Amanda Jordan is the Director of Local Search for Locomotive Agency, a full-service SEO agency. She’s handled everything from link building to PPC but today she joins us to talk about local.
Amanda has established herself as a premier local search expert in 2020. She’s taken the local search virtual speaking circuit by storm over the past year and does not seem to be slowing down. She even joined our very own Aaron Weiche and Mike Blumenthal of GatherUp for a local SEO AMA webinar.
Did you know that there’s a whole underground Local SEO underground Mario Kart league? Led by Joy Hawkins and her employees at Local Search agency, Sterling Sky, several local SEOs have been burning rubber virtually on the Nintendo game.
- [3:07] Amanda’s relationship with her clients.
- [4:33] The major challenges of 2020.
- [7:13] The most important strategy.
- [10:31] Philosophies on giving business advice.
- [12:08] Identifying the clients who are likely to be successful.
- [16:33] Looking ahead to 2021.
- [19:11] Predictions about an important potential GMB attribute.
- [24:36] Amanda’s cause.
Amanda's relationship with her clients
Amanda says she’s very competitive on behalf of her clients.
“My goal is not to be the very best local SEO in the entire world, but to get my client to be the best in their area.”
She spends a lot of time speaking to her clients one-on-one.
“It’s not just the work itself. I have a relationship with them. I understand what’s going on in their business.”
She also mentions that often, when you’re working with an SMB, they’re coming to you because their situation is dire.
“Especially right now because of coronavirus.”
How does she work to stay competitive on their behalf? Amanda focuses most of her efforts on spam hunts and competitive content audits.
The major challenges of 2020
Before speaking on what her major challenges have been throughout 2020, Amanda spends a little time explaining her client base. She serves a lot of home healthcare agencies and nursing homes.
“A lot of my clients are the types of businesses where they go out to someone’s home. And of course, there is less of a desire to have someone come to your home during this time. That’s been one of the major struggles.”
She has served some of the businesses that have done better with COVID too, but in general, her clients are struggling.
“One of the most important things for small businesses to do right now is to make sure you’re highly communicating what you’re doing to keep your customers safe. And that’s through your GMB with the COVID post type that’s on your website, at the top of your website where it’s easily accessible. That’s having a page dedicated to it if it’s going to be important enough.”
In many cases?
“You really want to make sure you’re providing clear information on what you’re doing to keep people safe.”
The most important local search strategy
“Include communication of what you’re doing to handle coronavirus online. Use those attributes in GMB for your business listing. If you’re requiring masks. Things like that. That’s helpful.”
Amanda also recommends paying close attention to reviews.
“Especially now. A lot of times in reviews people were mentioning coronavirus or what these companies were doing with coronavirus, both good and bad.”
“So if they go in and they’re not enforcing any mask requirements that’s going to show up in a review if that person is health-conscious. Just make sure you’re doing your best on all your online reputation management fronts.”
Amanda handles some clients with hundreds of locations, some of whom need very specific responses for customers dealing with Covid-19 issues.
She also says you can focus on basic, strategic things.
“Developing content. Making sure you’re doing a lot of internal linking throughout the website. Things that don’t require a lot of outside influence or help for SEO. If there’s a lull because there’s a pandemic going on we can’t do anything about that, but we can make sure they’re stronger in their rankings when things do recover.”
Philosophies on giving operational business advice to clients
Often, an agency’s success is defined by how they approach their relationship with their clients. Here’s Amanda’s.
“I’m more like a business partner. I’m a consultant. If I see a problem that’s going to affect other things or something that can spiral out of control, I’m going to bring it up. Whether it’s part of what I do or not.
I’ve done that for clients before coronavirus even happened. If I saw a trend of a specific type of negative review I wanted them to be aware of them. That can spiral into them getting a lot more negative reviews about the same thing.
It could be something we can kind of just nip in the bud or something that’s an issue with an associate that needs more training. Or an issue with a process they have, internally, that needs to be fixed. I do become their partner.”
Identifying the clients who are likely to be successful
Choosing the right clients is also key to agency success. Here’s what Amanda looks for in hers.
“Prior knowledge or understanding of digital marketing. Anyone with a strong background [in that] seems to take recommendations a little more seriously. People who are not afraid of what the budget is going to be, take things more seriously.”
She says those who are too concerned with how much things will cost often aren’t understanding the value of what you’re doing and why it’s important to do it.
“To me, the clients who are pretty good at completing tasks and taking your recommendations show it pretty early in the relationship.
I have clients who I’ve made recommendations in their audit at the very beginning of the relationship and they’re like: Okay! We’re going to do that right now!
It just feels great when that happens. Oh, you value what I’m saying and you understand why it’s important.”
She says some of her clients complete the work after she makes the recommendations. Sometimes she does it for them.
She also says it’s easier to work with clients who don’t suffer from a lot of internal politics.
She also likes smaller clients, even if they do make her do the updates herself.
“These are the ones I choose for the most part because I like seeing I have a direct impact. You can see stuff immediately. They’re more difficult themselves, but the work is more fun because you have more say in what’s going on and you get to be more hands-on with the project.”
She says she likes looking at those clients and seeing the potential.
“I can make a really big difference in a short amount of time.”
Looking ahead to 2021
This horrid year is almost over, and maybe we’re starting to see a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. As the vaccine comes out, as this chapter of history comes to a close, what can businesses do to set themselves up for growth and success?
“I would immediately think about online reputation management.”
Your business should think about staffing requirements.
“Make sure you’re ready to trend upward with your ability as things get better. Have a plan in place like that.”
Going forward, Amanda encourages restaurants to keep whatever delivery sources they’re using.
“It’s become a comfortable thing for a lot of people, and restaurants can lose out on business if they go back to being just dine-in and takeout only.”
She also urges SMBs to make sure they have their attributes set, even next year.
“And remember, best-case scenario, people like me will not get a vaccine till May or June or so.”
She predicts that elderly people and healthcare workers will get the vaccine first, and tells SMBs to think about the demographics of who will and will not have a vaccine during the transition period.
She points out that an elderly person and a person in their 30s may, for some time, have wide disparities in whether they have access to a vaccine, so stay ready to serve people who are stuck in their houses for a little while longer.
Predictions about an important upcoming potential Google My Business attribute
Amanda admits she’s wondering if there’s going to be a GMB attribute around vaccinations.
“I think it’s going to be extremely important for home health care workers, nursing homes, facilities and things like that to be able to say: our staff is vaccinated. I think that’s going to be a very good thing for them to do.”
She does say she thinks a lot of restaurants and stores will continue their Early Bird shopping, where you can come in early if you’re “age x or higher.”
She again stresses that messaging is important.
“At least on your contact page, with specific hours, would be a good idea. You can add additional hours in GMB too.”
Communication remains important.
“If there are any changes, make sure you update your Covid update post to reflect whatever changes there are. That’s a good place to mention all your employees have been vaccinated, or whatever.”
What's your right now cause?
“We are trying to help people who are interested in public speaking in our industry that haven’t really gotten a chance before, but who are really knowledgeable. We want them to get a chance. We have a lot of really great mentors who have agreed to work for people who are interested in speaking.”
Amanda says that these mentors helped her start speaking for the first time this year, and she’s getting a lot more visibility.
“I’ve met so many people that I admired, because of people being willing to say: hey, I want to give someone else a chance to speak, and I happened to be that person they deferred to. We’re still taking applications.”