Video: Last Week in Local February 22, 2021
Carrie Hill

Mike, Mary, and Carrie discuss news from the last week in local for our week ending February 22.  On tap this week is some Uber/Prop22 Roasting, Google’s “Spamfighting” propaganda, resources to learn SEO and Local SEO – and much more.

Last Week in Local is a look back at the interesting and important articles from the previous week. It covers critical industry trends, interesting local news, and tactical insights for anyone interested in Local Search.

🎙️ Subscribe to the Podcast
🎥 Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
📧 Subscribe to the LocalU/Sterling Sky Newsletter
💬 Join the LocalU Premium Forums

Mike’s Links:

Mary’s Links:

Carrie’s Links:

Transcription of this episode

Mike: Hi, welcome to last week in the local for the week ending February 22nd. Thank you for joining myself, Carrie hill, Mary bowling. As I pointed out February 22nd, we used, when I was young, a few years back, we used to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. And I think. Lincoln’s birthday was February 12th.

They ultimately decided to celebrate all those white guys on president’s day. But we used to have two holidays in February. 

Mary: Yeah, we still have two holidays in February. So now one of them is Martin Luther King’s birthday. Is 

Mike: it? Isn’t that January 3rd? That was January 16th, but something like that, but I don’t know.

Anyways. All right. So 80 and 

Carrie: company, so we get a day off and I don’t even, they call it family day or something like that. I’m like, okay,

Mary: leave it to those Canadians.

Mike: I start this off with a little bit of grim industry news, but today I’m going to start it off with a lighter piece. I found a very interesting website called I missed my and they allow you to recreate your favorite bars atmosphere with seven or eight different soundtracks. So you can dial in the.

Your drink being poured, you can dial in the servers, picking up dishes. You can dial in the noise of people talking and of rain pounding on the window outside. It does not provide smoke. You have to bring it BYO. S so if you’re looking for a diversion from your daily routine as you wait out the last few months before you get a jab, try, I miss my

Which I don’t, but you might 

Mary: is the idea that you sit in front of your computer and listen to these sounds. 

Mike: I think the idea is, I don’t know what the idea is. That was cute. 

Carrie: Turn it all on. And it feels like you’re in a bar then you’re not at home in the dark drinking by yourself. 

Mary: Okay. Now I get it.

Mike: Okay. 

Carrie: Uber like an Oculus interface. So you could like VR your way into the bar.

Mike: Get carried home virtually in an Uber, throw up in the bank.

Carrie: They figured out a way to charge you for it. 

Mike: Speaking of Uber, they lost a major employment rights case in the UK 25 drivers took them to court claiming that they were in fact, employees should be treated like employees, Uber lost in plays one. It for a priest tells or tells a likelihood of changing labor relations story in London simultaneously or likewise, the United States, where last fall we talked about prop 22.

This was the Bill that was passed in California by a public ballot, supported by Uber and Lyft and door dash, which overrode the California law, making drivers, employees and eligible for employees rights got overturned. So now many companies in relating fields are feeling the knock-on effects of this.

In December, for example, Albertsons, the supermarket chains started informing delivery drivers. They’d be replaced by contractors. So you can expect to see much more use of contractors and of attempts to avoid traditional obligations like sick pay overtime pay, et cetera, expense payment. 

Mary: Yeah. And I’ve always tried to opt to be one of the good guys instead of one of the bad guys.

It’s very easy to screw people over. It’s also very easy to get absolute loyalty from people if you treat them well. To me, it makes no sense to treat your employees like they’re your enemies. 

Carrie: Unfortunately, they just, they feel they. They feel like employees are collateral damage they’re replaceable.

And so if they don’t like it, they can leave and they’ll hire somebody else. And it’s just more corporate douchebaggery in my 

Mary: opinion, it’s just terrible. 

Mike: In local news podium Did a really nice state of online reviews report this past week, they surveyed 1500 consumers, 455 small business owners and another 375 enterprise leaders to better understand reviews and the role they play.

