LocalU Search Manual Advanced Edition 2019

LocalU Search Manual Advanced Edition 2019
LocalU Search
    Advanced Edition 2019

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.
LocalU Search Manual Advanced Edition 2019
© 2014-2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.
                All Rights Reserved.
Not to be reproduced or reprinted without permission.
LocalU Search Manual Advanced Edition 2019
Table of Contents

     Foreword                               01

     Introduction                          02

     Knowledge Graph                       03

     Keyword Research                    04-06

     Location Data                         07

     Google My Business                  08-09

     Website Optimization                10-12

     Architecture                        13-14

     Reviews                             15-17

     Building Your Brand                 18-20

     Paid Campaigns                      21-22

     Endnotes                              23

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.
LocalU Search Manual Advanced Edition 2019
     LocalU seminars were started to help small businesses market themselves online. The idea grew to include the
     best minds in local search, with appearances at regional conferences to show local businesses why they should
     care about NAP, verify their listing on Google, and invest in a marketing plan to grow their business.

     Shortly after that, the LocalU faculty found marketers wanted more help to address the unique challenges of
     promoting a local business. As a result, the Advanced LocalU seminars were born. Twice a year, the faculty now
     brings new in-depth insights to marketers about the constantly changing local search landscape.

     Personally, I got my start in local when I became frustrated with the healthcare experience while my wife was
     pregnant with our first child. Scheduling medical appointments was a nightmare, and finding information about
     obstetricians near us was difficult at best. I wanted the journey to be much better for patients - and with that in
     mind, the idea for PatientPop was born. Today, the company delivers our practice growth solution to doctors
     across the US, and as part of that solution, we help them effectively build their local presence online.

     I went to my first LocalU conference in Minneapolis, 2015, where I met Mike Blumenthal, who was introduced
     as ‘Professor Maps.’ He became an early advisor to PatientPop, shaping our initial platform vision. Mike then
     introduced me to Joel Headley, who, at the time, was working in search at Google, having previously led the
     operations and support teams for Google My Business. Joel now heads our SEO efforts at PatientPop.

     We’re now honored to host the LocalU faculty for a second time for LocalU Advanced, and I look forward to our
     continued partnership and collaboration across our organizations in years to come.

     Luke Kervin
     Co-CEO, PatientPop
     Santa Monica, CA
     February, 2019

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                     01
LocalU Search Manual Advanced Edition 2019
     Local University covers a range of internet marketing topics, with a focus on Local Search Engine Optimization.
     Simply put, we teach business owners and the agencies that serve them to thrive online. This manual is a
     companion to our Small Business Edition (localu.org/smb), which helps businesses get a head start tackling
     local search topics and activities related to opening a new business, developing a local-ready website, getting
     reviews and citations, creating email and paid marketing campaigns, and tracking success.

     The advanced topics included in this manual touch upon subjects covered in LocalU Advanced seminars, which
     are designed to help SEO experts deepen their understanding of local search challenges and opportunities.

     Local SEO is the art of talking to a machine, usually Google, and coaxing that machine to help your business
     appear more often, and in a better position, in search results. However, you don’t need to approach the task
     strictly from a machine’s perspective. Ideally, think beyond that single outcome to find ways to promote your
     business or client, increase website size, and improve your visibility. Content developed for local SEO can also
     be used for email marketing and social media to further benefit your business.


     Mary Bowling, Ignitor Digital                                Kirby Kushner, PatientPop
     Mike Blumenthal, GatherUp                                    David Mihm, ThriveHive & Tidings
     Jason Brown, Over The Top Marketing &                        Mike Ramsey, Nifty Ventures
     ReviewFraud                                                  Ed Reese, Sixth Man Marketing
     Dana DiTamoso, Kick Point                                    Will Scott, Search Influence & UpScribed
     Joel Headley, PatientPop                                     Darren Shaw, Whitespark
     Carrie Hill, Ignitor Digital                                 Aaron Weiche, GatherUp
     Paula Keller French, Search Influence                        JJ Workman, PatientPop

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                  02
LocalU Search Manual Advanced Edition 2019
Knowledge Graph: Entities and Keywords

     Right now, search involves searching things, not strings. That means your keyword research and content creation
     should take into account not only the keyword relevance of your website, but also how your keywords and
     content represent your local business.

     Technology companies today use entities to organize information and deliver search results. Entities are
     organized into the form of: subject, predicate, and object. For Google, this information is known as the
     Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph uses a subject, object, predicate (S,P,O) format to answer questions.
     A simple relationship may be:

                                                           Tzur Gabi is a dentist.

     Google can evaluate this statement as true or false.

