Does Google PageSpeed Insights Score Matter?

Fear-based marketing tactics are based on an underlying observation that consumers are genuinely afraid of missing out. We see marketers in our industry deploy this tactic by finding and picking on a negative performance indicator relating to the digital presence of businesses. One such classic indicator is Google PageSpeed that you can check for any website with a free tool called Google PageSpeed Insight.

Have you ever been contacted by someone telling you that your website has a serious issue based on a low Google Site Score?

 

Should You Be Worried About A Low Score?

It is a tool by Google, and that must mean it is important. After all, a big objective for a lot of businesses is to have their website appear in top search results on Google. And if Google says your website has a low score, it sounds like a problem.

Imagine that your business has been working with a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist/agency for a few years. As a business owner, you are a specialist in your industry, but you may hardly understand what SEO is. If you are seeing a positive trend in website traffic, leads, and sales, then you believe that the SEO strategy is working well.

But then you get this message in your inbox that shows that your Google site score is terrible. What would that make you start thinking? Would you start thinking that your SEO plan is failing? Or that you are not getting value for what you are investing in? Could it be that the young punk, dressed like a geek with a computer is scamming you?

Visit the Google PageSpeed Insights page and analyze your business website. Got a low score? Does that concern you? If the answer to the last 2 questions is ‘yes’, then you must read this blog post, because before you break a sweat, you need more context on Google and how it ranks your business. 

How Does Google PageSpeed Score Affect Search Engine Rankings: Putting Things In Perspective

The reason to worry is that your competitors could outrank you if they have better PageSpeed scores. If your competitors outrank you on search engine result pages (SERP), then they will eat into your market share. So the real question is, how does Google PageSpeed score affect your search engine rankings?

The Google search algorithm literally takes 100’s of factors into consideration when deciding which businesses will rank on what position on SERP for any search query. One such factor is website speed. How influential is site speed in the algorithm?

Let’s find out by analyzing the Google PageSpeed grades of businesses who are known to take their website and digital marketing seriously -

website page speed rankings

As you can see, all of these websites have a terrible PageSpeed score. Heck, even Moz, which is one of the top SEO educational websites, does not have a very impressive score on mobile.

The truth of the matter is that PageSpeed insights need to be taken with a grain of salt. It is one of 100’s of ranking factors. The top companies, who employ the best SEO specialists, are not too concerned about low grades on Google PageSpeed Insights.

What Is Website Speed, And Is It Important?

In basic language, when a user enters a website URL (e.g. www.amazon.com) on their browser (e.g. Chrome/Firefox/Safari), the browser sends a request to access files from the server where the website is hosted (e.g. WP Engine/GoDaddy, etc.)

The server verifies a few permissions and then shares the files with the users browser. The server, the size of the files, the distance of the user from the server, and the speed of the users internet connection will all influence how fast the content on the website will load.

Google page speed home screen

A slow load speed has a negative effect on user experience, which increases the bounce rate and decreases engagement and conversions. Google wants users to have a good experience.

It meets this objective by serving the most relevant search results and ranking websites that users will have the best time interacting with. Since slower speeds create a negative user experience, website speed is one of the ranking factors in the Google search algorithm.

So speed is important, but the measurement of speed gets complicated. Measuring website speed is not a standardized process. It depends on what exactly are you trying to measure, how exactly are you trying to measure it, and where are you measuring it from.

Within website speed, there are different things that can be measured - e.g.  ‘page load time’, ‘time to first byte’, 'first meaningful paint (FMP)' etc.

Different tools can be used to measure speed, with each tool using a slightly different formula - e.g. Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, Pingdom 

The testing location also makes a difference. Google uses your current geographic location as the testing location, GTmetrix uses Vancouver, Canada as the default testing location, and Pingdom allows users to choose from about 70 different testing location

It’s like measuring your weight but seeing a different result on every weighing machine.

What Does Google PageSpeed Insights Measure? 

A website is a combination of scripts, codes, text, images, and files. When a website loads, the scripts and codes determine how the content will be displayed on different devices before displaying text, images, and videos. 

After the visual content is loaded, there is additional code like SCHEMA which tells the search engines what the website is about in a technical language. 

