Seo advertising

9 Local SEO Tips From Top Experts

Earlier this month, marketers from around the world joined the latest LocalU virtual conference, hosted by Local University.

The symposium topics were filled with local marketing tips from top experts on everything from dealing with fake reviews to SEO predictions, and more.

Attendees engaged in lively discussions on Twitter throughout each session, highlighting the most useful and tangible tips from the speakers.

Below are the key takeaways from each speaker and their respective session.

1. Write for customers first and Google second

Charli Hunt, ProofContent

Image credit:

“If you’re just writing content for Google’s algorithm (and not users first), you’ll be knocked off your rankings perch.”

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

Create pages dedicated to the main FAQs of your customers. This avoids having to answer these questions again and again.

Identify your unique selling points (USP). If you don’t know what it is, talk to your customers to identify them.

Charli Hunt talks about writing content for users, not an algorithm.Image credit:, screenshot taken by author April 2022

2. Dispute 1 illegitimate review equals 11 positive reviews

Curtis BoydImage credit:

Curtis Boyd, The Transparency Company

It pays to challenge fake reviews. Illegitimate reviews hurt ratings, which has proven to hurt revenue.

Removing legitimate negative reviews is not the goal. The reviews earned are good; purchased reviews are not. Silencing real customers is neither good nor legitimate. That’s not what it’s about.

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

Challenge fake reviews on mobile app vs desktop. Having data to show reviews are fake has an approximately 380x higher success rate of being removed.

If you’ve received a cluster of negative reviews, it’s best to work with a Google product expert through the GBP Help forum.

3. Work smarter with practical uses of Google Data Studio

Amanda JordanImage credit:

Amanda Jordan, RicketyRoo

With GDS, you’ll spend less time reviewing your data. You can create easily digestible local SEO reports not only for you, but also for your clients. There are many templates created for you to plug and play with your data.

“Use Data Studio to research and categorize keywords, and find new ways to use the data they provide.”

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

Additionally, there are free tools connectors for GDS including Ahrefs, ContentKing, DeepCrawl, SEMRush, etc.

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

4. Be strategic in your anti-spam efforts

Joy HawkinsImage credit:

Joy Hawkins, Sterling Sky

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

“87.6% of garage door repair ads were spam. It’s extremely damaging to brands, and that’s why fighting spam can help legitimate brands.”

Anti-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 its guidelines.

If there are duplicate listings, don’t delete one. Merging listings can actually help them rank.

If you’re in an industry with moderate amounts of spam listings, it’s probably worth reporting.

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

Matthew HuntImage credit:

Matthew Hunt, Wolf of Automation

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, to create opportunities to work with them and sell to them.

Leverage LinkedIn with abbreviated content that users can discover. Then, create long content where there is some kind of interaction (course, webinar, etc.). From there, create a trusted community so users keep coming back to you.

Make sure you have a personal profile, not just a business page. Create a compelling headline that introduces who you are and what you do.

The winning formula for a personal title: Role + Expertise + Value.

6. Content without data leads to poor results

Noah learningImage credit:

Noah Learner, Two Octobers

Create your content based on the client’s goals, collect data, clean the data, and then create topics based on that data.

Market what is most profitable for you. Be sure to ask your customers what their biggest earners are during your onboarding process.

Google has a hard time knowing what to show, which is why it’s important to clearly state what your content is about.

There is a big difference between Google SERP auto-suggest search trends and Google Trends. Auto-suggest is personalized, while trends are not.

7. Proximity is much more important with Proximity Update

Yan GilbertImage credit:

Yan Gilbert and Colan Nielson, Sterling Sky

The closer you are to a business listing, the higher the chances of the listing being ranked.

The Surroundings Update has helped many other business listings rank up, thanks to the variety of map packs.

Non-localization keywords were the most impacted.

The keywords in your business name aren’t as simple as they used to be. Don’t use a keyword

Colan NielsonImage credit:

stuffing as a strategy. Google is trying to balance spammy GBP while allowing real businesses to rank.

The main action items of the surroundings update are:

  • Focus on explicit keywords
  • Create more real estate in GBP
  • Use ads to retarget areas where you’ve lost rankings or traction
  • Research a wider variety of keywords to minimize damage
Local U Chat on Vicinity UpdateImage credit:, screenshot taken by author April 2022

8. SEO Forecasts Can Help Answer Key Stakeholder Business Questions

Andrew ShotlandImage credit:

Andrew Shotland, Local SEO Guide

The main questions that stakeholders want answered are:

  • How much will I get out of it?
  • How long will it take?
  • What is the return on investment?

SEO predictions should take into account the uniqueness and goals of each business. Do more than use your own experience and data to make predictions.

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

A good scientific method is the RICE Score. (Reach x Impact x Trust)/Effort = RICE Score.

However, a good RICE score may not yield much revenue, even if it is easy to implement. Determine what is more important: high income or a high RICE score?

9. You have an obligation to ensure that your reviews are authentic

mike blumentalImage credit:

Mike Blumenthal, Close to the media

The company is responsible for the operation of the review platform, as well as the behaviors of SEO and reputation management companies.

New FTC guidelines for marketers include:

  • No exam
  • No selective display of reviews
  • Positive and negative reviews should be treated equally
  • Incentives must be explicit

Deleting reviews does not work. Customers can see the difference between your site and Google reviews.

You are not obligated to post offensive or inappropriate review content. Make sure you have a clear TOS posted on your site explaining the FTC guidelines, and post anything that meets those guidelines.


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

If you want more in-depth information about the sessions, be sure to join the #LocalU conversation on Twitter and connect with the speakers. You can also buy instant access from the local university here.

At the end of the conference, Local University announced its return to in-person events. They will host LocalU Advanced in Denver, CO on July 28th. If you are interested in participating, be sure to keep up to date with the local university for more information.

Featured image: MaDedee/Shutterstock