The MnSearch Summit Interview Series: Darren Shaw

darren shawWe had the opportunity to interview several experts who are speaking at MnSearch Summit to help you learn and develop stronger bonds with these industry leaders. Keep reading and be sure to attend Darren’s session on Friday June 27th at the MnSearch Summit!

Bio: Darren Shaw is the President and Founder of Whitespark; a company that builds software and provides services to help businesses with local search optimization. He has been working on the web for over 16 years, loves local SEO and speaking at conference across the nation. Follow him on Twitter.


1. What are a few main points or takeaways your MnSearch Summit session will be focusing on?

My talk will cover the five core areas of local search: Google+ Local listing, website, citations, reviews, and local links. In each core area, I’ll explain what the most important high value activities are, and which tactics aren’t worth spending time on.


2. Can you provide us with a Quick Tip for local search?

Whether this works or not is yet to be proven (we’re looking into it), but the idea behind this discovery blows my mind. You have probably heard that citation consistency is a big deal in local search. Basically if you have all of these listings out there with a different name or phone number, Google doesn’t make the connection and you don’t get credit for them. It’s kind of like having a bunch of great links that link to a 404 page on your site. So, to fix this, you need to go around the web finding any inconsistent citations and clean them up. It’s a ton of work. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could just go into your Google listing and say “hey, this is my old phone number, and here are two variations of our business name that commonly occur around the web.” By doing so, you’d help Google associate all those other citations with your listing and do a basic form of cleanup in one simple edit to your listing. Well, in fact, you can do just this. Go to Google Map Maker, search for, and edit your listing. You’ll see that there are fields for additional names and additional phone numbers.

Whether or not this works as a citation consistency quick fix is yet to be seen, but as a first step in any citation cleanup work, I recommend you hit your Map Maker listing first and add any of those additional known NAP variations. Might as well!


3. What piece of career advice could you give to someone new to the search marketing field?

Block off 30 minutes of time to read every day, and engage in the conversation wherever you can.


4. What are you most excited for the MnSearch Summit in the Twin Cities this summer?

The lineup is amazing. I’m particularly excited to see Eric Enge talk about technical SEO, and I’m so torn between Arnie Kuenn’s talk on link building and Oli Gardner’s talk on CRO. They’re at the same time in different tracks! The decision is keeping me up at night. Also, I’m looking forward to some great discussions over drinks with many of the great SEOs in Minneapolis.


5. What have you always loved/wondered about the State of Minnesota?

As a Canadian, it seems to me that the people of Minnesota are the most “Canadian” of the people I’ve met from the US. I love Canadians, and I’m a big fan of anyone I’ve ever met from Minnesota. Good people.


6. What would be a recommended strategy for researching or creating SEO content for a local Minnesota audience?

Oh, for that you should really look to one of your own, Scott Dodge (one of the Minneapolitans I’m looking forward to meeting). He wrote an amazing post on the topic on the Whitespark blog: Culture Building: 8 Local Link Building Tactics Beyond Business Listings


7. Assuming all things are equal, would a Minneapolis based business be better off by building local links or citations?

You can do both at the same time! If you’re going to get a link, ask for the citation as well, and vice versa. I’d recommend a local business start with Benjamin Beck’s list of Citation Building Strategies. It’s a comprehensive list of strategies for getting unstructured citations and local links.


Don’t Miss Darren’s Presentation!

Join us on June 27th for the first annual MnSearch Summit and see Darren along with many others!

Register Now

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