The Google PageSpeed measurements tool breaks the overall load time into various key performance indicators - e.g. how fast did the first bit of content load; how long did it take to load all the content and answer the search query; how long did it take to load the entire page including all the codes that do not affect user experience. All of these affect whether a user perceives a website loading as "fast" or "slow", so it’s important to measure the different metrics independently.

Google PageSpeed Insights rates each of these metrics and compares them to the top-performing websites. Then, a weighted average method of calculation is used to determine the overall ‘Performance Score’.

That is the score that you see as a result of all these calculations.

Will Low Grades Affect My Search Rankings?

The correct answer is - ‘it depends’

When it comes to ranking on search results, the main thing that concerns Google is user experience. Google will rank websites based on how well it sees a site fulfilling the intent of the user based on the users search query. And if multiple websites can offer the answer that the user is looking for, then the website that offers a better user experience will rank higher.

google page speed grading factors

Not all the metrics that are used in calculating Google PageSpeed Insights impact user experience equally.

A website might be loading content really fast, creating a great user experience, but might have a lot of scripts and codes in the backend that make the overall website load time slow. This might give it a low overall Google Page Speed ‘Performance Score’ but it’s search rankings might be great.

Another website might be really good at firing all the back-end codes really fast, but it’s content loads really slowly because it is not optimized. This will make the website score high on certain metrics that are irrelevant to users, pushing the overall ‘Performance Score’ grade high, even though the user experience is poor. Such a website is less likely to rank well on search results.

That is why, ‘Performance Score’ results displayed by Google PageSpeed Insight can be a misleading indicator, without greater context.

A ‘Quick’ Conclusion

For search rankings, a combination of different factors, with varying degrees of importance drives the results that are desired. Google PageSpeed is an important factor and Google PageSpeed Insights is a good measurement tool. However, to drive desired results, such indicators can not be viewed in isolation, because context is everything. 

Search experts at ElementIQ are trained to analyze various metrics that determine performance scores, and analyze many other elements that collectively influence user experience and search rankings. Contact us to evaluate how well you are positioned in the digital space to meet your business objectives. Together, we can assess what should be improved and ignored.

The Importance of Call Tracking

What is call tracking, and why should you care?

You've probably heard that call tracking is important for your business, but why is this the case?

Online marketing campaigns typically drive traffic through multiple channels, such as paid search, email marketing, and social media. These channels work together to drive people to your website, where they can take any number of actions.

As a business owner, you want these people to eventually become your customers. However, when they reach your website, this probably won't happen right away. Instead, they might show their interest or try to do more research before determining if your business best addresses their needs. Only then will they hand over their hard earned cash.

To understand and improve your marketing efforts, you need to be able to clearly visualize what is working for you and what isn't. You need to know what activities are causing people to show more interest in what you have to offer, as well as understand their behaviours and how your internet presence can influence these behaviours.

One way of capturing marketing data is by tracking content form submissions. Almost all websites with contact forms will automatically track them. So why don't we do the same for calls?

Despite the fact that we are living in an increasingly digital area, people are still calling businesses, especially when they're interested. In fact, the number of calls to businesses is only increasing as smartphone capabilities improve. Phones now, making it easier to call a business than ever before. As well, according to digital marketing expert Neil Patel, calls convert 10 to 15 times more often than web leads.

If you don't track calls, you are losing valuable data. Calls are far more important than you think.

How Does It Work?

Call tracking provides you with data that shows which marketing efforts are driving calls to your business. In fact, if you don't track calls, you might not be tracking up to 80% of your conversions. Without accurate conversion data, you can't appropriately allocate resources towards your most effective marketing efforts. You're basically throwing money at all sorts of channels, with no idea of which ones are giving you the best ROI. You won't have any idea which pages, tactics, and campaigns are effective and ineffective, as you will only be seeing part of the picture.

Check out this handy infographic we made to visualize how this works:

To track calls from different sources, digital marketers use something called dynamic number insertion. What this means is that your leads will see a different phone number to call, based on the channel and geographic location they are on. All of these numbers will lead back to your actual number, so the visitors will contact you directly. However, the usefulness of this is that you will receive data about the referring URL, search keywords, landing pages, and ads the caller came through. As well, the tracking code will remember the original channel for each visitor, so they will see the same tracking number each time they visit your site.

When Is It Useful?