                         Subject                  Predicate           Object               Valid

                         Tzur Gabi                is a                dentist              True

     The Knowledge Graph extends the entity to include                    Google uses these extended relationships to
     multiple relationships.                                              answer questions. The knowledge panel is one of
                                                                          the ways Google organizes much of the information
                                                                          stored in the Knowledge Graph for a local business.
                                             Angeles                      Connecting businesses to potential customers relies
                                   i  n                                   on content that brings the entities together in the
                            a  ted
                         loc                                              Knowledge Graph and answers questions. Your
                                                                          local business can be considered an entity, but so
                                     is a                                 are its categories, location, and services. Each entity
             Tzur Gabi                           Dentist
                                                                          needs to be connected in the Knowledge Graph as
                                  vid                                     Google moves closer to answering questions, and
                                se es t
                                  rvi    h
                                      ce e                                moves away from simply showing links on a Search
                                                                          Engine Results Page (SERP). Marketers who can
                                              Teeth                       help make these connections for Google will be
                                                                          effective regardless of the search surface used —
                                                                          whether through web search, voice search, or maps

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                              03
LocalU Search Manual Advanced Edition 2019
Keyword Research

     Move away from only using keyword research tools                    Also, research the types of results Google returns
     to help increase your business reach and rankings.                  for key terms. Does Google return local results,
     Your primary source for keyword research should                     images, or answer boxes? Do businesses like yours
     come directly from your business and its current                    appear on the first page? If not, consider other
     customers. Use words your customers and clients                     keywords where there’s a likelihood of landing
     use frequently, and answer these questions:                         among similar businesses.

      •   What does your business want to be known for?
      •   How do your customers describe their needs?
                                                                                 Here’s an Example
      •   What are the current search behaviors of your
          prospects and customers?
      •   If you have onsite search, what searches are most                  The SERPs for informational queries about medical
          popular?                                                           conditions, symptoms, and treatments are owned by
                                                                             Google’s most trusted topical sources such as MayoClinic,
      •   Which pages on your site are read the most?                        WebMD, Migraine, Healthlines, etc. So, if you’re in this
                                                                             business, you should only optimize for informational queries
                                                                             specific to your niche, in your location. For instance, if you’re
     Your obvious search terms are the ones most                             an ear, nose, and throat specialist in Dallas, what do people
     likely to have the highest search volume. Typically,                    in that particular city need to know about the cedar pollen
     optimizing for the obvious brand, location, and                         there?

     category (each its own entity) in local search will
                                                                             Keyword research can be a deep and distracting black hole.
     cover the majority of key or head terms. Focus on                       Know when to stop, and remember that keyword research
     these entities to naturally help you explore related                    is only as valuable as the content you actually develop and
     terms and expand the content menu. By including                         publish. Therefore, you can take an iterative approach to
     related terms in content, performance for the head                      research and content development, and discover what is
                                                                             likely to help your site perform better over time.
     terms improves.

     After researching, organize search terms in a meaningful way:

      •   Create groups of closely related terms
      •   Create groups of keywords that answer the same question or a set of closely related questions
      •   Note groups of search terms where new content and pages are needed for your business
      •   Don’t disregard low search volume terms (they can still be valuable)

     Keyword research will help inform your website navigation structure and primary pages, and keyword use
     within your website content. Low search volume terms can still be sprinkled through relevant pages, or used as
     internal link text and alt image text.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                                    04
LocalU Search Manual Advanced Edition 2019
Keyword Research

     Google Trends
     Use Google Trends to see the relative popularity of entities, topics and search terms.

     The Topic Layer in the Knowledge Graph groups                       Search trends are available for YouTube, Images,
     everything related within your website content                      News and Shopping, and the Web. Use related
     into a single topic with related subtopics. Google                  topics and queries to mine for additional keywords
     has just begun offering immersive experiences in                    to target, paying attention to rising terms showing
     search and Google Discover as a result of the Topic                 upward changes in search traffic.
     Layer, which often provides the context needed to
     determine searcher intent.                                          Google Trends can help you determine if your local
                                                                         business is a recognized entity in the Knowledge
     All topics are also search terms. So, topics and                    Graph. The ‘compare’ function of Trends tracks the
     entities will likely provide the biggest buckets of                 relative popularity of an entity or topic, allowing you
     terms to kickstart your research. Start with topic                  to track the relative popularity of your business and
     research and keep digging into additional topics                    competitors over time.
     and subtopics, as needed. Google Trends already
     defines searches as topics, search terms (i.e.,
     keywords), or entities.

                                                                         Example of Compare: The relative popularity of two local entities,
                                                                         Shamsah Amersi, MD and Caroline Colin, MD. Up to five search
                                                                         terms can be compared.

     Search terms and Topics are labeled in Google Trends while listed
     locations, books, and people are entities in the Knowledge Graph.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                                        05
LocalU Search Manual Advanced Edition 2019
Keyword Research

     Keyword Planner
     Use Keyword Planner to see search volume and the relative difficulty of ranking for a term.

