The Zip Episode 9
In this episode, I spoke with Joy Hawkins. Joy is a local SEO expert who is a part of Google’s top contributor program and map-maker regional leads program.
Also, Joy Hawkins drops knowledge bombs, so be ready. Though our conversation focused on Google My Business listings, she had insights that could benefit any company–nay, any entity looking to rank well locally. So, even if you’re not a business–if you’re looking for local, organic SEO, or wanting to learn more about Google My Business, this is a great conversation to listen to. One of my favorite insights of hers was that you should make your site into a Wikipedia of your industry, and not necessarily within the confines of a blog, which I also found very interesting.
Joy regularly contributes to many online communities in the local SEO world, including the Google online business forum and the “Local U” forum–the local university. She is a contributor to the Moz local search ranking fact search survey; a columnist for “Search Engine Land”; and a speaker at marketing conferences, including SMX and Local U. Joy currently works as a product consultant at Imprezzio Marketing in Toronto.
Megan: So, Joy Hawkins, thank you so much for being on “The Zip”. And, to start off, can you tell me a bit about your background? How you got into marketing, and local marketing in particular?
Joy: Sure, yeah, so I was going to school at a university for advertising wasn’t 100 percent sure kind of, like, where I wanted to go with it. So I got a job as a summer student working for a company that sold Google ads back in 2006. And this was before a local even existed, so there was no such thing as Google Places, and I remember when it came up, all of the sudden, all of my clients that were small business owners were freaking out about these little, dotted pins that were showing up without a map–so kind of all sort of there. I remember in the beginning it was so easy to get people ranked and we had a hayday with it, and then, obviously, it’s evolved into a much more complex thing today, but I’m very grateful that I got into it right from the beginning because I’ve kind of had the advantage of seeing how it’s unfolded over time. And a lot of the tactics I learned, even at the beginning, are still kind of true today, so that’s kind of where I came into it from.
Megan: Yeah, so what are–what are some of the early parts of Google Local that are still in play? What are some things that are kind of–have faded off in the years and have changed?
Joy: Yeah, so I remember in the very beginning Google didn’t have any guidelines or any type of set rules. So, I remember it was as easy as going in and changing the business name, and just including a whole bunch of keywords. We used to–we used to work a lot with insurance agents, so we’d just go in and we’d add, like: “home, auto, life, car, rent, renters,” and, like, all of these keywords into the title and automatically they would start ranking and we thought we were geniuses.
Megan: But Google got to the other side of that.
Joy: Yeah, obviously there’s rules in place, but the unfortunate thing is that that tactic technically still works, it just doesn’t generally stay because usually someone will report them. And then it’ll get updated or changed back to what it should be. And Google also has better, I guess, triggers to filter that kind of stuff, but it does still work, so there’s still parts of it where I’m like, you know, keyword staffing worked then and it technically still works now, it’s just harder to get away with it.
Megan: Got it. So, it might work for, like, a few days and then–
Joy: Longer than that. I mean, it’s unfortunate, I wish I could say Google’s better at it, but, like, they are getting better at it, so–
Megan: So that’s good.
Joy: Yeah, so that’s, like, headed in that direction.
Megan: Yeah, so just big-picture, for people who are listening, because we, obviously, on the podcast talk about all sorts of parts of the local ecosystem, the part you specifically focus on a lot is Google Listings for local. Would you say that’s accurate?
Joy: Yeah, we–like, the company that I work for–we offer SEO. All of our clients are small businesses, so they are local businesses that serve a local area. Google My Business, I guess, is the technical name for it now, but I know it used to be called Google Places. Some people call it, still, Google Maps. That is kind of our primary focus but it goes hand-in-hand with organic, too, so all of the traditional, kind of SEO elements that are more commonly known are huge in local. You can’t ignore them.
Joy: So it’s a combination.
Megan: Okay, yeah, and that’s actually–that’s one of the questions I had is, you know, obviously you focus on Google My Business, but do you think that local cita–like, filling out your local citations, or, you know, making sure all of that information is correct is the most important thing to get right for local businesses, or do you think there are other, kind of necessary staples for making sure that your ranking well for your business?
Joy: Yeah, I think this is actually what differentiates a lot of the, kind of, what I call cookie cutter local SEO companies with the pros. And a lot of people have this idea in their head that if they just, you know, build up a bunch of citations that’s all they need to do and that’s all there is to local SEO. Which is great, I guess, that a lot of people believe that, but it’s not true. I know–I think the best thing that I’ve read out of recently, local SEO guide published a study where they studied, like, thousands of different search results and compared. It’s the first mass study I’ve seen for local where they actually looked at, like, a large number of search results and, based on that, actually tried to figure out, like, which factors kind of contributed. And one of the main takeaways that kind of came as a shock to a few people didn’t, honestly, shock me, but was that citations are, like, a foundational element. So, like, if you don’t have that, get it right for sure, because you need at least that. But it’s not enough to move the needle if you’re in a competitive industry. So if you’re, like, a dentist, or a lawyer there and you’re looking to rank in the 3-pack in a big city, all you do is citations, is definitely not going to get you there.
Megan: That’s so interesting. Yeah, because you also wrote recently in a “Search Engine Land” article how to create unique content for local pages. So, in your example you used car insurance pages in Houston and Dallas, I think. Is that part of what a company can do? Can you explain a little bit about that and what–how that can help a company rank that may be–other–beyond citations?
Joy: Yeah, so this is something we get a lot in local content is huge. I think it’s definitely something that people underutilized, and they get this idea in their head that: “Okay, I have a, you know, five different services I offer. So, I’ve got a page, five different pages, one for each service, I’m done.”
Joy: And the problem we run into, you know, is that kind of mentality, is that, you know, adding new content is so important, adding different things to do with your content, so we use that a lot as the example. I’m like, you know, every dentist, when you go to their site, has a page for dental implants and for braces. But, like, a lot of them, for example, don’t mention wisdom teeth, or the fact that they do wisdom teeth removals.
Joy: So, that’s a procedure that they do but they don’t talk about. Or there’s, like, certain gum diseases and things like that that, you know, again, having content about those on your site helps. Similarly, we had a private investigator that we started working with a couple years ago and when we first started he had some of his main services, but some of the stuff that he does–he does a lot of cheating spouse cases–so he had, like, a page on cheating spouses, but we went further than that. We went to, you know, try and figure out what kind of statistics and, like, you know: “Can you even find out if your spouse is cheating on you? Do you need to hire a private investigator? Can you figure it out on your own? What kind of evidence do you need?” stuff like that. Getting into more detail had a huge, positive impact on his ranking. Just making sure that we were continually adding more and more to his site, and not doing it in the form of a blog post. That’s another kind of pet peeve of mine. You get a lot of SEO companies out there that are like: “Yeah, we’ll post one blog article for you a month,” and I think–I’m trying to remember his name–there was another writer for “Search Engine Land”, Patrick Stalks, I believe, wrote an article about three or four months ago talking about the concept of siloing content, and how blogs actually screw it up.
Joy: And how you think of Amazon–you’ve got shoes, and you’ve got blue shoes, and you’ve got medium-blue shoes. And it’s all, like, organized, whereas you’ve got this, like, standalone blog that’s got just random articles and they’re not at all connected to any of your service pages and they’re, like, kind of standalone. So, I think that whole concept is something that exists a lot in the SEO industry. It’s not something that–not a strategy that I use, though. I do, like, the opposite–trying to build content like Amazon, kind of. Using that as a goal.
Megan: Yeah, no, and I love that idea with the private investigator, too, because it makes a lot of sense and I hadn’t thought of that. Like, I do think that–I think of a blog as, like, a really good go-to for, like: “Oh, you want to build out content, build out an interesting blog,” because I think that’s one of the staple pieces of advice you get when doing content marketing. But, so, your–so for the private investigator, instead of putting it all on a blog, you might–you just kind of created a guide on his site. Which is genius because anyone who might be worried that their spouse is cheating on them might, you know, find that in Google and be like: “Oh, this is how I can know. These are–so, I feel like there’s so much you can do with that. From any–
Joy: Yeah, like, make your site into a Wikipedia, you know? Wikipedia does so well on Google for a reason.