Unlike traditional marketing, online marketing has the ability to clearly demonstrate which activities are yielding specific results. When you have this information, you can then make adjustments as needed and optimize your activities.

Imagine you're working on an email campaign for your business which redirects visitors to a unique landing page. There might be a form on there for visitors to fill out, but there might also be a phone number at the top. If you only track the form submissions, you're completely missing data about the email campaign. You won't know how many people called your business because of that specific email. Call tracking will give you that data so you can see how successful the campaign is, and learn and make improvements for the next email campaign you do.

Call tracking can track calls from a wide variety of platforms. If someone calls your business from directly accessing your website, an ad campaign, Google My Business, or even from Yelp, you will know and be able to see exact data. This data will then allow you to better understand your consumers, drive conversions, and help your business flourish.

State of Local Search in 2018

Local Search and The Gamut of Changes to Google My Business

In less than 2 years, Google has relentlessly rolled out a series of updates to Google My Business features. In 2017, they had added a featured post feature, Q&A section and introduced a messaging option. In December 2017, we wrote about a post on some of the new Google My Business features. In 2018, they have added a business description section which allows businesses to capture user attention with a 250 character message about the business. Clicking this description shows a longer description, up to 750 characters.

What does this reflect?

One thing is clear - Google is devoting a lot of resources towards Google Local. This particular segment has been identified by the search giant as one of its most important segments. To continue being the most popular search engine, it must deliver the most relevant results to users.

Finding service providers is a BIG part of user search behaviour and includes all kinds of queries like restaurants near me, plumbers in Vancouver, dentists, plumbers and so on. In fact, the device you search from would know your location and if one searches for pizzas, one expects Google to show pizza places near me. So we, the users, are even going to stop saying things like 'near me' or 'in Vancouver' but expect geographically relevant search results for a variety of queries.

This indicates two things -
1. Businesses need to make Local SEO a bigger priority in their marketing plans
2. Google Local is expected to be an important revenue generator for Alphabet

How Significant are Organic Search results now?

Take a look at the Google search engine results first page real estate for the query - 'Dental Implants'

As you can see, one organic search result popped up right below the top 4 paid ads and then the rest of the organic results are buried half way down the page. For some queries, these results are going to be higher up in more prime spots but for a variety of searches, they are getting pushed as far down as shared in the example above.

The map results are the result of Local SEO and those have become extremely important for businesses to generate phone calls and website leads. These map results can also include paid ads in certain cases. E.g. for 'Dental Implants Near Me' -

WHAT IS ONE TO DO?

The Local Search Optimization includes actively managing the following -

New Google My Business Features For Your Business

I wanted to share some recently introduced Google My Business features that a majority of local businesses are not yet using. They were discussed in details during the ‘office hours’ webinar hosted by Local Marketing Institute.

These new features can help you further promote your offers or content and encourage/enable new ways for users to interact with your business. So without further delay, let’s dig into these 3 new(er) features:

GMB Posts:

Google Posts are similar to Facebook posts, except that you need to log in to your Google My Business dashboard and then create a post in there.

The advantage is that your post will show up on the knowledge graph when people search for your business on the Google search engine.

In this post, you can promote blog posts, events, offers etc…

As you can see, a thumbnail of the image, dates, short description and a link to your website or landing page can all be included.

Keep In Mind:

Questions & Answers

This was a feature that was rolled out a couple of months ago. It allows users to ask a question which can be answered by anyone in the community and by the business owner.

To manage conversations, the owner needs to be logged into the associated Google account on an Android mobile phone or tablet. IOS devices do not have the ability to manage these conversations yet.

If you are signed in to that Google account on your Android phone/tablet, you will receive a push notification when someone asks a question or someone in the community responds to the question.

Just the way reviews show up, the name of the person who asks or answers the question will show up. If the user is a ‘Local Guide’, then that badge will show next to the person’s name. If the business owner responds to a question, it will show up as a response from the business.

Keep In Mind:

GMB Messaging

Business owners can login to the Google My Business dashboard and turn on messaging.

They can choose the phone number which will receive the messages if consumers choose to engage with the business in this way.

The option to message a business is, currently, only going to be visible to users who find the business listing via mobile web search. They will not see the option to message the business if they find the business on their desktops/laptops.