     Keyword Planner is a simple way to get a sense of
     search volume for a particular term, or the relative
     difficulty of ranking for that term. Keyword Planner                     Useful Tools
     buckets keywords into broad volume groups — but
     note that the specific volumes should be taken with                     Google Trends
     a grain of salt.
                                                                             Explore how Google data can be used to tell stories. Explore
                                                                             the year through the lens of Google Trends data.
     Get search volumes and forecasts will allow you to
     compare impressions, cost, average position, and                        Google Ads Keyword Planner
     typical click-through rates. ‘Impressions’ identify                     https://ads.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/
                                                                             Google Ads Keyword Planner is a keyword research tool
     opportunity while ‘cost’ determines difficulty. Higher-
                                                                             that allows you to find the right keywords to target for
     cost search terms are generally more competitive                        display ads, search ads, video ads, and app ads.
     and can be more difficult to rank for in organic
     search.                                                                 Moz Keyword Explorer

     Try the following when using Keyword Planner:                           SEM Rush

      •   Set Keyword Planner to search closely related terms.               Keyword.io
      •   Use filters to sort by search volume and keyword                   https://www.keyword.io/
      •   In the filters, remove the ‘adult’ filter, since many              Answer the Public
          medical and legal terms will trip it.                              https://answerthepublic.com/
      •   Enter a website page URL to see what terms Google
          thinks an individual page is about and which terms                 Buzzsumo
          are related to the page. This is useful for competitor             https://buzzsumo.com/
          research, too.
      •   Search your brand’s name to learn which terms
          Google Keyword Planner suggests. This will enable
          you to discover gaps in Google’s knowledge about
          the entity.

                                       Adding new keywords to existing content can get
                                       4x more impressions on Google.1

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                                  06
Location Data

     Managing locations entails managing information across multiple publishers and partners, and on your
     business website. An agency that oversees many small businesses, each with its own website, is likely to take
     a distinct approach from overseeing many locations for a separate brand. Recently, Google My Business made
     agency management a feature, not a side effect. So, an agency should migrate its managed listings to the new

     The agency dashboard provides a key benefit: the listing is managed by the agency as an entity, instead of
     individuals within the company. Locations can be added to location groups, which is the only entity transparent to
     other users added to the listing. Location groups within the agency dashboard can be managed by users in the
     same domain or entire user groups. Turnover, or assignment changes, are opaque to the customer, simplifying
     the exchange of invites and users assigned to any individual listing.

     Citations                                                    would otherwise be difficult to update. The legal
                                                                  profession has vertical-specific publishers that
     In the past, citations were a straightforward way            those in the legal industry will want to include in the
     to stand out in search results. Today, citations are         management software, too.
     necessary, but not sufficient enough to stand out
     from other businesses. This is likely the result of the      As you approach location data management, ensure
     proliferation of citation management tools and the           you’ve considered:
     awareness among local businesses that they need
     to maintain a consistent name, address, and phone             •   Website management
     number (NAP) across the web.                                      • The need for updates to a large corporate site
                                                                       • Management of many websites, each with a
                                                                         handful of locations
     When choosing a citation tool for your business,
                                                                   •   Citation management
     focus on the capabilities of the platform along with
                                                                       • Automated vs. manual updates
     any vertical-specific opportunities unique to your
                                                                       • Build vs. buy
     strategy. Yext not only delivers citation management,         •   Publisher diversity
     but can also create local landing pages that might                • Niche-specific sites
     work well for large enterprises, where local data                 • Local-specific sites
     managers don’t usually have direct access to edit
     the corporate website.
                                                                  Brand Building
     Additionally, a business that has locations outside
                                                                  Ultimately, creating or updating citations is a brand-
     the U.S. might require selection of a system that
                                                                  building exercise. The citations most likely to move
     can accommodate international publishers. For
                                                                  the needle for search presence are hyper-local and
     healthcare, choosing the right partner can provide
                                                                  niche-specific. For more on how to partner to build a
     immediate access to healthcare platforms that
                                                                  brand online, see the brand-building section.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                      07
Google My Businness

     Google My Business (GMB) basic setup and optimization is covered in detail in the Small Business Edition (localu.
     org/smb). In this manual, we’ll touch on some of the high level issues. For an in-depth view of local search,
     especially on Google, check out the Experts Guide to Local SEO: https://localu.org/experts-guide-local-seo/.

     Google regularly increases the number of attributes available in GMB. Sometimes attributes appear first in
     Google Maps. While not every attribute is immediately used in search, attributes can impact customer decisions
     and conversions. Also, as the data for particular attributes becomes available, user-selected filters can be
     applied, as is the case with ‘wheelchair accessible entrance.’

                                                                 Listing Updates
                                                                 Frequently, and seemingly at random, updates
                                                                 can happen to your listing. These updates happen
                                                                 without notice and can drastically change your
                                                                 ranking if name or category changes are applied.
                                                                 Getting to the source of the changes is necessary
                                                                 to ensure your listing remains published properly.
                                                                 The top culprits for the cause of these updates can

                                                                 A third-party app that updates the listing via
                                                                 the GMB API
                                                                 To find out if another app has access to your listing,
                                                                 check which apps have been given permission to
                                                                 your Google Account at https://myaccount.google.
                                                                 com/permissions. Browse under Third-party apps
                                                                 with account access, which labels apps that have
     The primary attributes that should be added to a            access to View and manage your business listing
     location are the additional URLs associated with            on Google. Revoke permissions to any unauthorized
     menus, services, bookings, or ordering. Because             or unwanted app, and it will no longer be able to
     those links shorten conversion steps, there can be          update the listing.
     an incremental increase to bookings, for example.
     Additionally, where appropriate, filling out more
     detailed service menus permits users to make
     conversion decisions directly on Google.                                                   (continued on next page)

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                     08
Google My Businness

     Another manager makes direct edits                          Phone calls are only measured on mobile devices
                                                                 where a user touches the phone number to bring up
     Recognize that various users may be able to make
                                                                 their dialer. To get precise numbers on anyone calling
     edits to your listing. If your listing is associated with
                                                                 from the listing, use a call tracking number.
     an organization that no longer works with your
     business, remove the organization. Also, remove
                                                                 Click tracking isn’t granular to all the URLs available to
     any names you don’t recognize or trust to keep your
                                                                 business categories. Tracking URLs should be used on
     business information accurate.
                                                                 the authority page (your primary website) along with
                                                                 different tracking for your menu or services / products
     Any user of Google Search or Google Maps
                                                                 URLs — or your order, reservations, or booking URLs.
     with a Google account
                                                                 Using Google Analytics, the tracking URL for a menu
     While it may feel like a violation of trust for the         might look like www.yourbusiness.com/menu?utm_
     business owner, Google needs to get feedback from           source=gmb_menu&utm_medium=Organic.
     various channels to keep listing information up-to-
     date. As a result, users can suggest edits to your
     listing. Depending on the type of edit and the edit
     history of the user, the edit may be accepted quickly            Useful Tools
     or sent for further review by a Google moderation
     team. While pending edits don’t appear in GMB,                 Google My Business
     you can see them in search. So, you should monitor             https://www.google.com/business/
                                                                    Your free Business Profile on Google My Business helps
     and reject any inaccurate edits before they are
                                                                    you reach and engage with local customers across Google
     published, when possible.                                      Search and Maps.

     Insights and Tracking
     GMB provides a dashboard with insights about how
     your business performs in local search results. It
     includes impressions, clicks, actions, and search
     terms. There are a few things to remember about
     this data:
                                                                           Complete and accurate business
                                                                        profiles on Google are 2.7x more likely
     Clicks, impressions, and actions are always an
                                                                          to be considered, receive 7x more
     undercount, because Google usually doesn’t show
     data that could be attributed to an individual user.                 clicks, and are 70% more likely to
     For instance, a single ‘driving directions’ request                         attract location visits.2
     from one postal code won’t be reported.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                    09
Website Optimization

     Keyword research informs the development of website structure and content — the heart of website optimization.
     When choosing what to invest in, keyword research should have you viewing search results on Google, both on
     desktop and mobile. Google has a number of search features beyond links to pages on a website. For instance,
     answer boxes, events, and immersive experiences can all be impacted by proper website optimization.

     Structured Data                                            Search Features
     In its earliest form, structured data held the basic       Rich Results
     HTML elements of headers and paragraph tags.
                                                                For local businesses, the most typical form of rich
     Markup fundamentally tells machines how to
                                                                results is a review-rich snippet, in which stars,
     interpret content, and HTML is primarily for a web
                                                                aggregate rating, and review count (or votes) appear
     browser, like Chrome or Safari. However, it is clear
                                                                as part of the snippet in the SERP.
     that other programs can take advantage of more
     structure to drive features. Maps can use addresses
     and Contacts can consume information in virtual
     business cards. Primarily, we focus on what a search
     engine consumes and uses to drive search features.

     Structured data can be broken down in two parts:

       •   Vocabulary: The system of tags that define
       •   Encoding (language): The way those tags are marked
           up for machine consumption.                          Other rich results can include rich cards, which
                                                                appear in courses, jobs, and recipes as either lists or
     While there are some lingering vocabularies —              carousels.
     like Facebook’s Open Graph — which can be
     implemented on sites, Schema.org is the most
     current and widely used vocabulary on the web.
     Also, JSON-LD is the most straightforward way
     to encode content on a website. Ultimately, we
     recommend relying primarily on Schema.org and
     JSON-LD to markup sites with structured data.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                    10
Website Optimization

     Featured Snippets                                              Images and Videos

     When Google can find answers to questions that                 Often, appearing in carousels, images and videos
     aren’t available in the Knowledge Graph, a featured            can provide searches that are categorical in nature,
     snippet will be highlighted at the top of the page.            reaching searchers who wouldn’t typically search
     Featured snippets can include lists and tables, but            for a local business. Images and videos are a great
     shouldn’t be confused with answer boxes, which                 way to increase awareness and introduce a local
     are answers from the Knowledge Graph and lack                  business through a different medium.
     attribution (e.g. [what time is it in hawaii] or [how tall
     is steph curry]).

