2021 Local Search Summit – Day 2 Takeaways & Advice

Day  2 of the #WLSS was filled with everything from content strategies to automation to scaling key SEO drivers and more. Our heads are spinning from all of the knowledge shared today. We’re giving you a look into all of they sessions and sharing ideas, insights, and tips below. You can unlock all of the events recordings by purchasing our Video Bundle. Catch up on Day 1 tips or skip ahead to our Day 3 roundup.

Brian Dean (Backlinko)

Accessible (Yet Effective) Content Promotion Strategies

It’s a dark time for SEOs. It’s harder than ever to get your content seen, shared, or linked to. Even if your content is amazing, world class content, it’s still one of millions of posts floating around the galaxy. 

  • 94% of all blog posts have 0 backlinks 
  • 2.2% of content get links from 1 or more websites!

If you’re using the publish and pray approach – publishing content and praying people see it, read it, and share it – then Brian’s 7 promotional strategies are going to help transform how you build relevance and authority through content. Get access to the recordings to hear all of Brian’s tips. One promotional strategy you can start implementing today is:

Create Content For Your Niche’s Jedi: The Linkerati.

Linkerati is a term that Rand Fishkin coined many years ago to describe the people in your industry that you are creating content for. They would be bloggers, journalists, editors, and other publications that you need to appeal to in order to get more backlinks. 

The content that you are writing to the “Linkerati” may not be the same content you would write for your customers. Publishing content for your customers is great and very important, but if you only publish content for your customers and not the people in your industry with linking power, you’re missing out. 

One way to do this is to update your old content to appeal to linkarti. Numbers and case studies appeal to the niche that Brian is in (SEO) but these pieces aren’t necessary what his customers want (small business owners who take his online course).

Duane Brown (Take Some Risk)

How To Pivot Your Facebook Advertising In A Post iOS14.5 World

Many of you have probably heard about Apple’s iOS 14.5 update that limited the ability to set retargeting cookies on mobile. Well, not all is lost. Duane explained how you can pivot your Facebook advertising in a post IOS 14.5 world. 

Oftentimes, we hear clients say, “we’re losing sales”. The truth is, they’re not actually losing sales. The reality is that sales are either super delayed, or they’re just not showing up in AD manager.

You are not losing sales, you just can’t track what’s going on, and that is because Apple’s decided to ask people “do you want to be tracked” and rightfully so, most people say no.

So what can you do to help improve your traffic and get the most out of your Facebook Ads?

Here are a few of Duane’s Tips

Lead & Sales Funnel – Build a Strong Marketing Foundation

Do not put all your eggs in one basket – aka you cannot rely on only one ad platform to build and grow your business. Just using Google, or Facebook, or Amazon is not ideal.

Build a better lead funnel by creating quality content your customers care about.

Oftentimes in marketing, people just do things to do things. If you do things to do things, you’re probably not going to have the success that you want. It takes time to see the strategy start to work and see success.

In marketing, sometimes you’re going to invest into things for 6 to 12 months into a strategy to see a payout in the long run, stay the course and not give up; before you see success. Don’t give up too early.

Media Optimization – Where to Spend Money?
Once you’ve built up your amazing content you want to figure out what your Facebook Ads strategy is going to be. What is your desired outcome? Is it a lead? Is it a newsletter signup? Is it a sale? Whatever you want to achieve, figure that out first.

What Outcome Do You Want?

  • Advocacy
  • Awareness
  • Engagement
  • Audience growth

Focus on one single issue. Once you know your strategy you can figure out your measurement of success.


Dana DiTomaso (Kick Point)

Redoing Your Website: Avoiding Pitfalls, Chaos, and Setting $$$ on Fire

Dana shared her experience and wisdom about redoing your website, which typically can feel like setting a bunch of money on fire, and then you end up with a website at the end. With her process, hopefully, you can avoid that during your next website overhaul. 

When a website re-haul is happening a lot of times SEO isn’t brought in soon enough. SEOs have a unique talent of straddling the worlds of content, technology and conversion, but we’re really bad at communicating with other people. We make data boring with tables, but we need to get in the room as early as possible.

