Local SEO is a hot topic. Here's a conversation with SEO Specialist and Moz Blog Contributor, Andy Thomson. He shares what you need to know about local SEO.

 

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Read the Transcript

Taylor:

Taylor Pettis here, back with another digital discussion. Today’s topic is Local SEO. The phone book is a distant memory for most people, but you probably already knew that. If people aren’t picking up the Yellow Pages to search for local businesses or services anymore. What are they doing? Hey, you know the answer to this. They’re using Google and are using in everyday life. So, yes your target consumers are doing the same exact thing here. Today we’re going to hear some tips about Local SEO from an SEO expert and Moz Blog Contributor, Andy Thomson. He’ll teach us how to enhance your Local SEO. Let’s introduce Andy, I know you can see him on the screen. Andy, I know you but others listening out there may not, so tell us about yourself. Maybe what are three remarkable things that you should know about you.

 

Andy:

Hey Taylor, my name is Andy Thomson. I’m an SEO Specialist from Minneapolis, but born in Boston. I have a marketing degree from DePaul University, where I was an also a basketball manager for the team there. I wasn't enough to play but I was good enough to hold the towels for the guys played so something I can brag about. In general, I’m a giant basketball fan and a resident of Minneapolis.

 

Taylor:

Hey, that’s awesome. A basketball fan, we could probably do another segment next time on marketing for basketball, or SEO for basketball. We’ll actually you organized a NCAA tournament bracket so I should’ve known you were a basketball fan, but we can talk about that another time.  Let’s stick to Local SEO today. What is local SEO? Or how is Local SEO different from SEO?

 

Andy:

Yeah, Local SEO is sort of a segment of SEO in general. Search engine optimization has to deal with everywhere your customers might see your brand online, so that doesn't just include your website. That includes Google searches, Yahoo searches, Bing searches. Where Local SEO comes in, is when a customer might be searching for your business’ location. If you have an office or a store and somebody's coming to interview with you, or coming to buy something to find a location and contact information. Local SEO has to do with how you can optimize your website and all of the other places your brand-name appears… such as multiple listing sources including Google and Facebook a lot of things.

 

Taylor:

Nearly every marketer talks about mobile first. Is local SEO a mobile strategy? Or is it more relevant for mobile devices is a better way of asking the question.

 

Andy:

That's a good way to look at it. I believe the Google search results for local searches, the results change every couple miles. If you are riding in a car or bus -  not driving course… and do a Google search, your results will change as you go past every exit. If you looking for a pizza shop or coffee shop, so a lot of those searches with local intent are really dynamic in the eyes of Google. So, mobile is a good place to start. You have to think about where people are searching… it even varies from retail stores and restaurants to service area businesses, like a plumber or electrician… or anyone who might serve a large metro area.

 

Taylor:

Cool. You talked a little about where to start, or we hopped in a little bit about starting with mobile, but I want to tap into something you recently contributed to the Moz Blog that serves more as a baseline case study for local SEO. The reason why I bring this up is that I think listeners might be able to use some of the things you provided there as a good place to start. Tell us a little bit more about what you shared with Moz Blog and some of the resources that might help people dip their toe into local SEO.

 

Andy:

Sure. My blog was on the YouMoz Blog, which is their user generated content. I chronicled the process of the Three Deep office moving across town. We moved about three blocks across downtown St. Paul, and we wanted to make sure that we were changing our address in the eyes of Google, in the right way, so we started from the top and did a local SEO audit of Three Deep’s site and of our local search landscapes as we like to call it. The article encompasses everything from getting all of your information straight to managing the citations as they’re called on every outside website like Google and Facebook and multiple others.

 

Taylor:

You said something interesting there, said a Local SEO tell me a little bit more. What does an audit entail? What are you auditing? What are items you’re looking for? What are things that would be good signs or red flags

 

Andy:

Yeah, so I actually started with an audit process on that I got from another article on Moz. In case you didn’t know, Moz is pretty much a central source for SEO advice, or search advice and other online marketing stuff. The local audit template written by a guy named Casey Meraz and it's a long article about how to look at your own website, what to look for to make sure that you don't have any misinformation… and you have the correct code your website. As well as how to look at all these other inputs, so it’s a long list of things to do, a big checklist of things to work on. One of the things you do, is this spreadsheet that he actually provides for free. It’s just a Google sheet, you download it and make a copy for yourself and add all of your information there, so you can make sure it's consistent across all the places it can be found. That’s an important thing in Local SEO, is making sure your information is as accurate as possible. There are several things that can slip you up. Like with Three Deep, we’ve had issues with just what to call our company. We have Three Deep, Inc. happens to be our legal business name of our company. But we tend to go by Three Deep marketing, because Three Deep doesn't actually describe anything that we do. The best practice according to Google, is to legal. Be as representative as possible to what's happening in real life. What happened with our audit, is we went through and wrote down stuff like a business name, our address, our phone number… and then you have to go and make sure it’s straight on the website and then go pictures straight on other services, so yeah that's that's the process.

