Chris Raines: Hey there. Welcome to episode 19 of the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast and video podcasts. I'm glad you're joining us. I'm here with Michael.
Michael Utley: Hey.
Chris Raines: My name is Chris and two things that are new that you'll notice. We're in the new space.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Yeah. Very excited. Yeah. Looks great.
Chris Raines: So that's changed. We also have only one president now, the last [time we had] two presidents, you really just want the one president, so we're back to one.
Michael Utley: We're back to that. Yep.
Chris Raines: And that's great. But excited to bring you some more content in 2021. And today we're going to talk about local SEO versus national SEO. And what's different specifically about local SEO. Michael Utley, what do we mean by local SEO versus national SEO?
Michael Utley: Yeah, so local SEO is anytime you have a national brand, like we were talking before, maybe like a vitamin C supplements. Those can come from anywhere, be anywhere. But if you're looking for a local accountant or a painter or a local dermatology practice or a local orthopedic specialist, and these are going to be related to where you are, those are geographically.
Chris Raines: Anywhere where you go to get service like a doctor or someone comes to you like a maid service or something like that, that's local to you and anything where you would type a geographic modifier in the search. So we're going to talk about five ways that local SEO is different and five things you can focus on when you're trying to affect your own local SEO.
Michael Utley: That's right.
Chris Raines: Let's get started. Michael, You can do the first one here.
Michael Utley: Yeah, number one, making websites mobile and user-friendly. The biggest thing that a local service provider needs to do is make sure that the website is serving the top objectives that the user has. If you're a restaurant, they're looking for a menu and directions. If you are a local contractor service provider, they're looking for credibility, testimonials and a phone number and a lead form. If you are a local healthcare provider, they're looking for, what insurance do you take, how do I get to your office, what do I need to do, what forms do I need to have filled out before I get there, or what can I expect. These are all things that are usability questions. And so if you're one of these local sorts of companies, you want to make sure that those are front and center, not just for a desktop experience, but for a mobile user.
Chris Raines: Right. That's great. Number two, growing reviews at Google My business. Now Google My Business is a huge indicator for local searches. And so really optimizing that profile and populating it with reviews, real reviews, is critical. And I'll say one thing about this, Michael, you might have something else to add, but this is something that you should just do you should do steadily steady over time. Do not send one blast email out to all of your clients or customers and say, "Get a review". But the reason why, because Google recognizes when it sees a rush, it doesn't like to see a hundred reviews inside of two weeks that looks fake and it looks rigged. They're look, they're looking for natural stuff.
Michael Utley: And it will get kicked out of their system.
Chris Raines: So just build a system inside your business. If you got a happy customer, have something there's there's there's softwares you can use. What's the one that starts with a 'P'? I can't remember it.
Michael Utley: Podium.
Chris Raines: Podium, and other software similar to that, where you can always be asking people for reviews. And so really populating those Google reviews on your Google My business profile is hugely important. Would you add anything else to that?
Michael Utley: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Google My Business is such a core for people functioning with a local company. It's part of how they're thinking about planning their day. So they might, they might be on a desktop computer, finding you through SEO and then go into their phone and having a totally different experience with your brand. What you want to do is go through that experience yourself, try to find a local service provider, try to find yourself on your phone, see what the experience is. And also with reviews, Google, Google is number one because we want to make sure that that Google My Business profile is built out, it's thorough, it's complete, hours are up to date. You don't want people showing up there and seeing an unclaimed listing. Is this your business?
If you can see that, you haven't claimed and verified your listing. So you're essentially telling people that you're, you're not really managing that Google My Business profile. So, they may intuitively sort of lower their confidence level if they don't see that everything's completed and up to date. Also, along with Google My Business, you can consider regional and industry specific reviews platforms. If you're in any kind of home improvement or contractor space, stuff like Angie's list, it really matters.