Interactions will be exactly the same as regular text messaging as the message from the user will reach the SMS app on the listed business phone number.

Keep In Mind:

Note: If you are a dental clinic or a law firm, the Google My Business guidelines are slightly different than what they are for regular businesses. The features discussed above will still be applicable. But we had recently published a post to highlight some of these differences. Click here to read it.

New Google My Business Features For Your Business

I wanted to share some recently introduced Google My Business features that a majority of local businesses are not yet using. They were discussed in details during the ‘office hours’ webinar hosted by Local Marketing Institute.

These new features can help you further promote your offers or content and encourage/enable new ways for users to interact with your business. So without further delay, let’s dig into these 3 new(er) features:

GMB Posts:

Google Posts are similar to Facebook posts, except that you need to log in to your Google My Business dashboard and then create a post in there.

The advantage is that your post will show up on the knowledge graph when people search for your business on the Google search engine.

In this post, you can promote blog posts, events, offers etc…

As you can see, a thumbnail of the image, dates, short description and a link to your website or landing page can all be included.

Keep In Mind:

Questions & Answers

This was a feature that was rolled out a couple of months ago. It allows users to ask a question which can be answered by anyone in the community and by the business owner.

To manage conversations, the owner needs to be logged into the associated Google account on an Android mobile phone or tablet. IOS devices do not have the ability to manage these conversations yet.

If you are signed in to that Google account on your Android phone/tablet, you will receive a push notification when someone asks a question or someone in the community responds to the question.

Just the way reviews show up, the name of the person who asks or answers the question will show up. If the user is a ‘Local Guide’, then that badge will show next to the person’s name. If the business owner responds to a question, it will show up as a response from the business.

Keep In Mind:

GMB Messaging

Business owners can login to the Google My Business dashboard and turn on messaging.

They can choose the phone number which will receive the messages if consumers choose to engage with the business in this way.

The option to message a business is, currently, only going to be visible to users who find the business listing via mobile web search. They will not see the option to message the business if they find the business on their desktops/laptops.

Interactions will be exactly the same as regular text messaging as the message from the user will reach the SMS app on the listed business phone number.

Keep In Mind:

Note: If you are a dental clinic or a law firm, the Google My Business guidelines are slightly different than what they are for regular businesses. The features discussed above will still be applicable. But we had recently published a post to highlight some of these differences. Click here to read it.

Google My Business For Doctors And Lawyers

How is Google My Business unique for Doctors and Lawyers? According to Google policy, doctors and lawyers are allowed to have their individual practitioner listings with the same address and phone number as the business page of the clinic or law firm that they work with.

This is because doctors and lawyers are often associated with multiple clinics or firms and Google wants to allow users the option to review the practitioners instead of the clinic or firm. Such practitioner listings are not considered duplicate listings by Google. 

Google Policy on this is:

Multiple Practitioners At One Location

If the practitioner is one of the several public-facing practitioners at this location:

Solo Practitioners That Belong To Branded Organizations

If a practitioner is the only public-facing practitioner at a location and represents a branded organization, it's best for the practitioner to share a listing with the organization. Create a single listing, named using the following format: [brand/company]: [practitioner name].

Acceptable: "Allstate: Joe Miller" (if Joe is the sole public-facing practitioner at this Allstate-branded location)

This post addresses practitioner listings when multiple practitioners work at one location and we cover what happens when:

  1. A practitioner works at multiple locations
  2. The practitioner stops working at a location
  3. A practitioner moves to a different city/country

We will also conclude with some of our personal thoughts on why this is not a perfect system and how it can be improved.

[elementor-template id="11472"]

When A Practitioner Works At Multiple Locations

If a practitioner works at multiple clinics/law firms, then the practitioner should have a separate Google Business listing for each of the locations. The hours of operation will need to be different for each listing. E.g:

  1. John Miller, MMD; 111 A Street, City, State, Zipcode; 666-666-6666; Mon-Fri 9 am to 11 am; X Clinics Website
  2. John Miller, MMD; 222 B Street, City, State, Zipcode; 777-777-7777; Mon-Fri 1 pm to 3 pm; Y Clinics Website
  3. John Miller; MMD; 333 C Street, City, State, Zipcode; 888-888-8888; Mon-Fri 4 pm to 6 pm; Z Clinics Website

This allows users to search for the practitioner's name and find his/her information in the knowledge graph. It enables a user to leave a review for the practitioner instead of the clinic/law firm.

