Last week forward-looking marketers gathered in San Diego to explore new and emerging local marketing trends. Similarly, they also discussed tactics and technologies. This third annual invitation-only Local Search Summit (LSS2017) hosted by Rio SEO was all about accelerating local. Also covered was using the smartest omni-channel marketing practices to tap into the massive potential of intelligent agents, mobile-social marketing and voice search in local markets.
Likewise, the audience of multi-location brand executives and the agencies that work with them heard from Google, Bing, Rio SEO, iProspect, Forrester Research, Bazaarvoice, MapQuest, Gigasavvy and more. Presentations and interactive activities happened over two days.
Here are some of the top local marketing takeaways from the experts at #LSS2017:
How Can We Prepare to Win at Voice Search?
“Stop obsessing over those highly competitive short tail keywords. Utilize longtail in natural language search. Create content for the entire funnel. Consider likely contextual searches.”
~ Kyle Johnston, Gigasavvy
“Where is voice search going? MapQuest intends to focus on improving natural language navigation; to help users interact without the visual interface. Voice search is in its “first date” awkward phase, but will evolve to become more conversational. The marketing potential of voice search will grow as it evolves beyond forcing people to speak like MadLibs.”
~ Andy McMahon, Director of Search & Local Data, MapQuest
“Even as voice grows, there’s a continued need for text search. It’s not going away. Consider that artificial intelligence = machine learning + human learning + data science; a digital assistant is just the tool that uses AI. What can you do right now to embrace voice search? Relevance and personalization are crucial. Think local – update all of your info. Write for humans, not machines; be conversational. We don’t speak in keywords.”
~ Jennifer Solomon-Baum, Regional Director – West: Search Advertising, Microsoft
Only 58% of question queries have voice search answers. There’s a huge opportunity for brands right now. Voice queries are growing through the longtail; most voice search queries are 10 words or more. Find keyword gaps and opportunities by mapping keywords for baseline. Query-based content is key to optimizing for Google as voice search ramps up.”
~ Serena Peterson, Regional Director, SEO – West, iProspect
Where Should We Focus Our Content Efforts?
“Markup and tagging are critical for getting your content in front of people using search to find business information. Google is the primary interface for local search, but we can’t forget about other platforms like Facebook, Messenger, etc. There’s an opportunity to create communication paths between your brand (and its franchises or locations), and the consumers who are seeking information relevant to your brand.”
~ Dema Zlotin, CEO of Rio SEO
“Third party reviews often misrepresent your business. Control a shopper’s experience by bringing them to your site. Create a program to feed your funnel then find, convert and gather those reviews.”
~ Josh Horton, Product Marketing Manager, Bazaarvoice
Moreover: “Mobile dominates in terms of time spent for retail, but only 20% of spend is on mobile. Why? Bad UX. Consumers want rich information to help them make their decisions, and they want it compressed into an actionable form. Missing content can cost you a sale.”
~ Greg Sterling, VP of Strategy & Insights, Local Search Association
“There’s so much good stuff that local business owners and artists have to share, to tell people who they are and what their story is. That’s just as important as schema and proper markup and Knowledge Panels.”
~ Juan Felipe Rincon, Global Lead of Search Outreach, Google
Further: “Google is willing, able and anxious to show searchers a massive amount of info. Marketers need to give them the BEST information to share. Local retailers: give Google what it wants to show, which is schema-marked up inventory (AKA free ads!)”
~ Mary Bowling, co-founder of Ignitor Digital
How Do New Trends & Tools Affect Our Local Marketing Strategy?
“Don’t get distracted by all the data. Use custom reports and advanced segments in Google Analytics to start at the micro level, and build out from there to cut through the noise. Eliminate wasted spend with a whittled-down approach.”
~ Josh McCoy, Lead Strategist at Vizion Interactive
Meanwhile: “There’s been a shift in marketing from Mad Men to Math Men. If you don’t understand the data & metrics, you lose.”
~ Travis Wright, CMO at CCP Digital
“Post-digital marketing is frictionless, anticipatory and immersive. These marketers collaborate to build solutions, not just brand communications. They rank themselves not by the amount of clicks they drive, but whether they’ve kept their brand promise everywhere.”
~ Collin Colburn, author and analyst at Forrester Research
Likewise: “The tool is not the competency. Technical expertise is essential, but you need to think strategically around attribution, measurement & modeling.”
~ Tony Stagg, ThinkDigital
In the same vein: “Having the right data and being able to tell the right story goes a long way. Don’t be too easily satisfied with local growth; have a plan to crawl, walk and then run. More data is good, but having the right data is critical. Continuing success is about telling the story in a way that matters.”
~ Pierce Martin, Project Director, GroupM/Catalyst
In conclusion: “Google is providing a greater volume of richer content for local search queries via Google My Business, and trying to improve transparency with support features and updates on how to improve your rankings. For example, easier bulk management is a focus for us, to facilitate agency and large brand updates.”
~ Willys De Voll, Google My Business
So, do you want to learn more about local marketing best practices and the latest strategies for accelerating local search optimization? Some helpful resources on local SEO tools: