Video: Last Week in Local 3/1/2021
Carrie Hill

Mike, Mary, and Carrie discuss news from the last week in local for our week ending March 1. We discuss YouTube Shorts, GMB Conversion Factors, GMB Cover Photos, an Algorithm update,  Local University Advanced on April 7, 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.

Mike’s Links:

Mary’s Links:

Carrie’s Links:


last week in local 3.1.2021

Mike: hi, welcome to the last week in local with myself. Mike Blumenthal, Mary bowling, Carrie Hill. Thank you very much for joining us for another week. We’re coming up on, at least for me and perhaps many others are. First COVID anniversary. I count the days it’s been for me 355 or something that I’ve been In COVID we’re ready sort of isolation.

So anyways but things are looking up third vaccine. I’ve actually got jabbed. I think you have to marry, right? I got my first shot. Yep. Yep. I got my first shot to my second chance next week. So things are looking up. I’m hopeful 

Carrie: that the new approval of the new vaccine, that Johnson.

Speed up my age group, like the younger people. 

Mike: When I blew the math, it looks like everybody wants it should have won by June of that. The question is whether everybody wants us enough, but we’ll see. So right into the new rooms, people right into the news. Interesting story from variety. I don’t normally read variety, but I do follow Walmart for a number of reasons.

One is I think that they are. Innovative in the space of local, in the sense of buy online and pick up in store types of things. We’ve talked a lot about their groceries. They’ve done. They’ve really upgraded their whole robotics kit capacity over the last couple of weeks, too. Pick and pull with minimum number of people.

They have one of the best logistics networks in the United States. So they’re one of the few companies and one of the best procurement sort of strategies in terms of low price. So they’re one of the few companies that can go toe to toe with Amazon. There’s an interesting new content strategy. They’re testing with a company called eco where they are producing using celebrities, cooking shows that are interactive so that the user can click to see the recipe can click to change certain ingredients in the recipe.

And then when they’re done, they can click to order for local pickup the ingredients in the recipe, which I thought was just a fascinating. W development in taking static content video, turning it into interactive content and then tying it back into a local purchase. I thought, and they noted that the click-through rate on these videos is on close to 9% to the e-commerce basket and placing the order, which is significantly higher than most e-commerce click through rates.

Carrie: It’s so interesting to me because I I live in an area that’s I consider fairly rural. A lot of times, like if you watch food network or cooking channel or whatever, and they’re making stuff and I’m like I can’t get any of that shit here. No Trump oil. Maybe yeah. I’d probably would go to vitamin cottage for it.

And. The whole foods, whole paycheck. I think that I like the idea of producing the content with okay. This has to be stuff that you can buy at Walmart grocery in mind, because a lot of times when you see that kind of content, it is. Utensils or tools or things that you can’t get nearby.

I have to order it. And by the time I get it ordered, get it here. I’m going to forget about what I was going to make with it. Saying, I find it very fascinating and a great use of that kind of online to offline transition. I love 

Mike: it. Yeah, it’s intriguing. It’s the QVC model, right? It’s for the people kind of thing.

It’s for everybody. And it’s not, it’s something that I think somebody with a Shopify cart could, it, it couldn’t do quite this fits gauge level, but they could mimic it with a pre. Like a link that would, pre-fill a cart with the ingredients for say a plumbing at home plumbing project or something like that.

Carrie: Or they could put like an interstitial button in their YouTube video that was like, click here to order this part or click here to order this tool. And it took you right to that thing. And you could add it to your cart as each thing came up and they talked about it, just click here and it’ll add it to your cart and yeah.

I love that idea. I think that’s great. As somebody who uses YouTube videos to fix everything, like that’s how I wired my pantry for while Tricity was with the YouTube video, your husband didn’t do it. Oh no. Todd doesn’t do electrical

I drew that line but, being able to watch a video and be like, that’s the thing I need. Boom. I have it kind of thing. I love that 

Mary: affiliate marketers have been doing that sort of thing for years. They’ll say, like these are the top 10 ski boots for 2021, and then there’s a link everywhere for where you can buy the ski 

Carrie: boots.

Marketing has ruined that for me, because I know that those top 10 things are the ones that have the biggest payout for the affiliate marketers, not necessarily the top 10 boots. 

Mike: And it’s totally skewed, right? Residency sites. You can’t find the recipe anymore. Speaking of YouTube, though, YouTube is now encouraging in a beta farm creators to upload short, vertical videos that are.

60 seconds or less and tagged with the hashtag shorts in the title or description, in a tic-tac we’re coming for you play to be shown in the to the, to fill various carousels in both the YouTube app. And now in Google discover Google, the Stover being the feed. That goes, that shows up on Google, based on your previous searches and interests both mobily and on the desktop, certain searches.

And I just see the shorts as a potentially quick Zippy way to gain some space in the discover feed for a small business and as a, it is a format that every business should be able to do. So if you are looking for people that. Maybe want to do it themselves, watch short video that would take them to more content.

Or if you’re looking for people that think they want to do it for themselves, and then decided not to me, this might be a way to get some exposure in the video in the Google discover string. 

Carrie: Is there any coincidence here that Tik TOK videos are 60 seconds in vertical orientation? 

Mike: Yeah, I think there’s more than a little Facebook also announced a beta.

I’m not going to have the link to this, but a beta for a rap artists to be able to do tic TAC, like videos on Facebook. So clearly the the clone Wars have begun and the big boys and girls. Are going after tic-tac absolutely. And which they always do right there. Hasn’t been an, I don’t think an original thought of Google in 10 years.

It doesn’t mean 

Carrie: that they can’t copy it. We’ll buy it. 

Mike: That’s right. A good sort of basic article at Whitesburg. The top 10 conversion factors to get more leads the tech 10 GMB conversion factors to get more leads to both the video and transcription from Darren really good summary of those things that will help it’s a tactical guide to current state of Google is your homepage.

Which things can help you look better than your competitor that might increase click-through for you to get the order, rather than the business down the street that doesn’t have as many of the checkmarks filled. That’s the consumer’s looking for. Speaking of those things, Google posts is one of them.

And Greg Gifford did a really good whiteboard Friday at MAs, where you go, if you’ve been doing. Google posts. You probably don’t need it, but it’s a really good foundational piece on the ins and outs of getting started. What kind of posts should you be doing? Which ones have the highest close rates?

What kind of problems are you going to have from Google crapping, your images and how can you avoid those problems? So it’s a very good foundational. Video whiteboard video on posts that I think if you’re thinking of getting started with posts, which I would encourage you to do, if you’re not I think it’s both a really powerful agency and on as well as a small business tool to increase your space in the SERPs.

I think this is a good place to get started. And then my last piece is from Phil Rozek at local visibility. The most practical way to make blogging work for small business. There’s been a lot of back and forth over the last three, four months where they’re blogging. You should do buggy. You shouldn’t do blogging.

Like everything in. The world of digital marketing is it depends. You have to have the capacity, but the biggest problem with blogging is developing an audience and he developed, he highlights. He goes through the various problems with blogging, but then highlights two strategies that might help some businesses find success.

One is what he called seed audiences, where you actually preassembled, excuse me, interested readers. Before you get started. So do you have an audience built in? And the other is excuse me, microblogging as very short, very long tail snippets at a very esoteric tech topic with that over to you here.

Mary: Thanks, Mike.

Okay. At dental, podium’s going to be having a webinar on March 16th. About six local search SEO myths that need busting for dental practices. And Josh Combs is going to be talk, walk, going to be walking you through revamping your customer’s journey to match their expectations. In 2021, he’s going to talk about how to get more good reviews and also convenience through technology.

And. In my opinion, this is something that is just, if you do not keep progressing your business with the technology, at some point you just become somebody that people don’t want to do business with. And a personal example of that is this lady that used to cut my hair would give me a card with my next appointment on it.

And I’d say, Share can’t you send me reminders. Oh,  I can’t do that. And my computer wouldn’t do that and rare, and, I stopped going to her because I’d miss my appointment because I was so used to everyone else in the world, reminding me of my, about my appointment 10 times, and then she’d get mad at me.

So I stopped going there and now her clientele is just. All these real old timers that are used to paying $20 for a haircut instead of $50 for a haircut. And, she’s running herself out of business, just not by not keeping up with the times. Yeah. I know how 

Mike: much my haircut is with my local.

Mary: You hide all the hair I have and our hair APNIC error. 

Carrie: That’s how much I spend. Every time I go to the hairdresser, you guys would die.

