GetListed.org had its first Local University event in Spokane and is now coming back for the 3rd time after events all across the US. What do you think makes these workshops so successful?
Chris, first of all, thanks for the opportunity for an interview with you. We’re really excited to be coming back to Spokane. Our previous events have gone so well–and Ed Reese is such a great salesman–we couldn’t turn down another invitation to the Inland Northwest.
In terms of pulling these workshops off from our side of things, we really rely on our “feet on the street” like you and Ed to help us get the word out. You guys are the ones with the reputations and the connections in the local communities and we really appreciate all the hours you put into networking, emailing, blogging, etc., on our behalf.
In terms of why they’re so successful from an attendee standpoint, I think attendees are surprised that we’re able to bring down a lot of technical geek-speak to a level that the average business owner can understand and make use of. We present a ton of actionable material that leads to improved rankings and customers in a relatively short amount of time. And the fact that there are no sales pitches. People really seem to appreciate our laser-like focus on education. But don’t take my word for it–read what every single previous attendee who has filled out a survey has said
Should somebody who has attended Local U in the past consider attending this year as well?
Well, obviously, I’m a little biased, but I definitely think so! Not only has a LOT changed at Google and Bing in the last year (and we’ll bring you up to speed on all these changes in the morning), but we’ve added several presentations, including around Mobile, Advanced Social Media, and Paid Search. And you can’t beat the opportunity to get a personalized 30-minute review of your online presence from one of our experts
How has Local U evolved over the past 12 events?
We implore attendees to fill out post-event surveys to tell us what they liked and didn’t like, and we truly do read and re-read and re-re-read everyone’s comments. We did our first day-long seminar in Spokane last year and after trying it again in Burley, Idaho last fall, we think we’ve finally got the *perfect* format to give everyone both a high-level overview of what’s happening with the search engines and deep dives on the specific tactics they can use for their own business. But I hope our attendees will tell us how we can improve even more for the next time around after April 27!
I hear from business owners all the time about how time management is one of their business challenges with promoting their business online. How do you suggest that business owners prioritize the dozens of ways they can be spending their time online to work on their marketing?
From my perspective, the techniques we talk about are pretty straightforward and can be implemented without much technical knowledge at all, but the hardest things about online marketing are a) knowing where to start and b) knowing what to spend time on. And both of those largely depend on your specific business. We wouldn’t have the same advice for an insurance agent as we would for a local restaurateur, or a nationally-focused industrial parts supplier, for example. I’ll share a couple of ways to conceptualize these kinds of techniques during my afternoon presentation on the 27th, and our panel of experts will be available throughout the day for 1:1 consultations with every attendee.
With the tremendous rise of social media in the past few years as a means of connecting with customers, is search traffic still as important as it once was?
It’s not like search is going away…it’s just getting more and more integrated with Social Media. That’s what Google Plus is all about.
And when it comes to actually acquiring customers there’s still nothing quite like showing up for a search result for *exactly* the right keyword related to a local product or service. You’ll never scratch a prospect’s itch to quite the same extent using only social media.
When you started GetListed.org there was very little good information and tools available about Local SEO, and a lot of bad advice out there. Since then I feel you’ve lead the industry with publishing really high-quality, actionable information and kept a high standard of editorial integrity- and I see others following in that trend. Do you still see that there is still bad information being fed to business owners about Local SEO and internet marketing now in 2012?
Oh, sure. Unfortunately. Most larger “SEO” or “SEM” companies, including some of the Yellow Pages guys–although they’re far from the only culprits, and many of them are actually starting to adapt their practices–are still primarily focused on selling packages to business owners that a) SELL and b) can be scaled without much effort on their part. Whether or not those packages are actually effective for the clients are another story.
We try to arm business owners with the knowledge to make an informed decision about how much of this stuff is REAL, and for the stuff that IS real, how much to outsource to an agency, and how much they can do for themselves internally. And we try to give them a conceptual framework for how to prioritize it all.
As a followup question, is there one piece of bad SEO advice you wish would stop being spread around?
Ha. Numero Uno has to be the “Meta Keywords” tag. We find so many business owners that think this is still how Google and Bing rank and index their results! It’s totally meaningless. The only thing you’re doing by including it in your website code is showing your competitors what you’re trying to rank for
What are you looking forward to the most for the upcoming Spokane Local University?
Getting out of rainy Portland for a couple days! No, seriously, the interaction with business owners and local marketers is the entire reason we put on Local U–it certainly doesn’t pencil out from an economic or time commitment perspective. We love helping business owners understand this stuff and hear their stories about what they’re doing well.
Are there any trends you see on the horizon that business owners should start preparing for in relation to local search and social media?
Well, as I said above, Mobile is definitely a big one. My guess is that one in every five searches will be done from a mobile device by the end of 2012. And that number is only going to get larger.
If I see you walking down the street in Portland will you be sporting some Google Glasses?
Definitely not. I’m too vain for glasses & wear contacts instead. Let’s see how long it takes Google to come out with a prescription version and THEN I’ll give them a look.