How do we do this?

Break it into two components: discovery and building.

Thinking about all the procedural things (including SEO) that have to happen BEFORE the design side of things. You are never going to have a good time if you start with a design first website..

Most people these days do “waterfall” process, it’s a one way trip, and there isn’t a way to visit where you’ve been without significant effort. Websites are living, changing beings and you don’t necessarily end up with something you are happy with at the end of the waterfall process. 

Waterfall is confusing for decision makers, you can’t go backwards and it’s hard to show what you’re talking about or what it will actually be like.

Dana Recommends “Agile-ish Process”

  • Where you don’t adhere to the two week sprint rule, but you take the idea of sprints into how you do website projects. 
  • Developers can get involved as early as possible, but aren’t bogged down with the specific details of how everything’s gonna go. They know the direction of the project and aren’t pulled into every single meeting. 
  • You can jump into development a lot faster because a lot of decisions are made up front that you can roll out, instead of having to wait for the design to be complete.
  • Agile-ish allows for your deliverables to be presented often, because you’re working in sprints, you have the opportunity to communicate more frequently with decision makers, which helps everyone to be on the same page. 
nati elimelech

Nati Elimelech (Wix)

Automation in SEO: Time Savers for the Busy Search Marketer

Nati shared automation advice for the busy search marketer. If you’re not technical don’t let that prevent you from taking advantage of automation. 

Why automation? Efficiency is key to growth

  • You need to balance profitability and deliverability to your customers
  • Humans don’t scale well
  • Only 24 hours in a day

The Planning Fallacy

  • Things always take more time than we think
  • Even simple tasks are made up for micro tasks
  • Nothing takes 5 minutes, not really

Automation helps eliminate the planning fallacy. 

It removes time constrictions and scaling issues. Plus your automations work 24/7 – no time restrictions. 

Planning, setting up, and executing automation does take time – but there is a simple formula you can use to determine how much time you should invest in creating your automation. 

Automation Formula & Example

How much time to invest =  Avg task time X # of repetitions/month X # of projects or clients 

How do you select the right candidates for automation? 

The key to good automation is to automate only the things where the quality of the work/output will not be impacted by being automated. 

3 rules to automating something 

  • It needs to be repetitive
  • No complex decision making (simple tasks)
  • Does not need expertise 

Himani Kankaria (Missive Digital)

How to Boost Organic Traffic That Converts Using Featured Snippets

Featured snippets are short blurbs of text that appear at the top of Google’s search results to quickly answer a searcher’s query/question. The content is pulled from web pages in Google’s index. Common snippets include definitions, tables, steps (how-to’s), and lists.  

A lot of SEOs refer to Featured Snippets as “Position 0” because it appears at the very top of results before the #1 spot. And everyone wants this coveted ranking result for their top target keywords. 

Think of Featured Snippets as the remarketing of SEO.

When you earn the Featured Snippets in search results, you will also get higher click-through-rates which brings more relevant traffic to your website. 

How can you use featured snippets to boost conversions from organic traffic?

  1.  Start by planning out your budget 
  2. Identify your question keywords with information search intent 
  3. Plan out the topics both for SEO & Content team
  4. Optimize your content:
    • Include media to help increase engagement from audience,
    • Use headers and subheadings to improve readability,
    • Add meta tags (URL, title tags, description, image ALT attributes)Internal and external links
  1. Publish and follow your content distribution strategy
  2. Expand your content strategy to include branded terms and conversion rate optimization (CRO)
    • For example – create content about <your business name> vs <competitor name>, or
    • How <product name> of <your business name> are different from competitors.
  1. Monitor then Optimize then Monitor and then repeat (MOM approach) 

Joel Headley (Patient Pop)

Improving Key SEO Drivers at Scale

When we think about ranking factors in local we talk about 

  • GMB, 
  • Citations, 
  • Reviews, 
  • On-page signals (technology behind the site and content), 
  • Links (how you define prominence), and 
  • Behavior (can’t scale this). 

How do we prioritize our investment in these SEO factors? 