Mary: But, and another example is at one point we owned up. My husband and I owned a auto repair business and the EPA was starting to get down on auto businesses for their pollution. No don’t pour your oil down the drain. It ends up in the river. Don’t pull your antifreeze down the drain, that sort of thing.

And we went out and bought antifreeze recycler, which wasn’t that expensive where that. Technically hard to operate and started advertising that we were the green auto repair business. And, that really defined our business for the next 15 years. People kept coming back to us because we were trying to recycle all the oil, all the antifreeze, all the parts and radiators and copper and everything that came out of Karas, waist and people, we got a huge audience because of it.

So this is not just true for dental practices. I think it’s true for every kind of business you need to embrace. What’s new in your industry and try to be one of the leaders instead of one of the followers. Then at LinkedIn, Matthew haunt, a Canadian business consultant wrote about investing in your employees.

And he starts off by saying, what if we invest in developing our people and they leave us. And then the other side of that question is what if we don’t invest in our people and they stay and, that’s really a dilemma, not so much for I think employers, because you either see the value of this or you don’t, but if you, it is very important for employees and if you have employees that want to improve their knowledge and get better.

Working for you. Why wouldn’t you jump on that? It’s, to me, it’s just a crazy thing that Carrie and I have both been through where we had employers who didn’t want to invest, didn’t want to let us invest time when they were paying us to improve our knowledge of our industry. 

Mike: Yeah. It’s funny with small business frequently, they will.

Burn the 10 to avoid the one. So nine people will take that training and use it. And the business will profit from it. Handsomely. The customers will profit from Ansley. The employer will profit from hand Sully, and one will use that training and find a better job in the short term. And. The fear is so palpable amongst many small businesses, but yet they don’t, they probably have never measured it.

They probably never looked at the, all the good things that happened and they respond to that fear based on the one and ended up cutting off their nose to spite their face. It’s dumb shit. 

Carrie: I would rather invest in an employee and make them feel good about the time they spent with my company and have good things to say about me as an employer or as a boss or supervisor or whatever that happens to be and have them leave because I gave them the tools to be able to better themselves then to oppress them because I’m afraid of them leaving.

Like then they’re going to leave anyway. And they’re going to say shitty things about me. So yeah. 

Mary: You should not assume everybody’s gonna leave at some point. And you want them to leave as a friend and as a proponent of your business, you and your business, not as an enemy, you know that you’ve got a friend in a new place when somebody that worked for you leaves.

Carrie: S referral points, maybe they’re going to freelance and somebody comes to them with too big of a project, and they’re like, you should go talk to I used to work for them, went out on my own, but I, 100% vouch for them. If you’re not investing in your people, they’d never say something like that.

I just think that there’s so many more bonuses and investing even the ability, even if they don’t take advantage of it, but by you saying, yeah go. Learn this or whatever, even if they don’t have the time or they don’t take that opportunity, the fact that they were supported in their endeavor is huge to an employee.

I think that’s my personal feeling on it. Yeah. So 

Mary: be a good employer. Invest in your employees. Then Claire Carlisle wrote a really nice article at a local, you about that five things you might want to know about Google, my business cover photos. And the first thing you need to know is what a cut of cover photo is.

There are a lot of pesky little details about cover photos and how Google treats them that Claire has learned the hard way. So I suggest that you bookmark this. Article and use it as a reference. So you don’t have to learn it the hard way too. Thanks, Claire. 

Mike: I would add one thing to Claire’s article, which is that.

You apply the same logic and quality to every photo because in the end, Google, the machine will do what the machine wants on, do what you want and any one of your photos, particularly in the era of. Their ability to use AI to understand the content of a photo, any one of your photos may show instead of your cover photo on any given search.

And so you want to be sure that you apply the same care and detailed every photo in your managed photo area. 

Mary: Yeah. And I know one of my pet peeves is people using photos for cover photos that are not the right dimensions and it cuts things off everywhere. So you see 

Mike: although with Google, they have so many, they don’t have.

They don’t always send her the picture the same way. They don’t always cut it the same way, but they have so many aspect ratios that they attempt to extract from it. One on mobile and one in maps and a different one in the discover channel and a different one, in the suggested searches.

It’s like almost impossible to get it exactly right. But you certainly can with some care, but you do have to look at it every place you can’t just analyze it on the desktop. 