If you’re looking for a really good salad at top level view of reviews from all three points of view, this is a report worth reading. I found it very well done and a lot of interesting snippets about changing consumer behavior as well as changing business behavior. Essentially. It’s everything we’ve known for a long time, in terms of consumers reading more reviews, more consistently they’re looking for obviously review qua quality, quantity and responses and that it looked at it from the point of view of businesses need to be making it easier for consumers to leave reviews.

And they looked at some of the statistics on what happened when a business encourage your use, that kind of stuff. So well done report. Google at their blog reported on how they tackle fake and fraudulent contributing content in local. They noted that they over in the past year, 2020, they blocked or removed 55 million policy violating reviews and nearly 3 million fake business.

Profiles to give you some sense of scale. I believe they have roughly a hundred million business profiles typically at any one time. So about 3%, this is 20 million fewer reviews, and then removed in 2019, drop it over all number of views. They believe it’s due to fewer people being out and about during COVID.

They also took down nearly a million reviews and 300,000 visits profiles that were reported by users. This is an increase over 2019 due to increased use of automated moderation in conjunction with manual review flagged content. 

Carrie: This is just one of those. Hey, you can’t talk bad about us because we did all of this stuff kind of press releases, but honestly it’s like you said, in the pre-talk mic, it’s not enough. It’s not enough. They don’t take it seriously enough. And real-world people get hurt because of it like car insurance or whatever, that’s, It’s lead gen and you can choose not to hire whoever you end up talking to on the phone, but drug rehab emergency urgent care.

Like they still haven’t fixed that and it’s still not fixed. And that is a real big problem that affects real people with real problems. 

Mike: How’s that mean as I’ve pointed out before they view this as a statistical problem, as opposed to, they view it as from the point of view of relevance and statistical impact, which as is not how the individual who.

Inadvertently chose the wrong rehab center views. It they’re incapable constitutionally incapable of seeing this anything other than a data point. Whereas you and me and the small business down the street views it as a lifeline to their customers or as a consumer sees it as a access to their trade.

And their view is largely incompatible with a functioning society. 

Carrie: I agree. I think that they you’re right. They look at it as a data point and it’s so much more than that. And I don’t think they’ll ever change because if they do, that’s admitting that they did something wrong or they’re not doing enough, or they’re responsible for that bad result and they’ll never change.

And I think we’re going to be dealing with spam and garbage listings in a decade. 

Mike: Yeah, I think it’s not even an issue of admitting culpability. They are protected under federal law, pretty with a pretty blanket provision in section two 30. So they don’t need to worry about culpability. I think they view it that they can’t scale moderation effectively the way they scale output.

And it’s an economic issue for them that it just isn’t worth it. The returns are not worth the benefit. So if they remove and I’d say 3 million business listing reaches 3% of the total, if they remove another 2% through increased moderation, they don’t view that as worth it. In other words, they just care about it being clean enough.

They don’t want it to be clean. It had to be clean enough that they don’t get criticized, or if they do get criticized, they can waste a lot of 

Carrie: it. Yeah, I think my culpability stint was more like the court of public opinion versus The whole legal side of things. I think that they say things like this and they put out releases like this so that they think it shuts us up.

Like they think that, but we did all this well. Yeah. That’s great. But it’s still not enough. That’s my beef with it, I think is 

Mike: that. Part of the difficulty is the lack of transparency. We just don’t know what 3 million means. And we don’t know how they would pick them, which ones they picked. There’s just, and we don’t know how many are really in there at any given point in time.

So some of it is this lack of transparency because we just don’t know if these numbers are meaningful or not. We still see this stuff every day, 

Mary: as somebody who tries to report these kinds of things, they’re not meaningful at all because I know that I’m reporting things that are obviously against the guidelines, the published guidelines.

I show them where to go to, to see the proof of this and they get denied. So I, to me, it’s just BS. 

Mike: I agree, but can I say bill Slawsky who as many of long-time SEO who suffered some health problems is back writing, which is nice to see. And at his own blog, SEO by the sea, he wrote up a new patent from Google.

How is a knowledge panel for an entity triggered? The Google patent name is determining that information perfection today should be provided with search results. So it’s interesting. So the question is, and I did some experiments with this in I think back in 2015 with my dive bar experiment, which wasn’t showing No that’s graph results.

