Last week was a busy and exciting week for Local U. It has been our long term dream to provide high quality local marketing training and advise on-line. On Thursday we rolled out the Local University Forums.
The Forums will be place where marketers, digital agencies and businesses large and small can get expert answers, detailed local data not available any where else and an opportunity to collaborate with some incredible folks.
Not just the regular speakers at Local U like David Mihm, Mike Ramsey, Aaron Weiche, Mary Bowling and Ed Reese but also folks like Phil Rozek, Nyagoslav Zhekov, Darren Shaw, Andrew Shotland, Carrie Hill, Dan Austin and lots lots more. For me it is exciting because not only will I be able to help others but I stand to learn there every day.
The forums are intended to be a low noise high information environment where questions about site design, local mobile issues, algo changes and local and international local seo can be asked and answered.
At the introductory price of $99/month for the first 50 members, now is the time to join and take advantage of everything the forums have to offer at the lowest possible rate. After the first few days we are well on our way to that goal. The first month is only $49 so you can try it.
For more details you read our announcement here and sign up here.
Ok. So I am a little biased.
But that being said, last year’s spring Local U Advanced was one of the most educational and fun events that I have ever participated in and we are bringing it back east. There was more of everything that I love about our industry: more great local content, more great local speakers, more great sharing than I had ever experienced. It was collegial AND educational. And plenty of great food and refreshments.
This year the content is all new & we have TWO great keynotes. David Mihm, Aaron Weiche, Ed Reese, Mary Bowling, Will Scott (sans rant), Mike Ramsey and myself will all be there. And the great networking and mixers will continue to be incredible as well.
LocalU Advanced: Philadelphia. Wil Reynolds of SEER Interactive and Joel Headley of Google have agreed to keynote the event. Wil’s advice on Real Company Sh*t for Local Companies promises to be incredible and you will gain new insights into how Google local really works from Joel. If his talk in NYC last fall in any indication, you will learn about the whys and wherefores of Google local at a whole new level of understanding
March 7 evening and March 8th all day
Valley Forge DoubleTree by Hilton just outside of Philadelphia. We are offering a special group rate (Group name: MidAtlantic InnKeepers) of $129 for your hotel stay.
Check out the full agenda on our EventBrite page, and save $100 of the $899 with our EARLYBIRD discount code!
OK. I may be biased but I even after I strip out my self serving pride, I think its going to be a great event. Hope to see you there.
The big news earlier in the week was Google’s announcement of the Hummingbird search algo upgrade. InformationWeek noted that “the Hummingbird update expands Google’s use of its Knowledge Graph”. Local search results were some of the first entities moved to the Knowledge graph and displayed as knowledge graph results. For me there are thus two questions.
Does Hummingbird affect local search results?
Are there any indications of a decline in local search results quality?
The answer, at least as far as I can tell, to both questions seems to be yes.
According to Danny Sullivan, Google started using this new algo “about a month ago”. Moz pegged the rollout at around August 20-22. For the most part this change went unoticed in both local and universal search results. But there was one big change in local that Linda Buquet has covered quite extensively that she first wrote about on August 24th. The timing and results, I think, are not coincidental.
Linda titled this one exactly right: Attack of the Bad Google Local One-Boxes!
What is the attack of the Local One-Boxes? A number of broad head searches like “Buffalo NY Diamonds” or “Denver SEO” are returning (usually) a single branded, spammy local result. Google seems to have dug into the wayback machine to have pulled out these totally inappropriate results. (Note: as Linda said below it may be necessary to set your location to the same as the geo phrase to see these. That isn’t always the case but it increases the likelihood of surfacing them).
Essentially it appears that Google has once again conflated these head terms with what they suppose to be a branded search and have surfaced spammy pinned local results that we thought had long ago been buried. Hummingbird has worked surprisingly well as demonstrated by the lack of complaints. It is interesting that a problem thought solved long ago would trip it up.
For example if you search on the phrase “Buffalo NY Diamonds” it surfaces a second listing for a local jeweler at the same address that was created long ago for the purpose of keyword
spamming “marketing” in local. The problem of Google showing a single branded results was first spotted years ago. It subsequently lead to a spate of one box spam and then, for the most part, squelched by Google. For whatever reason, these spammy local knowledge graph entities seem to have made a come back.
