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Local Search Marketing Takeaways from the Twin Cities Local U

Local Search Marketing Seminar in the Twin Cities

The recent Local University marketing workshop held here in the Twin Cities had a line up of local search marketing speakers that was by far and away the most proficient local SEM panel ever assembled. Ever. Being a search engine marketer myself, whom works on many local and small business campaigns, I thought I would share some of the little local gems and actionable items that I took away from the event.

WebRanking helps Local University in a small way at the seminar in Minnesota - David Mihm on right

WebRanking loves getting involved with great organizations like Local University

Disclaimer: The following is not intended to supplement or replace the information that can be gathered by attending a Local U workshop in person. It is only a small sampling of what can be gained from this event. If you are an SEO/SEM and not currently enrolled in an upcoming Local U seminar, you are here by advised to do so at the earliest opportunity.

Headsmacking Keyword & SEO Tip: List Every Product & Service

With search query strings continuing to getting longer (more 3, 4 & 5+ word keywords) it is a good idea to list every product & service you offer on your website. ~ via Mary Bowling (@MaryBowling)

You should consider listing a few you don’t offer, maybe lesser quality/priced competing products or services. If you do this as a comparison, you might generate additional search traffic and at the same time convince visitors to choose what you are providing. ~ via Me (@Realicity)

Each Businesses Location Needs a Dedicated Webpage

Multi-location businesses need a specific location page for every address they are located at. Great for Local Listings and SEO. ~ via Mary Bowling

This is important for 1) SEO and gaining organic traffic for location specific queries. 2) Landing pages for your local business listings in Google Maps and Bing Local. 3) Tailoring your website experience for each visitor based on the local information they are looking for… No sense in making them visit many different pages to find your address, hours, location specific contact info, maps and directions, menu, etc… ~ via Me (James Svoboda)

Bing Local Listing Center

Bing Local Listing Center

Don’t Forget Your Business Hours!

One of the most used features of Local Listings are the hours businesses list as open to close. ~ Mikko Ollila, Bing

Small Business Websites with Blogs Rock!

SMB websites with Blogs, as compared to sites without a blog, on average have +55% more visits, +97% more Links and +434% more pages indexed by the search engines. ~ via Matt McGee (@mattmcgee)

Starting and Growing a Business Blog

It appears that most of the panel agrees on the fact that it’s a good thing for most businesses to start a blog. That is not hard to believe when you consider the search engine traffic and link data above. However, there are a few differences of opinion when it comes to developing a blog strategy for you website.

I usually recommend having 6 to 8 posts written before the blog launches and to set a pace of 1 to 2 new posts every week. ~ via Matt McGee

I recommend writing of 1 good post a week. ~ via David Mihm (@davidmihm)

If you are new to blogging, it may take you more time to write good posts. This may be a big hindrance to the amount of quality posts you can publish in a timely manner. In truth there is not much in the way of a wrong plan for new posts, as long as you have one. ~ James Svoboda

Leave Comments on Other Blogs

Commenting on other blogs is a good way to build links, citations and publicity for your website if they are on-topic. ~ via David Mihm

Personal Note: David did not say to leave Comment Spam. There is a big difference! ~ via Me

Annual Reminder: 90%+ of Searchers Not Going Past Page 1

It seems like I have to be reminded every so often how large of a percentage (and growing) of searchers are not going past the 1st page of search results. This may be because they changed or modified their original query, and hopefully it is because they found what they were looking for and did not need to visit the 2nd page:)

You Probably Have Many Local Listings…

Local data is aggregated from many sources around the web. There is a good chance that local businesses already have several local listings that are providing Good and Bad data to teh local search providers. It is best to find, correct and sync as many of these as possible. ~ via Everyone on the Panel

Google Places - formerly Local Business Listings

Google Places

Email Addresses for Google Places Listings

When creating or claiming a Google Places/LBC Listing, it is best to use an e-mail address from the domain of the listing. Example: use an email address for a Places listing.

Un-merging Two Business Listings

To un-merge two businesses on Google Places: Go to the bottom of the listing page; click “report a problem” link; then select “place has another listing”. ~ via Brad Wellman (@bradwellman)

Don’t be Afraid of Bad Reviews

Business with mostly 5 Star Reviews look unnatural and less trustworthy. People actually like to see a mix. ~ via Matt McGee

Turning “Tacos on Wheels” into a Prospering Business

Through good local marketing such as Local Map Listing Optimization, great photos, and YouTube Testimonial Videos, Ed taught us that it is possible to take a Taco Wagon and turn it into a Taco Fleet. ~ via Ed Reese (@Ed_Reese)

When does a Review become a Testimonial?