 

Taylor:

So, consistency is key. Let’s talk a little bit more about resources. Or about some additional resources. You talked about Moz, you talked about the checklist you found through Casey – What are some other resources people might use? Maybe some helpful you have.

 

Andy:

Yeah, Moz local is a good resource. Of course, I’ve said Moz a lot, but one reasons thei poplar is they have this tool called Moz local. You can go in there was a website in there and they have a database of listing sources and the individual citations across the Internet. They evaluate your website and your website’s information compared to the whole database and you score. You can go there for free, put your website in and it’ll tell you out of 100% how accurate your citations are. Our own website didn’t score that great to begin with it has improved in the time since we done the audit, so it proves out. It gives you a lot of individual sources where you can go and fix citations here and there and if you pay them, they will manage that update process a little bit better for you, so it automates a lot of things. There is most helpful resources well willing to pay other something called Yext which automates the citation even a little further than Moz does and it costs a little more, but you know it's up to you on how much… It also depends on what kind of business you have. If it's really important, you have multiple locations that's a huge challenge for people with local SEO, managing different locations. So, there's lots of different things lots of needs.

 

Taylor:

We’re getting together again soon to host a local SEO Webinar. I think you’re shaing some simple steps on how consumers can find brands online. Tell us a little bit more about the event, what people can expect to learn.

 

Andy:

Yeah, in the webinar will cover a lot of the things I covered in my article. My article is pretty long, so I’m going to cover it a little bit more in depth and how some of those of topics can apply to different companies. I will break down some of the tools like Moz local, managing your data in Google, which I guess I didn’t mention the service Google has is called Google my business. It's been called a lot of things like Google places, and it involves Google Maps and Google+ Managing that is is a challenge, so that in some some depth. We’ll also talk about the different business categories like the retail, or service area business as well as simple brand win an office. In general the best practices to managing your local SEO.

 

Taylor:

Depending on your location, the type of business you are, or the types of serves you provide… Your Local SEO strategy might be different than a different business.

 

Andy:

That's correct. There are lots of inputs, that includes your business categories. Google allows you to declare your categories, but you can’t just be whatever you want. We can’t just go in and say were digital marketing agency. We’re limited to the categories that Google provides. Now they might update those over time, but there are issues there that you have to sort of comply with, and that’s some of the the challenges.

 

Taylor:

That makes sense. I’m definitely looking forward to learning more about that. The last thing will do is… Kind of a final thought if you will.  If you could share one item about local SEO what would it be? I totally realize I’m asking you to boil and extremely large topic down into something that so simple, but what would be the one piece of advice you have for this extremely complex topic?

 

Andy:

I guess one of the biggest issues, is authenticity. This is a hot button no matter what marketing tactic or marketing area you're thinking about. Authenticity is something that can penalize you... If you’re not being truthful in your local SEO, Google won’t rank you. If you use virtual phone numbers for instance, even call tracking numbers, if you don't have an area code… Its’ not a good phone number to use for your local SEO. That’s something surprising to a lot of companies, because call tracking is important to see where those leads come from. Just being representative of what happens in real life is the goal of local SEO, because you want people to find your location. We had a pretty big problem with just managing, which door the pin in our building… The Google pin on the map, where it appears on the block where location, because there is a restaurant in our building and you don't want people who are coming to a digital marketing agency at 10:00 in the morning to walk to a locked restaurant door. So, things like that it's just hard to manage things if they're not true. So, yeah just authenticity and honesty just just like her mother told you.

 

Taylor:

Everything you need to know about SEO was taught to you in kindergarten. Transparency, honesty and just be a good citizen… I love it.

 

Andy:

Yes, that’ll be the title of my book.

 

Taylor:

SEO for Kindergarteners! No, it’s not that simplistic, but I like it. Thanks again Andy I really appreciate your time today and I’m looking forward to our event together.

 

Andy:

Alright. Thanks, Taylor. I’m looking forward to it too!

 

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