Last week, Local University, a comprehensive seminar on local marketing, came to Silicon Valley, and the Customer Lobby member services team took the opportunity to learn from the best of the best.
The bulk of the event is a 4-hour “crash course” hosted by some of the biggest names in local, including Mike Blumenthal, David Mihm, and Greg Sterling. It’s tailor-made for local business owners, and while the scope is fairly broad, the emphasis is on local search optimization. That’s why both Google and Bing representatives were on hand to speak at the event.
The seminar session moved briskly and covered an incredible amount of terrain, but I was struck by how digestible it all was. The presenters have been at this for a few years now, so they careful not to overload with information. Instead, they hone in on the most important pieces of information — things every local business owner should know.
Here are just few takeaways:
1. Don’t bother with tricks
If you own a local business, chances are pretty high you’ve received a call from a “Google expert” claiming to have some technique that will ensure your business appears on the first page of Google search results. Rest assured: He’s not and he can’t.
The days of SEO tricks are over, and the key to building trust with Google is focusing on your customers. Make sure your website is designed to answer their questions and that your listings are up to date with accurate information. That’s enough work in itself, so you may still want to hire someone, but if they start pitching spamy back-link campaigns, looks elsewhere.
2. Make Reviews Part of Your Process
Review solicitations has to be made part of your day-to-day marketing process. Far from being a marketing after-thought, the need for steady review content on Google+, Google Organic search results, Yelp, and other third-party sites is now a cornerstone of digital marketing.
Now, of course I’m biased on this topic. But, the Local U experts make a compelling case for review solicitation because reviews impact everything from search ranking to web presence and ultimately sales.
3. Go After the Low-Hanging Fruit
When it comes to Internet marketing, there are many do-it-yourself action steps that will yield a tremendous return. One of the most straight-forward steps is claiming your listings and ensuring the name, address, and phone number data is consistent. This is fairly straightforward, but it can be time-consuming and it’s tricky to know where to begin. The Local U experts do an incredible job laying out an action plan. Even the Google reps were impressed.