You want to start with the market that you are serving in. Take a market perspective when you want to improve your SEO practices. 

When it comes to content – all content changes matter to SEO. This includes

  • Title tags
  • Internal links
  • Managing redirects
  • Service pages
  • Heading structures
  • Photos

Looking Deeper into Photos
When we think about photos the opportunity is not just for your website but also GMB. Businesses are really missing out on expanding their content through high quality and relevant photos.

Here’s an example of why stock photos just don’t cut it when it comes to your website and business.

The stock photo below was used for a dentist’s website – it shows us a happy person with clean and healthy looking teeth. We don’t know where they are, who they are, they are holding a coffee cup, they are outside not inside a dentist office. Is this picture doing the job of showcasing this business? No.

Take it a step further and think, are there things that Google is doing automatically with photos that would be relevant for search?

Well, they are probably classifying the photos and do you know how they are interpreting the photos you are sharing on your website? Use their classification engine, Cloud Vision, to help you understand how Google “sees” your photos and to take better (more relevant) photos for your business.

Below is an example of using Google’s Cloud Vision API in action – see how Google understood the first image and then with some minor position and focus adjustments how Google understood the second image.

YES! When the team at Patient Pop added relevant, thoughtful, high quality photos on their clients Google Listing and websites. they saw an increase in traffic.

Allie Margeson (Whitespark)

Leveraging GMB Conversion Features: Messaging & Booking

While a few GMB elements will influence your rankings, there’s an increasing number of rich features that when optimized, can boost your conversions. 

This includes Messaging & Booking. 

Google Messaging

GMB Messaging: there is no other GMB feature that puts you in more direct contact with your customers, aside from the call button.

Customers can chat with your business through GMB Messaging by clicking the

  • Chat icon,
  • Get a Quote button on your listing, 
  • The Message button in your Google Posts.

All of these new CTAs switch on when you enable Messaging. 

Be aware: When a user completes a quote request through Messaging, GMB may prompt them to get additional quotes in just one click. This function is for the benefit of searchers, of course it’s not ideal for your business, but if you do a good job of managing Messaging – this shouldn’t be a problem. 

With the local pack Request Quotes button, if most competitors haven’t enabled Messaging, a business that wasn’t even ranking in the local pack can shoot up front and center to provide a quote.

The key benefit of Messaging is the immediacy of the medium – strike while the iron is hot. And we all know leads are impatient. Messaging is an additional way for searchers to interact with your business – not everyone wants to call, nor is everyone searching for your business when you’re open and available to one. 

Want to start leveraging conversions with GMB Bookings/Reserve with Google? Then you need to read this in-depth post from Allie Margeson!

Dev Basu (Powered By Search)

The 9 Systems Every Agency Needs to Grow and Scale

As an agency owner you’re always managing multiple plates, you’re working on your marketing and being able to get a bit more leads, and then you’re focusing on working with prospects to turn those conversations into clients. As soon as that client closes, then you’re talking to your delivery team to be able to get them a loud result and it can all be a little bit exhausting. You often don’t have the systems in place or the people and processes in place to be able to scale your business, you can feel a little bit like your battery’s low at the end of the year and your profits aren’t really any higher.

Dev found that there’s nine different systems (accelerators) necessary to grow more revenue, have more fun in the business, and to create a bit more freedom.

Zooming out and figuring out where you are on this agency bell curve can help you determine the actions you need to take to move forward.

  1. Stalling – you feel your best days have been passed up. This agency has run into the fear and ignorance line – they feel that there is not anything that they could do differently. Very small % of agencies are over here. 
  2. Sustaining – this is an okay place to be – it’s like a see-saw: you get a client, you lose a client, you are up a little,then down a little. The key here is that you need to carve a place in your market to go from being passed up to Position Up = becoming meaningfully differentiated to the clients that you actually want to attract.
  3. Scaling – this is a good place to be. They have found their niche and created a name for themselves. Getting here means that your agency has Process Up = you have established standard operating practices, you know how to delegate.
  4. Soaring – this is rare. Agencies that are two standard deviations from where most agencies are and have found a way to Perform Up = in terms of where they are going. 