Note: The name of the practitioner should not include the clinic/law firm’s name. E.g. do not put the name as X Clinic: John Miller, MMD or John Miller, MMD: X Clinic.

Also Note: Practitioner listings should be owned and controlled by the practitioner and not the organization that he/she is working at. It is best for a practitioner to claim all his/her listings with the same email address. This way, when he/she logs in to business.google.com, all the listings will be visible on one dashboard as shown below -

When A Practitioner Stops Working At A Location

If a practitioner stops working at a particular clinic/law firm, then he/she should mark the listing with that location's address as ‘Permanently Closed’. To do so, he/she would log in to business.google.com and select ‘Manage Location’ for the location that he/she quit.

Then, select ‘Info’ from the left column and choose ‘Close or remove this listing’. This is where they can choose to ‘Mark as Permanently Closed’.

Note: The other option within ‘Close or remove this listing’ is to ‘Remove Listing’. This option simply undoes the verification of the page. It takes away your ability to manage that page, respond to reviews and also lets anyone (yes, anyone) claim that page to be their own (requiring verification).

When A Practitioner Moves To A Different City/Country

When A Practitioner Moves To A Different City Within The Same Country

If a practitioner moves his/her residence, he/she may start working at a new location/locations and quit the clinics/law firms he/she was working at previously.

In this case, the practitioner can create newly verified listings for the locations he/she is working at now and get them verified. Then he/she can request Google to mark the old listings as ‘Moved to a New Location’ and punch in the details of the new location. By doing so, the review strength of the practitioner will be passed over to the new listing.

When A Practitioner Moves To A New Country

If the practitioner moves to a new country, then the old listing cannot be ‘moved to the new location’. In this case, the old listing will need to be marked as ‘permanently closed’. Remember, this does not remove the listing from the Google database. However, it does eventually delete the listing when there is no engagement with the listing. But this can take 1-2 years and there is nothing that can be done to speed up the process.

Why Can This Get Complex?

From a local search optimization point of view, NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency is the elusive goal that we are constantly chasing. When one address gets associated with multiple listings, it can be a recipe for disaster.

There is a high probability that many business directories pull information about local businesses from Google. So we may be dealing with one instance of a John Miller, MMD Google Business profile right now but in the future, there could be several other listings with John Miller’s name that can pop up on the Internet that show the address of the clinics/law firms that John worked at.

Another issue is when a practitioner moves to a different country. Since Google cannot move the listing to a new country, the old listing will need to be marked as ‘permanently closed’. We don’t like this because it means there will be a permanently closed listing floating around on the Internet with the clinics' address for a year or more.

Alternative (Proposed) Solution:

Practitioners should not be expected to create their own listings. Instead, only the clinics/law firms should have their listings. But these clinics/law firm listings should be able to mention the names and basic details of the practitioners that work there.

When a patient/client wants to leave a review, Google can ask if the review is for the organization or for the practitioner. If the user chooses practitioner, he/she should be able to choose from the list of practitioners that work at that location and leave a review for the particular individual.

Such a practice will reduce the number of listings that are to be created and managed and thus make the Internet slightly less congested. It will also leave the administrative responsibilities in the hands of the firms rather than having the doctors/lawyers worry about such things.

This alternative solution is a personal opinion shared by the local search experts at ElementIQ who are not looking to be hired by Google to lead such an initiative (unless they are extended an offer they can’t refuse!) 

Google My Business For Doctors And Lawyers

How is Google My Business unique for Doctors and Lawyers? According to Google policy, doctors and lawyers are allowed to have their individual practitioner listings with the same address and phone number as the business page of the clinic or law firm that they work with.

This is because doctors and lawyers are often associated with multiple clinics or firms and Google wants to allow users the option to review the practitioners instead of the clinic or firm. Such practitioner listings are not considered duplicate listings by Google. 

Google Policy on this is:

Multiple Practitioners At One Location

If the practitioner is one of the several public-facing practitioners at this location:

Solo Practitioners That Belong To Branded Organizations

If a practitioner is the only public-facing practitioner at a location and represents a branded organization, it's best for the practitioner to share a listing with the organization. Create a single listing, named using the following format: [brand/company]: [practitioner name].