Carrie: Tool. They use to crop photos like chins and cleavage. Cause it seems like everything is cropped like here, no matter what the size or the orientation of the picture you upload, they cut it off, like at your nose and your mouth and your boobs.

So weird. 

Mike: I think we need to move on to the next step. 

Mary: Then at persuaded, Iowa, Zack Todd, who’s been publishing a lot of good stuff lately. Published another good case study that it’s worth taking a look at the question that he tries to answer here is service area businesses. Are they at a disadvantage in Google maps?

And in this study he gathered ranking data on 1,278 plumber listings, intense 10 different cities. And he knows that this is not a large sample, so he plans to do a larger study. But what he did learn with this sample is that out of 1,278 listings, 200, 254 had a hidden address. So I would be willing to bet that most of those That a lot more than 250, four of those plumbers should have hidden their address.

When you think about Google’s guidelines he also found that of the ones he sampled those with an address, if their Google, my business listing had an address, they appeared in the three pack twice, as often as those that did not. And then almost half of the listings with an address seemed to be in violation of Google’s guidelines.

So I think that’s very telling of how crappy a job Google has done and folding Sabs into the GMB platform. They’ve been at a disadvantage from the start. And I don’t see, that may have improved a tiny bit, but mostly for people who are not following the guidelines, which is sad to say and over to you, Carrie.

Carrie: Awesome. Joy wrote a up a case study from a presentation she did in the spring. I think of last year called what happens when Google removes 98% of your reviews. And basically she looks at a company that had over 750 reviews and she tracks them from late March to early June as Google’s taking their reviews away.

And they reduced them down to, I believe 12 by early June. So from over 700 to 12 and they basically lost one spot. After all those reviews were taken away. So the TLDR on that, not much. And it’s interesting. I was reading the comments on the article and comment, the commenters there, a right there so where’s the consequence?

Like why is it a disadvantage to fake your reviews? If Google takes them away? You go from 700 to 12 and yeah, in a user’s eyes that might look 12 is not as good as 700. But you’re still ranking. What would he do? I think that’s pretty interesting little case study. She published. There was a, what we think is a possible ranking update on February 24th, we saw some pretty good gains for quite a few of our clients in different.

Categories lawn care lawyers, dentists and it’s not gone back. So it wasn’t like one of those boiling kind of things. It was a it looks like it’s going to be sustained. She tweeted at Danny Sullivan asking if there were any update, local algorithm updates. I didn’t see his reply. So I don’t think that he’s answered that there was, or wasn’t at that point.

So keep an eye out. We don’t know what. What it’s related to, or what caused it or didn’t cause it, or whatever. It’s too early to tell that anyway. Just something to keep in mind. I. Got the chance to do two different podcasts last week. One published last Friday and one published today.

Last Friday my sit down with Mark  of search lab was published and we talked a lot about content and community karma and the. How a small business can have an advantage over corporate America. We talked a little bit about that, which was a fun conversation. And then my interview that published today with Garrett Sessman at traject.

We talk about local SEO, experimentation and testing, and Testing makes you humble. Because you’re wrong a lot. I brought in a lot of the things I test are not successful and I’m like that didn’t work. And what do you test and how do you test it? So we talked about some tools and some tips for testing and things like that.

So that was a really fun conversation with Garrett as well. And the last thing I have is to remind everybody that local you advance is coming up on April 7th. Tickets are still available. They’re $99 a piece. I awarded 30 scholarships. If you need a scholarship, there’s still room. Please apply. The link is on the landing page.

It’s a local seven. The link will be in the blog post, of course. And we’d love to have you there. I published the agenda too. I forgot to publish the agenda last week. So if you want to know who’s speaking, Lily, Ray, we’ve got no learner. We’ve got Tom Waddington, Tim capper, joy.

Colin Nielsen is speaking. Aaron Jones is going to MC we’ve got a couple panels. We’ve got a really interesting offline to online panel that I think is going to be quite interesting. Yeah, join us. 

Mike: All right. Was that we have another finish to last week and local another week, and I can only as we move close to the anniversary here of COVID, I’m just wishing everybody can find some grace and discipline and these last few months, and hopefully stay safe and keep your loved ones safe with that.

We’ll say goodbye. Thank you very much for joining us. 

Mary: Thanks 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.