Joy: So, you know, making that authority and just organizing it properly. Because I do think blogs work really well, like, obviously we have a blog. It works really well in the marketing industry because there’s always new, you know, what’s new with Google, what’s the latest thing, and people follow our blogs and subscribe and it makes sense. But, like, no one is going to subscribe to a dentist blog.
Megan: Yeah, yeah.
Joy: Well, I wouldn’t.
Megan: Or, I guess, so how do you differentiate for a client, like, a dentist client? How would you differentiate–would you even recommend that they have a blog, or would you–if you do–how do you differentiate between the content you recommend for their blog and the content you recommend for their site pages?
Joy: Yeah, I rarely recommend a blog. Even if they have a blog I don’t call it a blog.
Joy: And the only companies, really, I think, like, small businesses-wise that we work with that maybe I would do a blog for would be, like, a restaurant that has, like, different events coming up. But, again, I wouldn’t call it a blog, I’d call it more, like, a calendar or something along that line so that people going to the site were, like, trying to figure out what special things they have coming up. But yeah, there are very few that I think I would suggest a blog for.
Megan: Got it. So, then, how do you recommend that your clients–so let’s say you had this private investigator client and he had a section for, you know, cheating spouses and maybe he had a section for some other things that people might use a private investigator for, but how would you make sure that he’s keeping his content fresh? Because isn’t that another thing you don’t really want? For him to write a few articles today and then not touch it for, you know, another few years? So, you know, is there a way to insure that even without a blog that person is always adding and adding articles and new things to their site?
Joy: Yeah, it’s always a part of our plan to continually add. It’s just a matter of where we stick it on their site, so we just don’t stick it on a blog. We stick it, you know, in a sidebar underneath one of their head, like, main parenting categories. So, you know, under “Cheating Spouses”, maybe that’s a parenting category, maybe you can, you know, put all kinds of information under that, like separate articles or guides or, you know, just content pages. And then, obviously, keeping them up-to-date is important. So, especially with, like, lawyers, if the law changes, you know, and all of the sudden your page is now outdated, you know, trying to make sure that you keep it updated and stuff like that.
Megan: That’s true. That’s a good–that’s kind of a good thing and a bad thing for lawyers, is that you have to constantly worry about those changes. But then, it’s a great–if you can get ahead of the curve and be one of the first people that your site reflects changes in whatever industry you’re in, then that can probably really help you as well.
Megan: So, as far as organic ranking, it seems, you know, even more important to consider that, you know, you wrote another article earlier this month that some of the local pack results, as they’re called in the industry, are being filtered out, and the ones that are staying are those that rank organically. So, if you’re one of those car insurance companies that has, maybe, like, 150 local agents in a particular city, how do you focus on ranking well for just the term, like: “car insurance Houston”? Because you have so many different pages you need to kind of help rank and you–how do you make sure that your overall site, the main car insurance site, ranks well organically?
Joy: Yeah, it’s tough because just the really big kind of fact that people need to realize is that one company is not going to dominate the search results. That is exactly what Google is fighting. So, every time they do these algorithms, which is one thing I’ve been noticing–they’re trying to diversify the results more. They don’t want someone searching for auto insurance and getting nothing but State Farm, or nothing but Geico.
Megan: Got it.
Joy: They really want to show a variety of things. So, you know, we struggle with that because we have all kinds of insurance agents we deal with who, you know, they want to be the only agent ranked in their town and, I mean, who wouldn’t, right? But knowing that your biggest competitors are the other people that work at your company because you basically have to prove to Google that you are the best Allstate agent, or the best State Farm agent–to kind of get that spot, because it’s extremely unlikely that Google’s going to list multiples. So, when they’re picking and choosing, they kind of choose the best from each company. And they are getting better at doing that. Like, figuring out who works for the same company. And that’s the biggest thing that we’re seeing with this recent update–which we’re calling “Possum”, we decided to name it–
Megan: Oh, I like that name. Although it kind of–it’s, like, a kind of skittish animal. Like, it’s there and then it’s not really there.
