SMX Advanced Seattle 2015 – Local Search Advantage Workshop

This January when I was coming back from the US, from a training in Florida, I promised myself that I am giving up on visits to the United States. Mainly because of the terrible 14-hour journey, high costs of flight, getting around and life on the spot. However, as an old saying says – never say never, which I experienced very well as only half a year later after the SMX conference in London that was on a very high level, I got more and more into going on the subsequent editions of this series of trainings, this time in an advanced version. This way on June 1 I took the direction of the United States again, specifically Seattle, to take part in the conference (June 2-3) and Local Search Advantage Workshop training. To start with – it was awesome in the US ?

Is Local SEO the future of the industry?

Local SEO is extremely important from the point of view of different types of entrepreneurs – it is most useful when we need to find a specialist in a particular place very quickly. Moreover, even if more purchases are still made in traditional way, all the research for product information, services, prices etc. takes place on the Internet – and you should take advantage of it. Because of that Local Search ought to be included in any client strategy, both when the company has several branches and when it is a key cutting point. So the SMX Advantage training was supposed to help identify behavior and habits of average users expecting local search results and show how to create local seo at a high level effectively – what to focus on, what tools to use, how to use mobile devices etc.


About the technical stuff – the Local Search Advantage Workshop took place on the third day of the conference (June 4) in Seattle, more specifically in the Bell Harbor Conference Center. It lasted from 8.30 am to 5 pm with short breaks. There were about 35 people in the room, which is comparable to a typical Polish school. Generally, the participants were people working in marketing in big companies that have a lot of branches and locations – not just in the US but around the world, eg. DHL, Ford etc. In addition, there were people connected with the Internet directories, such as the Yellow Pages, which were in advantage after the Pigeon.

There were several lecturers at the training – each of them had their presentation, during which they discussed aspects of Local Search in which they specialized. What I liked from the beginning – Local SEO in the United States is considered quite like a specific profession. Like in Poland in medicine we have a cardiologist who deals only with the heart and gastrological problems don’t interest him. He knows the basics of medicine like any other specialist doctor but he specializes in one field only – in the US it is the same with seos, specialists of various fields of their industry. Sitting there I felt just like at the congress of cardiologists, I missed only late Religa ;-). In Poland a SEO is a one-man band. They will do some technical SEO, some link building, a lot of content marketing etc. It happens that job offers also require use of Adwords 😉 basically anything is on their heads.


Especially for you I tried to pick up the most important things from the 10 discussion pannels which took place throughout the day of Local Search Advantage training.

Top 10 Local Website Mistakes – Greg Grifford

Greg Grifford is a director of Search and Social at AutoRevo and a manufacturer of software designed primarily for car dealers. His over 15-year experience in marketing, including local SEO, has helped many companies survive the recession in the US. His professional tasks include mostly implementation of all SEO activities and social media.

In his presentation he convinced us that:

  • we shouldn’t promote the brand too hard if it is at the product’s expense, it is better to focus on the latter;
  • but at the same time we can’t focus only on what we sell;
  • many people appreciate the possibility of showing their own personality in the strategy – it should show mainly the strengths;
  • during local seo creation you can’t focus on promoting only one service;
  • it is important to optimize your business details;
  • according to a speaker’s research, 38% of people visit the sites with complete business profiles, while 29% make purchases only from people who have nice business content;
  • something that always works – adding a large number of own and original photos;
  • you should connect to the YouTube channel;
  • the most important ranking factor in local seo is the user opinion;
  • you have to invest some work in full page optimization under local seo;
  • pay attention to off-site signals;
  • you have to remember that local links are more important than links with a general authority;
  • it is good practice to write a local blog;
  • remember to place your details on other subpages – the company name is the key element;
  • you have to check data (phone and others) in external links (eg. directory entries);
  • the most important element on the site is written content, followed by videos and photos;
  • create silos on site between the blog and the offer.

Google My Business: Advanced Tips and Tactics – Joy Hawkins

Joy Hawkins, a top co-worker on the Google forum, a Product Consultant at Imprezzio Marketing and Google My Business Top Contributor, talked about the latest information and advanced local seo tactics.

To sum up her speech, I can say that:

  • you should always use a map maker for making maps;
  • it is very important to set entry categories;
  • Joy discussed principles of cooperation with Google helpdesk in the case of maps;
  • she showed the most common problems that people report;
  • she described problems of spam in local results broadly and presented the form of reporting them;
  • she pointed out that all the guidelines change very quickly, so it is an absolute must to look into them frequently

Local SEO: Post-Pigeon and “Mopocalypse” – Andrew Shotland

Andrew Shotland of LocalSEOGuide presented his views on local SEO tactics which change as a result of various algorithm changes.
He presented comparison of Google business cards with Google Maps vs. Apple Maps very accurately. Do you know why you need to have a business card on Apple maps? Because so far about 700 million Apple products have been sold and there is not much competition there. And the data from these maps is often taken by web directories (such as Yelp etc.).
He also talked about the implementation of the Pigeon and ranking factors related to its introduction. Additionally, he talked about optimization of directories, such as Yellowpages, and about approaching it.