Acceptable: "Allstate: Joe Miller" (if Joe is the sole public-facing practitioner at this Allstate-branded location)

This post addresses practitioner listings when multiple practitioners work at one location and we cover what happens when:

  1. A practitioner works at multiple locations
  2. The practitioner stops working at a location
  3. A practitioner moves to a different city/country

We will also conclude with some of our personal thoughts on why this is not a perfect system and how it can be improved.

[elementor-template id="11472"]

When A Practitioner Works At Multiple Locations

If a practitioner works at multiple clinics/law firms, then the practitioner should have a separate Google Business listing for each of the locations. The hours of operation will need to be different for each listing. E.g:

  1. John Miller, MMD; 111 A Street, City, State, Zipcode; 666-666-6666; Mon-Fri 9 am to 11 am; X Clinics Website
  2. John Miller, MMD; 222 B Street, City, State, Zipcode; 777-777-7777; Mon-Fri 1 pm to 3 pm; Y Clinics Website
  3. John Miller; MMD; 333 C Street, City, State, Zipcode; 888-888-8888; Mon-Fri 4 pm to 6 pm; Z Clinics Website

This allows users to search for the practitioner's name and find his/her information in the knowledge graph. It enables a user to leave a review for the practitioner instead of the clinic/law firm.

Note: The name of the practitioner should not include the clinic/law firm’s name. E.g. do not put the name as X Clinic: John Miller, MMD or John Miller, MMD: X Clinic.

Also Note: Practitioner listings should be owned and controlled by the practitioner and not the organization that he/she is working at. It is best for a practitioner to claim all his/her listings with the same email address. This way, when he/she logs in to business.google.com, all the listings will be visible on one dashboard as shown below -

When A Practitioner Stops Working At A Location

If a practitioner stops working at a particular clinic/law firm, then he/she should mark the listing with that location's address as ‘Permanently Closed’. To do so, he/she would log in to business.google.com and select ‘Manage Location’ for the location that he/she quit.

Then, select ‘Info’ from the left column and choose ‘Close or remove this listing’. This is where they can choose to ‘Mark as Permanently Closed’.

Note: The other option within ‘Close or remove this listing’ is to ‘Remove Listing’. This option simply undoes the verification of the page. It takes away your ability to manage that page, respond to reviews and also lets anyone (yes, anyone) claim that page to be their own (requiring verification).

When A Practitioner Moves To A Different City/Country

When A Practitioner Moves To A Different City Within The Same Country

If a practitioner moves his/her residence, he/she may start working at a new location/locations and quit the clinics/law firms he/she was working at previously.

In this case, the practitioner can create newly verified listings for the locations he/she is working at now and get them verified. Then he/she can request Google to mark the old listings as ‘Moved to a New Location’ and punch in the details of the new location. By doing so, the review strength of the practitioner will be passed over to the new listing.

When A Practitioner Moves To A New Country

If the practitioner moves to a new country, then the old listing cannot be ‘moved to the new location’. In this case, the old listing will need to be marked as ‘permanently closed’. Remember, this does not remove the listing from the Google database. However, it does eventually delete the listing when there is no engagement with the listing. But this can take 1-2 years and there is nothing that can be done to speed up the process.

Why Can This Get Complex?

From a local search optimization point of view, NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency is the elusive goal that we are constantly chasing. When one address gets associated with multiple listings, it can be a recipe for disaster.

There is a high probability that many business directories pull information about local businesses from Google. So we may be dealing with one instance of a John Miller, MMD Google Business profile right now but in the future, there could be several other listings with John Miller’s name that can pop up on the Internet that show the address of the clinics/law firms that John worked at.

Another issue is when a practitioner moves to a different country. Since Google cannot move the listing to a new country, the old listing will need to be marked as ‘permanently closed’. We don’t like this because it means there will be a permanently closed listing floating around on the Internet with the clinics' address for a year or more.

Alternative (Proposed) Solution:

Practitioners should not be expected to create their own listings. Instead, only the clinics/law firms should have their listings. But these clinics/law firm listings should be able to mention the names and basic details of the practitioners that work there.