     Semantic Markup does not guarantee a featured
     snippet. The most trusted, highest-quality answer is
     likely to get the snippet.

       •   Question & Answer formats work well.
       •   Answer each question thoroughly in about 60 words
           right after each question.
       •   The use of  and  can help boost your content
           eligibility to show a featured snippet.
       •   List more than 10 items to try to get the ‘more’ link,
           thereby encouraging click through.
       •   Use the SEMRush position tracking tool to see which
           keywords generate snippets.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                     11
Website Optimization

     Onsite Opportunities                                          Video

     Events                                                         •   If you run a business with individual agents or
                                                                        practitioners, introduce new customers to them. This is
     Events can show up in the knowledge panel or                       particularly helpful for practitioners who have diverse
     as lists in search. Using proper markup increases                  backgrounds or hard-to-pronounce names.
     search real estate, too.                                       •   Mark up video with semantic markup to ensure Google
                                                                        understands the structure of your video — e.g. how long
                                                                        it is, how old it is, what it is about, and what thumbnail
       •   Use Event Markup: https://schema.org/Event.
                                                                        you want used to represent the video.
       •   Events can include seminars, panel discussions, open
                                                                    •   Include a transcript. Don’t assume Google is going
           houses, or meet-and-greet gatherings.
                                                                        to understand your video content. Instead, serve it to
       •   Get creative! Participate in a parade, perform
                                                                        Google on a silver platter.
           professional screenings or consultations at the local
                                                                    •   Embed your video on pages that are related to the
           YMCA, or get involved in other community events.
                                                                        video topic. A video can be shown on multiple pages.
       •   Events are news and can be used in other marketing
           initiatives including social media, email marketing,
                                                                    •   Never use autoplay, as it degrades the user experience.

           company announcements / media relations, and so
           on.                                                     Note that Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT)
                                                                   displays what Google thinks about your structured
                                                                   data, but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of correct
     Q&A Page
                                                                   markup. The tool checks to confirm you have sufficient
       •   Use the Q&A page markup: https://schema.org/
                                                                   markup for features that Google displays in search
                                                                   results. It generally doesn’t show the latest content
       •   Add one question per page with multiple answers
           — this increases your opportunity for in-depth FAQ      from Schema.org. If you see errors or warnings in
           explanations.                                           the SDTT, check your markup for mistakes. Then,
       •   Use a single FAQ page which links to a full page with   if you need help, reach out to the semantic search
           more specific questions and answers.                    community on Twitter or the Schema Working Group.
       •   Avoid using accordion menus.
       •   Use internal linking to related content or other
           mentions of the topic.
       •   Poll your phone/customer service staff to find out            Useful Tools
           what questions are asked frequently, so you can
           create more relevant Q&A content.
                                                                        Structured Data Testing

                                     Pages with rich snippets (stars from reviews) improve
                                     their click-through rate by more than 200%.3

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                               12

     Entities can be used to group and organize the content on your site, where the architecture should include
     navigation and internal linking. Both are valuable mechanisms to signal to Google what’s important content.
     Through the Knowledge Graph, Google understands entity relationships. Making these relationships explicit
     through site architecture helps Google put these pieces together from your website content.

     Using the example search [best rhinoplasty doctor], Google likely processes the information in the following way.

       •   Finds the entities:
           • Doctor
           • Specialty: plastic surgeon
           • Location
           • Services: rhinoplasty, nose job
           • Person

       •   Defines the relationships among the
           • The Knowledge Graph links entities.
           • Crawled content validates if entity
             relationships are true or false.
           • Synonyms are found for related or
             additional content (e.g. rhinoplasty
             and nose job).

       •   Finds the prominence of the entities:
           • Number of reviews
                                                        Google then displays the results based on the scoring of the
           • Number of links / citations
           • Known accreditations / credentials
           • Number of visitors to the location

       •   Finds the relevance of the entities:
           • Query matching the entity
           • Entity relationships with other entities
             that match the query

       •   Calculates the distance from the
           searcher’s location

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                   13

     Cross Linking                                             Site Consolidation
     Entities on a website should interlink to show their      For enterprise SEO, we often run across
     relationships. For instance, a page about plastic         opportunities to consolidate multiple websites (i.e.
     surgery should link to a page about rhinoplasty. A        one website per location) into one large website
     page about rhinoplasty should link to a page about        with topics and supporting links that lend more
     the location where that rhinoplasty is performed.         power to the individual location pages.

     Consider cross linking (or internal linking) as a         Merging multiple location-specific domains into
     roadmap of relationships between entities. For            one website that has multiple location-specific
     instance, for medical practices, this allows Google       pages has many benefits, including cost savings.
     to draw relationships between doctors, services,          Marketing for, optimizing, and linking to one website
     locations, related services, alternative services,        is much easier to accomplish than performing these
     different names of services, etc.                         activities for multiple website domains.

       •   Doctor                                              One Domain Pros
           • Performs plastic surgery
              • Performs rhinoplasty
                                                                •   One domain with multiple location pages is inherently
                                                                    more powerful than 50 domains with two to three
           • Performs injections
              • Injections of botox
                                                                •   It limits duplicate or similar content across domains.
       •   Location
                                                                •   One domain links nearby locations.
           • Has doctors
                                                                •   You only have to build links to one site or domain.
           • Has services
                                                                •   It’s easier to optimize and monitor one domain vs
       •   Service
                                                                    multiple domains.
           • Has locations
           • Has doctors
                                                               One Domain Cons
       •   Person
           • At location                                        •   No ‘exact match’ domains.
           • Performs services

     Reminders for internal linking:
       •   Do not rely solely on navigation and footer links
           for internal linking.
       •   Link related pages of content to each other.
       •   Avoid linking to anything offsite.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                       14

     Reviews are a major ranking factor. When you have more reviews and a better rating than your competitors, this
     will help increase your website traffic and turn prospects into customers. For new businesses, getting current,
     happy customers to share their positive experiences online is a tried-and-true method for growth. In our Small
     Business Edition of this manual (localu.org/smb), we emphasize the need to have a plan around growing review
     volume, responding to reviewers, and adjusting your business practices based on feedback.

     Identify Fake Reviews
     A word of caution: there are some businesses and marketing agencies that invest heavily in review solicitation
     that sometimes includes illegitimate review generation. Knowing how to spot, report, and remove fake reviews
     can reduce competition from bad actors, and allow your prospects to digest real reviews on Google, Yelp, and

     The easy way to spot and identify a fake review is to look at the review profile. Review profiles generally contain
     a username, profile photo, and a list of reviews.4 The reviewer might be a spammer if:

       •   They leave multiple reviews in different states for similar services.
       •   Their profile photo looks fake.
       •   The review has duplicate content.
       •   The photos included with the review aren’t original.
       •   A large number of reviews were added in a short period of time.

     Also, if you find one reviewer who is a spammer on a single listing, chances are there will be additional spammer
     reviews on that same profile. To check the profile image, perform a reverse image search on the profile photo to
     find out whether it is unique or used frequently elsewhere. In some cases, image search will identify the name
     of the person in the image. To check the content of a review, search the full text of the review on Google — you
     might find the same review posted multiple times.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                     15

     Report Google Reviews
     If you find a business with fake reviews, document and report the reviews to Google. It isn’t sufficient to report
     the reviews one-by-one through Google’s reporting functionality. Instead, you’ll need to use the Google My
     Business Community to escalate the reviews.

       It’s not enough to report fake reviews using the “Flag as inappropriate” feature. You’ll need to turn to the Google My Business Community.

     Before reporting on the community, create a Google Doc and list:

       •   Name, address, phone number, and website of the business with the fake reviews.
       •   A link to each suspect review.
       •   A short explanation noting why you believe the reviews are suspicious.

     To escalate the reviews to Google, you can submit a post on the Spam & Policy discussion category or contact
     Google My Business support through Facebook or Twitter.

     Keep in mind when escalating in the community that you’re communicating with volunteers, not Google
     employees. So, please remain patient, polite, and professional. It can take time to for a Product Expert to see the
     thread, and up to two weeks for Google to take action.

     You may want to create an alias to protect your identity from the business or marketing company you are
     reporting, because there have been instances of retaliation.

     If you do contact Google My Business support directly through Twitter or Facebook, you can communicate
     privately with a Google employee via direct message, and explain why you believe the reviews should be
     removed. Note that those channels still need to contact a separate team for review removal, which doesn’t have
     an immediate turnaround, so patience is still required.

     In rare circumstances, sometimes a business can become the subject of a negative media story, inciting the ire
     of an online community and causing a rapid succession of negative reviews to appear on the business listing. In
     this instance, the business can contact the Google My Business support team directly to ask Google to stop all
     reviews on the listing until the news cycle changes.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                                              16

     Report Yelp Reviews
     On Yelp, we frequently see questionable photos            Useful Tools
     posted with reviews. Home improvement
     companies, for instance, can have photos copied          Google My Business Community, Spam & Policy
     from other websites, which is detectable using           https://www.en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Spam-Policy/
     reverse image search. If you identify a situation
                                                              Whether you’re new to Google My Business or an expert,
     like this, flag the profile and photo, and detail the    your voice matters. Join the community to connect with
     violation that justifies removal.                        business owners and product experts.

                                                              Google My Business on Twitter
                                                              The latest Tweets from Google My Business
                                                              (@GoogleMyBiz) Support.

                                                              Google My Business on Facebook
                                                              The official channel for information and updates from the
                                                              Google My Business team.

                                                              Support Center | Yelp for Business Owners
     If the business has several fake reviews, create a       Support Center. Call (844) 889-3486 9 am - 5 pm PST.

     document with the details, and link to it when filling
     out the contact form to report a business.

