Lee Odden – Local Search Interview

In this interview we’re going to be talking with Lee Odden of Top Rank Online Marketing.

Hi Lee thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, could you tell us a little bit about you for my readers who might not know you?

Sure. I’ve been involved with internet marketing for about 10 years and I’ve run a search marketing agency, TopRank since 2001. Apparently I dislike free time so I am also a founding partner of a small public relations firm, Misukanis Odden. Search marketing is a true passion for me and I try to stay involved in the industry by speaking at/attending conferences and blogging at Online Marketing Blog.

Let’s take off your Internet marketing hat for a few minutes, what type of local searches do you find yourself performing?

Most of the local searches I do are when I’m preparing to travel or when I’m already in another city and looking for local restaurants, hotels, nightlife (although that’s getting rare) and conference venues.

I see you have a lot of clients listed on your companies website, what percentage would you say are interested in local terms, and is it a growing trend?

I would say about a third of our clients feel local search is an important channel, although we pursue local search activities for nearly all clients just to make sure we’re capturing as much relevant traffic as possible. The trends we see as far as local search terms relates to the geographically specific industries that are embracing search as a channel, that might not have before. Real estate and land development are good examples of that. With increasing numbers of local businesses starting web sites and blogs, it’s making some categories a lot more competitive.

How do you feel projects that are more interested in local search differ from conventional projects, and how do you approach them differently?

As far as search marketing, our focus is on natural search so we don’t do a lot of PPC. However, we do often use PPC campaigns and the geo targeting features with local search clients. We also do quite a bit of public relations work, so a local search client can often leverage that resource to get local media coverage, online and offline, in conjunction with their search marketing efforts.

For the most part, a local search project and a conventional project are approached differently from the start. This begins with identifying characteristics and hot buttons of the target market, geographic permutations with keywords and content optimization as well as inbound link sources. With local search clients we’ll place more emphasis on the link opportunities from real world business relationships (Chamber of Commerce, Associations, marketing partners, etc) as well as links related to subject matter expertise. With conventional projects, there is little if any emphasis placed on geography for content optimization or link building.

On your blog you really seem to be in tune with public relations, press releases, and social media, are there any tips you have to help local and regional companies get better use from those tools?

As far as local PR goes, businesses should develop lists and then relationships with the local media. Online, they should invest in blogs and/or developing an online media room for their web site to make it easier for local media to stay up to date with company news. When a business has news to announce, pitching local media via email or phone is important besides sending out press releases through wire services.

Speaking of press releases, those should be optimized for relevant geographically specific keyword phrases. The same goes for the blog posts and content used to promote via social news and bookmarking services. Once companies get covered in the media, they should use that coverage as a vehicle for promotion online and offline. For example, when a local business publication runs a story that includes a local company, that company could get reprints of the article and do a direct mailing. If it’s an online publication or article, the local business could promote via their blog or an email blast to its client and prospect lists.

Let’s take a look into the future, where do you see local search going in the next few years and what role do you see mobile devices playing?

Mobile marketing is a whole new ball of wax and it’s growing fast. Things like the Verizon deal with GoogTube shows that big money has interest in finding ways to monetize mobile marketing and it will be interesting to see what Google comes up with. Issues of personalization, privacy and intrusiveness will need to be dealt with. For example, do I really want Starbucks to flash me an ad on my phone as I drive or walk by? I think the use of mobile devices in concert with other marketing channels like social networks, search and local business promotions will provide some exciting opportunities for local search marketing in the future.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today Lee. If you’d like to read more from Lee please check out his Online Marketing Blog or stop by TopRankResults.com.


Tags: local+search, , Lee+Odden

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