There is a way to break through these levels: from stalling to sustaining to scaling to soaring through the concept of building a “Million Dollar Agency”

What does that look like in terms of a model? There are three core components:

  • Money
  • Fun
  • Freedom

Dev shared his 9 system for assessing and grading your agency, here is one you can look at today:

Build Authority 

  • You need to be able to stand out in the crowd of agencies
  • Ask yourself: how easy is it for your clients to simply, quickly and easily understand and accept why your agency is the best in the market to solve THEIR problems…
  • Are we guessing or do we know how our prospects think about us?

Ayat Shukairy (Invesp CRO)

10 Tips for WINNING CRO Experiments

You are in for a treat friends, because the brilliant Ayat shared 10 tips for winning Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and we will share a few of these gems with you.

#1 Stop Focusing on the Small Stuff

A lot of times people think that conversion rate optimization is so easy. I can do it with my eyes closed, all I have to do is just change the color of a CTA, or change a single element. This is not CRO, this is template tweaking. CRO is a lot more than that. 

There are no best practices when it comes to CRO

  • No checklists.
  • You will not get anywhere with just tweaking. 
  • You want to be looking for repeatable, sustainable growth.

If you want to succeed with CRO you need to create a process. Here is the process that Invesp CRO has created for their team known as SHIP.

#2 Interview for Growth

Ayat and her team start by focusing on a JTBD (Jobs To Be Done) interview with their clients to really get a conscious understanding of why something is happening –

  • Understand why people are doing something?
  • What are their feelings?
  • What are the social motivations and the psychological motivations that push them to make a specific purchase?

Doing this informs a lot of what your next steps are, it informs how your marketing is going to be, it’s going to inform the different elements you will incorporate into the website that really matter to this visitor. It is going to help inform the unique value proposition as well. 

“Customers have jobs that are both functional, social, and emotional in nature, and companies need to design offerings that win on both levels.”

The interviews can open up aspects that you don’t even think about that many say has nothing to do with CRO, but it does because what you are trying to do is increase revenue for your client and you can achieve this by approaching it from all angles, it doesn’t necessarily have to always be only on the website. 

Greg Sterling (Uberall)

Does Local Listings Management Still Matter?

Greg is going to present research on the impact of citations. It’s hard to find good informative data on the impact of citation, and this is great data! 

Once upon a time… managing citations or business listings was really a foundational local SEO tactic. Everyone agreed upon this. Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) consistency was relied upon by Google to verify the existence and legitimacy of local businesses. Sometimes described as “backlinks for local.” 

Listing management was very important.

Another reason why a business would want to have uniformity in their business information distribution was that they wanted people to encounter the same information, same phone number, same address, etc, when they went to different places to look up your business. If they didn’t do that then it was often being managed by the publishers themselves, the platform, or some third party. That meant that if they didn’t take control of their data, somebody else would on their behalf. 

Citations are still a factor, it’s still regarded by people as something that has a role to play in local rankings.

  • 2014 – Citations Number 1 Ranking Factor
  • 2020 – Citations Number 6 Ranking Factor 

So What’s Happened?

Google has significantly reduced its reliance on third party directories and third parties in general. Google is getting data much more directly, and is using its own efforts to validate the existence of businesses. Google is treating its own data as more authoritative. 

Another factor is that a lot of consumer destinations that people used to go to routinely, such as AOL, Yellow Pages, MapQuest, city search, etc. are all essentially gone.

So Greg and the team at Uberall really wanted to answer the questions

  • Does it matter? 
  • Does it not matter? 
  • How does it impact local rankings? 

Everyone in the industry agrees that GMB, Facebook, Yelp, Apple Maps, and Bing are very important listings sites. Then some verticals are still critical for certain industries. 

Uberall Study

Uberall wanted to know:

  • Does going beyond the business listings that everyone agrees on matter?
  • What’s the impact (if any) on local visibility and consumer engagement?

