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Local SEO Learnings from BrightonSEO

by Rachel Anderson   |   Apr 18, 2019

A few days ago, I wrote about ecommerce insights from BrightonSEO. Today, I'll discuss some local SEO learnings.

I had been excited for Darren Shaw’s talk Can You Rank in Local Without a Website? since I bought a ticket for the BrightonSEO. As you may infer, the premise of the talk was that Darren chose a new business with no web presence and tried to make it rank without a website. This is exciting for two reasons:

  1. It determines whether or not all businesses really need websites
  2. The lack of prior online presence means that Darren’s tests are less tainted by external factors.

What could make Darren’s talk even greater? Presenting back to back with Greg Gifford (always a fun speaker) and Clare Carlile. These three speakers had a lot to say about Local SEO in 2019—but here are my top takeaways.

1. There is now a megalist of local SEO resources

Are you constantly trying to remember the URL of your favorite local SEO blog? Maybe you’re just starting out and need to find all the best local SEO resources. Or, like me, do you want to add some new voices to your inbox? Well, I have good news. Claire Carlile created a megalist of local SEO resources that will help you with all these things. BRB, I’m updating my RSS feed with all these great resources.

2. Adding service area ZIP codes in GMB doesn’t have any Measurable Impact

In his experiment, Darren found that adding service area ZIP codes for service area businesses in GMB has no impact on rankings. In the past, I updated some of my service area business client’s service areas in GMB down to the zipcodes and really saw no difference. Darren’s test had far fewer external factors at play than mine and had the same results. For me that’s great news. I don’t have any obligation to go through the tedious task of adding service area ZIP codes for SABs.

3. High relevance links are the golden ticket for local

While SAB ZIP codes had no effect, high relevance industry backlinks had a huge effect on the local performance of Darren’s client. In fact, once Darren got three industry specific backlinks for his homebuilder client, the ranking of the website in nearby ZIP codes increased dramatically. An optimized Google My Business profile is no substitute for industry specific backlinks for your local clients.

4. Your business should be utilizing Google Posts and Q&As

Greg Gifford’s talk focused on underutilized features of GMB: Google Posts and Q&A. Greg had helpful tips for Google Posts, including a Photoshop guide that will keep your images from looking like crap (which happens all the time with Posts). If you’re new to Google Posts, check out the slide decks for all three of these presentations—everyone had something useful to share.

Greg also presented helpful tips on how Q&As function and how you can get the most out of them for your business. Did you know that questions with three or more upvotes will show natively in your GMB panel? Or that Q&A answers with URLs or phone numbers will often get your answer filtered? Another reason to check out Greg’s deck: references throughout to some of his favorite comedies.

So, was traveling from the U.S. to BrightonSEO worth it?

Traveling from the East Coast to BrightonSEO was totally worth it. We picked up all kinds of new skills and relationships with marketers all over the world that improve the work we do for all of our clients. And we can’t wait to start applying these new tactics to our clients’ sites.

portrait of Rachel Anderson

Rachel Anderson

Rachel joined the Workshop Digital team in 2016. After studying mass communications and mathematics at Ouachita University, Rachel worked in her native Dallas and ate plenty of delicious Tex-Mex. When she moved to Richmond in late 2014, Rachel found her passion for data and analytics and transitioned to a career in digital marketing. In her role as an SEO Analyst at Workshop Digital, Rachel helps clients understand and implement technical, on-page, and local SEO components to help their websites succeed.