I’m back from beautiful Santa Monica, California, where there was the one-day intensive “Local U” Advanced. I like to fancy myself as “Advanced,” though so often I find it’s the basics that matter, especially (but not only) with Local SEO. Here are some random musings about what I learned at LocalU (in no particular order).
Note to self: Google Data Studio. Google has done its usual poor job at explaining the “value” of Google Data Studio to mere mortals. I have to confess, I kinda sorta perceive it as a GUI layer on top of Google Analytics, sort of like they tried to make it easier to get real data out of Google Analytics (but not really clear why they don’t just integrate this into GA to begin with). But at any rate, apparently Google Data Studio is cool, powerful, and easy (well, not easy), so I need to check it out and see what it has to offer. Note to Google: Lord, you do a crappy job explaining your products and making them easy for “mere mortals” to use. See: AdWords. See: Tag Manager. See: Google Data Studio. See: Keyword Planner. See: the iPhone. Oops, that one works really well.
SuperMetrics – this is a third-party that provides really cool data analysis, perhaps on top of Google Data Studio.
Is your Google My Business Listing Your New HomePage?
Google Brand Score by Mary Bowling. Basically, Google your own company name for its reputation management issues, and then where possible score your brand across Google My Business / Google for things such as whether you have a lot of reviews, whether you respond to them, etc. One trick I learned is that Sendible is the ONLY scheduling tool that also allows you to schedule posts to Google My Business. Another weird tip is that you can create practitioner listings on Google My Business if, for example, you are a lawyer with multiple lawyers in the office and some practice one type of law, and others another. They’ve created a tool for it, here.
Here’s one I’m not sure I agree with. The idea that Google My Business is your new home page. Hm, well, maybe. But I know I always click thru to the website, but I suppose fewer and fewer people do. Regardless, you should worry about how your brand appears at every step – the Google search results page, the GMB listing page, and your website. Another weird term – Barnacle sites – these are sites like HotFrog or SuperPages that refer to your brand (“citations”) but really don’t add any value, other than perhaps influencing your rank on Google. And while we’re mentioning rank – don’t get me started on this one – many of the cognoscenti do not believe that “rank” on Google matters much anymore. They then all pulled out their phones, and Googled, “Sushi near me,” and clicked on the top result to go get sushi. Go figure. Something hard to measure doesn’t mean a) it doesn’t matter, and b) you can’t measure it. But no one lessons to silly old me (who still thinks rank matters A LOT).
Another weird thing. Facebook put all its Facebook reviews behind the reg wall; yet Google still reports Facebook reviews for many companies. So, this is the same Google that claims we all need to get into its self-driving cars, but their algorithm still reports faulty data for Facebook “reviews.” #oops.
New company – ZIP Sprout. This company attempts to match nonprofits looking for sponsors with vendors looking for link-building, oops, I mean sponsorship opportunities. They have a DIY tool at https://lsf.zipsprout.com/ which helps you find your own local nonprofit link-building, oops, I mean sponsorship opportunities. Other cool tools are the Mobile SERP test and the Mobile Page Test, both of which allow you to view the world “as if” you were on a phone and “as if” you were in a specific town or Zip code.
Local Link Building
To succeed at local SEO, you have to build “local links,” such as links from nonprofits, Chambers of Commerce, local (city) directories and the like. Local bloggers are golden, of course. One idea was to create a list of LOCAL journalists and LOCAL bloggers and then when you have “real news,” email your press release or story idea directly to them. Another was to identify local neighborhood watch groups, yet another was to have “secret specials” or “coupons” only for local groups (“link bait”), and still another was to inventory yourself or your client as to what their “passion projects” were. For example, a company whose employees are motivated for “dog rescue,” means that there are things that they can do to work with nonprofits or create events that are dog-oriented. There’s a good presentation on “real-world link building,” here.
Among tools, check out – Keyword Everywhere chrome extension, which allows you to see keywords in real time as you browse the web.