     Report Facebook Reviews
                                                                    86% of consumers read reviews for
     Facebook has removed the ability to flag and
     report individual reviews. To report fake reviews,             local businesses (including 95% of
     you’ll need to report the user profile that created                    people age 18-34).5
     the review. While viewing the user profile, select
     the three-dot menu under the user’s cover photo.
     Select Give feedback or report this profile > Fake

                                                                  By following these tactics, over three
                                                                    million fake 4-star ratings posted
                                                                  by 37 reviewers were escalated and
                                                                          removed by Google.6

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                    17
Building Your Brand

     When we talk about building your local brand online, we often think about link building and citation building.
     However, link building isn’t simply about adding a link to your website from any site that will allow it. Brand
     building is about taking relationships that exist in the real world and making them apparent online. You can
     also extend those relationships to online sources, including market or category-specific directories. Instead of
     commenting on blogs, focus on building relationships with businesses that are willing to showcase your brand
     alongside theirs.

     The goal of brand building is to attract more people and prospects to your business. You can spread the word by
     growing your reviews, links, citations, and individuals on your email list.

     Ultimately, the combination of visibility and reputation determines your brand presence. Cable companies, for
     instance, have high visibility but poor reputations; conversely, the corner cafe may have a great reputation but
     low visibility. Every effort to build visibility should have an online component and a plan. True brand building can
     only work via a partnership with each individual business, and each successful partnership can drive benefits to
     your business.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                      18
Building Your Brand

     Benefits                                                Brand Building Tactics
     Ranking                                                 Make real-world connections
     Links have always helped websites rank better in        When building your brand, take the extra steps to
     Google organic search results. In the past few years,   ensure your efforts are reflected online. Typical online
     links have also gained considerable and irrefutable     marketing tactics may include:
     influence with local search rankings. High rankings,
     as noted, are one of the best ways for small             •   Referring partners

     businesses to gain online visibility.                    •   Promoting professional networking
                                                              •   Listing vendors and suppliers
                                                              •   Showing active volunteerism in your community
     Overall Visibility                                       •   Sponsoring local events via grants or individuals via
     Links to your website and mentions of your business          scholarships
     (i.e. citations) on other websites are a
     proven way to increase your overall online visibility   Upgrade current mentions
     because they establish a presence across
                                                             Find all of the current links to your domain. Ensure
     more places where prospects are likely to look for
                                                             they link properly to live pages, and replace links that
     your products and services.
                                                             land on 404 or 301 pages. Additionally, recognize that
                                                             anchor text and content on third-party sites can be
     Good Community Karma                                    improved. When third-party sites display attributes
     Links and mentions can serve as visible online          about your business (e.g. payment methods), ensure
     evidence that you support your community by             the details are up-to-date.
     sponsoring local groups and events, donating
     resources to area nonprofits, or volunteering your      Perform a brand search, excluding your website:
     services to benefit your city, town, or neighborhood.   [brand_name -site:www.brandsite.com]. Also, find sites
                                                             that mention your brand, but don’t currently link to
                                                             your website.

                                                             Use the Moz Link Explorer to find current links that
                                                             need improvement, and compare those results to the
                                                             Google search for mentions that don’t have links.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                    19
Building Your Brand

     Add links based on current relationships
     The products you offer, brand you convey, and referral relationships you have built should all be expressed
     online. Work with your partners and vendors to define your relationship on their sites, whenever possible.

     Build new relationships
       •   Start memberships in local business groups and industry groups. Join appropriate
           local and professional associations to anchor your business to your geography and
       •   Include listings on local and hyperlocal websites. Get listed on sites associated
           with cities, towns and neighborhoods where you’d like to draw in more customers.
       •   Aim for ‘barnacle’ SEO. Sites that already rank well for a desired term are a great
           target for links related to your business.
       •   Promote features that make your business special. Take advantage of any
           characteristics that entitle your business to be listed in niche directories, like
           veteran-owned businesses, pet-friendly eateries or handicapped-accessible stores.

            Useful Tools

           Moz Link Explorer
           Get to know this all-in-one link building tool. Link Explorer replaces Open Site Explorer with a new set of link analysis
           and competitive research tools.

                                     Given the first ten pages appearing in organic results
                                     on Google, 30% of the total referring domains point
                                     to position one.7

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                                 20
Paid Campaigns

     To get started in paid campaigns, check out our Small Business Edition guide (localu.org/smb). While simple paid
     campaigns like Google AdWords Express can jump start a new or struggling business, they are often more costly
     than steady investments in your brand, website, and local presence when you want to gain leads through organic

     To realize a return on investment, it’s important to understand your complete customer lifecycle and have clear
     revenue goals. Marketers initially tend to think mostly about cost per lead when using paid campaigns. However,
     the ratio of lifetime value (LTV) to customer acquisition cost (CAC) paints a broader and more accurate picture
     of the full value of campaigns. LTV is the monthly recurring revenue of a customer divided by the monthly churn
     (number of customers who stop using and paying for products / services). CAC is the total cost of a marketing
     and sales campaign divided by the number of customers acquired by that campaign.

