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SMX Local & Mobile Search Conference, Denver Day 1

Mike Valentine

At the end of Day One of SMX Local & Mobile Search marketing conference at the Denver Hyatt, I’m tired of the emphasis on the “Local Search” aspect and want to hear more on the “Mobile Search” half of that equation. Mobile comes at the second half of the title, it is to be discussed on the second day of this two day conference. Very little of “Local Search” (at least material which hasn’t been known pretty widely for a few years), has been detailed here.

All the standard Local Search SEO rules –

  1. Putting the street address of a local business into the page (in text) a couple of times
  2. Submitting to local search portals at each of the top engines
  3. Using standard SEO techniques
  4. Submitting to localized portals, niche local directories, Acxiom, InfoSpace
  5. Including the “hcard” elements into page code…

were discussed in those first day sessions that I was able to attend.

Nobody has so far mentioned specific mobile devices even though there are probably more Apple iPhones carried by audience members than you might be able to find in any other conference. Nobody but keynote speaker Michael T. Jones, Chief Technologist, Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Local Search, who displayed his own iPhone to audience members. While he stopped short of discussing specifics of that device, he did say that the iPhone changes the game – then emphasized that Google knows nothing of making handsets – twice for emphasis.

Jones is another Googler I’ve now heard speak that leaves me thinking, “Wow, some smart people are working on some cool things at that place!” He’s clearly thought long and hard about every aspect of Local and Mobile Search and made for a great keynoter for SMX Local & Mobile.

Jones repeated the Google Mission statement and inserted “Geographically” into “organize the world’s information…” and though he didn’t say it out loud, obviously inserts “via mobile phones” right after “universally accessible.”

I was encouraged that this would be a great conference after hearing the Jones keynote, but I have to say that, so far, not much new is being discussed.

At the “Introducing the Local Search Engines” session, we heard the 5 W’s of Local Search – with little “Advanced” material – although, thankfully, little beginner rehash.

At the SEO Best Practices for Local Search session, we heard a bit more detail and not a lot of new insight.

At the “Community Driven Local Search” session, we heard a lot about why user generated content or UGC (reviews), is the suggested silver bullet of local. One dissenting voice on that panel was Paul Ryan of Done Right, who was last to speak and opened with “Everything you just heard is a load of CRAP!” (I disagree, but it was entertaining.)

Ryan advocates professional content, vetting of members and, guarantees of performance – and claims that all UGC is suspect. That may be true to some degree in some places, but when you are talking SEO, UGC is golden for traffic generation and search visibility. Most members of the panel agreed with different aspects of the messiness of user reviews and the difficulty of controlling the monster once negative UGC grows big enough to overtake reputation management efforts.

At the final session of the day on the Industry Issues Track, “Local Search Case Studies” confirmed that yes, local search is effective, economical and valuable to both branding and conversion efforts.

Agreed, local search marketing works, you should do it.

Mike Valentine is an SEO Specialist offering ocassional commentary on Search Engine Developments through his Reality SEO Blog and developed WebSite101 Small Business Ecommerce Tutorial in 1999 to help educate the little guy to the intricacies of online business.