Joy: It was–we were like: “We have to stick with ‘p’s because you’ve got Penguin, you’ve got Pigeon, you’ve got Panda,” like, all of these “p” animals, Google must have a thing with the letter “p”, so we were like: “Let’s go with a ‘p’ animal.” And then Phil Rosac, who runs a local search company, he really–I was suggesting a bunch of other animals and he’s like: “What about Possum?” He’s like: “You know, people think their listings vanished but they’re really hiding like they’re playing possum.”
Megan: Yeah, so can you explain a bit about why, like, about this–why did you call it Possum? Is is because a lot of these listings seemed to be vanishing?
Joy: Yeah, so what I believe fundamentally happened was the span of the algorithm that exists on Local, which filters results based on similarities–so, again, trying to make the results more different and diversify them–I think the criteria just got changed. So, before, we used to see, like, a lot of the times–firstly this would happen to realtors a lot, or lawyers, where you’ve got, like, a listing on Google for the practice, and then you’ve got a listing for each practitioner.
Joy: So, you know, suddenly you’ve got, let’s say ten listings because each lawyer in their office has a listing. And beforehand, Google used to kind of keep these diversified by looking and saying: “Okay, all of these listings share the same phone number,” so they would only pick one–maybe two–and all the rest would get filtered. And now we’re seeing that happen, not just on a phone number level or a domain level, but they’re also getting smart enough to know that they need to look at the address because a lot of people are getting around this by just setting up each of their professionals with their own website and a unique phone number. And then those people are all ranking marvelously, and–
Joy: And now we’re seeing again, with the whole duplicate content thing. That’s really how to look at it. Like, the same way that they try to filter out duplicate content organically, they do that with local as well. But I also believe it’s also done to help combat spam because, you know, spammers, as they use the same address to create five or six listings to try and rank multiple times, it’s making it harder to do that. Which is kind of good, I would say.
Megan: Right, yes, but if you’re–let’s say you are that car insurance salesperson in a particular city. How do you make sure that you, you know, if you are competing now against all the other–even all of your, kind of, coworkers and your peers–and you know that really only one of you can rank well, how do you do that? Is it based on reviews as well? Is it–what tactics would you encourage them to use?
Joy: Yeah, definitely, like, it’s a combination of the same kind of factors that have always mattered, right? So, who ranks the highest organically? Who has the most links? Who has the best links? Who has the most content? Who has the most reviews? Or not even the most reviews, because that’s, kind of–a lot of people think that if they have the most reviews they’re all of the sudden going to skyrocket to the top. It’s not quite that easy. So, all these things together is what makes a profile strong. You take one thing and isolate it and obsess over it, is not going to make you number one. Which is what people do all the time. Like, I have business owners all the time who are like: “I don’t get it. I have more reviews that my competitor,” and I was like: “Well if it was just that factor and not 200 more, you’d be set.”
Megan: That’s the hard part, too, I think, because in being, like, obviously this–they have a day job, which is whatever their job is. You know, and then to spend so much time–you know, that’s probably why agencies like yours exist is because it’s hard. It’s hard to, you know, focus so much on all the different things you need to do to acquire new customers organically. It’s, you know, making sure you do have all the content, and good reviews, and, you know, all these other things. It’s quite a side job for yourself.
Joy: Yeah, I think the concept of doing SEO yourself–it can work, and I know lots of people that do it really well. But people need to realize that it is a fulltime job, because once you get a handle on it, don’t think that if you don’t easily learn new things that your techniques get outdated. And the businesses I’ve been talking to and kind of networking with, I think, are doing a really solid job of keeping their tactics updated constantly, are reaping huge benefits from this. So, like, honestly, overall, we saw a huge lift in lots of clients. Overall it was a huge win for, kind of, what we saw. Whereas I’m, again, seeing some feedback in the community from people that are experiencing the opposite, but I think it’s honestly because their tactics weren’t necessarily the best, or, you know, maybe they didn’t warn their clients that having virtual offices can eventually kill them.
