Local SEO, Local Search, and the Small Business | Interview with Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide

Interview with SEO Consultant Andrew Shotland, Author of the Local SEO Guide Blog

Here is a text interview I recently did with Andrew in which he provided some value answers about local search trends, client relations, and local search resources. He was very kind to interview. And dearest reader…please don’t be offended by the caps. I will try to fix it soon… Cheers. Now on with the interview…

I’ve come across, these two key posts for local SEO, one by David Mihm and the other by Sugar Rae what other resources would you focus on to enhance your local SEO campaign?

WWW.LOCALSEOGUIDE.COM
WWW.SMALLBUSINESSSEM.COM
WWW.BLUMENTHALS.COM/BLOG (FOR UNDERSTANDING HOW GOOGLE MAPS FITS INTO THE EQUATION)

How do you pace a local SEO campaign?
TOTALLY DEPENDS ON THE CLIENT. SOME CLIENTS WANT TO GET STARTED RIGHT AWAY AND DO AS MUCH AS THEY CAN. OTHERS HAVE A LONGER TIMELINE, DEPENDING ON HOW FOCUSED THEY ARE ON SEO, HOW MUCH ACCESS THEY HAVE TO THEIR WEB DEVELOPERS, DESIGNERS, BUDGET, ETC. FOR SMALL CLIENTS I USUALLY RECOMMEND WE MAKE SURE THEY HAVE AN UP TO DATE PRESENCE ON OTHER SITES (E.G. IYPS) FIRST AS THIS IS USUALLY FASTER THAN GETTING THEM TO UPGRADE THEIR OWN WEBSITES TO SEO STANDARDS.

Local SEO also seems to involve coaching to get small businesses to create content, how do you encourage and help small businesses and content creators?
I LIKE TO TEACH BY EXAMPLE. I USUALLY POINT THEM TOWARDS BLOG POSTS OF MINE THAT RANK FOR SPECIFIC TERMS AND SHOW THEM STEP BY STEP HOW I DID IT. THEN WE PUT SOMETHING UP ON THEIR SITE THAT IS RELATIVELY SIMPLE TO RANK FOR AND ONCE THEY START TO SEE THE MECHANICS OF HOW TO GET RANKED THEY START TO GET THE RELIGION. IT GETS ADDICTIVE. THAT SAID, MOST WILL NOT INVEST THE TIME/RESOURCES NECESSARY TO MAKE CONTENT CREATION REALLY PAY OFF. IN ALL HONESTY THEY ARE BETTER OFF FOCUSING ON GETTING LINKS. EVEN THOUGH IT’S HARD, FOR MOST SMBS IT JUST SEEMS EASIER TO SELL SOMEONE ON GIVING YOU A LINK INSTEAD OF ACTUALLY HAVING TO WRITE SOMETHING OR MANAGE A WRITER.

How do you track your SEO campaigns? How do you calculate or justify ROI for the business? How long does this generally take?
PRETTY SIMPLE REALLY – GROWTH OF NON-PAID SEARCH ENGINE REFERRALS, GROWTH IN CONVERSIONS, GROWTH IN CONVERSION RATES, DECREASE IN BOUNCE RATES, ETC. IF YOU CAN TRACK THESE METRICS, SHOWING THE ROI IS PRETTY EASY, PARTICULARLY IF THE CLIENT HAS ALREADY DONE PAID SEARCH AND UNDERSTANDS THE COST OF A CLICK.

How do you see local SEO differing from traditional SEO?
IT’S NOT TOO DIFFERENT FROM ANY OTHER NICHE, BUT IT HELPS IF YOU UNDERSTAND THE SEARCH BEHAVIOR AROUND THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LOCAL DATA AND THE DIFFERENT WEB SERVICES THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO PROMOTE LOCAL BUSINESSES. FOR EXAMPLE UNDERSTANDING HOW TO DEAL WITH GOOGLE MAPS IS DIFFERENT THAN FIGURING OUT HOW TO GET TO THE FRONT PAGE OF DIGG.

What do you see as the future of local SEO?
IT’S A CLICHE AT THIS POINT BUT MOBILE IS DEFINITELY GETTING MORE IMPORTANT. I USE MY IPHONE FOR A LOT OF LOCATION SEARCHES. VOICE SEARCH I THINK IS GOING TO TAKE OFF IN 2009. I DEFINITELY THINK THERE IS A STRATEGY FOR ADDING AUDIO TO YOUR SITE THAT WILL PAY OFF FOR MOBILE. THINK ABOUT IT. YOU’RE DRIVING SOMEWHERE AND YOU’RE HUNGRY. YOU DO A VOICE SEARCH VIA YOUR PHONE FOR “PIZZA”. THE PHONE DEFAULTS TO A LIST OF LOCATIONS NEARBY. ONE OF THOSE LOCATIONS IS PIZZA HUT WHICH HAS AN AUDIO PROMOTION. GOOGLE DETECTS THE AUDIO PROMOTION AND GIVES YOU THE OPTION OF PLAYING IT. IT SAYS SOMETHING LIKE ‘IT’S TWO FOR ONE DAY”. YOU MIGHT BE WILLING TO CHECK OUT THE OTHER LISTINGS BUT THEY DON’T HAVE AUDIO AND YOU DON’T WANT TO CRASH SO YOU SAY “DIRECTIONS” INTO YOUR PHONE AND YOU’RE OFF TO PIZZA HUT. THEN AGAIN LINKS FROM TRUSTED LOCAL SOURCES MIGHT BE GOOD TOO.

Thanks to Andy Shotland of Local SEO guru and editor and chief of Local SEO Guide for taking the time to chat for this interview about local search and local SEM campaigns.

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