Reviews are placed on 3rd-party sites. The moment you add them to your site they become testimonials. ~ via Mike Blumenthal (@mblumenthal)

Local SEM Agency Tools?

Mike Blumenthal mentioned the pains in dealing with small business clients claiming and creating local business listings and since we had 2 great resources present I asked if they knew of any upcoming Local SEM Agency Tools? Reps for both Google and Bing say there are no current plans for tools to help agencies create and manage local listings on the behalf of their clients. Mikko quietly says: none I can talk about (yet?). ~ via Jeral Poskey (Google) and Mikko Ollila (Bing)

hReview & hCard Microformats

Start creating and implementing hCards and hReviews. This could help and there is no reason not to. ~ via Multiple People on the Panel

Note to Self: at the very least start paying more attention to them because the local SEM’s on the panel kept mentioning them. ~ via Me

The Last Local Supper - Speakers Matt McGee, Mary Bowling, Ed Reese, Mike Blumenthal and Aaron Weiche

The Last Local Supper - Matt McGee, Mary Bowling, Ed Reese, Mike Blumenthal and Aaron Weiche

Local Map Places Expert

Mike Blumenthal knows more about Google Maps  Google Local  Google Maps & Google Local Business Center  Google Places than I thought possible for someone not living in Mountain View, California;)

Local SEM Experts in My Backyard

Paul Jahn (@paulj) and Aaron Weiche (@AaronWeiche) are Local SEM Evangelists that everyone in the Twin Cities that has an interest in local search should be following.

Twin Cities Local U After Hour - Paul Jahn, Barb Prindle, Ed Reese, James Svoboda, Paul Kragthorpe

Happy Hour - Paul Jahn, Barb Prindle, Ed Reese, Me, Paul Kragthorpe. Taken by Mikko Ollila of Bing.

Looking for Local Search Marketing Training? Check out’s Local University website for upcoming SEM workshops near you.

Share your tips and tricks for local and small business internet marketingHave your attended a Local U event recently? Do you have any Local Small Business Search Engine or Internet Marketing Tips? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Photos courtesy of Paul Jahn at Localmn Interactive Marketing.

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Reader Comments

  • Paul Jahn | May 14, 2010

    Awesome! Thanks for the nice mention and great list of tips from the event. It will be a source to check out often. I’m with you on the hCards. Need to check out on that.

    I forgot about using KML Sitemaps. Created one today at work and am having a hard time w/ our CMS. Hopefully we’ll be able to get them in there at some point.

  • Matt McGee | May 14, 2010

    Good recap, James – and thx for the mentions. I wish you had introduced yourself, and I apologize for not hunting you down. Would’ve been good to say hello in person. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • James | May 14, 2010

    Glad you liked it Matt. I meant to say hello, but Ed Reese kept chatting my ear off about Mobile Tacos:) JK Ed.

  • Mike Blumenthal | May 14, 2010

    Thanks for the kind words. While we target the smb, I am glad that you, as a pro, found your time well spent.

  • Zachary | May 15, 2010

    I’m curious about this comment….

    Email Addresses for Google Places Listings
    “When creating or claiming a Google Places/LBC Listing, it is best to use an e-mail address from the domain of the listing. Example: use an email address for a Places listing.”

    Is there research to back this up, experience, or just a hunch?? Unfortunately many small business owners still use the good ol’ businessname Are you claiming that it is of utmost importance to have the email match the url?

    Please elaborate if you would… Or maybe one of the speakers will… : )

  • Keith | May 16, 2010

    Local business internet marketing strategies can be very effective for local business owners. When thinking about how to market your business on the internet, it is important to keep in mind that people primarily use the internet for 2 things, content and making connections.

  • Linda Buquet | May 16, 2010

    Great overview James. Sounds like lots of great info was shared and I got a couple gems out of your post. You also gave me more work to do – guess I need to brush up on hCards and hReviews. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Mike Blumenthal | May 16, 2010

    Zachary: The suggestion to use an email is a best practice recommended by Google and was added to their guidelines when they updated last November. It was a requirement that Google added to verified bulk uploads last summer.

    It is a trust criteria that is used much like being able to place a file on your website for verification of a sitemap in Webmaster Central.

    Google has always contended that a Google Place account (aka the LBC) should in the possession of the business claiming the listing and this is one of the ways that they verify this. For example if a single business listing was either hijacked or claimed by two parties, it would give Google a clue as to the correct owner.

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