Megan: Yeah, yeah, if they didn’t have, yeah, a main office. So, another question I had, and this is because I feel like when we hear about Google My Business, the traditional examples are usually really, like, car insurance salespeople or doctors, lawyers, etc. But is this something that, you know, if you’re just, maybe an independent contractor, or freelancer that does copywriting, or someone that does web design on your own, or, you know, maybe someone that’s more in the B2B type of creative industry–maybe that’s something you can use as well to advertise your services locally?
Joy: It really depends on the industry. I’d say with B2B it’s a bit harder because there’s not as much of it, but marketing companies, you know, do have listings. And, like, SEO companies, actually they’re one of the spammiest industries that exists out there.
Megan: That makes sense.
Joy: It’s so annoying. But, yeah, the–I mean, it’s just a matter of knowing your niches and then checking to see if Google is actually serving a 3-pack for any of your keyword, because the more–I think the more B2B I get, or even the more specific things–like, I’ve had some very specific industries that are very niche. And, like, Google doesn’t return a local pack for them and I don’t think they’re going to because there’s just not a lot of local businesses around and it’s not a very local thing. So, like, with content rating for example, like, I mean, I don’t think the location of the content matters at all.
Joy: You know? So, I think in those cases you probably aren’t going to see a 3-pack. So, you’re probably not going to get a lot of activity from Google My Business.
Megan: Yeah, no, that makes sense. It’s just that I wonder–yeah. And that’s true, that I think, for the most part, I could write content for, you know, a company across the country. But, also, if–I can see how maybe with local, like, journalists or something there could be, potentially, some opportunity for, you know, finding local writers that might, you know, have unique perspective on their city could be interesting. But, we’ll see. We’ll see if that ends up happening. So, you also talk a lot about Google+, and, so, I feel like a lot of people see Google+ as, maybe, antiquated, but is it something that local businesses, or even national franchises, should use to help their Google My Business rankings? Like, is there a connection there that should be noticed and used as well?
Joy: Yeah, so, Google, in a sense, is trying to divorce the two products. So they’re trying to completely separate Google+ from Google My Business. The only way that they’re connected currently is the URL. Like, technically every business listing that shows up in the 3-pack as a plus.google.com URL. If you go to that, you actually see it totally different–like, it shows the business, but on Google+ it’s totally changed the layout. Like, for example, you don’t get the reviews when you’re on Google+. You don’t see any of the business reviews. So, it’s kind of weird in my opinion, but I know there have been some studies and cases where, if you have a really good following on Google+ and you get a lot of engagement on your posts, that can correlate with your ranking in the 3-pack for certain, like, more longer-tailed keywords.
Megan: Got it.
Joy: But it’s, like, all of the quality, like–just posting on Google+ randomly all the time is such a waste. We used to see, you know, going back to lawyers, they have really boring content generally. So, it’s really hard to get a following, again, like, I mean, maybe law students would be interested, but the average consumer on Google+–
Megan: Yeah, that’s really good, yeah.
Joy: You know, like, I just can’t see that generating a huge following easily.
Joy: Whereas another industry, like, you know, maybe some type of entertainment-related industry, or, like, a restaurant would be more interesting because, you know, it’s just the same type of thing on Facebook. I find that, like, the coffee joints in my area–they have really cool, fun, interesting content that gets a lot of engagement on Facebook just naturally. So, I’ve seen cases where yeah, social media can help in that aspect, but I think the majority of the time people do not have any clue how to get proper engagement and it doesn’t really end up doing anything. If you just post the link to an article you wrote on Google+ and I–Google+ is huge for me. I talk with other marketers on Google+, like, more than, almost, Twitter. So it’s a really great thing in the communities that I’m in on Google+ are amazing, so I love the community aspect there. You can join communities, and comment, and share things, and you can get a lot from that. So, for me as a business it’s great, but for more of my clients I usually tell them, you know, with Google+, if you think your customers are on Google+, spend time on it. If your customers are not on Google+ you are wasting your time.