But what’s interesting about this patent is that one of the ways that Google’s identifies when a business profile shouldn’t be shown is when the click through rate for each search result is too low. So they’re making the assumption either that they’re not providing an adequate answer on the page or enough relevant.

Links on the page or the links on the page are not well enough to describe that users are willing to click through. Google, wants to then fill that in backfill, that information and provides knowledge graph. And whether that’s because they think they have better information where they think they have a shot at giving the user better information or.

What it is. I’m not quite sure, but that triggers the knowledge gap. In other words, a lack of click-throughs which engineers demand several levels. One is it implies that if you had better title tags, if you had better meta description tags, maybe they wouldn’t show as many knowledge. And you may have, and whether that can change after the fact, I don’t know.

In other words, once Google starts showing and I was going to find a search, do they ever stop showing it? 

Carrie: Yeah. I think the lesson in that or the to-do item is to really look at your search console and decide if you’re ranking quite well for something and your click through rate is low, you better improve that, free ad before Google decides they’re going to.

Scrape more content off your site and throw it in there or whatever they are going to do with it, pull it from your GMB or whatever. But I think that that’s a worthwhile task, right? To improve what the user sees for those queries and see if you can improve your click through rate. And I’m not saying that might improve your ranking, but.


Mike: So final piece of news, which we’re going to talk about a little bit was a really stellar piece of long form work from Miriam Ellis at the Moz blog, essential local SEO strategy guide. Basically targeting any reader who has a beginner to intermediate acquaintance with local SEO this hopefully will provide them as they pointed out a next level of education to improve their skill set covers understanding local SERPs.

She does nice graphics, driving a user through the results assessing demand and analyzing local markets, analyzing on-page SEO and local business listings. Developing reputation, review strategy analyzing local business, creating a publishing strategy. Crafting a robust local marketing strategy and then local search automation, analytics and reporting.

So fairly comprehensive long form, I think great is a training tool. I know you guys both read it in both headed on your list to mention today. Your thoughts 

Mary: is really long form content. It’s 150 pages. I wouldn’t try to just read it all at once, but it is something I know the first the first day I started at internet marketing agency, they handed me a printed book called unfair advantage, searching planet, ocean 

Carrie: planet, 

Mary: and sent me home and tell him, he told me to come back after I’ve read it.

And this would be the kind of. Thing that you would do with this particular piece of information, it’s got a lot of details, not just about what to do, but why you should do it. And it doesn’t just talk about local search, but about branding in your local market. I think it’s a great piece. And then Carrie had one also from a latest solace on the other guide.

Carrie: So Aledo wrote a or wrote created a website learning And basically it’s like a how to understand and learn SEO, not local specific, but SEO from the ground up with flow charts and resources, and it’s all free stuff. Delete linked to free opportunities and resources for you. And I think between these two guides.

You could get a pretty solid understanding of. What SEO is what local SEO is and the tasks that you can complete to affect local SEO. Now, that being said, as Mary always says, your best tools are your brain and your eyes. And, as we found out, testing is a great feature, right? So I think that this is like the fundamental right.

Like base knowledge that you need to have, and then you just need to do it, you need to go out and try, build yourself a website and teach yourself these tactics and implement them and see what works for you. See what doesn’t work? Because the honest to God thing is, especially in local, what works on one market for one niche, won’t work in another market for another niche.

That’s you can’t just make blanket this does this. Across the board kind of thing, but I think this is like a great fundamental entry level. The training tools, both of them are 

Mary: right. And they’re both current. There’s so much stuff out there on the internet that. You don’t know when it was written how recent it is.

You don’t know the authority of the writer. In these two instances, we can really vouch for recency and really knowledgeable people writing writing and trying to help you 

Mike: with high ethical standards and sustainable. Sustainable tactics that won’t get you in trouble. 

Mary: Then John Shahada, who’s an old friend of all of ours who runs the SEO program at Honda Nast.

Mike: So Conde Nast is a range of magazines. Bon Appetit, but also things like biz journals and number of other local newspapers. So sorry, 

Mary: go ahead. Travel magazines and stuff. And he, and it doesn’t sound like it from that description, but he’s been involved in local search for a very long time. Yes.

