Our Favorite Takeaways from LocalUp Advanced

Moz & Local U teamed up to create the first annual LocalUp Advanced conference. Many of the best and the brightest in local search made it out to the event and left conference attendees with much to think about. There was definitely no shortage of tips, tricks, and takeaways, but the following gems resonated with us here at Whitespark (in no particular order).

Yelp Matters

There is no denying that Yelp is a local powerhouse, so instead of avoiding it like the plague, David Mihm provided some awesome tips on how to utilize Yelp to help your local business.

1. Find out which of your followers are also Yelpers: Facebook graph search – “people who like (business name) and use Yelp”

Using the Facebook graph search you can target specific customers who are also Yelpers (a true Yelper loves to leave reviews, check-in, upload photos, etc). Strategically requesting customer feedback from an active Yelper can be just the kind of boost your reviews need. Should your customer wish to leave you a review on Yelp the probability of their review being filtered out is MUCH lower than someone who never uses the site. While nothing is guaranteed when it comes to Yelp, this is one strategy you should employ if your business is in need of some review loving.

Facebook Graph Search Tips:

  • To get results specific to your business you will need to be an Admin of the Facebook page
  • Don’t search as the business, use your own personal account
  • Don’t use the “quotes” when searching. We would get the message when we used quotes, “Sorry, we couldn’t find any results for this search”

Looking for more ideas on how you can utilize the Facebook search graph? Check out this post.


2. Try promoting your Yelp page indirectly: “Send Yelpers to a SERP for your Yelp page so Yelp can’t see those referrals”

The infamous Yelp filter baffles most users and business owners. Yelp has made it very clear that they stand by their “quality control” standards and strongly believe in their algorithm’s ability to highlight useful reviews and filter out nonesense. Yelp has also made it clear that soliciting reviews is a big no-no and can get your listing suspended. It’s likely that they are monitoring the referral source and can tell when the source is direct or from an email system like gmail. By linking to the search results, rather than direectly to your Yelp listing, you’re side-stepping one possible check they might be using in their filter.


3. Use Yelp’s internal friend finder

This is a great tip that Darren Shaw first presented at his talk at SearchFest in 2013, and it came up again at LocalUp.

Basically, Yelp will filter out reviews from people that aren’t active on the site. I know you’re not supposed to ask for reviews on Yelp, but if you just wanted to “let people know you have a yelp page”, wouldn’t it be great if you could find your customers, friends, and family who are already active Yelpers? Well, you can! Yelp provides a friend finder that lets you load up your email contact list (customers), or connect to facebook (friends and family).

Thanks Yelp!

4. Get some Yelp advertising on the cheap

Yelp advertising is pretty pricey. David Mihm noted that you can use Google Adwords Display Network ads to target Yelp. Wise words that can help your bottomline!


Reviews are crictical when it comes to local SEO. Mike Blumenthal shared his case study indicating that customers are more likely to review a business, when provided with a number of different review site options. Mike Ramsey also touched upon the importance of reviews and how using a review management system is helpful for keeping you organized, but can help you get more cutomer feedback and reviews. A good review strategy will be incorporated into the customer experience.


David Mihm suggested that Google will start looking at G+ account history/usage/etc when it comes to reviews.

If (when?) this happens, Google will be taking a page from Yelp’s playbook to improve their review filter.


User Behavior Signals

Dr. Pete Meyers conducted a click-through-analysis and found that more and more of Google’s local ranking decisions are happening in real-time.

The results of Dr. Pete’s analysis correlate with the results Darren Shaw found during his click-through-rate testing for the Dallas State of Search conference. Darren conducted a variety of CTR tests to see if rankings could be impacted and if the results would stick. Not only did his findings show that local ranking results are being impacted in real-time (sometimes immediately and sometimes over a short period of time), but also that Google is using click-through data to determine local ranking results and it is easy to manipulate the results. Want to learn more? Check out his presentation on User Behavior and Local Search or watch this Max Impact on Behavioural Local Signals to hear him discuss the topic further.


Amp Up Your Local Keyword Research

Keyword research in the local sphere is usually straightforward, but did you know you can take your long tail keyword research to a whole new level with wildcard searches (*) and (_). Mary Bowling got the LocalUp crowd excited about implementing wildcard searches in the keyword research process.

Not only can these types of searches help you uncover new potential content areas that you can exploit, they also open up the floor to seeing how users are searching for your brand. Phil Rozek recently interviewed Mary on how to use wildcard searches for your local keyword research, if you aren’t already taking advantage of long tail keywords, read this post to see why you should.


Mobile Friendly

Last November, Google publicly announced that mobile-friendly websites will be marked with a tag to help users find results that are easy to navigate. They even went as far as describing the types of behavior to avoid and how to make sure your website is structured for easy mobile use. Cindy Krum shared this simple and highly useful tip on searching your own website on mobile to see what pages Google has marked as mobile-friendly

The message of having a mobile-friendly website that offers seamless experiences was echoed in Aaron Weiche’s presentation. He made an excellent point that “mobile content doesn’t mean less content” and your user experience should be so intuitive that it does the work for them.

