Rand Fishkin at LocalUp Advanced

I got to rub elbows with Rand Fishkin, the Wizard of Moz himself!

A couple of weeks ago, some of the best and brightest digital marketing nerds out there converged on Seattle for a one-day intensive local SEO conference hosted by Moz and Local University. As one of those nerds, I can tell you: It was glorious.

It was inspiring and exciting to peek into the brains of some seriously brilliant folks who are pioneering this industry; to meet and exchange ideas with like-minded nerds who geek out on the same things I do; and to talk to Google SMB’s Jade Wang about her favorite food in Pike’s Place (Piroshky Piroshky). Not only do events like this totally re-energize my love and excitement for what I do, it turns out I also learned a thing or two or ten.

Here are some of the major takeaways I got from LocalUp Advanced.

 

1. There’s no substitute for the real thing.

If gaming the system has become hard for traditional SEO, it’s downright impossible for local. Google knows what’s up and real people – residents of the communities you’re trying earn a presence in – definitely know what’s up. That’s why, in order to turn up in local search and attract visitors to your content, you need to give the digital world a taste of what makes you great in the real world.

You can’t phone in a local web presence, and content is more than just the written word. You’ve got to incorporate photos, videos, customer service interactions, reviews, products, events, tools, location information, email, news… you get the picture. Everything that’s valuable and worthwhile about your real life presence should be communicated in your web presence.

Check out Mike Ramsey’s presentation for the full monty on local content strategies.

 

2. Reviews matter.

Everyone knows we don’t talk to humans anymore, we talk to Google. Most of us would prefer to find answers to our questions online, rather than having to pick up the phone and talk to a person. Just ask Robin.

Google’s become a full-service concierge, and it’s more than happy to tell you where to find sushi in downtown Seattle, or what’s the best brewery in Indianapolis. I didn’t need Jade to recommend Piroshky Piroshky, Google could have done that for me – 4.4 stars from 163 reviews is more than enough to convince me to try out any restaurant.

Sure, your business sells the best [whatever] in [wherever] and you’ve always thrived on word of mouth because everyone just loves your [whatever]. Well, word of mouth has become online reviews, of which Google tops the charts, so you better start speaking its language.

 

3. Mobile is the gateway to local search.

Several of the speakers at LocalUp focused on mobile strategies and tactics for significant portions of their presentations, if not the entirety of them. That’s because mobile is super duper important when it comes to local search. Our phones always know where we are, so every location-based search we make on them is going to automatically incorporate our current location.

local search resultsAnd you can pretty much forget about traditional organic listings for local mobile search results – local/maps listings are front and center and all anyone really cares about, so make it your goal to show up in those top three results. If everything I’m looking for is right here, why would I bother scrolling down or swiping left?

And Google owns this space. OWNS IT. Google still holds nearly 68% of search engine market share, and it’s definitely better at local than anyone else. (Although there are rumors that Apple’s getting ready to ditch Google as the default search engine in iOS. I think I’ll hold on to my Android.) But for now, and maybe forever, marketers have to play the game by Google’s rules. So go get on your Google My Business page and optimize the hell out of it.

But Google isn’t the only thing that matters. Your website and the meat of your content are just as important for mobile as local search is. It’s absolutely vital to have a responsive, mobile-friendly website and localized content that meets the needs of your audience. So go work on that now, too.

 

If I could pack everything I learned at LocalUp into this blog post, I would. But then I wouldn’t have time to actually do any of this neat stuff for our clients. If you’re thirsty for more, you can download (almost) all of the slide decks from the event over at moz.com/localup.