Local U Dallas – a Quick Recap

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The Search gurus from Local U recently brought their crash course to Dallas – and the event didn’t disappoint the packed house of attendees at the Magnolia Hotel’s Pegasus Ballroom. Local U in Dallas featured presentations from industry experts and provided helpful information for marketers, SEOs, and small business owners.

The day started and ended with presentations from David Mihm of Moz. He did a great job setting the tone for a day full of solid and informative presentations from Mike Blumenthal, Mike Ramsey, and more. We’ve included a recap of the presentations below… 

David Mihm – @DavidMihm

David’s kickoff presentation outlined some of the basic terminology used in Local Search and broke down the anatomy of SERPs. He also went over some of the horrible SEO myths that you might hear from so-called professional SEOs.

Myth #1: “I can guarantee you will rank #1 on Google!”

Myth #2: “I will optimize your Meta-Keywords tag!”

A lot of people in the room had a good laugh when David was discussing how often he hears about SEO agencies that still pitch meta-keyword tag optimization to their potential clients.

Aaron Weiche – @AaronWeiche

Aaron Weiche of Spyder Trap was the second speaker of the day and he put together a really cool presentation entitled “How to Make a Good Website for Searchers and Search Engines.” The presentation went over a lot of great points about how to approach building a new site and how to manage client expectations.

In Aaron’s presentation, he discussed how most website owners want a site built with marketing jargon and a wow factor; whereas website visitors primarily want something helpful, easy, and intuitive. He wrapped up his presentation by urging website owners to provide a professional website focused on the customer.

Mary Bowling – @MaryBowling

The next presenter of the day was Mary Bowling from Ignitor Digital. She went over the basics of Search Engine Optimization and illustrated her process of keyword research, link building, and how to eliminate technical problems.

Mary also discussed the importance of creating snippets with optimized title tags and meta-descriptions that will entice searchers to click through to your site. She also stressed that snippets will typically read better if they aren’t cut off in search results – so don’t use more than 65 characters for title tags and don’t use more than 130 characters for meta-descriptions.

Will Scott – @w2scott

Will Scott from Search Influence delivered one of the most entertaining and informative presentations of the day. His topic “Social Media for Local Marketers” offered up great stuff about Facebook ads, engaging with customers on Twitter, and how to drive traffic to a site without the help of Google.

Most businesses are on the major social sites already, but Will encouraged small business owners to branch out onto YouTube and Pinterest. He showed an example of a site he managed that had virtually no Google traffic, but still brought in tons of visits from Facebook mobile and Pinterest using targeted social posts and engaging content.

He also went over different ways businesses could use YouTube videos to bring traffic, increase their reach, and answer customer questions.

Ed Reese – @Ed_Reese

Google Analytics was the star of Ed Reese’s presentation and this one was full of great ideas for reporting. Ed is from Sixth Man Marketing and he talked about how clients don’t always get the picture from traditional-looking SEO reports and Analytics data.

He showed examples of reformatted reports that he built using Juice Analytics, Infogr.am, and Visual.ly – and it definitely showed the power of these tools. Do yourself a favor, check out those Analytics tools and start getting more out of your data.

Jason Dailey – @JasonRDailey

The Director of Bing Evangelism was at Dallas’ Local U and outlined a lot of the cool things Bing is doing in Local Search right now. Jason spoke about the wealth of data available in Bing’s Webmaster Tools and also discussed Bing’s overall objective of helping users complete a task, instead of just pointing them in a direction. He delivered a great presentation and was an awesome addition to the lineup of speakers.

Beth Kahlich – @BethKahlich

Beth Kalich spoke about e-mail marketing and simple strategies for success. She talked about the old method of traditional marketing (print, radio, direct mail) and how trying to reach as many strangers as possible isn’t always the best strategy for success. She recommended that marketers “flip the funnel” and engage with current customers and nurture existing relationships with e-mail marketing to help attract new business.

Mike Ramsey – @MikeRamsey

Getting reviews is hard, and Mike Ramsey from Nifty Marketing tackled this subject head on. Mike is always extremely informative and his Local U presentation was no exception. He discussed how to make asking for reviews a part of your business – and how to gain trust and customers with positive online reviews.

Mike showed one slide that said, “85% of people read online reviews to determine if a business is good.” He also discussed how getting reviews across the web helps ranking, so it’s important to get people to leave a review where they feel comfortable leaving reviews. Everyone wants Google reviews, but reviews on other sites still contribute to increasing authority and can help increase rankings.

Mike Blumenthal – @MBlumenthal

Mike Blumenthal is a leading industry expert in Local and he writes a super-informative Local Search blog. His presentation named “Ranking Your Business in Local Search Results” was an in-depth breakdown of the Local Search ecosystem, the importance of Local Search,  and it had great nuggets about local citations and the effects of NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency on Local rankings.

The importance of Local Search was the first topic Mike delved into, and he tackled it with some awesome statistics about user search behavior for products and services. Mike showed a great slide that illustrated how 47.6% of people looking for new tires started the process using a search engine – and 7.6% of people used social media.

However, the next slide Mike showed illustrated how people changed their behavior when looking for a service-based provider for something costly like car repairs.  When looking for a car repair or maintenance provider, 31% of people started the process on a search engine, but 10.9% of people used social media to solicit advice from their friends and network.

In fact, 38.1% of people began their search for a car repair provider by asking a friend in person or on the phone.  The strong example slides he presented help SEOs get a better idea of how certain industries should shape their social strategy and it highlights the ever-increasing importance of obtaining Google reviews.

Mike talked a ton about NAP consistency and how that affects ranking in the Map Pack. He encouraged everyone to use getlisted.org to start auditing their site’s NAP consistency and outlined how people should start attacking NAP problems. The Local U packet also included a 12-month Local Search roadmap from Mike Blumenthal that helped shed some light on how to implement long-term strategies for Local Search success.

Closing Q&A

At the end of the sessions, all the speakers came up to the front of the room to answer questions from audience members. People brought up great questions about call tracking, review scores, and how to get found in Local Search if you’re a service-area business. David Mihm, Mike Blumenthal, and the rest of the speakers did a wonderful job engaging with the attendees and answering questions until the event wrapped up. Site clinics were performed in the afternoon for those who made reservations in advance.

Click here to download the presentations from Local U in Dallas