#LSA19: Advanced Local Marketing Tactics Workshop

LSA’s annual conference, LSA19, began this morning with a half-day workshop for agencies and in-house marketers that examined a wide range of topics. Leading practitioners from all realms of the local marketing industry discussed tactics and best practices for local SEO strategies, Google My Business, voice search and more. The speakers included:


Here are some of the highlights from each session:

Local Ranking Factors 2019

  • Local search has shifted pretty significantly over the last few years. Over this time period, two main changes have taken place, a tightening of proximity in local results and Google sending less traffic to websites.
  • There is good news however, with the extreme emphasis on proximity, every business will rank somewhere, and you can overcome proximity bias and expand your radius with strong local search signals.
  • Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey of around 40 notable local search experts. The participants select different factors and sort what is driving local search in certain areas. Those results are then aggregated into local and local organic results. It then shows which factors are driving those results, as shown below.

For the local pack:


And the local organic:


To improve their rankings, the contributors to the survey are focusing more on:

  • Quality and authority of inbound links to domain
  • Quantity of Google posts
  • Quantity of native Google reviews with text
  • Topical keyword relevance of domain context
  • Association of videos with GMB location
  • Association of photos with GMB listing
  • Volume of content on GMB landing page
  • Quantity of inbound links to landing page URL for industry-relevant domains
  • Reference to location specific entities on GMB landing page
  • Quantity of inbound links to domain from locally-relevant domains

The presentation concluded with a few components detailing where Google is heading in the future:

  • Increased emphasis on behavioral factors
  • More saturation of the SERPs with ads
  • Keeping users on Google and sending less traffic to websites
  • Implementing more features to take a cut of transactions

Creating a Data-Driven Local SEO Strategy

  • To understand the local search landscape, you need to know who you’re up against, know what “winners” look like and set realistic expectations.
  • To do this, start with keyword research, then scrape everything. You should have a diverse set of keywords to analyze and collect data around.
  • When analyzing the data (with the tools of your choosing), ask the following questions:
    • Who owns the most SERP real estate for my keyword set?
    • How important is proximity to the search location?
  • For multi-location brands looking to develop a strategy, apply your knowledge of said industry and create an action plan from that data.
  • Analyze reviews in low-performing districts and take action to address in-store challenges
  • Look at Q&As for content inspiration
  • Build citations or earn placements on sites that already rank well organically

Driving Engagement Directly from the SERP

  • Different industries allocate different actions from customers within various local markets
  • Calls from a GMB listing:
    • Set tracking number as your primary number
    • Ensure your real number is the second number listed
    • Make your NAP information is correct on location page scheme
  • Clicks to a local page from a GMB listing:
    • Link to location specific page
    • Update your conversation of what “organic engagement” really is
    • Don’t block your location pages from being crawled
  • Clicks for directions from a GMB listing:
    • Scrub your location data
    • Verify latitude/longitude
    • Test when you can
  • Google is testing placement to measure engagement and impressions within Google Posts.
  • Google Q&A:
    • Provide a quick answer and longer answer if need be
    • Just because you can write a ton, doesn’t mean you should
  • Google Reviews:
    • Respond and address issues, then move to a direct communication
    • If you’re trying to suppress a negative review, do it naturally.

7 Google My Business Problems & How to Solve Them

  • Problem: Who is updating my listing?
    • Third party app, another manager, a public user
      • Use the dashboard in Search to see pending edits.
  • Problem: My listing got suspended.
    • In a hard suspension, a listing is removed from Google completely because:
      • You don’t do face-to-face business with customers at that location
      • Your business has shady practices
    • A soft suspension is when a listing still exists, but you don’t have the ability to manage it in GMB, usually because:
      • There is a user that manages the listing that Google doesn’t trust
      • You made an edit to the listing that Google doesn’t trust
  • Problem: There is an ad on my Knowledge Panel.
    • Google appears to be expanding their number of partners.
    • Google will not remove them; however, you can try to cancel with 3rd party (paid accounts like Grubhub, Groupon or DoorDash) or have them completely remove you from their website.
  • Problem: Receiving a negative review from someone who isn’t your customer.
    • Extortion, poor media attention, or an ex-employee who says that they worked there within the review and has a public source showing that they worked there.
    • If it’s extortion, send GMB a copy of the text.
    • Don’t stress. A consumer is most likely to purchase a product when its average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. Why? Because a perfect 5.0 rating is seen as too good to be true. An average star rating of 4.2-4.5 stars, however, is seen as more transparent and balanced.
  • Problem: I don’t know how to organize my practitioner listings.
    • Make sure you are logged in to the account that manages the listing.
    • If the place is located within another, enter the containing place in the search area. You can then update your location on Maps.
  • Problem: My business is closing for renovations.
    • Within your GMB listing, you can update it to say, “temporarily closed.”
  • Problem: GMB phone support gave me odd SEO advice.
    • Example: “I was talking to GMB support the other day and the technician seemed very clear that labelling according to the business key terms would provide ranking benefit.”
    • According to Google’s support website, “Labels let you organize your locations into groups. You can search for locations by label from the dashboard, and use labels to filter location extensions in Google Ads.”

Getting the Most Out of Google Posts & Local Content

  • GMB Posts officially rolled out to SMBs in June 2017.
  • Per a cases study:
    • 1% of all clicks on the Local Panel were on posts
  • The Local Panel, where Posts are primarily located, is most prominently the result of a brand search.
  • Brand messaging seems to work best.
    • Testimonials, especially video
  • Marketers cannot rely on the national/local distinction anymore.

Content & Entity Optimization for Voice Search

  • There are six steps to approaching voice search:
    • Conversational content
    • Design & UI
    • Technology (mobile first, speed, HTTPS, Schema, AWP, PWA
    • Promotion
    • Voice action optimization
    • Measuring impact
  • Consumer behaviors are changing.
    • Questions instead of searches
    • Screen-less devices
    • Smaller device screens
    • Shorter attention spans
  • Conversational content and micro-moments are driven by voice search.
    • “I want to know”
    • “I want to go”
    • “I want to do”
    • “I want to buy”
  • Marketers should create content for every stage of the journey, including informational intent (guides, how-tos, tools, FAQ) navigational intent (store locations, services, press releases) and transactional intent (videos, product information, comparisons).
  • A featured snippet:
    • Extracts text to answer searcher’s question
    • Content answers quickly and includes related info to spark click through
    • Needs a mix of factors to get to the top of Google
    • Google’s sweet spot is 54 to 58 words
  • Business information needs to be consistent across all channels.

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