Chris Raines: Those are still signals.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Yeah. Those are signals. Those are, those are important for two different reasons. One is for users who find them and check you out there because they've had some experience or have used those sites before to find service providers. The other is, these are all indirect factors that affect what local services are shown higher in search results. And so all of these different factors, all of these signals are a really big deal. And on this topic, one last thing on this section. Google made a big update in December and the way we saw it play out across all the different campaigns that we work on, is it helped or hurt websites based on how localized they were. So, what we saw was a lot of winners and losers in the areas of local terms, helping, or the lack of local terms, help hurting websites. So thinking through those inbound links on reviews, platforms is absolutely key to having a strong, overall online presence. That's going to help convert better.
Chris Raines: Perfect. Number three [on] things you can do to help your local SEO, improving your site speed and security. Now site speed is pretty obvious. Like when you, when you load the site, how fast does it load? You can go to Google PageSpeed tools to find that out for yourself. And it'll actually tell you what you need to change. But we've said this before ad nauseum probably. Site speed is such a huge indicator of a huge signal within Google on, on who who's going to rank and who's not. So, having a fast site is so important. Michael, how do people make sure, this goes back to hosting and some other things too. So, what are some things people need to look at to make sure that their site speed is up to where it needs to be?
Michael Utley: Yep. So I think number one that's yeah. This is one of those topics where, a developer could sort of spend hours talking about one little niche that, the coding of the website. A content person could spend hours talking about just the content decisions hosting. So it really falls into three categories. Hosting and the environment you've set yourself up for, with where you're putting the files, where you're doing content. Are you trying to load things like a piece of video content as a background element on your homepage? We've kind of gotten away from that because of site speed. Number three, how everything's coded. So these are all different categories and yeah, you can make some basic decisions. So what I would do, how I would think about this to start off with just doing a Google search for Google PageSpeed test and getting those numbers and be careful, we've mentioned this on other episodes, but there are two tabs in there.
One is essentially a mobile tab and the other's desktop tab. So it's, it's a, a real-time test of your website and how it loads to a mobile user and how it loads to a desktop user. And you can get two scores. They're going to be a number from one to a hundred. They're color coded. And so it's kind of like an a through F score in terms of red, yellow, green. But, what you want to do is make a note of the date and those numbers, those, those one through a hundred numbers. And that way, as you're making changes, you can start to think of changes you've made in these three categories. What's our hosting like? What's our setup with the just how we relate to the internet by existing as a website? Number two, what kind of content decisions were you making and how are those affecting things good or bad on page speed?
And number three, site architecture. What do we do? And so we, what we do is we think through the homepage and we run this Google PageSpeed test, and the number one culprit that we look for, any images that are loading that are actually being compressed in the display step, where they are actually larger images. The trick to see this, if you're not a web person, it's just a right click on the image and open it in a new tab. If you do this and you see a big image or even one that you can click on to zoom in and it gets even bigger.
That's where that goes. Yeah. Yeah. That's a huge image. That's actually being shoehorned into that spot with HTML. So it's actually that your website's having to deliver that image to the user for them to be able to see it. Even though they're seeing something small, you're seeing something small When you look at your website, it might actually be a really big file. And so the Google PageSpeed tool is going to help you with that. And then site architecture. Yeah. It's working with your developers and show them the results of the page speed test and say, "Hey, we got to get this speed down. What can we do?". And Google would not mind if every website was just a few words and nothing else. So this is a balance you have to kind of balance things, but yeah. Big, big opportunity. Page speed
Chris Raines: Yeah. Page speed. All right, number four, managing your critical business information. Michael Utley, what do we mean by critical business information? We're talking about phone number, phone number, address, hours, operation, and making sure. So you've got all these, all these platforms where you're probably on. There's Yelp, there's Facebook, there's Google My Business. There's micro Bing has listings, local business listings. So it's making sure all those match exactly. And I would even say on down to, if you've got "street" on one, spelled out, make sure it's "street" on all of them. So make sure they all match exactly. You want to see all, Google likes to see all of those, the same.