Driving and Tracking Offline Conversions – Michael Mire

Michael Mire, who is the co-founder SweetIQ, showed us how to increase the effectiveness of media and the tools focused on offline conversion. The subjects set for this lecture:broad discussion of how the components (video, content, images) of the business cards influence conversion;

  • everything was shown with the examples from the speaker’s platform –
  • discussion about how the technology of monitoring local seo activities impact number of visitors, e.g. the detectors in the store which are counting people and look like shop cameras;
  • the use of online coupons to measure impact on sales
  • discussion about how to calculate return on investment of online activities for clients from the street;
  • measuring ROI through phonecalls and online activities


Mobile Search Tactics and Cross-Device Attribution – Mark Irvine

Mark Irvine of Wordstream develops special procedures and processes in order to minimize user purchase abandonment, increase retention and boost sales. In addition, he is responsible for creation of research based on Wordstream industry data.

In his speech he presented:

  • definition of the target group buying on-line (age, gender, preferences);
  • the fact that mobile has overtaken desktop in 10 countries, including Japan and the United States (the most technologically developed countries)
  • people are searching differently on mobile, on desktop and on tablet;
  • during last year the queries like “near me” or “good kebab in my area” doubled;
  • the impact of content in a mobile version on conversions.


(Re)Building Your Online Reputation – Chris Silver Smith

The presentation was delivered by Chris Silver Smith, a CEO of Argent Media – he talked about mobile devices, how to improve their usability, transparency and conversion.

In his speech, he pointed out:

  • impact of opinion on ranking and conversions;
  • impact of stars next to the rating and opinions on the position in search results (hotels and restaurants);
  • impact of review content on the long tail in local results;
  • impact of stars on CTR and CTR treated as a ranking factor in local seo;
  • it’s better to give an opportunity to submit complaints through forms (special phone number, Facebook, contact form) and special channels than to give the customers a chance to spill their guts on Google Maps, which could destroy them in the eyes of the algorithm;
  • he showed sites with high authority which deal with opinions that affect the ranking;
  • he discussed Google vs. Yelp guidelines for writing reviews. You can’t give products or money for opinions. It should not be asked to write an opinion by customers;
  • a broad overview of how the Googlers and the Yelp service flag fake opinions, what they take into account and how they detect a false account. The way to detect a fake person is greatly developed and has so many factors that it looks almost like link detox;
  • sample offers of companies removing bad reviews were presented. It is not the same as depositioning etc. but contacting the customer and trying to ease and solve the problem which ends in the change of opinion.
  • a lot of attention was paid to an immediate response to feedback and the vocabulary that is used. Open problem solving and compensation gives credit to the company in the eyes of others reading the reviews.
  • official accounts in social media and the number of followers, likes etc. have impact on the local position
  • Google currently also indexes Twitter, so good tweets can help greatly when writing a brand name in Google

Leveraging Video for Local Lead Generation – Mat Siltala

Mat Siltala, Founder & President of Avalaunch Media showed how local vendors and businesses can increase profits of their businesses and raise visibility of the company on-line by appropriate use of videos on the example of different case studies.

The most important things from the presentation were:

  • discussion of YouTube ranking factors used for local seo,
  • examples of using video recorded by phone cameras in local business promotion,
  • it is very important to connect the YouTube channel with Google Plus and the company website,
  • video is content and similarly to the content on the website it should address local subjects,
  • it is important for the video to answer the user needs, so it is worth to put them on forums as a solution to the problem.

Good vs. Bad Calls: Best Practices for Generating New Prospects over the Phone – John Busby

John Busby of SVP Marchex presented the best tactics and practices which should bring all those involved in seo to improve local mobile marketing. From this part of the training for advanced I noted that:

  • there are services and products whose convertion needs to be finalized on the phone – the convertion on-line won’t work,
  • the work of call centers supporting local businesses on-line was described, primarily the service of customers in other time zones when the company is theoretically closed,
  • customers in the US are supported in two languages (English and Spanish)
  • in the US there is a states division according to where the client is more and less aggressive in speech.

Advanced Tools for Local Marketers – Conrad Saam

Conrad Saam is a General Manager of Atticus Marketing. He has been supervising companies in various search engines, working with SEO, social media, e-mail and web initiatives analytics. He is also a columnist for Search Engine Land where he regularly talks about online marketing. In Seattle he presented useful tools for keyword research and sales automation.

  • He presented software for local SEO with the tests applied
  • He showed an overview of local business promotion tools

At the end, there was an opportunity to ask questions to specific speakers, which for many participants was quite useful. I am positively surprised with the level of – both the two-day conference and the training. What’s great is that all knowledge was indeed adapted to an advanced level – a layman would certainly not understand a part of the things, and the beginners could feel some chaos. Great people, great topics, place and the way of presentation. In Poland, local seo has been taking its first steps for some time and its popularity is gradually growing. This is good news for the people who don’t need to fight for first places in search results on a national scale – for most it is fairly enough to use local seo, because it generates the most traffic and we can offer it to them without problems.


So, I recommend to devote some time and funds and get to know the specificity of the US market, the ideas and solutions of people from around the world so that it can start working on a global level here in Poland. If anyone chooses to participate in any SMX training, I must say in advance that you won’t be disappointed. I recommend it and also ask to stay alert. Reports from the subsequent trainings, conferences and workshops will appear but the most important one I have planned only for November – in the meantime you will surely be hearing from me.

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