The timing and nature of the results makes me believe that we are seeing “the Hummingbird effect”.
When was the last time that you saw a local result for a spammy local SEO listings? The answer: December, 2009. They seem to have returned.
Lot’s has been happening at LocalU. We have an advanced LocalU coming up Monday in NYC that has just 5 seats left. If you do sign up be sure to use the discount code WS-LUA10 for 10% off. If you are already signed up be sure to reach out to me and introduce yourself.
We will be announcing our (very busy) winter & spring speaking schedule shortly and it looks like we will be in Dallas, Springfield (MA), Valley Forge, Harrisburg and hopefully the Cupertino area (and perhaps a few more places as well). We are now scheduling for May and the fall of 2014 so if you are interested in having us come to your city, let us know.
We hope to have our full video tape of the LocalU advanced session in Seattle available for purchase shortly and some other cool content as well. We will keep you posted.
We have been busy at the LocalU blog as well with some great articles over the past few months that you might have missed:
Where Should a New Business Create a Listing: Google+ Page or Google Places for Business Dashboard? - Mike Blumenthal
The Real Truth About SEO & Call Tracking - Mary Bowling
Is Your Website Ready for the Holidays? - Mary Bowling
What Kind of Google+ Page Is It? – A Visual Guide to Google+ Local Pages - Mike Blumenthal
How Long Should Your Business Description Be in the Google Places for Business Dashboard? - Mike Blumenthal
Have You Tried Google Support for Local Lately? - Mary Bowling
How To Segment Local Search In Google Analytics (with Free Dashboard!) - Ed Reese (I particularly like the free dashboard that Ed created that gives some incredible insights into where your local visitors are coming from. And what is better than free?).
There will be light postings next week due to travel. I hope to see you in NYC next week.
Fall has descended (and I am riding my bike in 40 degree temperatures ….brr) and our SMX Local U Advanced Workshop is only 11 days away. We have sold 75% of the available tickets so there are only 14 left. If you are thinking of coming now is the time to sign up.
If you do sign up be sure to use the WS-LUA10 discount code to get a 10% discount. Learn more at the SMX site.
Wondering what goes on at Local U Advanced? Here is a video that we filmed in Seattle last June that will give you a sense of it.
Phil Rozek has just published a great piece at his blog: Top Local SEO Myths. Phil asked me and 9 others for 3 myths about local marketing. Never one to be shy, lack for things to say or follow instructions I sent along four. Here is a sampling of my responses:
When you verify your listing data in Google (Places, Places for Business Dashboard, Google Plus) you are claiming your page.
Fact: Google views local as a syndicated service that uses local data stored in and retrieved from a canonical record in their Knowledge Graph. The data that you provide to them is stored in that record along with data that they get fromMapMaker, Community Edits, third party sources, web scrapes of your website etc etc etc.
The data that your provided them may or may not be considered the authoritative data in this scenario and the page that you thought you owned may show data that they think more trustworthy than what you provided.
Google will take any of the authoritative data that they have in this canonical record and show it where they think it makes the most sense. Some will show on the front page of Google search results, some will show on the Google Plus Page for your business, some will show in Maps, some will show Glass. What shows is determined by them.
Moral: Your local data is seen in Google’s main search results seen many orders of magnitude more often than your data shows on any other Google local output. In fact it might be more than the total of all of the other views in their other products and services. Thus you should focus on what your data looks like there.
You own nothing in this environment, least of all “your page” at Google.
But I was just one amongst many. There were also some incredible contributions from
Darren Shaw - Whitespark
Mary Bowling – MaryBowling.com
David Mihm – Moz
Don Campbell – Expand2Web
Greg Gifford – AutoRevo
Andrew Shotland – LocalSEOGuide
Mike Ramsey – NiftyMarketing
Linda Buquet – Local Search Forum
Adam Steele – LeanMarketing
And of course Phil. Regardless of Phil’s incredible command of the grandmother guilt tactic (But it will only take 5 minutes), the article makes for great reading.