That’s how we all met. That started 

Mike: in their local newspaper chain. Sort of the branch of the company that owns the Nast owned local newspapers. He got started there and has also worked on ABC and some other grand large scale SEO projects. 

Mary: So you could tell, we all really are cheerleaders for John.

But what he has is a guide for Google discover. And he says it’s basically Google’s Facebook feed. And he talks about when it appears, why it appears how to optimize for it as best you can. And one other bonus is he’s looking for several SEO managers for his team at Conde Nast. He’d be a great guy to work for and to learn from.

Mike: And I think discover offers some opportunity for SEO and for highlighting articles, particularly also as an opportunity for highlighting local Google stories, both of which appear in my stream, local. Stories and the stories from Google as well as local news, both appear in my discover stream or Google because of my search patterns.

It’s a little bit different than Facebook, right? Because it’s not an issue of liking it and. Them understanding my liking preferences as it’s based very heavily on my search behavior. So if I’ve recently searched tree bikes and I get articles on eight bikes, if I’ve recently searched for Honda CRV, I get articles that onto CRVs.

Mary: If you search for how to make bombs, would it give you all kinds of information? 

Mike: That’s a good question. By Google reviews. I’m not sure. I want to say the B word on the air. We’ll have the feds down our neck thinking we’re white nationalists. I don’t know.

Mary: Aye. I personally, I don’t use Facebook, never have. But to me it’s like your Google must be going down a really dark road if they want to be like Facebook. Everything that everybody criticizes Facebook for is built into. Facebook’s algorithm. It was born that way. And I don’t think if I was Google, I’d be trying to emulate anything that face-to-face 

Mike: play here is more in the news space than in the social sharing space.

This isn’t about what gets shared a lot. It’s about what it really is individualized as opposed to popularized. And so there’s no. From my point of view, no incentive here for clickbait, because it’s looking to satisfy my queries, which is different than satisfying my vicarious desire to click through clickbait, which is what shows up in my new, my Facebook feed largely.

So it’s, I think it’s more of a NewSpace play and I have found it. I check it once a day. Like I check Apple news once a day. Like I check my own newsfeed a couple of times a day, I’m news driven and I find it moderately useful. 

Mary: If you wanted to make a bomb, would you also find it useful?

Mike: I don’t know that, like I said I don’t know. You’d have to. Why don’t you ask him Mary, come back next week, test it. Didn’t you just tell us, test it. Let us know.


Mary: only thing is the FBI is going to show up at my door. 

Mike: You than me. I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to hide. 

Mary: Then at SEO round table they have an article about Google, my business auto-populating services into your GMB panel on mobile. And you can edit and delete specific services, but they often return.

So make sure you keep checking them. I’m seeing a lot of comments out there that they come from the business’s website. But if that was true, I wouldn’t expect that I would delete them and they would keep popping back up again. So I’m sure it’s much more complex than that. And I would be keeping an eye on what’s going on with GMB and what options I was given as far as managing my services.

Carrie: And the flip side is if you offer services or products and they’re not showing up. Why aren’t they, like, why is Google not associating your brand with those things you do? 

Mary: Maybe you should fix that. And then in France they have an official rating system for hotels and the governments find Google 1.1 million euros for publishing its own ratings in the SERPs.

Instead of publishing their official ratings, they claim it’s misleading and harmful to consumers. So now Google is publishing the official star rating. But they’ve also, given in and paid that fine. Because I guess they figured it was not worth fighting it any 

Mike: longer. Yeah. So just as a note, I did a little bit of back of the napkin math and that’s one fifth of 1% of their daily income.

For the year. So 

Carrie: one fifth of 1% of their daily income. Correct. So that’s the change out of the jar next to the coffee pot to go by, 

Mike: right? The manager told me, 

Carrie: Buy it for anybody. They don’t want you to pay for that for you. 

Mike: The manager told the intern to go take it out of the petty gas, jarring to give it to him already get him.

It’s like they really had too much paperwork on her desk. They didn’t need one more thing from the EU. 

Mary: And over to you, Carrie. 

Carrie: Awesome. We already talked about a latest, so Lisa’s new website, learning I think you should definitely give that a look. We did our first Google, my.