When a patient/client wants to leave a review, Google can ask if the review is for the organization or for the practitioner. If the user chooses practitioner, he/she should be able to choose from the list of practitioners that work at that location and leave a review for the particular individual.

Such a practice will reduce the number of listings that are to be created and managed and thus make the Internet slightly less congested. It will also leave the administrative responsibilities in the hands of the firms rather than having the doctors/lawyers worry about such things.

This alternative solution is a personal opinion shared by the local search experts at ElementIQ who are not looking to be hired by Google to lead such an initiative (unless they are extended an offer they can’t refuse!) 

The Local Business Marketing Summit 2017

Introduction

Right off the bat, this was an awesome arrangement for anyone interested or involved with marketing local businesses.

The quality of presentations compared just as well with presentations in big conferences where you pay over $500 for a single ticket.

And this was FREE. So, hats off to the Local Marketing Summit 2017 for organizing this.

The topics and conversations were beneficial to both - business owners and marketing professionals. The set of speakers were all highly credible with the likes of Myles Anderson, the CEO of BrightLocal to Bernadette Coleman, the CEO of Advice Local.

They literally re-created a physical conference experience online with over 1500 attendees and the opportunity to share comments and network with industry experts. The only thing missing was the music and the fun stuff which can keep you from dozing off between sessions.

List Of Topics And Speakers

Let me begin by listing the set of topics presented on Day 1 and Day 2:

Day 1 

Day 2

What Do The Topics Tell You?

The assortment of topics speaks a lot of about the conversations that are most current and relevant in the industry. To put all the topics in broader categories, they covered:

Outside of Analytics, the 2 days have essentially covered the full gamut of topics that are relevant to digital marketing for local businesses.

Of course, there can be a whole series of sessions on each of the categories and one hour sessions can’t make you an expert. Yet, they can serve as a great introduction or inspire you with ideas to implement or improve your ongoing initiatives.

Three Key Takeaways

At the CTA Conference in 2016, Carl Schmidt, the CTO of Unbounce told me he didn’t like noting down what speakers were saying. Instead, he’d keep a pen and paper handy to note ideas that he could implement which were inspired by the speakers.

This is the approach I adopted and some of the refinements I will make to our approach to digital marketing will include:

1. Implementing Customer Lifecycles

Being more diligent and articulate with breaking the digital strategies into customer lifecycles referencing the image included below -

Image re-created referencing a slide from Complete Local Digital Strategy in 30 Minutes – Eric Shanfelt, Founder & CEO of Local Marketing Institute

This was also referenced as AIDA by Laurie Macomber in her presentation Content Marketing in a Bloated Age. AIDA is an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. It also translates to know me, like me, trust me, pay me - a phrase first coined by Barry Moltz.

2. Improving Local SEO Audit Process

Improving our local SEO audit process based on insights gained from the Local SEO Checklist session by Eric Shanfelt. This came in at a great time as I was already working on updating our internal local SEO audit checklist. While our current checklist covered most things that Eric touched upon, there were a few additional insights which I’m excited to incorporate. Here is an outline of the topics included in our local SEO checklist -

3. Considering Different Online Platforms

Lissa Duty’s gave a talk on Social Media Tactics that Actually Work. She encouraged us to think about the platforms which the future customers of a business could be using. She encouraged marketers to ask a bunch of questions before selecting the social media networks where the business chooses to be active.

She said, instead of blindly jumping on the Pinterest or Instagram bandwagon, it’s important to establish why.

While the who and the why were questions that we already ask, we have given less thought to where the future customers will be hanging out. There may not be a definite answer to this question because the future is uncertain and ever-changing, but one can analyze trends and user demographics to make educated guesses.

Closing Thoughts

Digital marketers operate in a fast-paced ever-changing environment. To keep up with the changes, you need to be continuously learning. We often refer to blogs and resources on platforms like Search Engine Land, Moz and Digital Marketer. We also subscribe to industry experts like Neil Patel and Annie Cushing.

Along with the daily reading and courses, most marketers would recommend attending one or two major conferences every year – and I agree with them.

All learning resources can be great but summits and conferences can inspire ideas like nothing else. Attending the Local Business Summit was about as real as attending my first major conference of 2017.

If you attended the Local Business Summit, please do share your own experiences. I would enjoy hearing about the same. I also encourage questions and comments from business owners and marketers who did not attend the conference.