     An LTV to CAC ratio of 3:1 is good, while a ratio of 5:1 suggests an under investment in your marketing and sales
     spend. You can use the LTV to CAC ratio to justify additional marketing and sales spend, or to refocus your efforts

     Constant Testing                                             Facebook Targeting
     Use A/B testing from the start of your campaigns             Location targeting on Facebook can turn local
     to optimize your ad spend and improve lead                   events into inexpensive ad buys. A pin drop in
     generation. After finding a creative concept and             Facebook allows you to target the right place
     campaign that works, test it as your champion                across specific demographics. For instance, a
     against another challenger creative campaigns to             restaurant business that’s open late may want to
     continually build on your initial success. When you          target a theater nearby just as its show ends. Or, the
     create and test three or more ads per ad group,              restaurant may want to advertise in the area around
     you’ll gain even more insight about what performs            a competitor’s business (but not at the competitor’s
     best.                                                        exact location).

                                                                  You can also use your current customer list to build
     Focused Acquisition
                                                                  similar audiences to grow your newsletter. If you
     Paid campaigns, unlike organic search, allow                 want people to drop in to your business location,
     focused spend. Ads should target lead generation,            use dayparting (displaying ads only at certain times
     and help drive sales. Avoid social ads that merely           of day) to ensure ads run during business hours.
     promote ‘likes.’ Always use ad spend to get direct
     conversions or develop a broader audience. For
     example, you can use social ads to build your email

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                     21
Paid Campaigns

    Scaling                                                    Agency and Enterprise
    The goal of every campaign is to find appropriate          As the number of campaigns you oversee grows
    traction between your offer and your audience in           beyond what you can reasonably manage on the
    a minimally viable way. Validate hypotheses with           native ads platform alone, explore tools for automation
    the simplest acceptable campaign structure and as          and aggregation with ad tech platforms. Examine each
    little budget possible to reach a sample size large        platform against the dimensions that matter most to
    enough to ensure the conclusions are relevant.             your business. Review the following when assessing
                                                               an ad tech platform:
    Once you’ve cleared this hurdle, and know that
    there is traction between your offer, creative,
                                                                •   Onboarding and account creation efficiencies
                                                                •   Automation for ongoing management
    messaging and conversion mechanisms, it’s time to
                                                                •   Reporting aggregate and by specific client
    scale your efforts. CAC is a function of your Cost per
                                                                •   Cost structure and impact on your margins
    Acquisition (CPA) or Cost per Conversion (CPC). In
                                                                •   Required changes to current operations or campaigns
    paid search, push campaigns that have strong CPA                to migrate and scale the platform
    metrics to approach 100% Search Impression Share.           •   Headcount impact to manage operations with growth
    In the display space, increase your reach to the            •   Implementation costs, including time and technical
    greatest extent while also maintaining acceptable               resources
                                                               Ad tech platforms can provide significant value if you
    For paid search, scaling is generally a function           find the best fit for your needs. Ultimately, an ad tech
    of increased budget and geographic targeting.              platform will require a restructure of your operations
    Upon capturing the available inventory within              and ongoing technical maintenance, but will help scale
    your addressable geography, explore additional             ads.
    keywords and measure their ability to produce an
    acceptable CPA.

    In display, scaling is a function of increasing
    audience size by:

      •   Expanding geography
      •   Adding new audiences (using Lookalike audiences)             80% of consumers want search
      •   Adjusting targeted attributes and demographics              ads customized to their immediate
    When creating new audiences, look at the audience
    attributes that historically correlate with conversions.
    Build audiences to grow the number of people
    within your target pool that possess those attributes.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                    22
     1 “Beyond Keyword Research: Optimize for Relevancy with Proof Terms.” 28 Feb. 2017, https://www.slideshare.net/
     searchinfluence/beyond-keyword-research-optimize-for-relevancy-with-proof-terms. Accessed Jan. 2019.

     2 “Optimize Your Google Business Listing (and Get 7x More Visits ....” 20 Nov. 2018, https://thrivehive.com/how-to-optimize-
     your-google-my-business-listing/. Accessed Jan. 2019.

     3 “Understanding Your Presence on Google.” 12 Apr. 2018, LocalU Advanced, Austin

     4 Note: Google has recently allowed reviewers to hide their reviews, making this assessment more difficult.

     5 “Local Consumer Review Survey | Online Reviews Statistics & Trends.” https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-
     review-survey/. Accessed Jan. 2019.

     6 “Massive fake review attack has big impact on small businesses ....” https://searchengineland.com/massive-fake-review-
     attack-has-big-impact-on-small-businesses-309255. Accessed Jan. 2019.

     7 “We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results. Here’s ... - Backlinko.” https://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking.
     Accessed Jan. 2019.

     8 “Going Local: How Advertisers Can Extend ....” https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/advertising-channels/search/how-advertis-
     ers-can-extend-their-relevance-with-search/. Accessed Jan. 2019.

© 2019 LocalU Marketing Seminars, LLC.                                                                                              23
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