Business chat, GMB chat on Twitter on February 9th. And basically what this is we solicited a bunch of questions from our followers, our Facebook group, et cetera, about GMB. And we had a bunch of GMB experts come and answer the questions. We had a lot of other people weigh in as well. And so we went through 10.

Okay. Fairly common questions that we get about GMB and people weighed in and answered the questions, usually using this specific hashtag GMB chat. So if you’ve not participated in a Twitter chat, that’s how they work. And w like I said, we got 10 great questions, lots of different answers. Lots of people weighing in on, on.

Solutions or ways to solve the problems. I post published a recap on the local you blog. So if you want to go through and see the questions, then the best answers you can look at it there. Or you can just go to Twitter and search hashtag GMB chat, and you’ll get the stuff from that 

Mary: day. Is this something that we’re going to be doing 

Carrie: regularly?

Yeah. We’re having another one on the 9th of March. I’m going to try and do a monthly so March 9th at 11 o’clock Eastern, we’ll do another one. Like I think it’s the second Tuesday of the month is what we’re going to try and do. 

Mary: And who should they follow to? Keep up with the dates on these? 

Carrie: They can follow the hashtag GMB chat or you can follow me.

Or Sterling sky Inc, or local uni, you UNIV uni

Joy recorded a video for the Google help center, is what it is about how you can get ownership, access to a Google, my business listing. We run into this a lot where somebody works for a company and they leave and then the owner, the next one. Person that comes into that position. Can’t get logged in so they can’t manage the account.

How do I get access? And this video is really informative for a brick and mortar business or a service area business. Cause it’s a little different for each one on how you can get that access. It’s on YouTube. I have the link in the blog that accompanies this. I recommend you bookmark that because more than likely if you’ll work in local search at some point in time, you’re going to run into this problem.

It’s pretty common. Marshall Nyman wrote an article at search engine journal called seven local marketing measurement, best practices for times of crisis, which is timely. And I think what probably prompted it is what happened in Texas. Last week and is still ongoing with the very cold weather and snow and stuff.

They’re not just not prepared for, I, somebody said on Twitter, it would be like us in Colorado, all of a sudden having to deal with a hurricane. Like we’re just not equipped for this at all. And I thought it was interesting because he talks about the things you should be looking at in a crisis.

Like your website, traffic, maybe a majority desktop, but in a crisis when people don’t have power or electricity or what I find, they’re probably like in their cars, charging their phones, looking for access, not sitting at their desk. Looking for information on how to call you right there, driving around, trying to find a pipe part so that they could fix the pipe.

That burst a thing. So I thought it was really interesting, keep these in mind kind of post. So I definitely recommend. That one. And then the last thing I have is please don’t forget locally advanced is coming up on April 7th. I’m hoping to have the agenda published by Wednesday. We’ve got Lily, Ray speaking, they’ll learn her speaking.

Greg Gifford, Tom Waddington joy. Colin Nielsen from Sterling sky is gonna present this time. Aaron Jones from Sterling. Sky’s our MC so that’s going to be fun because. Aaron’s one of my favorite people. We all know that. I really recommend you get a ticket they’re only $99. You’ll have access to the on-demand afterwards.

I usually get those videos posted within the week. So if you can’t attend the day of on the seventh, you’ll still have access. At the lowest price possible. If you need a scholarship, if you need some help and you still want to come, please apply for a scholarship. We have some great sponsors for scholarships that are helping us out.

So I really recommend either way, either buying a ticket so that we can give more scholarships or if you need a scholarship apply for one, I had never said no, so go for it. And that’s all I have. 

Mike: That wraps up another week in a local with Mike, Mary, and Carrie. Thank you very much for joining us.

As we move into spring, may you stay healthy and stay safe. Take care. Thanks for joining us. 

Mary: Bye everybody.

Carrie comes to Sterling Sky with SEO experience that dates back to 2005! She has a passion for figuring out what works for each and every client and picking apart the problems that arise in our “it depends” relationship with Google. She has also been organizing and nurturing the LocalU Conference Series since 2017 – through to today – across a hectic few years of pandemic and back into in-person conferences again.