What they did:

  • Examined 115,000 enterprise and SMB locations in the US and Europe to determine the impact of extended directory distribution on local search and Google Maps visibility. 
  • Data was collected from January 2019 – October 2020.
  • Control group featured inclusion in GMB, Facebook, Apple Maps, and Bing.
  • Experimental group featured extended distribution (varied by market) to roughly 70 total directories included in the study.

The Findings (Short answer: there was an impact!)

  • Listings distributed on 10+ sites saw an average of 80% improved local visibility on Google.
  • An average of 67% improvement in consumer actions for businesses listed on 10+ directories.
  • When distribution was extended to 30+ directories, user actions increased by more than 136%.
  • Profile completeness also boosted visibility and resulted in a 69% increase in website clicks.

As you add more distribution, you’re seeing a corresponding, positive effect in terms of visibility on Google rankings.


Why Listings Management is STILL Important

  • Consumers are even more engaged at the local level than before COVID.
  • Listing consistency is no longer the top local ranking factor, but Google still values third party citations.
  • Active listings management across a network can produce a double-digit life in search visibility and engagement.
  • Those visibility gains can translate directly into revenue.

Diana Richardson (Semrush)

Finding Your Tribe: Social Media Marketing & Community Building for Small or Niche Businesses

A lot of businesses make the claim that their audience is not on social media, but Diana Richardson is here to prove you wrong! 

Communities available to find your audience

  • Video (YouTube, TikTok..)
  • Conversations & audio (Twitter, Chats, Podcasts, Clubhouse)
  • Facebook Groups 
  • Business vs Personal (LinkedIn)

Getting started with building a community

  1. Test various channels to find your audience
  2. Don’t forget that it takes a lot of trial and error and testing. Don’t be discouraged if things don’t work right out of the gate. 
  3. Remember that not ALL social platforms will work for your business. 

Whatever your “experience” is with existing customer base, you need to recreate that on social media. 

Here’s one of the real life examples Diana shared of a local record shop, Trax on Wax, who’s audience is very active and engaged on Facebook and he’s creating posts that center around content about the local community, behind the scenes, social commentary & the experience with the shop. 

Diana Richardson - Trax on Wax post example-2

What works best for the Trax on Wax community:

  • No sales
  • Funny
  • Authentic
  • Personality
  • On theme (music)
  • Making the most out of a niche
  • Consistency

Tips to help your business build a community 

  • The content you share is critical
  • Test, test, test
  • Consistency is key
  • Cultivate an experience 
  • Engage and show up

Aaron Weiche (Leadferno)

Removing Friction to Gain Results

Aaron Wieche walked attendees through the ways in which your business can remove friction on your website to gain more conversion results. 

We can be our own roadblocks to conversions – there are many ways in which we cause friction in our lead generation processes that prevent conversions and get in the way of our customers’ destination. 

As a business you want to remove the fear of the unknown for a website visitor. You need to answer their common concerns and give them confidence to take the next step. 

  • Are you the expert?
  • Can I trust you?
  • Are you the best value?
  • When can we start? 

Below is an example of removing the fear:

Give Visitors Clear and Concise Directions That Are

  • Action driven and relevant (bonus if you can evoke emotion – trust, excitement…)
  • Draw the eye (style, color, placement)
  • Give an expectations (do X to get X) 

Rethink Your Approach to Lead Capture

  • Don’t create a form of doom with 15-20 questions.  
  • Another way of removing friction is thinking about ‘what do I actually need to know from this customer?” vs “what’s everything that I can get?
  • If you have to use a longer form, make it more visual and engaging to improve the customer experience. Consider adding a progress bar to simplify the steps. 

Did you learn something new today that you are going to apply in your local SEO practice or for your small business? Share what it is in the comments below. 👇 There is still one more day left of knowledge sharing. If you want full access to the content and all recordings, you can buy our Video Bundle.


Team Whitespark

At Whitespark we are all about helping enterprises, agencies, and small businesses solve local search problems and get answers to their burning questions. We work together as a team to answer all your inquiries. The answers come from Jessie Low, Allie Margeson, Tessa Hughes, Sydney Marchuk, and Tomas Acuna .

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