Mash Chats: Local SEO Guru Veronica RyanOctober 16, 2020
Unsure about being found online locally? In this week’s episode, Cami chat’s with Veronica Ryan, Local SEO expert at Mash.
Camille: Hi, everyone, it’s Camille Le Goff from Mash Pod. And today on the show we have Veronica Ryan, who is a local SEO specialist at Mash Media. Hi, Veronica, how are you?
Veronica: Hi, Cami, I’m all right. How are you today?
Camille: I’m very great too. Thank you for coming here on the show and talk about your experience and your local SEO career. Let’s talk about your background. You had many different careers in your life. You have been a TAFE lecturer, IT support specialist, a travel agent, and now you’re…you are a local SEO expert. Can you tell us how you did the transition and how you fell into SEO?
Veronica: Sure. My career has been interesting and varied, to say the least. I started out in the ’80s as a computer programmer, actually, and went from there into general IT. I worked for TAFE. I started out for TAFE doing systems administration, and moved on from there to lecturing. And I lectured on a variety of subjects, everything from teaching users how to use software applications, to programming languages, to graphics design, and stuff like that, digital photography. And it was great. I really enjoyed it. And I moved on then from teaching students to teaching the teachers. I was actually a part of the staff development team and introduced staff to some of the many new applications and versions of applications that we were constantly being bombarded with throughout the ’80s and ’90s as IT was moving very fast in those days. During that time, I learned to love travel. I got to see quite a bit of the world and really enjoyed travel and was quite intrigued with the idea of planning all my own travel.
Also, I was married to a businessman at the time who did a lot of international corporate travel and was very often frustrated with travel agents and what they were able to, or not able to do for him. So, I migrated from IT into travel and spent the next few years doing corporate travel mostly but some leisure travel as well, domestic and international. Loved it for a long time, but then tired of that and felt the need to move on.
Camille: So, you didn’t have any connection with IT anymore while you were working in travel industry?
Veronica: Apart from, you know, using the various travel software packages, no, not really. I guess in a couple of the travel agencies that I worked for, it sort of got out that I had a bit of a knowledge of IT. So, when anyone was having issues with computers or printers, they seemed to turn to me first to try and sort it out. So, I sort of kept a bit of a hand in but didn’t really stay on top of things to any great degree throughout the years of working in travel.
Camille: Okay, and how did you fall into SEO and, you know, training yourself in SEO and making SEO your career now as we speak?
Veronica: Well, there’s been a couple more steps along the way getting to that. After travel, I went into logistics, working for one of the Wesfarmers companies. And I did that for quite a long time. It was pretty much an admin kind of role, so a bit more basic than IT and travel. But at that time in my life, that was what I needed, just a bit of a step down in career, something a little less full-on, a little less stressful. So, I did that for many years. And during that time, I was approached by the founder and general manager of Mash Media, who also happens to be my daughter. She had been building Mash Media for a couple of years and had a few staff members by this time and was looking for someone who could be a bit of a general all-rounder, someone who could do a bit of admin, someone who could book travel for the team and for herself as necessary, and someone who had a little bit of IT knowledge.
And so, she offered me a job. For a long time, I resisted. I actually said no and decided to stay in the role that I was in. But eventually, she managed to convince me that I did have the skills that she needed for the job and that she really needed a person in this role. She wasn’t creating a job for me specifically, which I really wouldn’t have liked. So eventually, I did agree to come on board at Mash Media and take that job. I did that for my first two years with Mash Media, just general…all sorts of duties with no specific area that I worked in. And I haven’t previously had marketing experience as such, but started learning from the other team members that I was working with and around Bec and yourself. And I think that the boss decided that I needed a bit more of a challenge, that the admin work was getting a bit ordinary for me. So, you know, as the business was growing and the teams were growing, and there became a need for another person in the SEO department.
And I had mentioned to her previously that I thought SEO was quite intriguing and would be something interesting to do. And so she discussed with her SEO team, who agreed to take me on board and train me up. And thanks to some very good training, I learned the skills of handling local SEO, which I have now been doing for about 18 months and very much enjoying it. It’s been a great learning curve, and the work is interesting and varied and it allows me to use my writing skills.
Camille: That’s a great story, Ronnie. So, local SEO has definitely been a skill in demand, especially in these times where, you know, local businesses are losing foot traffic and therefore trying to be more visible online. From your experience, what is the number one mistake that small businesses make when they try to build a local digital footprint in Google?
Veronica: I think what I’ve found interesting in doing local SEO is that a lot of small businesses are not even aware that it exists. So…
Camille: Tell us about it. Like, how would you describe local SEO? How would you explain it to a small business owner who actually don’t really get it or don’t know what this is?
