Thursday 28 Feb 2008
Greetings from Inside the SEOigloo!
Andrew Shotland, everybody’s favorite Local SEO Guide, is chatting with us today from Pleasanton, California. Andrew offers SEO and SEM consulting, and his past work with Insider Pages makes him a fascinating fellow to speak with about Local Search. We feel very lucky to have this opportunity of interviewing him.
Miriam: Call out the first 3 adjectives that come to your mind to describe local search.
Andrew: Yellow, green, red
Miriam: What excites you about Local? Why are you putting such great efforts into this new facet of SEO?
Andrew: I don’t think Local SEO is particularly new. SEO is becoming more mainstream and therefore more smaller, local businesses are trying it. So it’s exciting because there are a lot of people who need help and want to learn.
Miriam: Describe an ideal local search client.
Andrew: An ideal SEO client understands the potential of SEO and is willing to prioritize it and take the time to get educated about it.
Miriam: Your Blog’s About Page mentions your previous position as head of product and business development for Insider Pages. In that capacity you engineered an SEO effort that resulted in some major traffic for the company. Is this something you are legally permitted to describe in greater detail? If not, just ignore this question…but I’d love to hear about it!
Andrew: InsiderPages is where I first got obsessed with SEO. When we rolled out our first SEO release our traffic went from about 30,000 uniques per month to about 1,000,000 practically overnight. That certainly caught my attention. We kept trying more and more ideas and the traffic kept cranking up, eventually reaching about 3.5 million uniques/month. Then I released something that destroyed our SEO – our traffic dropped in half over night. As we got bigger the number of variables that I and our team had to keep track of was getting out of control because we had just enough knowledge of SEO to be dangerous. I realized that I still had a lot to learn. It was then I really got into it – I certainly wasn’t getting a lot of sleep so I had some time to read up on it.
Miriam: It would currently appear that Google and the Insider Pages/City Search entity are still amicable partners, now that those missing reviews have finally reappeared in Maps after being lost for some months. However, Google is also now offering its own user review function within Maps. Your past work experience leads me to ask you, how do you feel entities like City Search, Trip Advisor and Yelp really feel about Google being ‘in on their game’? Is it contentious comptetition or is being trusted by Google so huge for any company, they are glad to have data being pulled from their review databases?
Andrew: My guess is that they are all cautiously optimistic. It’s one thing to put up a ‘write a review’ feature and another to actively promote and stimulate useful, high quality reviews.
Miriam: Some have called Local Search the inevitable death of traditional Yellow Pages. Do you feel this is accurate? Please explain your thoughts on this.
Andrew: It’s not the death of the traditional Yellow Pages, it’s more like the swine flu or beriberi. It’s forcing the industry to change. Just as YouTube is causing the TV networks to change. There will always be a need for a print Yellow Pages but I believe the big YP co’s are basically becoming marketing agencies for SMB’s and that’s not a bad business to be in.
Miriam: I know we’re all still learning about this stuff, but would you be willing to make a guess at the major factors currently determining local business’ A-J rankings in Google Maps and the 10-Pack?
Andrew: My take so far is location in relation to the centroid of the city (not necessarily the zip centroid) is numero uno. Then having your data in Google Local Business Center. Then all of the standard SEO measures – keyword targeting, links, reputation, etc.
Miriam: Are there any local industries you’d be particularly, personally interested in working with?
Andrew: I am looking into putting a painted glass backsplash in my kitchen so someone who can do that for me would be a good idea. I have been working with the world floor covering association on providing SEO and PPC services to flooring retailers around the country so that’s a good one. Anyone need some carpet?
Miriam: What else should I have asked you about? Tell me!
Miriam: I’m all for working to music. In point of fact, I confess we built an entire website a couple of months ago while listening to the BeeGees! I can’t believe I’ve admitted that, but it kept us feeling breezy, energized and perpetually amused by the singing. Our typical soundtrack usually includes 70’s prog rock, Motown and early jazz. Thanks for the link, Andrew, and thank you so much for sharing what you know with us!