Attendees left with real-world examples and solutions for local search domination
We featured Local University at the beginning of the month, stating that it was going to be the hottest digital marketing event this side of State of Search — and it did not disappoint! I had the distinct pleasure of attending the all day event, and the sheer levels of intelligence in the room and on the stage were incredible.
— Will Scott (@w2scott) October 15, 2015
You had to think fast and take good notes as the six presenters — Willys DeVoll, Paul Sherland, Mary Bowling, Will Scott, Aaron Weiche, and Mike Blumenthal — all rotated throughout the day to deliver nearly a dozen presentations designed to give attendees the knowledge and tools to boost their digital marketing strategies.
Aaron Weiche kicked things off with an introduction that covered all the bases of SEO and local search to make sure we were all on the same page. Then he dove into a killer presentation about creating your digital identity and designing a website that plays nice with Google thus making your customers happy.
Mary Bowling followed up with a presentation that focused on the basics of search engine optimization, and what you can do to give your site a boost in local search. She also stressed the importance of SEO, reminding everyone that search engines want to provide the most useful answers for searchers. Mary cautiously reminded those of us who own a business or work in an agency that it’s 100% our responsibility to make sure our site has those answers.
— Timothy Huneycutt (@Timotheous128) October 15, 2015
After those two sessions, Local U hosted the first Q&A of the day which gave the audience a chance to pick the minds of the speakers in the room.
Willys DeVoll of Google took the stage to give his presentation, but we can’t talk about it because it was top-secret Google information.
— Greg Gifford (@GregGifford) October 15, 2015
Mike Blumenthal then brought the heat in an expanded, much more in-depth presentation than what he delivered at DFWSEM. He focused on the “four pillars of success for ranking in local search” — that is, accuracy, relevance, conversion, and prominence. His emphasis was on Google Maps, and he gave specific, easy to implement strategies to improve your business’ rankings in local search.
After another Q/A session and a quick break, Blumenthal returned to talk about customer reviews and reputation management. He dropped some astounding stats: did you know there’s a 360% increase in click-thru rate, and a 144% increase in directions requests when searches see reviews from Google? He helped the audience understand why customers leave reviews in the first place.
Will Scott, a popular Search Engine Land author and subject matter expert of local search, followed Blumenthal with a powerhouse presentation on social media, and why you need to be using it. If you want to be successful on social media, you need to channel the mindset of your ideal customer, and then focus your goals and target your messaging at them. It takes work, but with more and more people using the Internet to find local businesses, it’s important to be where your customers are.
Bowling then returned after a third Q&A and a delicious lunch break to talk about growing your business with email marketing, which has the best ROI of any form of online marketing. It has 4x the ROI of direct mail marketing, and it averages an $87 return on every dollar spent, and Bowling delivered a ton of expert advice on how to make the most of your email marketing efforts.
Another important aspect of digital marketing that too many people overlook is using video for local SEO. Paul Sherland addressed the issue with his signature cowboy hat and made the case that video can feed your need for great and compelling content. Video can be easily re-purposed across a host of different channels, ranging from your website to your social media accounts — just be sure to put your contact info in your video descriptions!
— Paul Sherland (@ixbrandseo) October 16, 2015
Will Scott returned to talk about all things Google Analytics. He walked the audience step-by-step on how to use the platform, cited specific examples, and explained why it’s important to pay attention to your stats. You never know when Google is going to change something, so you have to stay on top of your site to make sure it’s performing as well as possible — and if it’s not, then you’ll know you need to fix something.
— Aaron Weiche (@AaronWeiche) October 15, 2015
The final Q&A session of the day generated a lot of chatter from curious minds. Aaron Weiche wrapped up the presentations with an excellent overview of internet marketing for the “Do-It-Yourselfers” in the audience. He covered a lot of ground, but the key focus was: if you have no budget and lots of time, do it yourself; if you have no time but lots of budget, hire a professional.
After the final presentation, the audience split up, with some attendees leaving to go to a “Meet with Google” session, while the rest stayed for live site clinics from the group of speakers. It was a really great experience for everyone who stayed, because we got to see a lot of what had been discussed throughout the day in action. Special thanks to the Dallas Better Business Bureau, SMU Plano, and DFWSEM for bringing this event to Dallas.
Case in point: Local U at SMU in Plano was a smashing success. Everyone in attendance left with a packet of resources to sustain their digital marketing efforts, and access to the slides that all the presenters used (expect for DeVoll’s secret Google presentation). It was a great learning experience that I’m glad I got to attend — but if you didn’t get to go, don’t worry! There’s another great digital marketing conference right around the corner that you don’t want to miss.
There are less than 100 tickets left for this year’s State of Search conference, so if you’re putting off purchasing yours, stop what you’re doing and register now! With the great venue and two-days’ worth of the amazing speakers, it’s going to be the digital marketing event of the year.
And thanks to Local University for coming out to Dallas this year! It was a day of learning that will not be soon forgotten, and we hope to see Local U return to Dallas again in the future.