Veronica: It is sometimes a little difficult to explain, but it is basically optimizing their online presence. Whereas full technical SEO works more on the website itself, the local SEO tends to look at their other online assets such as business listings. The biggest and most popular of those, of course, is the Google My Business, which is a free listing. And I think a lot of small business owners don’t realize that it’s out there. Or if they do, they don’t realize just how much information about their business they can get out there, and it’s all free of charge. So, I generally start out by explaining that to them and get them interested in the Google My Business, show them examples of other small businesses that we have worked on and optimized the Google My Business and got the maximum information out there that we can get to really get the local online visibility up there. And then there’s also local citations which is all the other online business listings, heaps of different things like yellow pages, the local Yelp. There’s so many out there, there’s literally hundreds of online business directories.
Some of those are general like the ones just mentioned and some of them actually niche ones for their particular type of business. So, I always mention to them also the benefits of being on as many of those listings as possible.
Camille: Right. Can you tell us an example of one of those small businesses you look after that have to transform its business model to accommodate the new normal? Do you have a success story to share with us?
Veronica: Well, I think we’ve had quite a few success stories of small businesses choosing to allow us to help them with their local SEO. But at the moment, I think you’re referring to with the COVID-19, the pandemic that some businesses have had to step outside the normal way they do business and come up with new and innovative ways to operate so that they can stay in business. And yes, we do have a couple of success stories there. We have one local one here in Perth, The Moving Man who is a removalist, he’s been in Perth for over 30 years already, very successful and one of Perth’s most popular removalists. With the onset of the pandemic, of course, a lot of people then due to social restrictions stopped moving house. So, he had to come up with another idea for how to operate his business and he did some driving in his trucks providing necessities and basic needs as perhaps a normal transport worker would do rather than removals. And our efforts on his local SEO have shown in performance and in his results, his visibility online has improved enormously. And he has certainly survived throughout the hardest part of the pandemic so far and business is going well.
Camille: Oh, that’s great.
Veronica: I could mention another one that’s one of our interstate clients. And that’s Megadeck Staging. They provide staging for events of all kinds, live shows, demonstrations, concerts. And as you can imagine, with restricted crowd numbers for events and social distancing it’s certainly hit their business quite hard. But they’ve been very innovative with their local marketing and what they have been doing, the aspects of their business that they’ve been focusing on instead of the normal staging for large events. They’ve focused on their renovating of existing stages, the manufacturing side of things. And they’ve currently put out a new product which is like a little micro pod stages for live events where social distancing can be applied.
Camille: Oh, interesting. I guess this is a great turn around because during the COVID-19 pandemic, Google was kind of advising business owners to mark their business listing as closed to not mislead users into thinking that they will be open. For example, I’m thinking about, you know, like hardware stores or hairdressers, that kind of, you know, physical businesses with a Google My Business. But I guess the examples that you talked to us about are great examples that kept their business listing running and, you know, like, allowed them to still be open for the public and not you know, discontinuing all the marketing efforts.
Veronica: Yes, that’s right. We didn’t really have a lot of our clients choose to list themselves as closed during the pandemic. Of course, there were those in the type of businesses where they were forced to, for a certain period of time around April, I think. Most of our clients, we’ve encouraged them to really focus on their local SEO, because during this time, people are not going as far, not traveling as far for businesses, and they are looking a lot more closely at local businesses, just what’s right near them. So, we’ve been encouraging all of our clients to really focus on the local SEO and get the local customers in there and it has proven to be quite successful for most of our clients.
Camille: Oh, that’s great to hear. And a final question for you, Veronica, so you’ve been doing local SEO for the past 18 months, operating as a fully trained specialist. And also it was kind of a perfect timing for you to get into that area of marketing because local SEO is such a skill in demand. And everybody, every small businesses and owners would benefit from, you know, having a local strategy. So, my question, I guess is, what are your growth plans or predictions for, like, local SEO? Do you see that marketing channel to be even more prominent? Is there, like, many changing things? You earlier said that, you know, your day to day at Mash Media is very varied. You tend to do lots of different things, it never gets boring. So yeah, what would be your predictions for your area?
Veronica: Well, I think that local SEO is becoming much more popular. I think it’s going to continue to do so which means it’s going to become a lot more competitive. I think up until now, it’s been a largely untapped resource for local businesses. In the case of I think, as I mentioned previously, that they…a lot of them are just not aware of it, but more and more are becoming aware and making use of it. And so, my feeling for the future is it’s going to become much more competitive. And I’m sure there’s going to be some new innovations out there in local marketing that we’ll all have to learn. And we’ll certainly be continuing at Mash, myself, and the rest of the team to elevate our clients’ online presence and their visibility and getting them up there at the top.
Camille: Yeah. And I guess the fact that Google’s local algorithm keeps evolving and getting better, it makes your job interesting and really never boring.
Veronica: It is certainly a very exciting area to work in because it’s constantly growing and changing and there’s always many new things to learn. So, it keeps the gray matter stimulated, I think. And I look forward to seeing what the future brings for local SEO.
Camille: That’s great. Thank you very much, Veronica, for speaking to us today. And we’ll chat to you soon. Bye.
Veronica: My pleasure. Thanks, Cami. Bye.
Camille: Thank you.