SERP climbing for fun and profit
Final DFWSEM meeting of 2015 ends on a high note
This was the last DFWSEM meeting of the year before State of Search, and someone clearly decided to end on a high note. Mike Blumenthal brought out the pre-Halloween tricks and treats that take local SEO from mediocre to magical.
Who’s Mike Blumenthal?
Professor Maps. Local search wizard. The guy who has folks from Google dropping by his office. You know he founded Local U, right? Mike is the guy people mean when they say, “I know a guy.”
Mike’s presentation was on the Google local one box — where does it come from, why does it show, and how can you get one for your business? But before he began, there was some more State of Search news.
SEO, PPC, and BBQ
But y’all, it’s time to talk BBQ.
Every state thinks they have the One True Secret to BBQ. But they’re wrong. Because that state is Texas. And Deep Ellum’s rapidly-becoming-legendary Pecan Lodge is the proof.
Five blocks away from Life in Deep Ellum, where State of Search is hanging its hat, you will find some of the most meltingly beautiful brisket in the known universe. But instead of standing in the line that wraps around the block, DFWSEM announced that with your State of Search pass you’ll be able to pick from a special menu and skip the wait.
(Your State of Search ticket also includes both breakfast and lunch, along with charging stations for your tech toys. Because that’s just logical. You’ve registered, haven’t you?)
Let’s get local
Local BBQ brilliance aside, local search was the focus of the evening. And Mike delivered.
He started out with a little hard-won insight into how Google’s local search algorithm works. When one of your potential customers types in a search query, Google serves up an answer based on three factors:
Factor one, proximity, is beyond the control of your average local business. Either someone is close enough to you that Google thinks you’re in the neighborhood or you’re not. This factor is being refined all the time as cell phones and location services improve. As a result, it’s very unlikely that a local search in Dallas will return results for businesses in Dubai.
Factor two, relevance, is under the control of your average local business. This is where your content comes in. If you’re a burger joint that doesn’t mention burgers on your site…well, you’re not going to be making a lot of extra-cheese-hold-the-pickles for walk-in traffic, because they just won’t find you online.
But what about factor three? Is prominence something a local business can influence? You bet your burger buns it is.
Enter: Project Dive Bar.
— Laurie Shook (@LaurieShook) October 15, 2015
Mike wanted to see just how relevance worked. So he needed a blank slate. A type of business for which there was no established Google category. Being a father of soon-to-be college students, he did the obvious thing. He asked where the best dive bar in town was.
With a little leg work, he found 3rd Base. His goal was to get that elusive SEM dream date — the one box. So he turned to Yelp.
Editor’s note: Neither DFWSEM nor Mike Blumenthal nor the fine people at 3rd Base support or condone fake Yelp listings as a business practice. This experiment was for science.
This bar was the perfect test case. Minimal web presence. So social to speak of. Not even a menu available directly from their site. So it was time to go to work.
By using reviews that mentioned both the business name and the desired category — in this case, “dive bar” — Mike and his shadowy cabal broke 3rd Base into the local search three pack in record time. In fact, it happened faster than expected, evidence that Google is indexing reviews more quickly than before.
It didn’t take long before 3rd Base went all the way to the coveted one box. All through the power of reviews providing that delicious provenance.
— Stephanie Studer (@Editrix_Steph) October 15, 2015
Clearly, Yelp reviews aren’t enough to make sure you dominate your local search results. But like the commercials say, they are part of a healthy breakfast. And they have to hit a few crucial notes to be worthwhile.
First, reviews should mention the business name, but they should also mention the business category. People might not know the name of your business when they search for a dry cleaner or a dog trainer, but they sure know what they want. So encourage your best customers to shout you out by category.
Next, make sure your home page mentions your location! A surprising number of businesses omit this easy step to help rank in local search. “Akron’s favorite banana daiquiri” is punchier for both readers and Google bots than “bar in Ohio.”
Finally, don’t neglect other links. Yelp is great, but forgetting about internet Yellow Pages and other authoritative local sites like free alternative papers and area networks won’t do a local biz any favors.
Next month, instead of a meeting, DFWSEM will be welcoming the best and brightest to State of Search. So get ready, Dallas. Info and intelligence are coming your way. Get your tickets now!
Photos of Mike Blumenthal courtesy of Chris Silver Smith © 2015