Going Social at Local University

Last week I attended a Local Search convention in Ellicottville, NY. Please see my earlier post for part 1 of my recap.

In addition to what I learned at Mary Bowing’s session, I gained huge insight from Matt McGee who presented some interesting information on the current use of Social Media and the impact to Local Search.

According to Neilson, 22.5% of time spent online is on social media websites. As displayed in the chart. The link is clear- if you want to increase business you need to place yourself where the consumers are.

You have to be present, and you have to have something of value to say. Matt McGee discussed the following ways to spark interest and interaction:

Blogs – Show a little humanity. A website will tell the visitor that a company is a good corporate citizen, that it has valuable products and that it has won awards, but most visitors want real time updates that take seconds to read. In these seconds purchase decisions are being influenced while the visitor is also being entertained.

The picture above from HubSpot shows how blogs can have a substantial effect on SEO. For local search this could be a major factor for relevancy.

Having a blog will generate more visitors, more links, and more indexed pages.

Facebook – Most businesses on Facebook are not as popular as they believe themselves to be. Facebook is largely for generating interest, internally, but you need to have a presence.

Matt spoke about EdgeRank, which is a very interesting concept. This algorithm measures each posts potential interest to each user. The types of things that are taken into consideration are affinity, interaction type, and timeliness. The more a company/”post-er”  interacts with a person the affinity goes up. If a post is “liked” or “commented” then the interaction score will increase; comments rank higher than likes. The last component is timeliness. Interaction is a necessity, especially for companies, that means going beyond posting trivia, surveys/polls, contests, videos, etc.  The graph below shows how most companies are using Facebook, and only a small percentage of their ‘fans’ are seeing their posts…

Twitter – Build a clean stream, follow the right people and be patient.  If you are to remember one thing about Twitter please, please let it be this graph.

Foursquare and social media outlets help small to medium size businesses that are visited frequently, such as hotels, restaurants, gyms, and stores. Consumers rely on service information when contemplating buying decisions.

We will see the impact of these ‘check-in’ services more in 2012. Value in these services will likely be loyalty/retention rather than lead generation. The Google acquired, ‘Punchd‘, is a good indication of the direction of a check-in oriented product with value, just not adoption.

Why Reviews Matter:

Consumers trust online recommendations; search engines such as Google and Bing do as well. “Social signals” coming from various social media outlets impact organic rankings in search engines. While review sentiment doesn’t necessarily impact ranking, it will certainly impact conversion. For search engines, consistent, accurate information establishes a framework upon which they can trust that your location exists. Once you have the search engine’s trust you need to gain the customers trust with great reviews.

90% of people trust reviews from people they know and 70% of people trust reviews from people they don’t @mattmcgee #localu

The best way to get good reviews is to satisfy your customers, sell a great product, and never make a mistake. If you can monitor what your customers are saying and address issues and take feedback from their comments and reviews, then you can effectively manage your reputation and impact your Local SEO.

Phil Britton
Product Manager, Location Based Search
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