9 Local SEO Tips From Top Experts

Earlier this month, marketers from around the world joined the latest LocalU virtual conference hosted by a local university.

The seminar topics were filled with local marketing tips from top experts on dealing with fake reviews, SEO forecasting, and more.

Attendees engage in lively discussions on Twitter during each session, highlighting the speakers’ most helpful and convincing suggestions.

Below are the highlights of each speaker and their respective session.

1. Write for Customers First and Google Second

Charlie Hunt, Proof Materials

Charlie HuntImage credit: LocalU.org

“If you only write content for Google’s algorithm (and not the first user), you’ll be knocked out of your top ranking.”

Include local identifiers based on what customers are already looking for. Whether it is a neighborhood, county, city, etc.

Create dedicated pages for the top frequently asked questions from your customers. This obviates the need to answer these questions over and over again.

Identify your unique selling points (USP). If you’re not sure what these are, talk to your customers for help identifying them.

Charlie Hunt discusses writing content for users, not algorithms.Image credit: Twitter.com, Screenshot taken by author April 2022

2. Disputed 1 illegitimate review equals 11 positive reviews

curtis boydImage credit: LocalU.org

Curtis Boyd, The Transparency Company

It pays to dispute fake reviews. Illegal reviews are detrimental to ratings, which proves to be loss of revenue.

Removing legitimate negative reviews is not the goal. Earned reviews are good; There are no purchase reviews. It’s not good or legitimate to silence genuine customers. That’s not the point.

Your boss shouldn’t ask you to review the company unless it’s on Glassdoor. The top types of fake reviews are from vendors, business owners, current employees, untrue customers, and third parties and review groups.

Dispute fake reviews on the mobile app vs. on the desktop. Having data to show reviews as fake has a success rate of about 380 times higher for deletion.

If you have encountered a negative review cluster, it is best to work with a Google product specialist using the GBP help forum.

3. Work optimally with the use of practical Google Data Studio

Amanda JordanImage credit: LocalU.org

Amanda Jordan, Ricketyru

With GDS, you’ll spend less time reviewing your data. You can create local SEO reports that are easily digestible not only for you but for your customers. There are tons of templates built in for you to plug and play with your data.

“Use Data Studio to find and categorize keywords, and find new ways to use the data they’re providing.”

There are many free connectors with GDS to help integrate your data, such as Google Analytics, BigQuery, Google Sheets, Search Console, and more.

Additionally, there are free tool connectors for GDS, including Ahrefs, ContentKing, DeepCrawl, SEMRush, and more.

Use data controls in Data Studio. They allow you to manipulate data by date, visitor type, device type, and more.

4. Be Strategic With Your Spam Fighting Efforts

Joy HawkinsImage credit: LocalU.org

Joy Hawkins, Sterling Sky

The percentage of fake listings varies greatly by industry. Garage door repair, junk cars and personal injury were the top industries with fake listings.

“87.6% of garage door repair listings were spam. This is incredibly harmful to brands, and why spam-fighting can help legitimate brands.”

Fighting spam is not a long-term strategy, but it is something you should try to pursue. Spam can always come back, and Google doesn’t always enforce all of their guidelines.

If there are duplicate lists, don’t remove one. Merging listings can really help them rank.

If you’re in an industry with a moderate amount of spam listings, it’s probably worth your time to report it.

5. We only buy from people we know, like and trust

Matthew HuntImage credit: LocalU.org

Matthew Hunt, Automation Wolf

Use LinkedIn as a trusted source rather than a stranger. Relationships are built in comments, not posts.

It takes 7 hours with 11 different interactions in 4 different locations, to earn a user’s trust, work with him and create opportunities for them to sell.

Take advantage of LinkedIn with short-form content that users can discover. Then, create long-form content where there is some kind of engagement (courses, webinars, etc.). From there, build a community of trust so users keep coming back to you.

Make sure you have a personal profile, not just a company page. Create an engaging personal headline to show who you are and what you do.

The winning formula for the individual title: Role + Expertise + Value.

6. Content Without Data Leads to Bad Results

noah the learnerImage credit: LocalU.org

Noah Learner, October 2

Build your content based on client goals, collect data, clear data, then create topics based on this data.

The market that is most profitable for you. Be sure to ask your customers what their biggest money-makers are during your onboarding process.

Google has a hard time knowing what to show, so it’s important to be clear about what your content is about.

There is a big difference between Google SERP auto-suggestion and search trends from Google Trends. Auto-suggestion is personalized, whereas Trends is not.

7. Proximity is a lot more important with Proximity Update

yan gilberteImage credit: LocalU.org

Yann Gilbert and Koln Nielsen, Sterling Sky

The closer you are to a business listing, the more likely the listing is to rank.

Nearby updates have allowed many more business listings to rank up, thanks to the diversity in the map packs.

Non-location keywords were most affected.

The keywords in your business name are not as straightforward as they used to be. don’t use keywords

Köln NielsenImage credit: LocalU.org

Filling in as a strategy. Google is trying to balance spammy GBPs while allowing real businesses to rank.

The top action items from Nearby Updates are:

  • Pay attention to obscene keywords
  • Create more GBP real estate
  • Use ads to retarget in areas you’ve lost ranking or traction in
  • Follow a wide variety of keywords to minimize losses
Local U Chat on Nearby UpdatesImage credit: Twitter.com, Screenshot taken by author April 2022

8. SEO Forecasting Can Help Stakeholders Answer Key Business Questions

Andrew ShotlandImage credit: LocalU.org

Andrew Shotland, Local SEO Guide

The key questions the stakeholders want answered are:

  • How much am I going to get out of this?
  • How long will this take?
  • What is ROI?

SEO forecasting requires taking into account the uniqueness and goals of the individual business. Do much more than just use your own experience and your own data to make predictions.

Sometimes accurate forecasts don’t matter, as long as you’re realistic enough to set good expectations. Don’t misjudge forecasts to look good and get budget approval.

Rice score is a good scientific method. (Reach x Impact x Confidence) / Effort = Rice Score.

However, a good RICE score may not return a lot of revenue, even if it is easy to implement. Determine what is more important: high revenue or high rice score?

9. You have an obligation to make sure your reviews are genuine

Mike BlumenthalImage credit: LocalU.org

Mike Blumenthal, Near Media

The business is responsible for how the review platform works, as well as the behavior of SEO and reputation management firms.

The new FTC Trade Market Guidelines include:

  • no review getting
  • no selective review performance
  • Positive and negative reviews should be treated equally
  • incentives should be made clear

Review suppression doesn’t work. Customers can see the difference between your site and Google reviews.

You are not required to publish offensive or inappropriate review material. Make sure you have published a clear TOS explaining the FTC guidelines on your site, and publish all information that meets those guidelines.


The LocalU virtual symposium focused heavily on actual updates that impact businesses, as well as content tips that can help a physical business or anyone with a listing.

If you’d like more detailed information about the sessions, be sure to join the #LocalU conversation on Twitter and connect with the speakers. you can also buy instant access Here from the local university.

At the end of the conference, the local university announced its return to individual programs. They will host LocalU Advanced on July 28 in Denver, CO. If you are interested in attending, be sure to keep up to date with your local university for more information.

Featured Image: Maddie/Shutterstock

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