Joy: So that’s generally how I kind of look at it.
Megan: Yeah, and I think that also you bring up an interesting point. Like, the coffee shops versus the lawyers. Like, you know, unless you–it’s kind of like owning who you are. Like, unless you’re a law office that wants to open a coffee shop downstairs, you know, it’s like yeah, your content–like, you’re very needed in the world, but your content’s not that interesting. So finding other ways to improve your rankings instead of trying to force it on, you know, in an area that, you know, maybe it just doesn’t quite fit because it’s not–
Joy: It’s just hard. It’s even harder if your audience isn’t there, right? Because who are you preaching to then?
Megan: Right. Maybe your peers, but then it kind of is what you were talking about. Like, maybe it’s better as a peer exchange of information than really an advertising mechanism.
Joy: Yeah, but there are some industries–I’ll be honest–that I think have had a lot of success from it. Because I know there’s a company called, I think Steady Demand is the name of the company, and Ben Fischer is the owner, and he preaches Google+ like crazy. I think his clients are different verticals. Like, one of them is a gun store. I’m thinking: “Google+ with guns? That’s going to get engagement.”
Megan: It’s very niche, but a very passionate audience.
Joy: Right? So I’m like: “You’ve got something there.” You know, I’m sure if it was a fishing store or some hobby or something interesting, like, I think that would probably have a lot to gain by being active. But yeah, for most of the businesses I work with, I’ve found that it’s just a really difficult strategy and not one I’ve invested much time in.
Megan: Yeah, no, that makes sense. That kind of thinking about who you are, and if your customers are there, and if they’re interested in hearing what you have to say on that particular medium. So, this is a more kind of, like, in-general question–and I’m kind of just interested. What is it about local that drives you? Obviously you got your start in a local marketing company, but what is it about this industry or working with local businesses that keeps you here? That you’ve stayed in this industry?
Joy: Yeah, I find it fascinating. I like that it’s niche and there’s not a lot of quote-unquote “experts” out there. Like, when you think of the number of SEO experts as a whole, there’s a lot of them out there. But when you think about the number of local SEOs, it’s kind of–it’s a lot more specialized, which I like. So knowing all the right people is helpful. I’m, you know, kind of in the last few years that’s been my main focus, is working on developing relationships with other local SEO experts that really know their stuff, learning from them. And it’s such a friendly community, like, people are open to share ideas and, like, a lot of the posts I do–people are, like, saying how much they love that I kind of give away secrets.
Megan: Yeah, you have, like tons of–I feel like in this conversation I’ve been like: “Oh, so many drops of knowledge here.”
Joy: But it’s one of those things I don’t necessarily think I should hold that back because that’s part of how people identify themselves as experts is they share knowledge that kind of shows what they’re talking about, and if you keep that all hidden, I don’t know how that would eventually benefit you long term. As far as–so, I love the fact that it’s, like, a niche kind of thing. There’s not as many people out there that are doing it, and there’s definitely not as many people doing it well, so that’s kind of cool. I think just the communities I’m involved with, especially with Google My Business and Mapmaker, are really interesting and I love how different–there’s so many different things that local do not exist with, like, normal SEO that I really find fascinating. So just learning those tools and stuff and having the additional insight on top of just knowing regular SEO tactics, I find it more challenging.
Megan: Yeah, no, I agree, and I think it’s a really interesting niche to get into as well because I feel like it’s been surprising to me how few people focus on local, or how, you know, narrow the focus is when it seems like, even if you’re an international business, even if you’re just a national online business, all of your customers are technically local somewhere, you know? So even if you’re not looking for local rankings, even if you just want to–I feel like parts of local marketing can really benefit almost any business, and I feel like that’s something that not, like, not every business is aware of yet, or not–isn’t something that’s kind of preached about yet.