When a new social network takes off I inevitably read about how one should abandon (your pick) blogging/website/other social platforms and solely write via the incredible new platform (again you pick) G+, Tumblr, Medium.
I also recently received this comment from am attendee at the last LocalU Advanced after having a correspondence about the importance of a website in local search:
Despite what you say, IF the website is still considered to be important, you my friend do not write about it!
Perhaps I don’t speak of the importance of your website frequently enough or loudly enough. I sometimes get tired of hearing myself talk.
But to both of these commentators I say: Make your website and your blog the center of your marketing strategy and don’t give it up. Be on any and every social platform but use them to build the long term equity of properties that you control. Then you will realize the full potential of online marketing in the local space.
In that vein I have updated my Web Equity Graphic to reflect my view of how a small business should focus their online marketing efforts. Feel free to share this graphic with your colleagues and clients. The embed codes can be found here.
Web Equity by Mike Blumenthal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.blumenthals.com.
Here is my thinking on why I included what I did. I would love your feedback on both the graphic and copy with suggestions for missing pieces and possible improvements.
Even though it seems like summer will never end, September is rapidly approaching and with it the next Local U Advanced. It is being held September 30th in conjunction with SMX in NYC. Ticket sales have been brisk and only 14 remain, so if you are thinking of joining us, you might want to buy your ticket before the end of the early bird pricing on August 24th.
With the LocalU discount code, WS-LUA10, the price is $895 until end of business Saturday at which point it will rise to $985 ($1095 without the code) after that.
Hope to see you there.
Will Google Helpouts replace the
Business Listing Places Page G+Local Page G+ Page for Local as the transaction platform for local commerce?
What is Helpouts you ask? It is a (not so) secret Google project that turns Hangouts into a commerce platform/marketplace “that enables individuals and small and large businesses to buy and sell services via live video”. According to TechCrunch who broke the story last week about the product:
With the capacity to connect merchants and consumers on both an immediate and scheduled basis, .. the platform will allow sellers to .. take advantage of reputation management, scheduling and payment features, while offering robust search and discovery tools for consumers.
Google has also apparently partnered with a number of brands during internal testing, including One Medical Group, Sears, Weight Watchers and Alliance Frances, for example. At launch, the platform will also reportedly include an array of individual merchants and instructors as well, from yoga gurus to fitness teachers — all of whom will be able to offer both free and paid services to consumers via Helpouts.
According to our sources, with Helpouts, Google is looking to remove some of the barriers that have traditionally stood in the way of the seamless delivery of live services. For example, using Helpouts, a Spanish tutor from Argentina could offer language training to students in Japan, while a Yoga instructor in New York would be able to provide classes to a stay-at-home mom in Wyoming and an appliance repair shop could walk a customer through fixing a broken fan in their laptop — with an Internet connection being the only requirement.
Does this product indicate a totally new direction for Google in local? By leveraging their Hangouts product and going after the trainer, consulting, support niche with a marketplace, they are able to refine and develop local tools like scheduling in a market that is underserved while using technology where they have a technical lead (Hangouts). As Ted Paff of Customer Lobby, pointed out, this learning on the part of Google could lead to their very disruptive engagement in a number service businesses that need low cost scheduling and easy to use CRM. This would all be happening on top of G+ and not the local business page.
Update: We have just learned from the folks at Third Door/SMX that we can offer a discount for your admission. The code WS-LUA10 (case-sensitive) provides a 10% discount off prevailing rate.
We just finished up a LocalU Advanced in Seattle and the feedback was great. It seems to early too be talking about the next one but here I am talking about the next one because the early, early bird special is ending in less than a month. Hope to see you there.
September 30th Local University Advanced will be held the day before SMX East 2013 at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC.
Whether you run an agency that serves brick-and-mortar businesses, work in-house for a large brand or Internet Yellow Pages publisher, or are trying to find the hottest opportunity in the bloodiest of all bleeding edges in search marketing, you won’t want to miss Local U East.
||Super Early Bird
Ends Jul 27
7/28 – 8/24
8/25 – 9/30
|With All Access Pass
These sessions will be action-packed, presented at an advanced level and feature ALL of the most up-to-date information about what’s working and what’s not in Local Search Engine Optimization.