If we think about mobile UX in terms of organic SEO, it makes perfect sense to have a flawless experience. After all, a poor experience can result in all sorts of negative metrics that will have an impact on organic rankings. Combined with the fact that your ultimate goal is to have the phone ringing and people in the door, it’s critical to have a mobile UI that fosters the actions that encourage these behaviors.

The Takeaway: pay close attention to your mobile strategy and user behaviour. Instead of simplifying content, foster the actions you want to be taken while making it easier to access the same information no matter device is being used.


What’s Your Brand Voice?

Don’t Just Show Up, Stand OutDana DiTomaso

What’s your brand voice? Do you have one? Build your brand voice, it’s more than just how you communicate on social media and it allows you to spend more time on being interesting rather than trying to figure out what to say.


Want to see how the competition is doing? Do they have a stronger brand voice? Test it out!


Local Content is Everything – Be Local, Be Useful

Mike Ramsey’s presentation Local Content + Scale + Creativity = Awesome Strategy was chock-full of local content tactics and brainstorming ideas. Here are our favourites:

Reverse infographic search – seriously, need we say more?!


Find inspiration from companies who are killing it with awesome local content:

AirBnb curated fantastic neighbourhood guides and made them scalable through forming relationships with local photographers in each city.


REI – Not only do they have local landing pages for each store location across the country. These landing pages have all the details you would possibly want regarding the store location, hours, contact information, images, and local event listings and classes that visitors can register for. Not only is this helpful to your users it’s a perfect way to execute local content that is useful.


 Movoto has made it their business to be an insider about where to live and why. This content speaks for itself.


Share insider content that only local people would know and understand


There was so much fantastic knowledge shared at LocalUp Advanced, this is a conference not to be missed!

What were your favorite takeaways from the event?


Jessie Low

Jessie wears many hats here at Whitespark. From curating the monthly newsletter to managing marketing initiatives, and everything in between. She is the go-to helper for all things Whitespark.

Follow Me on Twitter

13 comments on “Our Favorite Takeaways from LocalUp Advanced

  • Awesome write-up. Thanks for putting the time into sharing some strategies for 2015. I really like the idea of making the local landing page more engaging with local city events and hot spots. Will be using that with my local business clients!

  • Thanks for sharing all this great information with those that weren’t able to attend the event. I really love the idea of sending Yelpers to a SERP page to avoid filtering. I’ll definitely be sharing that nugget with our Social team!

  • Having attended the conference I think this is a great overview of the speakers. My favorite takeaway was when the concept of being local and being useful. Instead of just using content and writing as if you were local or useful, actually be local and useful. Of course, that was just my favorite highlight, the conference as a whole was great.

  • Thank you for sharing these tips! Sad I couldn’t make it up so really appreciate hearing about Yelp and seeing the great local page examples.

  • Some great ideas here! The Yelp idea especially – thanks for the write up.

    I’m not too sure about how the Mobile Friendly concept works, as in the screenshot it is showing the Moz site to be mobile friendly, yet it is not responsive nor do they have a specific mobile site. Still some work for Google to do there then (?)


  • Hey @Josh Hamit.

    I am digging the Yelp ideas too! I hope your clients see some success. With regards to the mobile friendly concept, the site search that Rand completed was for his personal blog on Moz, site:moz.com/rand – which is responsive and so returns the mobile-friendly tag versus the rest of the Moz site.

    @Andy Kuiper – Yes Google please deal with this. Just another way for pesky spammers to impact/mess with ranking results.

    @Greg Montoya – I think people forget to be creative with local landing pages. You could even go a step further and include a blog post reviewing any of those local city events or hot spots that are listed on the local page, add images, perhaps an interview with attendees or organizers and now you have more enhanced/relevant local content.


  • Thanks for sharing some info from LocalUp Advanced.

    In regards to reviews, we use our own review website to get clients to first leave reviews there. If they leave a 4 or 5 star review, they then get asked to leave it elsewhere including Yelp and Google+. Anything less, and it thanks them for their review and doesn’t ask them to leave it elsewhere. This helps managing our clients reviews. It doesn’t stop bad reviews, but it helps.

    As for Yelp, why do they only show some advertisers good reviews on the landing page, and the remainder of the reviews (which are mostly bad) on a page you have to click through to see? I don’t want to accuse them of anything, but come on.

    Regarding Andy’s comment, I agree. There’s software available through a bot network that can manipulate click-through rates.

  • Hi Jessie,
    I follow plenty of SEO Blogs, but the Yelp Tips that you have shared here are amazing. And about the last tip, to create more local content, i totally agree with you, especially for brands that are focused only locally.

    Great Advices, will be a regular follower her.
    And if i could, i would love to share some of the points here with my followers?

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