Joy: You get a lot less corporate-in kind of clients. I personally don’t enjoy the whole corporate structure where you’re pitching CEOs and board members and you have, like, 15 people you’ve got to convince.
Megan: They take like six months, yeah.
Joy: Yeah, like, and I know a lot of really awesome, reputable firms in Toronto–that’s their clients, right? They go after, like, the McDonald’s and, you know, big sporting companies and things like that. I mean, those people need a little SEO as well. I’m not sure I would enjoy kind of that corporate-y pitch, working day in and day out. I do like speaking directly to a business owner and being able to show them kind of results of what they’re paying for and stuff, so I like dealing with the small business owner better.
Megan: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So, finally–and you’ve been talking a little bit about the local marketing experts. So, who in the local marketing world, or maybe just marketing in general, are maybe, kind of, just in general in the business world that kind of inspires you and that you would love to have lunch with and pick their brain?
Joy: Yeah, well I’ve been fortunate enough to actually meet most of the people I would say that, in the local sphere–so I know that several years ago when I got involved in Google’s Top Contributor program, so they have–it’s a program, basically, where you help out on their forums by answering users’ questions, because every Google product, there’s a forum for it. So I’m on the Google My Business forum, and I noticed that like, Mike Blumenthal and Wendy Mckay were top contributors there and I was like: “Okay, there’s gotta be something great about this program if these guys are spending time with it.” So, I came and talked with Jerry Rack back in 2012 and I remember the first time meeting Mike, I thought I was meeting a celebrity, like, it’s kind of funny, like, I’m sure if I said that to him now he’d probably roll his eyes at me, but, like, I mean, he is, like, the kind of, I guess, father of local search. Like, he’s been in it longer than anyone else, knows so much about it, you know I would consider him a kind of mentor. Same with Linda. They were both very big kind of people I looked up to. In the earlier days especially, when I, like, wanted to try and figure out how to be like them. So luckily, you know, I’ve had the privilege of–I haven’t met Linda in person, but–because she doesn’t do much travelling–but Mike and I see each other usually several times a year at different meetups, and now that I’m a speaker at his local U conferences, there is–that’s honestly an amazing group of people. The people that do the local U stuff. So anyone who’s on their panel or speaks at their events is honestly who I would consider the best of the best in the local SEO world, and it’s really great getting to meet them all. Like, it’s exciting.
Megan: Cool. I’m actually going this year and I’m really excited to meet everyone in person.
Joy: Oh, are you?
Megan: Yeah, I am. Yeah.
Joy: In October?
Megan: Yes, so, yeah.
Joy: I will be there.
Megan: No, yeah, I look forward to shaking your hand in person, and meeting some other people that I’ve talked to on the podcast or, yeah, read their articles too, so– And that’s the cool thing, also, about the local search community being so small, is that you–you know, like you said–get to meet up with a lot of people and share a lot of ideas at events like that.
Joy: Yeah, they’re down-to-earth, too. There’s not, like, you know, high-in-the-clouds kind of people or whatever. They’re just kind of normal people that, you know, are just like you and it’s great. You get a really welcoming feeling, I’ve found, with all of those guys, which is awesome.
Megan: Yeah, yeah, I agree. I’m looking forward to it. Well, Joy, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and I think people in general that are working on local listings and trying to figure out the world of the new Possum are really going to benefit from hearing what you had to say, so thank you very much.
Joy: No problem. Thanks for having me.
Megan: You’re welcome.
Megan: Hey, thanks for listening to another episode. If you liked it, please subscribe on iTunes, and maybe even give us a positive review. It’s not just for my ego, it’s also for the ego of my cofounder Garrett French. And also to help us get more awesome guests like Joy. Speaking of which, Mike Blumenthal, who Joy mentioned as one of her heroes of local marketing, he will be featured on the podcast in the next few weeks. So, look forward to that. You can follow more of Joy and learn more from her on Twitter at @joyannehawkins, or find her on Google+ and maybe tap into the community she mentioned at +joyhawkins. Thanks so much for listening to another episode. Stay tuned next Wednesday and have a great week.