with local marketing tips from top experts on everything from handling fake reviews, to SEO forecasting, and more.
Attendees engaged in lively discussions on Twitter throughout each session, highlighting the speakers’ most helpful and tangible tips.
Below are the top takeaways from each speaker and their respective session.
1. Write For Customers First and Google Second
Charli Hunt, ProofContent
“If you just write content for Google’s algorithm (and not users first), you will be knocked off your top rankings perch.”
Include local identifiers based on what customers are already searching for. Whether that’s neighborhood, county, city, etc.
Create dedicated pages for top FAQs from your customers. This alleviates the need to answer these questions again and again.
Identify your unique selling points (USPs). If you’re unsure of what these are, speak to your customers to help identify them.
2. Disputing 1 Illegitimate Review Is Equivalent To 11 Positive Reviews
Curtis Boyd, The Transparency Company
It pays off to dispute fake reviews. Illegitimate reviews are harmful to ratings, which is proven to hurt revenue.
Removing legitimate negative reviews is not the goal. Earned reviews are good; purchased reviews are not. Silencing real customers is not good or legitimate. That’s not what this is about.
Your boss should not be asking you to review the company, unless it’s on Glassdoor. The top types of fake reviews are from vendors, business owners, current employees, untruthful customers, and 3rd party and review clusters.
Dispute fake reviews on the mobile app vs. a desktop. Having data to show the reviews are fake have approximately a 380 times greater success rate of being removed.
If you’ve been hit with a negative review cluster, it’s best to work with a Google Product Expert using the GBP Help Forum.
3. Work Smarter With Practical Google Data Studio Uses
Amanda Jordan, RicketyRoo
With GDS, you’ll spend less time reviewing your data. You can create local SEO reports that are easily digestible not only for you, but for your clients. There are plenty of templates created for you to plug and play with your data.
“Use Data Studio to find and categorize keywords, and find new ways to utilize data they’re providing.”
There are many free connectors with GDS to help 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 data controls in Data Studio. They allow you to manipulate data by date, visitor type, device type, and more.
4. Be Strategic With Your Spam Fighting Efforts
Joy Hawkins, Sterling Sky
The percentage of fake listings varies greatly by industry. Garage Door Repair, Junk Cars, and Personal Injury were the top industries with fake listings.
“87.6% of Garage Door Repair listings were spam. This is incredibly damaging for brands, and why spam-fighting can help legitimate brands.”
Spam fighting is not a long-term strategy, but it is something you should try to pursue. Spam can always come back, and Google doesn’t always enforce all their guidelines.
If there are duplicate listings, don’t delete one. Merging listings can actually help them to rank.
If you are in an industry with moderate amounts of spam listings, then it’s probably worth your time to report.
5. We Only Buy From People We Know, Like, and Trust
Matthew Hunt, Automation Wolf
Use LinkedIn as a trusted source rather than a stranger. Relationships are built in the comments, not the posts.
It takes 7 hours with 11 different interactions, in 4 different locations to earn the trust of a user, in order to create opportunities to work with and sell to them.
Leverage LinkedIn with short-form content users can discover. Then, create long-form content where there is some sort of interaction (course, webinar, etc.). From there, create a community of trust so users continue to come back to you.
Make sure you have a personal profile, not just a company page. Create a compelling personal headline showcasing who you are and what you do.
The winning formula for a personal headline: Role + Expertise + Value.
6. Content Without Data Leads To Poor Outcomes
Noah Learner, Two Octobers
Build your content based on client goals, gathering data, cleaning the data, then creating topics based on this data.
Market what is most profitable for you. Make sure to ask your clients what their biggest money-makers are during your onboarding process.
Google has a difficult time knowing what to show, which is why it’s important to make it crystal clear what your content is about.
There’s a big difference between search trends from Google SERP auto-suggest and Google Trends. Auto-suggest is personalized, while Trends is not.
7. Proximity Is Much More Important With The Vicinity Update
Yan Gilbert and Colan Nielson, Sterling Sky
The closer you are to a business listing, the higher the chances that listing will rank.
The vicinity update has allowed many more business listings to rank, thanks to the variety in the map packs.
Keywords without location were impacted the most.
Keywords in your business name are not as straightforward as it used to be. Don’t use keyword
stuffing as a strategy. Google is attempting to balance spammy GBPs while allowing real businesses to rank.
The top action items from the vicinity update are:
- Focus on explicit keywords
- Create more GBP real estate
- Use ads to retarget in areas you’ve lost ranking or traction
- Go after a wider variety of keywords to minimize damage
8. SEO Forecasting Can Help Answer Key Business Questions From Stakeholders
Andrew Shotland, Local SEO Guide
The key questions stakeholders want answered are:
- How much am I going to get out of this?
- How long is it going to take?
- What’s the ROI?
SEO forecasting needs to take the individual business’ uniqueness and goals into consideration. Do more than using your own experience and your own data to forecast.
Sometimes accurate forecasts don’t matter, as long as you’re being realistic setting good expectations. Don’t falsely inflate 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 is more important: high revenue or a high RICE score?
9. You Have An Obligation To Make Sure Your Reviews Are Genuine
Mike Blumenthal, Near Media
The business is responsible for how the review platform works, as well as the SEO and reputation management firms’ behaviors.
The new FTC business marketer guidelines include:
- No review gating
- No selective review display
- Positive and negative reviews must be treated equally
- Incentives must be made explicit
Review suppression doesn’t work. Customers can see the difference between your site and the Google reviews.
You do not have to publish offensive or inappropriate review content. Ensure you have a clear TOS published on your site explaining the FTC guidelines, and publish everything that meets those guidelines.
The LocalU virtual symposium focused a lot on real updates that impact businesses, as well as content tips that can help anyone who has a physical business or listing.
If you’d like more detailed information on the sessions, be sure to join the #LocalU conversation on Twitter and connect with the speakers. You can also purchase instant access from Local University here.
At the end of the conference, Local University announced its return to in-person events. They will be hosting LocalU Advanced in Denver, CO on July 28th. If you’re interested in attending, be sure to stay up-to-date with Local University for more information.
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