Michael Utley: That's right. That's exactly right. And what we do is we, we have a process here because we do this with our clients. But what we do is when we're getting to know a new, a new customer of ours, we have an intake where we've sort of identified all the different inputs from all these different platforms. We make all those decisions in one place. And my goodness, you wouldn't believe how many companies have disagreement internally on what the name of the company is. GoEpps, uppercase G, uppercase E, no space. If I ever see a space in it, I stop everything. And I go after it and I say, "Hey, get rid of that space. What are we doing here?". But this document is a way to bring all this decisions together in one place. Are we the name of the company plus LLC or not? What do we want to use our legal name or operating as name?
And so we pull all that into one sheet, identify it, nail down any decisions need to be made. And then we use a process where every month we're pushing that out to all of the different platforms that you mentioned. A lot of the missed opportunities. . . a lot of the, the sort of easy wins that I see [missed] from this is forgetting to put a URL in the YouTube channel for a website, forgetting to put a URL and the social media channels. Those are signals to search engines that let them know that there's activity happening around this brand. And you want to make sure that all that connective tissue is in place, making sure that the footer has a good, fully formatted address. You mentioned one already that's a really big deal, uniformity. And occasionally you run across situations where the Post Office likes or wants to require a certain format. I would say you can treat those as separate, but the bulk of your yellow pages, Yelp's, Angie's List, Home Advisor, Google, Bing, Yahoo. They're all going to generally let you input your data and let it exist as you, as you choose to format it. We we've always been really big about spelling out the word "suite".
Chris Raines: Yeah, yeah. Instead of Ste.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Instead of an Ste or a number sign. We really like the idea it's like now, hey, we got offices here. There are people here. We're not, it's not just a cube in a building, it's a suite. There's an experience here. So thinking about those aspects of your branding and pushing that out in a consistent way is really valuable.
Chris Raines: Yeah. Great. Fifth and final thing you can do to impact your local SEO and how local SEO is different than national SEO is local links and listings. So links are of course important for national listings. They're way more important nationally than they are for locals, but links are still important for, for local SEO, as long as they are local in nature. So let's give some examples of what might be a local, I'll give one. If you did, if you had, if you're a business and you do a, you're doing a charity event, that's benefiting a local nonprofit, and you're posting about, and they're posting about it on their website about what you're doing to help. And they'd put a link to your site. So Google knows that that's a local organization, a local business and when they link back to your site, that's a signal to Google that says this this entity is connected to this local entity and this local community. That's just one example. What would be some other local links and listings.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Local links and listings. So if you do anything where you're involved with the media, that's helpful.
Chris Raines: Oh that's a good one.
Michael Utley: So for, in Nashville we have the Tennessean and so they're generally not good. The media is generally going to be more protective than a charity or a nonprofit that you're supporting. So you're going to kind of see different things as you work with different entities, but if it's appropriate to the news piece and they treat all parties equal in whatever it is, they'll often include a link. So when you're, when you're giving an interview or doing any kind of media and engagement, making sure to mention the URL somehow, they'll often link that depending on the news source. Another good one is memberships and organizations. We are a member of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. So we have a profile there and we make sure that we always have our link[s] updated.
So, when we do our own audits, we make sure that their site's still working, there's been no data error and that that link is there and it's working. We actually go and then sort of farm and protect our links in that way. So organizations, media, and then there's going to be a variety of quality, not all of these, you know, it's really valuable if you're a national organization sometimes to get a .gov or a .edu, because Google will tend to, historically at least they've seen as really credible factors for, for things like health information, but locally, even, even getting pretty low down on the, the sales funnel or not the sales funnel, but low down on the value funnel of low domain authority, Ross Jones of To The Top calls them “silly church links”.
So getting, getting handful of those “silly church links”. There are websites that don't have a lot of traction, but if you're participating, if you've got a bio somewhere. I'm on the Board of a couple of nonprofits and so I make sure that those websites have my bio and have a URL. And then another good trick is to actually, in addition to getting the URL linked, see if they can throw another link in the body of the text on some good keywords. So for me, if I can get maybe online marketing agency linked, that's another signal to search engines.
Chris Raines: Yeah, that's great. Okay. So there you go. Five ways, local SEO is different and five ways that you can affect your local SEO, simple steps you can take. So, I hope that was really helpful for you. And we'll see you on the next one. Thank you.